- Boating & Sailing
- Dolphin Encounters
- Scuba Diving
- Water Sports
- Whale Watching
Whale Watching on Maui
If you’re visiting Maui any time in winter, there’s a decent chance you could spot a whale before even reaching the island.
Because the channels surrounding Maui house so many Humpback whales, it isn’t uncommon to spot a whale from out your airplane window. If you don’t end up seeing a misty spout before even touching down, rest assured that the whale watching in Maui is arguably the best in Hawaii, and the question isn’t if you’ll see whales—but how many different times?
The peak season for whale watching on Maui is January, February, and March, though whale season in Maui officially runs from December 15-May 15. Early in the season, the first sightings are usually of males who have made the swim from Alaska, awaiting the females who usually show up between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For the next few months, the sea is alive with thunderous splashes, spouts, pec slaps, and breaches, as the 50-ton mammals will mate, give birth, and frolic here in these waters.
To truly go whale watching on Maui, however, and experience the wintertime magic, you need to book a whale watching tour to see the Humpbacks up close. Boats, by law, cannot approach a Humpback whale any closer than 100 yards, but oftentimes the curious whales will swim up and “mug” the boat. Watch as they rhythmically slap their fluke, or erupt in a sudden breach—using their massive peduncle muscle to thrust their body in the air. When it happens without warning, time literally seems to stop and no one can utter a word, as such an epic display of force can turn an entire crowd silent.
To book a whale watching tour in Maui, look for boats that leave from Lahaina, Ma‘alaea, or Kā‘anapali Beach. The catamarans in Kā‘anapali are convenient if you’re staying in the resort, but because they load directly from the sand require agility and mobility. Larger, more stable, diesel boats depart from Lahaina Harbor, and morning hours are usually best before the tradewinds pick up. In Ma‘alaea, oftentimes the wind is howling by early afternoon, which is when most of the whale watching tours depart from Ma‘alaea Harbor.
A little insider secret, however, is that any morning snorkeling charter will also stop to watch whales, so travelers pressed for time on the island can book a charter to Molokini and still get a morning whale watch. Granted, the amount of time you’ll spend with the whales will be less than on a whale watch, since whale watching tours are custom geared towards following and learning about whales.
Finally, since whale watching in Maui is based around nature, no two whale watching trips or excursions will ever be the same. If you have a whale watch that’s just mediocre, and don’t experience much action, the best thing to do is just try again—tomorrow’s a brand new day.
Whale Watching Directory
Safari-style 4x4 Trekker Tour with a/c vehicle & ferry passage from Maui!
- Hawaiian Islands Cruise & Tour 2021 departures starting at $2,099! SAVE $500 per couple. Visit 4 islands in 12 days with an extended stay on Oahu.
- Oahu, Maui and Big Island multi-island adventures! 6-night packages from $1,309
- Explore one of the top aquariums in the world! Visit Maui Ocean Center for an authentic marine experience. Day, Week & Annual passes from $29.95/adult
- Get a bird's eye view of Maui with UFO Parasail! Soar 800ft - 1,200ft in the air! Rates starting at only $89
- Day trip from Maui to Lanai on the ferry! Explore the island, golf, snorkel and more! Book your activities and ferry trip! $30 each way (adults)
- Come Play Towards The Ocean at Princeville Makai
- Voted Best Of Maui, Waterfall Hike & Chocolate Tour!
- From $89- West Oahu Sunset Sail with Hawaii Nautical
- Enjoy brunch specials at world-famous Wolfgang's Steakhouse
- Kids 2-11 swim with dolphins for $114 with code HIDEAL!
- From $869 - 6-Nt. Big Island & Maui Package w/Air & Hotels
- Join Haleiwa Shark Tours for an unforgettable experience.
- Save 9% off your condo vacation rental when you book direct!
- Save $10: Book your Na Pali catamaran adventure online!
- Visit Today! Unique tropical nature preserve and sanctuary