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).
Immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of Hawaii’s marine life at Maui Ocean Center, The Aquarium of Hawaii. Encounter schooling reef fish, sharks, stingrays, turtles, and experience the world's first virtual encounter with Hawaii's humpback whales in the Humpbacks of Hawaii Exhibit & 3D Sphere.
Little Details is a Luxury Event Planning Company that specializes in custom Event, Home and Office Design.
Booking online with Snorkel Molokini is the easiest, least expensive and fastest way to plan your snorkel at Molokini Crater.
Perfectly situated resort for Hawaii Island exploration and abundant ocean activities, meaningful cultural activities, manta ray viewing and inspired island dining.
Stress-free, affordable & romantic wedding, vow renewal or commitment packages on Maui & The Big Island of Hawaii. Enjoy our award winning personal service to make your special day unforgettable. Take advantage of Hawaii's best wedding & vow renewal packages for your romantic sunset beach ceremony.
Reverend Patrick is an ordained minister offering cheerful assistance to couples getting married in Kona and Kohala, with over 20 years experience on the Big Island of Hawaii.
AVS is the partner of choice for the leading live event producers and designers in the US and around the globe. We are solution oriented, committed to excellence and the highest level of customer service. We love what we do and have fun doing it!
Overlooking the shimmering Pacific, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa on Ka’anapali Beach is the perfect island resort for an inspiring Hawaiian vacation. Its beachfront setting and aquatic playground appeals to honeymooners and families alike.
Kohala Coast Hawaii oceanfront luxury hotel and resort with white sand lagoon, Hawaiian Spa Without Walls, golf, tennis, five restaurants, extensive meeting and event facilities, year-round children’s program, tennis.