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).
Explore Maui Nui’s ocean environment with the experts at Pacific Whale Foundation through PacWhale Eco-Adventures top-rated Whalewatches, as well as award-winning snorkel cruises to Molokini & Turtle Arches, Lanai and Honolua Bay; Dolphin Watch ecotours; Sunset Dinner and Cocktail Cruises.
Hawaii's world-class visual and performing arts complex located on Maui offers arts education & Hawaiian cultural programs, music, dance and theater performances, art exhibits, movie screenings & special events plus dining area & catering kitchen.
Aloha! On the ocean front in sunny Kihei. Maui Sunset Vacation rental condominiums on the beach in South Maui. Large accommodations with resort amenities, air conditioning, washer/dryer, wi-fi, & large private view decks. Suites are updated. Conveniently located in the Kihei-Wailea Resort area.
Ekahi Village- Beachfront low rise condominium village with Beach Pavilion, 4 Pools, Paddle Tennis & Shuffle Board on 34 acres. It sits on a mile-long sandy beach with beautiful sunsets, were you can walk to the Hotels for a Meal or luau. Discounts with Wailea Golf & Tennis clubs too!
Direct Oceanfront 3BR/3BA End unit Condo on the shoreline of Maui's beautiful west coast. Unobstructed PANORAMIC OCEAN VIEW & colorful sunsets. You will be awed by our incredible ocean view & location. Nicely upgraded & remodeled, well-maintained with everything you need for a memorable vacation.
Maui’s most exclusive beachfront villa resort on famed Wailea Beach offers an indulgent vacation experience. Exquisite 2- and 3-bedroom villas are generously sized, some with its own private pool. Enjoy resort amenities and allow the Concierge to arrange a private chef or personal adventure guide.
Situated on 40 spectacular oceanfront acres on Ka'anapali Beach, this resort offers elegant guestrooms with private lanais and panoramic views, oceanfront spa, half-acre pool, award-winning restaurants, brand new Regency Club, and Hawaiian cultural activities, including Maui's most exciting lu'au!
Select from 1-, 2- or 3-three bedroom suites with golf, garden or partial ocean views. These fully-equipped Maui vacation condos on the Wailea Blue Golf Course include free parking, wi-fi and phone calls, housekeeping, Concierge, $155 dining and spa credits and a Maika’i grocery discount card.