The best adventures are the ones that start early, so join us at the main booth on the north end of the Lahaina harbor at 6:30 am and board our 70 foot double-deck catamaran. At 7:00 am we will set sail to the neighboring island of Lanai. Be sure to keep an eye out for your favorite finned friends, Spinner Dolphins and possibly even Humpback Whales that frequently greet us on our journey!

If you happened to miss breakfast due to the early check-in time, we got you covered. Our on-board continental breakfast comprises of muffins, fruit juice, and coffee to keep you fueled for the day’s festivities. Once we anchor off the coast of Lanai, grab your gear and hop into one of the best snorkeling spots in all of Hawaii.

Worked up an appetite after all that swimming? Well on our way to our second location we will be serving a barbecue lunch featuring hamburgers, veggie burgers, chicken breasts, and more to refuel you for even more fun in the warm island waters! Once at our captain’s choice destination, you can hop back in and get yet another chance to glimpse the marine world or you can dry off while basking in the Hawaiian sun.

Sadly, your Maui adventure with us does have to draw to an end. So while we head back to the Lahaina Harbor, we invite you to sit back and take in the majestic sights one last time. As you step off the Kaulana around 1:30 pm, we would love to give you a few suggestions on how you can spend the rest of your day here on the west side.

So what is included?

  • Complimentary breakfast and lunch along with endless water, soda, and juice.
  • Snorkel equipment with instructions from Hawaii Ocean Project crew members
  • Flotation Devices (noodles, belts, boogie boards, life jackets)
  • Reef-friendly sunscreen

Wetsuits are available for rent at $15 while underwater cameras are also available for purchase.

A Lanai Snorkeling Tour with Hawaii Ocean Project is sure to be a tropical ocean activity to remember. Set sail with us all year long; we are sure that your time here in Hawaii will have a spot for this memorable island adventure. Book online today and save 10%!

Breach
When you head out on a whale watch, this is the action you most want to see. A breach occurs when a humpback launches itself fully out of the ocean. For an explanation of WHY humpback whales breach, go here.

 

Tail Slap
We love the tail slap, also known as lobtailing. A tail slap is, literally, when the humpback slaps the water with its tail in a straight up and down action. It seems easy enough, but to do it, the whale needs to lift its rear out of the water in order to create the force needed to slap its tail down. This is different than the tail throw…

 

Tail Throw
Also known as a peduncle throw, you don’t often see these on Maui, but when you do, they’re spectacular. A tail throw occurs when a whale turns to its side and violently lifts its tail out of the water and slaps it down in a sideways action. Since it’s believed tail throws primarily occur during mating, this action is very rare here in Hawaii.

 

Pec Slap
A pec slap occurs when a whale raises its pectoral fins (side fins) vertically, then slaps it down into the water. We like to think of pec slaps as a whale’s way of waving “hello.” We would be wrong, but it’s fun to dream…

 

Chin Slap
Nobody likes to be slapped in the face, but humpbacks do enjoy raising their heads out of the water, then slapping them down. It takes a great amount of strength to raise the upper half of their bodies out of the water and slap them down.

 

Spyhopping
Humpbacks do this to look out over the horizon. Kind of like gophers peeking their heads out of their holes, humpbacks lift their heads out of the water and look around. If you see a humpback doing this, it’s probably looking right back at you!

 

Blowing
“Thar she blows!” The famous pirate cry is the most recognizable and common action you’ll see on a Maui whale watch. What you may not know, however, is that humpbacks do not blow water out of their blowholes. Instead, they are blowing out the hot air and mucus that collects in their lungs. When this warm mixture hits the cooler outside air the condensation it creates looks like a spigot of water.

To join us on a whale watch tour, save 10% when you book from this page on our website.

Maui Whale Watch Guides:

When you join us on a whale watch tour on Maui, breaching is one of the common actions you’re likely to see. Breaching is when a whale throws its entire body out of the water. It’s an awesome to sight to witness, to be sure. But why do humpback whales breach?

Until recently, most whale experts believed there wasn’t one reason. It’s kind of like asking, why do humans run? We run for play, exercise, to escape danger, etc. Among the reasons scientists believed whales breached were for communication, a way to warn others of impending danger, as a way to stun prey, and as a sort of mating ritual competition between males.

