Humpback Whales – Kohola

December 18, 2020 4

In our last article, we spoke about the best female surfers in the world coming to visit Maui at the beginning of every winter. These women are not the only majestic creatures that enjoy coming to our warm water every year. From the months of November to May, between 8,000 to 10,000 Humpback Whales (Kohola in Hawaiian) travel all the way from Alaska to the Archipelago of Hawaii.

Their 3,000-mile journey takes four to six weeks, with very few stops. These giants of the sea escape the ice cold water of Alaska, in search of warmer water to mate and give birth. Hawaiian waters are not only warmer, but offer great visibility and lack of natural predators. A safer environment for the baby calves to grow and learn all of the skills necessary to their survival.

Humpback Whales

Humpback whales have an eleven to twelve month gestational period. During one season they will be breeding, and the next one they will be giving birth. Out of eight Hawaiian Islands, the West side of Maui is the best location for whale watching. You can be guaranteed to see the whales from January to March, as this is when the highest amount of whales cross the Auau channel. There are many options to go observe these beauties:

  • From land: the whales are so big and close to the shore that all you have to do is look up at the ocean and wait for them to breach! One of the best locations to observe them is on the Pali Road (Between Maalaea and Lahaina). The view is breathtaking and the whales will never seize to amaze you!
  • By boat: There are whale watching tours departing the harbor of Lahaina Town right across the street from Belle Surf Cafe! If you would like to get an up close and personal experience with the whales, I would definitely recommend this.
  • With your own watercraft: These giant mammals get so close to the shore that it is possible to reach them by canoe or stand up paddle! You MUST be experienced in this type of water activity before committing to it. Strong winds and currents can make the trip back to the beach extremely difficult. Do not forget to keep a safe distance from the whales. We want them to come back next year, right? We must respect their personal space.

However you decide to observe our winter visitors, make sure you do not only watch them, but also listen to them! If you spot some whales in the ocean, stick your head underwater to hear their beautiful music. Their singing travels through the ocean, so even if you are on the shore you will be able to hear them. Scientists believe that only males sing, likely as a mating technique. This is similar to a bird song. Humpback whales are the fifth largest whale species in the world (weighing in at fifty to eighty thousand pounds and up to sixty feet in length)!!


When your plan your trip to Maui, add these giants to your list! It is very rare to be in a place in the world where you can observe so many whales from the shore. If you decide to book a Whale Watch tour, come say hi to us at Belle Surf Cafe! We are a one minute walking distance from the Lahaina harbor where the boats arrive and depart. We will make sure to serve you breakfast in no time so that you will not miss your boat.

Check out our photos from last winter! We went to observe the whales using a stand up paddle, and not only did we find playful Humpbacks, but also an adventurous dog looking to make friends! (Yes… the little yellow dot in that photo is a tiny dog swimming straight towards an 80,000 pound whale!) 


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