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).
National Geographic winner! – Located at Wailua River Marina - Summer Na Pali sea kayak tours - Poipu Winter Whale Watching - Wailua River waterfall tour - Hanalei River paddle & snorkel adventure - Island wide hiking tours - Stand Up Boards Rentals - Camping outfitters - VACATION RENTALS.
Anelakai Adventures offers guided Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe, Night Manta Outrigger Canoe, Kayak and Stand Up Paddle Board adventures on the Kona Coast of Big Island of Hawaii. Our goal is to share not only an amazing ocean experience with our guest, but also the history and culture of the island.
Kona Boys is an island style surf, kayak, and paddle board shop located on the Big Island's Kona Coast. Established in 1996, Kona Boys has two locations and have built their reputation on customer service and knowledge of the Big Island and its amazing waters.
Kauai Beach Boys is Kauai's most complete ocean fun headquarters. We offer surf and stand up paddling lessons, thrilling outrigger canoe rides in the surf, beach gear rentals and sunset catamaran tours of Kalapaki Bay and the Huleia River and private Kauai Lagoons sunset tours.
Leilani is a custom crafted 50-foot Uniflite Power Vessel. Specially designed for Hawaii's oceans, she offers comfortable and spacious accommodations with a sheltered main cabin, excellent airflow, an observation deck, a large swim platform, a private restroom, and a freshwater shower.
Holokai Kayak and Snorkel Adventure, located at He'eia State Park, is a not-for-profit eco - tour provider. We offer various Ocean adventure activities, sll of which focus on education and preservation of Hawaiian Culture and marine ecosystems.
Tropical Ocean Sports Inc. & Tropical Island Creations caters primarily to Japanese agents. We bring their customers to Kaneohe Bay for ocean sports and Eco & glass bottom boat tours. Our ocean sports activities include seawalker scuba, jet ski, amongst other miscellaneous options.
Adventures in Paradise Snorkeling Guide books agree the best snorkeling in Hawaii is Capt Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay on the big island. More fish, coral, dolphins & calmer waters make this a snorkeling oasis.