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).
Mauna Lani, Auberge Resorts Collection is a luxury resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. Auberge Resorts Collection consists of hotels, residences and membership clubs in the United States, Europe, Mexico and other international destinations.
Kohala Coast Hawaii oceanfront luxury hotel and resort with white sand lagoon, Hawaiian Spa Without Walls, golf, tennis, five restaurants, extensive meeting and event facilities, year-round children’s program, tennis.
AVS is the partner of choice for the leading live event producers and designers in the US and around the globe. We are solution oriented, committed to excellence and the highest level of customer service. We love what we do and have fun doing it!
Aikane Plantation Coffee is 100% Hawaiian gourmet coffee, grown on our family estate located on the slopes of majestic Mauna Loa Mountain in the District of Ka’u.
Perfectly situated resort for Hawaii Island exploration and abundant ocean activities, meaningful cultural activities, manta ray viewing and inspired island dining.
The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort offers the ideal mix of fun and fantasy for dream destination weddings for two or 200. Romance Specialists customize every moment to create everlasting memories of each couple's wedding here in Paradise.
Alaska Airlines offers low fares and the most nonstop flights between Hawaii and the West Coast. Learn more about Alaska's award-winning service and unmatched reliability at alaskaair.com and blog.alaskaair.com.
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa's 2016 renovation features contemporary redesigned guest rooms and new spaces for mingling. The resort offers a Mandara Spa, infinity pools, ocean view dining and calm beach, all located a short stroll from destination shopping and dining.
The Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel offers resort-style amenities without the resort price tag. This beachfront hotel features 452 guest rooms, 2 ocean view restaurants, an infinity pool, & is home to 20,000 square feet of event space, which can accommodate up to 500 persons.
Reverend Patrick is an ordained minister offering cheerful assistance to couples getting married in Kona and Kohala, with over 20 years experience on the Big Island of Hawaii.