Early Bird Whale Watch Special! Book Now and Save!
Hawaii Ocean Project Logo Header Banner

RESERVATIONS - (808) 667-6165

Hawaii Ocean Project Blog

Subscribe to our weekly blog that covers topics including ocean research, fun marine life facts, island events, special boating excursions, Eco-friendly tips, environmental concerns and more!

Humpback Whale Behaviors on Our Maui Whale Watch Tours

How to identify the many exciting behaviors of humpback whales.
March 24, 2017

Humpback Whale Behaviors on Our Maui Whale Watch Tours


Humpback whale watching season is still going strong here on Maui, and while some individuals have begun their yearly migration back to their summer feeding grounds off the Alaskan coast, many others won't depart until late April or perhaps early May. That means if you're on a spring vacation, there's still time to hop on one of our Maui whale watch cruises.

Last week, we talked about a new behavior seen among southern humpback whales, which involves massive groups of up to 200 feeding off the southern coast of South Africa. While we're on the subject of whale behaviors, we'd like to give you a handy guide to some of the maneuvers that you might spot while aboard one of our tours, or perhaps even from a good vantage point on land.

As you may have already learned, humpbacks come to Hawaii during the winter and spring months to breed and give birth to their calves. Mating behavior is quite the boisterous activity, with in-season females taking small groups of males on a merry chase where they each jostle each other out of the way in order to stay at the head of the pack. Sometimes, the males can get quite rough with each other, but most of the behaviors we see are much more relaxed than this kind of event. Here are the terms describing common whale behaviors.


Blow – This is the most common whale sign that you're going to see. Humpbacks come up for air every 10-15 minutes, and when they release their breath, a spout of moisture is blown away from the whale's blowhole, allowing for a clear new water-free breath to be taken in. If you track the spouts, you'll be more likely to spot one of the more flashy behaviors. Calves come up every 3-5 minutes, making them even easier to track.

Tail Slap – Sometimes, a whale will lift its tail fin up high out of the water, and slap it down on the water's surface. This causes quite a splash, not to mention an interesting sound both above and below the surface. Marine scientists think this signal is a warning.

Head Rise or Spy Hop – Once in a while, we'll see a whale come straight up to the surface in a vertical position and poke its head up out of the water. Because the whale's eye comes up above the surface, marine scientists have theorized that the whale is doing this to get a look at what's happening above the surface. Hence the term "spy hop." Our whale watching guests often have a lot of fun with the idea that while we're watching the whales, they're watching us. After all, curiosity is a trait that's shared among humans and animals alike.

Head Lunge – Now just imagine the spy hop behavior, but less vertical. In this case, the whale will come up to the surface at an angle, thrust its head out of the water, and bring it down forcefully. This has been observed as a competitive display. Remember that mating behavior we were talking about earlier? Males will sometimes do this while vying for breeding rights with the female.

Pec Slap – Sometimes whales will lift their pectoral fin out of the water and slap it down on the surface. Sometimes they will do this with one fin, but sometimes both at once. Scientists think this is a communication or signal to other whales. Mother whales are often seen performing this action when traveling with a young baby, and has been observed frequently in stormy weather. This may help calves locate their mothers when visibility is poor.

Peduncle Slap – This is like the tail slap, only much more enthusiastic. The whale will send a good portion of its tail end up out of the water, and slam it down on the surface with considerable force.

Fluke Up Dive – In this instance, the tail flukes come up, but without any slapping action. The tail simply arches up out of the water and slips down again below the surface. This happens when a whale is maneuvering down in a dive from the surface area.

Breach – Last but not least, the famous breach. When you see a whale's entire body come hurtling up out of the water to come slamming back down on the surface with a magnificent splash, you've witnessed a breach. This acrobatic display could be done for many reasons, but it certainly would be an ideal way to keep the skin free of smaller marine critters looking for a free ride.


Hopefully now you'll have an easier time identifying those exciting aerial whale behaviors that have made whale watching one of the most celebrated activities on Maui! We hope to have you aboard one of our tours soon, so you can witness these exciting behaviors firsthand with your friends and family. Mahalo!

New Humpback Whale Behavior Documented

Over the past few years, a mysterious new behavior has been observed among humpback whales.
March 17, 2017

New Humpback Whale Behavior Documented


Over the past few years, observers have witnessed a mysterious new behavior among humpback whales. Unlike many other cetaceans, humpbacks are known as solitary creatures who only tend to congregate temporarily during mating season, or to travel in pairs or small groups that break up after a short time. Now, there are a growing number of documented sightings of massive groups of humpbacks, containing as many as 200 individuals.

