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.
Discover the debut of a new and distinctive resort experience at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach featuring stylishly-appointed suites, incomparable ocean views and legendary service.
Royal Kahana Maui by Outrigger is an oceanfront condominium located between Kaanapali and Kapalua on Maui. Upgraded studios, one- and two-bedroom units feature spectacular ocean views, with the islands of Lanai and Molokai in the distance.
Retreat to Aqua Oasis, a serene urban space with a bright tropical atmosphere. Just a short walk from Waikiki Beach, shopping, and nightlife; it feels like an oasis in the midst of the city. On-site amenities include a pool, daily continental breakfast, WiFi, laundry facilities, and restaurant.
Outrigger Reef on the Beach combines inviting hospitality, timeless traditions and elegant style to create a distinctive Waikiki resort experience. Dine at two seaside restaurants and enjoy nightly live performances by legends of Hawaiian music.
Courtyard By Marriott Maui Kahului Airport hotel features the latest contemporary Courtyard hotel design and exclusive amenities. Easy to use Technology with plenty of space to work or rest in our lobby. Inspiring Dining at The Bistro, and 128 relaxing guest rooms.
Centrally located on World famous Waikiki Beach. 1702 rooms, 150 suites, 46,000 sq. ft. meeting space. Rising on a half-mile of crisp white sand, the Sheraton Waikiki Beach Resort casts sparks with an endless whirl of entertainment.
Ewa Hotel Waikiki offers a convenient location in Waikiki without paying a hefty price. A hidden gem, the hotel is located just two blocks from Waikiki Beach, and right across from Kapiolani Park and the Honolulu Zoo. Guests enjoy a rooftop sun deck for soaking up the sun and catching sunsets.
Maui's Award Winning Historic Bed and Breakfast, FREE wireless internet, FREE parking, Full Breakfast, Private Baths, TV, Telephones, A/C, daily maid service. We are a short drive to beautiful beaches, golf courses, and most major visitor attractions.