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).
Hilo's premier, full service hotel on the shores of Big Island's Hilo Bay. Outstanding views of the ocean or quaint Hilo town, authentic Hawaiian charm and aloha spirit embraces you! Resort features a restaurant, lounge, WiFi, swimming pool, meeting/banquet facilities. (FEMA & TLA Approved)
Hawaii Island Retreat is unique among Hawaii destinations, spas, and eco-retreats. Set among evergreens and ocean breezes along Hawaii's Kohala coast, our 50 acre spa retreat offers luxury accommodations in complete harmony with nature.
Island-hop to Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and Hawaii by small boat cruise. Watch marine life; “talk story” with locals; and spend time at play—kayak, paddle board, hike, snorkel. It's all included in your fare. 36 guests; 7 nights; year-round departures. Unrushed. Uncrowded. Unbelievable.
The Volcano Rainforest Retreat is a boutique Bed & Breakfast on the Big Island of Hawaii offering a collection of 4 distinct guest cottages, created with elegant simplicity in harmony and balance with the Hawaiian rain forest, adjacent to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and charming Volcano Village.
Unique location overlooking Kamuela town, has an expansive view of the vocanoes Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa. A breathtaking view of the Kohala Coast & Pacific ocean. 15 minutes from best beaches. Next to Parker Ranch. Walking distance to shops and restaurants.
Since 1964 the Mauna Kea Golf Course set the standard of course beauty and design, solidifying its place in history as one of the Hawaii's most scenic and favored courses. Epic views and challenging play equate to an ideal Hawaii golf vacation.
Kona Bayview Inn is a quaint three room bed & breakfast located in Captain Cook Hawaii, just 15 miles south of Kailua-Kona, overlooking a 10 acre Macadamia Nut farm. Our remote location is close to two of the best snorkeling destinations on the island.
This AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star resort boasts 243 luxurious rooms in 36 low-rise ocean view bungalows, private golf course, Hualalai Spa, seven distinct pools, cultural center, fabulous island cuisine, and signature Four Seasons service.