Maui Whale Watching

Maui whale watching in the shallow waters offshore of Lahaina

Maui may be the best place to see Humpback Whales in the world. Video by Hawaii

The shallow waters offshore of Maui are the best place in the Islands to see the behemoth humpbacks which weigh up to 45 tons and often jump from the water in spectacular breaches. Seeing the majestic whales is the highlight of any Hawaii vacation and for many provides an unforgettable thrill of a lifetime.

Maui whale watching tours are offered during the winter months.

These whale watching trips range from educational and family-oriented adventures to evening cruises complete with onboard dancing. Our favorite is Trilogy Excursions because they use smaller sailing catamaran which takes fewer people. Make sure to book early because they often sell out because of the limited number of seats available. If you can’t get on Trilogy, another popular choice is the Pacific Whale Foundation. Both Trilogy and the Pacific Whale Foundation donate a part of your ticket price to Humpback whale conservation.

Best Time to See Whales

The absolute best months for viewing humpback whales in Maui is between January and mid-April. However,  you can see humpbacks from mid-November to mid-May.

The Whale’s Song is Broadcasted Live on the Boat

The whales also emit long, drawn-out songs that range from very high to very low notes—humpbacks have the broadest tonal range of any animal. The songs are quite fascinating to hear as they are broadcast live using microphones hung off the boat into the water and them amplified aboard the vessel. A typical humpback song lasts about twenty minutes and then the whale repeats the song over again.

What To Look For

Often the first thing you will see when you are whale watching is a humpback whale spouting out a misty spray from its blowholes, or nares, on the top of their head. Since the humpback has two blowholes the spout comes out in a large V-shaped spray. Other humpback behaviors include Fluke Up and Fluke Down Dives, Head Slaps, Tail Slaps, Breaches, and the famous Spy Hop when the whale pokes just its head straight up out of the water. While the adult humpbacks may measure 45 in length, the newborn calves are just 12 to 15 feet in length and weigh only one to two tons. The calves often imitate the parents as they try to breach from the water and splash down on the surface.