6 Maui Whale Watching Tips
know before you go
Whale season on Maui has arrived once again, and Maui’s favorite wintertime visitors are frolicking throughout Hawaii’s warm waters.
Humpback whales migrate to Hawaii from Alaska, British Columbia, and Easter Russia waters to give birth in Hawaii’s protected ocean environment. Female whales are on the lookout for clear, gentle waters to safely birth their calfs. This means you’re likely to see many newborn whales playing and breaching right alongside their mothers, which is an incredible sight to see. Another amazing fact is that while in Hawaii’s waters, humpback whales don’t feed. Instead, they eat to their heart’s content in their summertime home in preparation for their long trip to Hawaii.
If you’re on Maui between December and March, a whale watch is a must-do activity for your itinerary. There’s nothing like seeing whales breach and play while on a Maui Whale Watch, and there are plenty of vessels to choose from. Whether you’re in Makena, Wailea, Maalaea, Kaanapali, or Kapalua, departure points are plentiful.
6 Maui Whale Watching Tips:
If you’re planning a whale watching trip on Maui, here six things to think about…
1-Don’t get discouraged if it’s a cloudy day. Some claim that the clouds seem to bring the whales to the surface, and you’re more likely to see a lot of humpback whale activity when there’s cloud cover. While not scientifically proven, the takeaway is this… there’s never a bad day to go on a whale watch!
2-Remember to prepare for being on a boat. Nothing ruins a whale watching excursion like motion sickness. Be ready with prescription sea sickness patches or over the counter motion sickness medication if you’re prone to getting ill while on a boat. And don’t forget the ocean-safe sunscreen if you book a daytime whale watching excursion. The sun’s rays reflect off the surface of the water, making sunburns more severe. So be sure to protect your skin!
3-Whale watching isn’t just for daytime. Think about adding to your Maui whale watching experience by booking a sunset whale watch. Not only will you be rewarded with some amazing humpback whale sightings, but you’re likely to capture some amazing Maui sunsets for your Instagram feed as well!
4-If you listen closely enough, you’ll hear humpback whales sing! Many boats have underwater microphones that pick up the beautiful songs of Maui’s humpback whales, and play them through a speaker on board. Often times, you can even hear them singing while swimming at the beach!
5-Get educated, and have fun too! The Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center in Kihei is a great place to learn more about Hawaii’s humpback whales, and all of the research surrounding these gentle giants of the sea.
6-You don’t need a boat to see whales! The coastline is also a great place to look for whales playing in Maui’s waters. If you’re whale watching from shore, try to get your hands on some binoculars to enhance your viewing. And be on the lookout for a few boats clustered together offshore. This may be a sign that there are whales in the area, and the boats have gathered to get a closer look.
A quick safety tip: if you’re driving along Maui’s shoreline and see whales breaching offshore, be sure to keep your eyes on the road, and leave the whale sightings to the passengers. Or safely pull over to get some shots to post on social media. Whatever you do, don’t try to look for whales or take pictures while driving!
Some boat excursion companies offer refunds if there are no whale sightings during the trip. But don’t worry too much about that. Most Maui whale watching operators know exactly where to go to increase the likelihood of whale sightings. And Hawaii’s humpback whale population has grown accustomed to the many boats out in the water, and often times come right up alongside boats to interact. As a general rule, you’re likely to see at least a couple of whales in the same general area. So if you notice one humpback splashing in the distance, chances are there are more in the same spot.
Maui’s whale season is a magical time of year for both visitors and those that call Maui home. So if you’re on Maui from December to March, be sure to save some time to see these amazing humpback whales playing in Maui’s warm blue waters.