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).
The Sheraton Princess Kaiulani hotel sits in the heart of Waikiki. Facilities include specialty restaurants, a freshwater swimming pool, fitness center, a showroom and various meeting spaces, nightly poolside entertainment and daily arts and crafts.
The Aston Waikiki Beach Tower provides the perfect combination of exclusive condominium living and attentive resort-quality service. Conveniently located near the center of Waikiki’s attractions, the hotel offers easy access to an eclectic mix of exciting shopping, dining, and nightlife.
Just about everything on Waikiki Beach has been discovered, except maybe Shoreline Waikiki Hotel. In the heart of Waikiki, and only seconds from Waikiki Beach, this peaceful hotel is your hidden sanctuary in Honolulu’s premier shopping and dining district.
Oceanfront condos at the start of Waikiki Beach. Ilikai Marina Condos are the perfect destination for travelers looking for relaxation, luxury, adventure, beauty, and romance. 180 degree ocean view from the living room, bedroom, and lanai. .
This secluded beachfront resort, just 10 minutes from Waikiki, features spacious accommodations, a world-class spa, world class dining at five restaurants, CHI Health Energy Fitness Center and a private lagoon with resident dolphins.
Trump International Hotel Waikiki is the only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel on Oahu. Less than a two-minute walk away from the hotel to the beach & in the heart of Waikiki's vibrant entertainment & shopping scene, Trump Waikiki is a perfect Hawaiian getaway for couples and families.
The 81-room Coconut Waikiki Hotel offers guests a colorful, contemporary twist on classic Waikiki style with an art deco-inspired design. Located just three blocks from the world famous Waikiki Beach, the hotel provides easy access to Waikiki's array of shops, restaurants and nightlife.