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Whale Watching on Maui Q & A

Do you have questions about whale season in Maui? We have answers
November 01, 2017

When is whale watching season on Maui?
Unofficially, whale watching season runs from December 1 - April 30. But you may also see the whales before and after those dates

Where is the best place to see the whales?
Well, we may be a teeny bit biased, but the best place to see the whales is from one of our whale tour boats. We will get you as close to the whales as is safely possible - safe for the whales and you, that is. Book online here and save 10% .

What if I book a trip with you and don't see any whales?
Hopefully that won't happen. But, if it does we will book you on another trip at no charge to you.

That's cool. I want to see whales every day I'm on Maui! Where's the best place to see them from shore?
Honestly, you should be able to spot them from pretty much every beach on the south (Kihei/Wailea) and west (Lahaina/Ka'anapali) shores. You can also see them on the north shore (Paia/Ho'okipa). The best place, unfortunately, is probably on Highway 30 connecting Ma'alaea and Lahaina. If you see one while driving, remain calm and try not to accelerate into the driver in front you who just slowed to take a better look!

What types of whales come through Hawai'i?
North Pacific Humpback Whales

What do they look like?
They are primarily grey, with some areas of white. Oh, and they're big. BIG. The North Pacific Humpbacks are the fifth largest whale species on the planet and can grow to 60-feet long and weigh between 25 - 40 tons.

Why do they come to Hawai'i?
Good question. They come to mate, give birth and nurture their calves. Hawai'i is the only state in the union where they will mate. It's believed the humpbacks are drawn to Hawai'i for its warm waters, underwater visibility, varying ocean depths and lack of natural predators.

How far do they travel?
They swim, pretty much non-stop, about 3,500 miles from Alaska. The journey generally takes 4-to-6 weeks.

Do they arrive in any particular order?
They do! Normally the first to arrive are the mother whales who are nursing their calves. Next up is the juveniles, then the adult males, followed by adult females. The last to arrive are the pregnant females. The pregnant whales bring up the rear because they feed and nourish themselves until the very last minute up in Alaska.

Once they get to Hawai'i, where do they go?
They basically go to two different areas. A four-island cluster comprised of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kaho'olawe make up the first area. The other area, called the Penguin Band, is a section of shallow water about 25 miles southwest of Molokai. That said, whales have been spotted by residents and visitors on the Big Island, Oahu and Kauai in recent years.

How many whales are there?
In 1993, there were an estimated 6,000 humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean. Of those, about 4,000 came through Hawai'i. Since the signing of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which banned commercial whaling, that number has increased. Scientists estimate there are now roughly 18,000 - 20,000 humpback whales, with about 10,000 of those coming through Hawai'i each year.

How long do Northern Pacific Humpback Whales live?
They live about 50 years, but there have been accounts of some living much longer.

What do they eat?
They survive mainly on small fish, plankton and tiny crustaceans. What's interesting is they never eat in Hawai'i's waters. They spend all summer eating in Alaska, then store up the food as blubber, which they then use to fuel their winter trips to Hawai'i.

How long can the whales stay underwater?
While adults can stay underwater for up to 45 minutes, they tend to come up for air every 10-15 minutes. The calves come up about every 5 minutes.

Why do they jump out of the water?
Commonly called breaching, a study published in January, 2017 showed that humpbacks are more likely to breach when they are far apart (2.5 miles or more,) while tail or fin slapping occurs more frequently when they are together. This suggests that the humpbacks breach for long-range communication versus simply water slaps when they are near other whales.

Is there a Hawai'ian name for humpback whales?
Yes, the Hawai'ian name is kohola

To book a whale watch tour with us, go here. If the boat goes out and no whales are seen, you will receive complimentary tickets for another trip. Book online and you'll save 10%.

Blogs for November 2017

A Brief History of the Shaka sign

Posted on November 13, 2017


The shaka sign, made with the thumb and pinkie up, and the three middle fingers curled into a fist, then lightly shaken, is ubiquitous in Hawaii. Locals use it as a sign of solidarity and friendship. It can be used to say "howzit? (how's it going?)" or… Continue Reading

Get to Know Maui with Our Free Quarterly Newsletter

Posted on November 11, 2017

Whether you are planning a Maui vacation for the first time or you are a seasoned visitor, there are certain advantages to knowing the ins and outs of the Valley Isle. With that said, we here at Hawaii Ocean Project aim to keep you in the know before… Continue Reading

Top Five Things to do with Children on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on November 10, 2017


Sure, you can easily spend your entire family vacation at the pool or at the beach. There's nothing wrong with that, and if your kids are like ours, they will be perfectly happy with that. But if you want to shake things up a bit, here are… Continue Reading

Five Favorite Artisan Foods on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on November 09, 2017


Whether you live on Maui or are just visiting, Maui's artisan food purveyors make treats that you can enjoy and feel good about. Using local ingredients and hiring local residents, artisan goods are a boon to the local economy. The five companies listed here produce products that… Continue Reading

Best Mexican Food Restaurants on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on November 06, 2017

There are great taco trucks and carts on Maui that serve authentic and delicious Mexican food. But for this list, we're only looking at places you can sit down and enjoy your meal. To be honest, Maui isn't exactly a hot bed for great Mexican food, but these… Continue Reading

Mission Blue Names the Olowalu Reef a 'Hope Spot'

Posted on November 04, 2017


Among a large number of marine life, some of the oldest (over 300-years-old) coral in the state of Hawaii finds its home right here in Maui. Olowalu reef, spanning over 1,000 acres, is reportedly the largest and most developed of the Valley Isle. At the heart of… Continue Reading

Best Packaged Cookies on Maui - HOP to it

Posted on November 02, 2017

On Maui, the best cookies aren't always "bakery fresh." We are blessed with packaged cookies that travel well in the car to Hana, the beach or just about anywhere. For visitors, these cookies are great to take back as gifts for friends and family. Whether you like your… Continue Reading

Whale Watching on Maui Q & A

Posted on November 01, 2017

When is whale watching season on Maui?
Unofficially, whale watching season runs from December 1 - April 30. But you may also see the whales before and after those dates

Where is the best place to see the whales?
Well, we may be a teeny bit biased, but the… Continue Reading

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Our Latest Blogs

A Brief History of the Shaka sign
  (Posted: November 13, 2017)

Get to Know Maui with Our Free Quarterly Newsletter
  (Posted: November 11, 2017)

Top Five Things to do with Children on Maui - HOP to it
  (Posted: November 10, 2017)

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