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.
Top rated, privately managed Lae Nani beachfront condos on Kauai's Coconut Coast. Well maintained 1, 2, and 3 bedroom oceanfront condos in a peaceful beachside resort, walking distance to shopping, dining, attractions and the coastal path.
Alekona Kauai's oceanfront homes, condos, and five-star luxury concierge services offer the discerning traveler a Kauai unlike anything they have previously experienced. From creating custom itineraries to private chef dinners, our staff is dedicated to ensure you experience the best of Kauai.
A new luxury resort located in the 450-acre Hokuala community along the Pacific, Timbers Kauai combines authentic Hawaiian living with Timbers’ signature luxury amenities. All two- to four-bedroom oceanfront residences offer relaxed living with at least three private lanais and ocean views.
Discover the chic side of Waikiki at Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach. From contemporary guest rooms & suites to Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's world-renowned cuisine to a lively day-into-night pool scene, Alohilani blends Hawaii’s cultural heritage with an elegant style that’s uniquely…Aloha Chic.
On Anaeho'omalu Bay on 10 beachfront acres, Lava Lava Beach Club offers four contemporary Hawaiian cottages, open air restaurant serving lunch, dinner and a weekend Bloody Mary Beach Brunch. Stunning beachfront venue and event lawn ideal for groups and weddings.
Oceanfront Ilikai Hotel & Luxury Suites is just a short stroll to Ala Moana Center and 2 blocks to the Hawaii Convention Center. The iconic hotel features 2 pools, a fitness center, spa, salon, retail shops, coffee shop, and cocktails & dining at popular restaurant "Cinnamon's at The Ilikai."
Two hosted/licensed units with private entry/baths. Units furnished in tropical rattan and wicker, each with 2 beds, 2 comfortable lounge chairs, AC and ceiling fans, plus Cable TV and telephone which opens onto a 20x40 pool and views of the garden and Mount Olomana.