Some scientists think that the incredible recovery of the humpback whale population could be one of the explanations for this remarkable change. Historically, whaling activity reduced the number of humpback whales to an estimated ten percent of their original population. This led many countries to make whaling illegal. Today, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is just one of their safe havens, and a vital one, as marine scientists believe that more of the North Pacific stock come to Hawaii than the other two known breeding areas, which are western Mexico and the islands of southern Japan. If you join us aboard a Maui whale watch cruise, you'll get to witness the robust population of whales that come to Hawaii firsthand.

The super-groups of humpback whales have been sighted by cruise ships in 2011, 2014, and 2015. There have also been a growing collection of sightings via aircraft and miscellaneous public observations. The collection of breathtaking pictures is expanding along with the sightings.

So, what were the whales doing in these super-groups? They were feeding, generally around the south-western coast of South Africa. Although there is one record of humpbacks feeding around this location about a hundred years ago, this spot is many thousands of miles away from the areas that have become their typical feeding grounds, in the waters of the Antarctic. Some researchers are considering whether part of this behavior is changing based on the available prey. That may explain the unusual location, but would it explain the size of the group?

The truth is, whale behavior was poorly documented back before the whaling began. For all we know, cooperative feeding at such an enormous scale could have been normal when the population was at its natural size. Humpbacks have often been documented feeding cooperatively in small groups, so perhaps the resurgence of their numbers has led to the re-emergence of an old behavioral pattern.

Right now, no one knows for certain what's causing this dramatic change in their behavior, but as their numbers continue to recover, marine researchers expect to observe many other fascinating changes. One thing we can be certain of, however, is that global conservation efforts on behalf of the humpback whale has proved one of the greatest success stories in the history of environmental efforts. Now, we can enjoy the wondrous results on our Maui whale watch excursions. We hope you'll join us soon, before the whales return to their feeding grounds in the summer and fall months. Mahalo!

Book Your Maui Whale Watch Corporate Activity

Space, comfort, and exciting humpback whale sightings await you and your group.
March 10, 2017

Book Your Maui Whale Watch Corporate Activity


Corporate retreats and conferences bring more and more visitors to Maui each year. After all, who wouldn't want to get together for fun, relaxation, and mental stimulation on a tropical island? Best of all, you get to enjoy an "exotic" location while remaining in the U.S., which makes it a real treat for all participants, assuming the organizers know how best to spend the down time.

There are plenty of great things to do on Maui with a corporate group. The most appropriate activities include beach days, spa visits, sightseeing tours, live performances at Maui Theater or the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, and restaurant crawls in West Maui and South Maui. As for the ultimate highlight of any trip this time of year, business-related or otherwise, the Maui whale watch tours are widely considered the most memorable, by far. Not only are you surrounded by stunning ocean scenery, but humpback numbers are robust in March, and seeing a 45-foot whale in person may give you a new perspective on the natural world!

You may be wondering what makes our whale watch tour ideal for a corporate outing. Well, our Maui fleet includes the largest and most stable yachts on the island, specially designed for the smoothest possible ride. Conveniently, the waters off West Maui tend to be very calm anyway, when the prevailing trade winds are blowing, because they come from the opposite side of the West Maui Mountains.

Our largest luxury craft, the Maui Princess, is 120 feet in length, and is certified to safely accommodate up to 149 passengers. Her main cabin is enclosed and air-conditioned, for those in the group who enjoy a sheltered vantage point. For the more adventurous passengers, her spacious open-air observation deck provides unobstructed views of the surrounding ocean and the beautiful collection of islands that helped form these sheltered waters that the humpback whales favor. The Maui Princess also features a cocktail lounge and a snack bar, if you're looking for a splash of elegance to add to the experience.

Whether you're traveling with colleagues, employees, or business associates, you can always strengthen your relationship by lavishing them with the best possible experience. Our current whale watch tour prices are just $38.53 per adult, as of March, 2017. In the future, you'll want to check prices, as they may change over time. On our whale watch tour, we may use any one of our four large vessels. If you're interested in a private charter, or you'd like information on which boat will be used on a given day, you can find our contact information at the top of the page. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Just keep in mind that booking online will currently save you 10% on your total price. We look forward to seeing you and your group onboard with us soon! Mahalo!

