Scroll to Continue
Adult males range from 40 to 52 feet and can weigh up to 45 tons. Despite their size, humpback whales are graceful acrobats. Keep your eye on the ocean and you might see one breach, propelling up to 40 percent of its body out of the water and landing on its side with a spectacular splash.
Whales have great cultural significance for Native Hawaiians. They play a large role in Hawaiian legend—including one creation story—and appear in ancient petroglyphs on several islands. The return of the kohola (humpback whale) is considered more of a homecoming than a visit. Humpback whales are born in Hawaiian waters, making them kamaaina (native born). Some Native Hawaiians also believe the whales are aumakua (family guardians), so these gentle giants are treated with great respect.
Cultural Significance of Whales in Hawaii
Although humpback whales can be seen from all of the Hawaiian Islands, the shallow Auau Channel between Maui, Molokai and Lanai is one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world.
What's the Best Way to See Whales?
You may also spot kohola from the southern shores of Oahu, especially at Makapuu Lighthouse and along the seaside overlooks near Leahi (Diamond Head).
Kauai offers a range of whale-viewing opportunities, including Poipu Beach on the South Shore, Kilauea Lighthouse on the North Shore and Kapaa Overlook on the island’s Coconut Coast.
On the island of Hawaii, whales are often seen along the shores of the Kohala Coast, as well as Hilo Bay on the east side of the island. The Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site is another great viewing spot, with its sweeping, elevated views near Kawaihae Harbor. In fact, Puukohola literally means “hill of the whale” in Hawaiian.
Boat tours may be your best option for viewing whales up close. Hawaii has dozens of tour operators, including a few that lead kayak excursions—a thrilling way to experience these majestic mammals.
In respect for the kohola and the safety of sightseers, all watercraft must stay a minimum of 100 yards from the whales, but you'll be surprised how close you feel when a 45-ton behemoth lunges out of the sea. If a boat tour is not for you, the whales’ impressive acrobatic displays are often visible from miles away. If you're on land, keep a pair of binoculars handy because you never know when you'll see a humpback’s spout (which can be 10–20 feet tall).
Destination Residences Hawaii offers an exclusive collection of premium vacation residences in beachfront and golf-front resorts in Wailea and Makena on the island of Maui. Come share our aloha, genuine Hawaiian hospitality and authentic Maui experiences.
Kauai Banyan Inn has private bed & breakfast vacation rental suites - beautifully appointed with everything you need for a peaceful, relaxing visit to Kauai. Hillside location affords sweeping panoramic mountain and distant ocean views.
A genuine hideaway from all things mainstream. Located on the exotic beach of Kamiloloa, you'll find our Polynesian village of bungalows replete with kitchenettes and Wi-Fi. Hotel Moloka'i is just five minutes from the island’s largest city, Kaunakakai.
Cane & Canoe offers a window into the Hawaiian soul – both past and present. Here, in this historically rich locale, locals and travelers come together, savoring creative, modern cuisine that celebrates Hawaii’s diverse cultural influences while showcasing its freshest, locally sourced ingredients.
Direct Oceanfront 3BR/3BA End unit Condo on the shoreline of Maui's beautiful west coast. Unobstructed PANORAMIC OCEAN VIEW & colorful sunsets. You will be awed by our incredible ocean view & location. Nicely upgraded & remodeled, well-maintained with everything you need for a memorable vacation.
Seven luxury air conditioned studio, 1, 2, 3 and 5 bedroom villas on a half acre of lush tropical landscaping. Short walk to white sandy Poipu Beach, Kauai. Pillow top mattresses, Egyptian cotton sheets, private hot tub and covered lanais.
Our Kauai Hawaii vacation rentals are the perfect way to do just that from your own private place in paradise. Our friendly reservations professionals are eager to help you find the perfect rental! For more than 15 years, Ahh Aloha has helped our visitors make aloha memories that last a lifetime.
Newly renovated deluxe full service hotel. Just steps to Waikiki Beach. Featuring spectacular city, mountain and ocean views. Fitness room, Business Center, restaurant and cocktail lounge. High speed Internal in public areas and guest rooms.
These ocean front deluxe private units are nestled between West Maui's world famous resort destinations of Kaanapali and Kapalua. Most units enjoy an ocean view, and are just a few short steps away from the beach. We also have an ocean view studio condo at the Outrigger Royal Kahana.