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).
See the best of Kauai in just a day. Take in breathtaking views, scenic Kauai beaches, waterfalls, Island history and culture, as well as local advice on the best things to do while visiting Kauai. The Best of Kauai Tour combines a land, riverboat and air tour for the absolute best value.
The Dinner Detective is an experience unlike any other! We offer an amazing murder mystery show paired with a fantastic three-course dinner. From the very beginning, we hide actors in the audience that are not dressed in costume. Anyone in the room can end up being part of the show, including YOU!
U. S. Army Museum of Hawaii housed in a 1911 coastal defense battery. Military memorabilia from early Hawaiian period through Vietnam War. Gallery of Heroes honoring Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross recipients. Gift Shop. Free Admission. Tues - Sat 9 AM - 5 PM
Venture around Oahu in a Modified Safari Jeep and stray away from the beaten path down the road less traveled. Hawaii Jeep Tours will take you places buses can't go! To the underground, lesser-known local spots that really let you experience everything Hawaii has to offer.
Expeditions, the Lahaina-Lanai Ferry, provides affordable service between Maui and Lanai, five times a day, every day! Packages are available for a day of championship golf, luxury accommodations, Jeep rental, 4X4 Trekker Tours, Archery, Sporting Clays.
Waikiki’s hidden gem, the best scuba diving on Oahu. Hawaiian Diving Adventures has trips for all experience levels, from first time beginner divers through advanced divers, divemasters, and instructors.
"EAT DRINK PLAY!" The ultimate place for big "kids" to play! Enjoy quality food in big portions in an upscale, modern atmosphere with the latest interactive electronic amusements at The Million Dollar Midway, and panoramic ocean views from the Sunset Lanai.
Friends of NELHA (FON) is an independent, volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting education and outreach programs at Keahole Point, where NELHA is recognized worldwide as a unique and innovative ocean park.