7 Fun Facts About the Ocean

No matter how much you know about the ocean, you're bound to be surprised by its many secrets.
March 03, 2017

Since the dawn of mankind, the ocean has held our fascination. Ancient tribes and civilizations like the Polynesians were master seafarers long before the engine and the GPS. To find their way, navigators relied on the stars, marine life, weather formations, and even the movement of the ocean's surface itself. Now, we enjoy a multitude of tools developed with state-of-the-art technology to ensure a smooth passage to wherever our adventures take us, whether on a snorkeling cruise to Lanai or a Maui whale watch cruise off Lahaina's breathtaking coastline. Yet, for many of us, the ocean maintains its mystique, while others take it for granted. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, the following facts may surprise you.


1. About 94 percent of life on Earth is aquatic. Imagine that all the non-aquatic species you've seen and heard of only comprise 6 percent of the life on this planet.

2. The ocean's average depth is about 12,400 feet, and considering that light can only reach 330 feet in depth, just think about how much of the world's life forms exist in constant darkness. These organisms have compensated for the darkness by developing senses other than sight, and some have even adapted to generate their own light.

3. Scientists believe that there are far more historical artifacts at the bottom of the ocean than there are in all the Earth's museums combined. This says more about the human race than the ocean, revealing not only the power of nature, but the fierce determination of our ancestors, which led to the world existing as we know it today.

4. Most of the Earth's oxygen is produced by phytoplankton, a collection of microscopic organisms living in the ocean and providing the foundation for the world's ecosystem.

5. About 70 percent of the world's surface is made up of ocean. Keeping this in mind, it's no wonder Maui's migratory humpback whales can reach up to 45 feet, especially considering the fact that the blue whale can reach around 80 feet! The ocean provides plenty of room for these gentle giants, and hopefully their food sources remain healthy enough to continue sustaining them.

6. Only about 5 percent of our oceans have been explored. The exciting thing to consider is how many more discoveries scientists will inevitably make in future explorations.

7. We humans sent men to the moon before we ever discovered the largest mountain range on Earth: the Mid-Oceanic Ridge. This remarkable underwater mountain range is more than 35,000 miles long and boasts peaks higher than those of the Alps.


Perhaps the most fascinating idea of them all is simply knowing that more ocean secrets will continue to be revealed over time for years into the future. How many years? We couldn't possibly guess, but there are still so many unexplored places that are bound to reveal fascinating geological features, biological organisms, and possibly a host of more unusual surprises. In this modern age, our technology has given us the freedom to travel from one polar end of the Earth to the other, but the ocean's depths are the next challenging frontier that awaits our ingenuity, and the curiosity that drives us.

Top 10 Things To Do in Lahaina Town

The charms of Lahaina Town are abundant, but which are most worth your time?
February 24, 2017

Top 10 Things To Do in Lahaina Town

As you may know, our Maui ocean cruises and activities depart from the scenic Lahaina Harbor, which is on the southern end of Lahaina Town, one of Maui's most distinctive and celebrated beach towns. Before that, it was a whaling port, and before that, the home of the Hawaiian monarchy. Today, there are plenty of interesting things to do in Lahaina Town, all of which can be accessed on foot. We've listed 10 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your time spent in this lively, charming beach town.


1. Banyan Tree Park

Brought all the way from India, the Banyan Tree was planted in 1873, and has since become one of Lahaina's landmark sites. Its sprawling canopy stretches to fill an entire city block. It's a great place to take some pictures, enjoy the the cooling shade, listen to a cacophony of mynah birds at sunset, and browse the wares of arts and crafts vendors who set up booths there regularly.

2. Pictures With Parrots

Many a visitor has enjoyed stopping by The Birdstand on Front Street for some fun photos with brilliantly colored and even better trained birds. Whether you're visiting on a romantic getaway or a family vacation, these photos are a great way to commemorate your vacation spent in this tropical paradise.

3. Art Galleries

Did you know that Lahaina boasts more art galleries per capita than anyplace else in the world? It's an art lover's dream, strolling Front Street and browsing the works of master artists as well as hot new up-and-comers. You'll find everything from paintings to sculpture to photographs and a surprising array of mixed media.

4. Ulalena

This uniquely Hawaiian theater performance is an enchanting blend of brilliant music, dance, song, costume and set design, all coming together to immerse you in the rich culture of the islands. If you're one of those people who loves the excitement of live performances, you'll want to get tickets to this show, which is held at the Maui Theater on Front Street.

