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).
Wailea Resort is a 1,500 acre master planned, world class resort situated on Maui's southern shore, spanning from the emerald slopes of Haleakala to the glistening shores of the Pacific. Our hotels, neighborhoods and retail/commercial areas all work in harmony.
The first and only Relais & Châteaux property in Hawaii. Set in Wailea, the ultra-private luxury hotel is designed uniquely for couples. From its perch, 300 feet above sea level, guests enjoy dramatic ocean views and 15 lush acres of pathways through tropical gardens, waterfalls and koi ponds.
Pleasant Holidays has sent more than 10 million visitors to Hawaii since 1959, featuring value-packed vacations, customized itineraries and nationwide airfares; plus a large variety of activities and excursions for a truly memorable experience.
Stay at the only beachfront hotel in Lahaina. Our family-friendly resort is near many Maui vacation hot spots including fine restaurants, Front Street shopping, art galleries, and various ocean activities. Choose from one of luxury condo rentals: studio or one-bedroom mountain/oceanfront suites.
Located in Sunny South Maui just across the street from a six mile stretch of Maui's beautiful and award-winning beaches, the Maui Coast Hotel is the only Premier Full Service Hotel in Kihei, one of Maui's favorite vacation destinations.
At "Ka'anapali Folly" you will enjoy resort amenities and breathtaking views from our well-appointed condo. We are located in West Maui along the ocean's edge of the famous Ka'anapali Beach. Whether traveling as a couple, with a group of friends or as a family there is something for everyone.
This oceanfront resort combines the comfort & convenience of a condominium with hotel-caliber services. Aston Ka’anapali Shores rests on 10 acres of tropical gardens. Resort offers a restaurant, spa, fitness center, BBQ grills, tennis & pickle ball courts, shuffle boards, 2 heated pools & jet spas.
This Maui beachfront resort with low-rise buildings spans 34 acres of tropical landscaping and terraces down to Keawakapu Beach. Amenities include 4 swimming pools, paddle tennis, shuffleboard, barbecue grills and beachfront pavilion.