Tom’s Tips – Maui Whale Watching

Feb 5, 2021 | Activity Information

Table of Contents
Maui is the undisputed whale watching capitol of the Hawaiian Islands. Yes the Humpback Whales do come to Hawaii and can be seen off the shore of all the islands but no where in as much volume as can be found on Maui. The underwater channels connecting Maui to its neighbor islands of Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Molokini are considered a national protected area for these gentle giants as the depth of the channels is very shallow compared to the open ocean. For what ever their reasons, the whales consider this their favorite location to visit and the most whale sightings every year will occur here.

We have tons of whale watch boats taking off at all times of day during the whale season in the winters. These are generally 2 hours in length and are definitely worth the price. You can choose the type of boat you prefer from large to small but it is best to choose one that has some speed so you can zip between the pods at will. The average tour will start with you heading out into one of the channels and then just looking to see whales in the distance. When you see them, it is ‘game on’ and you will motor as fast as you can to the area they were spotted so you can observe them for as long as you can until they eventually will sound, or return to the deep. At that point they will be gone for a while and you will be looking for the next group and then speeding over to glimpse them. It is for this reason that it is important to have a fast vessel. The zodiac boats are ideal for this and some of the larger boats are very fast as well. You might get a bit more ‘personalization’ on one of the smaller boats as you will be able to ask questions of the captain more easily but the big boat will often have a marine biologist on board to continuously offer up a monologue of interesting and pertinent facts. Many of the boats, large and small, will also have underwater microphones to allow you to hear the whales as they ‘sing’ and communicate in the water. Some of the double deck larger boats also provide an advantage of being further off the water from the top deck and giving you a bit better perspective of the whales from that level. You probably want to stay away from sail boats on the whale watch tours as they will not be able to go fast enough or be maneuverable enough to follow the whales with any consistency.