5. Shopping

Lahaina Town is full of shops and boutiques that you can peruse for gifts and souvenirs. Some are the touristy things you can find anywhere, but keep your eyes peeled for unique artisan crafted goods and you'll bring some real gems home with you. You'll find something for almost everyone here, if you have a sharp eye.

6. Museums

Among the numerous historical landmarks of Lahaina Town, you'll find two lovely museums. These are the Baldwin House Museum and the Wo Hing Temple Museum. These tell the stories about what life was like during the plantation era for both European and Chinese settlers, respectively. Both have their own tours available, and both are conveniently located on Front Street.

7. Free Hawaiian Music Concerts

Lahaina provides a free Hawaiian music concert series that brings remarkable musical talent right to the Baldwin House Museum lawn for your enjoyment. The best part about it is that you won't have a hard time finding it, especially since the museum is on Front Street. All you have to do is follow the soothing sounds of whichever local band is playing!

8. Watch the Sunset

Front Street runs along the sparkling calm waters of Maui's western shoreline. In the distance, you can see the neighboring islands of Lanai and Molokai. The scenery is breathtaking at any time of day, but nothing compares to the flaming red sunsets in the evenings. The scenery there is already beautiful, but the vivid colors and dynamic light make it almost surreal. The only thing better than watching the sunset from Front Street is watching it from our Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise.

9. Explore the Harbor

The tranquil water of the picturesque Lahaina Harbor is home to a surprising collection of marine life and some of Maui's finest vessels, including ours. You can often spot iconic tropical species like the Moorish idol ("Kihikihi"), the convict tang ("manini"), and sometimes even octopus ("ʻAiʻAi").

10. Go On a Maui Ocean Adventure

You can find us at the north end of the Lahaina Harbor, at the main booth. From here, we can take you on a romantic Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise, a Maui Whale Watch Cruise, and snorkeling tours to both Molokini and Lanai islands. If you're craving some adventure, or a calm sightseeing tour aboard one of our stable yachts, we hope we'll see you soon! If you book online, you can currently save 10% on your entire purchase. We hope you've enjoyed these tips! Mahalo!


Blogs for March 2017

Humpback Whale Behaviors on Our Maui Whale Watch Tours

Posted on March 24, 2017
Humpback Whale Behaviors on Our Maui Whale Watch Tours


Humpback whale watching season is still going strong here on Maui, and while some individuals have begun their yearly migration back to their summer feeding grounds off the Alaskan coast, many others won't depart until late April or perhaps… Continue Reading

New Humpback Whale Behavior Documented

Posted on March 17, 2017
New Humpback Whale Behavior Documented


Over the past few years, observers have witnessed a mysterious new behavior among humpback whales. Unlike many other cetaceans, humpbacks are known as solitary creatures who only tend to congregate temporarily during mating season, or to travel in pairs or small groups that… Continue Reading

Book Your Maui Whale Watch Corporate Activity

Posted on March 10, 2017
Book Your Maui Whale Watch Corporate Activity


Corporate retreats and conferences bring more and more visitors to Maui each year. After all, who wouldn't want to get together for fun, relaxation, and mental stimulation on a tropical island? Best of all, you get to enjoy an "exotic" location… Continue Reading

7 Fun Facts About the Ocean

Posted on March 03, 2017

Since the dawn of mankind, the ocean has held our fascination. Ancient tribes and civilizations like the Polynesians were master seafarers long before the engine and the GPS. To find their way, navigators relied on the stars, marine life, weather formations, and even the movement of the ocean's… Continue Reading

Navigation

Home
Dinner Cruise
Lanai Snorkel
Molokini Snorkel
Boat Tours
About HOP
Site Map
Join Newsletter

certificate

certificate

award

Our Latest Blogs

Humpback Whale Behaviors on Our Maui Whale Watch Tours
  (Posted: March 24, 2017)

New Humpback Whale Behavior Documented
  (Posted: March 17, 2017)

Book Your Maui Whale Watch Corporate Activity
  (Posted: March 10, 2017)

Social Networks

Reviews

© Copyright 2015 - Hawaii Ocean Project
Lahaina Harbor, Loading Dock Main Booth, 675 Wharf Street, Lahaina, Hawaii 96761

Hawaii Ocean Project Main Logo Graphic