How to Say Whale in Hawaiian: A Comprehensive Guide

Aloha and welcome to our guide on how to say “whale” in Hawaiian! This beautiful language is deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the Hawaiian islands. Whether you’re visiting the islands, have a fascination with marine life, or simply want to expand your linguistic knowledge, we’re here to help.

Formal Ways to Say Whale in Hawaiian

When it comes to formal language, Hawaiian has two primary words for “whale” that you can use.

Palaoa is commonly used to refer to a whale in Hawaiian. It is a term used for both the humpback whale and general marine mammal. This word can be used in formal conversations, educational settings, or when discussing whales in a professional context. For example, “Nā hōkū palaoa” means “The humpback whales.”

Pahī is another formal term for “whale.” It is used in a broader sense and can refer to any type of whale, including other species like orcas or blue whales. While less common than palaoa, it is still widely understood. An example sentence using pahī is “Nā pahī keōpū” which translates to “The killer whales.”

Informal Ways to Say Whale in Hawaiian

Hawaiian language evolves in daily informal usage, and there are a few variations of the word “whale” that have become popular among locals. These terms are more commonly used in casual conversation and may vary depending on the region.

  • Koholā: Koholā is a widely used informal term for “whale” in Hawaiian. It is often used in everyday speech and is easily recognized by the locals. For example, if you want to say “I saw a whale,” you can say “Ike au i ka nā koholā.”
  • Manu koholā: This informal phrase literally means “whale fish.” The term “manu” means “bird” in Hawaiian but is also used to refer to fish. So, it adds a unique touch to the word “whale.” You can use this phrase in casual settings or when talking to friends. For instance, “I saw a whale” can be expressed as “Ike au i ka manu koholā.”

Regional Variations

Note: Regional variations occur in Hawaiian, and different islands may utilize slightly different words or pronunciations for “whale.” However, the previously mentioned terms are widely understood throughout the islands, ensuring effective communication.

Tips for Pronunciation

Pronouncing Hawaiian words can be a delightful challenge. To help you master saying “whale” accurately, here are a few pronunciation tips and examples:

  • Remember that every letter is pronounced, and there are no silent letters in Hawaiian.
  • The letter “a” is always pronounced as “ah,” as in “father.”
  • The letter “e” is pronounced like “ay” in “say.”
  • The letter “o” is pronounced as “oh,” similar to the “o” in “no.”
  • The letter “ā” is pronounced as “ah,” with a longer emphasis.

Now, let’s put these tips into action:

  • To pronounce palaoa correctly, say “pah-lah-OH-ah.”
  • To pronounce pahī, say “pah-HEE.”
  • Pronouncing koholā can be done by saying “koh-hoh-LAH.”
  • If you want to say manu koholā, pronounce it as “MAH-noo koh-HOH-lah.”

Remember, practice makes perfect! Don’t be afraid to give it a try and ask locals for help if you’re unsure about pronunciation.


There you have it, a comprehensive guide on how to say “whale” in Hawaiian! We covered both formal and informal ways to express this majestic creature, ensuring you have the knowledge to communicate effectively. Whether you choose palaoa or pahī for formal settings, or opt for koholā or manu koholā in more casual conversations, you can now confidently navigate your way through Hawaiian vocabulary.

Remember, learning a new language is a journey, so stay curious and embrace the beauty of Hawaiian culture and its language. E kūlia i ka nu‘u! (Strive to reach the highest!)

⭐Share⭐ to appreciate human effort 🙏
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top