32nd Annual Maui Whale Festival

By Caroline Wright

The whales have arrived!

The first humpbacks of the season have been spotted in Hawaii, and the current trickle of early giants will soon become a steady flow of leviathans. More than 10,000 humpback whales—“kohola” in Hawaiian—make the long journey from southeastern Alaska to the warm waters of Hawaii each year, to breed, birth and raise their calves.

And Maui is the very best place in Hawaii to see the whales. The 32nd Annual Maui Whale Festival, a tremendous hit with locals and visitors alike, offers many opportunities for up-close and personal sightings of Hawaii’s largest visitors.

With more than 30 events, activities, and cruises spread out over a six-month period, everybody–from children to scholars and biologists–will easily find something of great interest here. The festival is presented by the Pacific Whale Foundation, a non-profit organization in which membership really does have its privileges: some events are “members only,” and others may be attended by PWF members at a discount. You may wish to consider joining the Foundation, to take advantage of the “kamaaina” (local resident) treatment enjoyed by members.

Events kick off on Saturday, November 26, 2011 with Members Weekend, Welcome Home the Whales, and the Pacific Whale Foundation’s Open House. The weekend includes three “members-only” whale watch cruises led by the PWF’s research team, and ends with an artisan pizza and wine-pairing event at new Ma’alaea restaurant Porto.

The cetaceous celebration continues in December with Stand Up for the Whales, the festival’s first paddle event, on December 11, and Golf Fore The Whales on December 17.

The season peaks in February, and highlights include lectures and VIP whale-watching cruises with PWF founder and president Greg Kaufman, who has been working to protect whales since the 1970s. On Saturday, February 18, 2012, World Whale Day Celebration kicks off with the Parade of Whales in Kihei, and continues with a fabulous free community event and concert featuring some of Hawaii’s best-loved entertainers at Kalama Park. The event serves as a fundraiser for marine education programs for Maui schoolchildren, and features local food booths, a carnival, a silent auction, arts and crafts, and lots more.

If you’d like to be a part of the festival in a very unique and personal way, you can participate in the annual Great Maui Whale Count on February 26, from 8 a.m. till noon. It’s free, and no experience is required. PWF will provide training and tools. To sign up as a counter, e-mail researchdirector@pacificwhale.org.

Date(s)/Time: November 26, 2011 through May 15, 2012
Location: Various locations on Maui
Cost: Some events have charges, but many are free
Who Will Love This: Everyone
Website: http://mauiwhalefestival.org


Maui Whale Festival — A cetacean celebration


Maui Whale Festival 2011


Maui Whale Watching


Whale Watching in Maui, Hawaii

Whale Watching off the Coast of Maui


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