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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).
Ulu is unlike any store you’ve likely seen before. Built into our “Hawaiian Journeys Theatre” complex, which resembles a Hawaiian volcano, Ulu offers fine arts, ceramics, clothing, wood, music and DVDs, and more.
Maker of Hawaii's Finest Ukuleles Since 1916
Local, quality ingredients are gathered and handcrafted into all-natural bath and body essentials. Various luxurious soaps, lotions, body oils, and mists are available to the world to aid in cleaning up and keeping our planet green.
Here at the Kauai Coffee Estate, you’ll have the opportunity to stroll through our coffee orchard, talk to our friendly guides, shop for gifts to take home and of course sample our exclusive line of estate-grown Hawaiian coffees.
Sweetbread bakery and snack bar. Ice Cream, gift shop, free sampling. Four-acre tropical gardens.
Hawaii's most complete beach and boat activities. Home of the world famous "Seasmoke" and luxurious "Alala" and Manu Iwa catamarans, offering Snorkel Cruises, Sunset Cruises, Whale Watching, Glass Bottom Boat, kayaks, and beach day packages.
Enjoy exclusively designed and Made in Hawaii products today! The Hawaiian Box is a seasonal subscription box sourcing designed or made in Hawaii products by local vendors. Orders can be made once or on a continual basis.
Ala Moana Center, Hawaii's largest shopping center located in Honolulu just minutes from Waikiki, features more than 290 stores, including 80 dining options, over 40 luxury brands, and three department stores (Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom).
Started in 1985, Manuheali'i Inc. has specialized in design of Hawaiian apparel and accessories. With two retail locations in Honolulu and Kailua, and an online store, Manuheali'i continues to supply patrons with ever-changing collections of original designs and styles.