However, in November, 2016, an article titled “Evidence for the functions of surface-active behaviors in humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)” was published in the Marine Mammal Science journal. The authors of the study concluded, with some certainty, the main reason for breaching (and tail/pectoral slapping) is communication.

Simply put in human terms, an acoustic sound like a drum travels further than the voice, which is why cultures once beat on drums to communicate from village to village. So while whales can sing beautifully, in order to contact other whales further away, they need to beat on the water to get the message out.

As for the other reasons whales breach, while those listed above may be partially true, it never fully made sense to scientists why whales breached in Hawaii. While the humpbacks do mate here, they don’t eat. That’s right, they fast the entire time they’re in Hawaii. They also don’t have any natural predators here. So breaching to stun their prey or warn of danger seems dubious, at best. Especially when you consider how much energy a whale expends to throw 30 tons of body out of the water while they are fasting.

So next time you see a humpback whale leaping out of the ocean or slapping its fins, it isn’t just for show. They’re probably communicating with other whales miles away.

If you’d like to witness whales breaching up close and personal, join us on a whale watch and save 10% by booking directly on this website here.

Maui Whale Watch Guides:

Every winter, the thousands of  humpback whales that migrate to Hawaii are a source of wonder and interest among both island visitors and residents. For those who keep an eye on the blue horizon, the whales can put on quite a show with their acrobatic antics. Their great size and charismatic behavior are just a couple of reasons why our Maui whale watch tours are so popular. Although there are still some mysteries remaining as to the lives they lead below the waves, scientists have discovered many fascinating things about our humpback neighbors.

Humpbacks are found throughout the world’s oceans, although their numbers dipped dangerously low as a result of whaling in the 1800’s. It’s estimated that as few as 1,000 were left in 1965. Now, there are an estimated 23,000 north pacific humpbacks alone. Of this number, about 60%, or 12,000 – 14,000, migrate to Hawaii.

One interesting fact about the north pacific humpbacks are the three somewhat distinct populations they form. The eastern stock migrate between Northern California in summer and Mexico in winter. The western stock summers in the Aleutian Islands and moves on the islands south of Japan in winter. The central stock can be found here in Hawaii in the winter, after spending their summers in southeast Alaska and the Gulf of Alaska. The whales aren’t too strict about their migrations though, as some mixing on the breeding grounds has been observed in each of the three groups, which probably goes a long way to keeping the gene pool nice and diverse.

Hawaii’s waters provide such an important habitat for these whales that Congress designated the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in 1992, where the whales would be protected as an endangered species by both federal and state law. Luckily for us, one of the two most popular places for whales to congregate is in the waters of Maui County, meaning the area between Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Kaho’olawe. Their other popular spot is to the southwest of Molokai. As their numbers continue to strengthen, they have made progress spreading out toward the other Hawaiian islands.

Our whales from Alaska leave their feeding grounds in the fall and swim almost non-stop until reaching their breeding grounds in Hawaii, which can take between 6-8 weeks. At about 3,000 miles each way, it’s one of the longest mammal migrations, which is why it takes them so long despite their epic size.

Marine scientists have made some interesting discoveries about Hawaii’s arriving whales. Namely, who arrives when. Nursing mothers arrive around mid to late November, generally being the first on the scene. The next to arrive are juveniles and newly weaned yearlings, followed by a surge of adult males, and then adult females. The last to arrive are pregnant females, who feed in Alaska as long as possible before beginning their migration.

If you’d like to observe these awe-inspiring giants in their natural habitat, you can book your tour at our Maui whale watch tour page and save 10%. If you need our assistance, you’ll find our contact information at the bottom of the page. Mahalo!

More Maui Whale Watch Guides:

Surrounded by the big ocean blue, we here at Hawaii Ocean Project strive to show you the best of Maui as well as help you avoid any hiccups while on your island adventure. For those families with keiki (children) in tow, we have listed some kid-friendly beaches on the west side to keep in mind as you venture out of your home away from home.

Laniupoko Beach
Just off Honoapiilani Highway, lies a weekend favorite of locals and visitors alike. With the shallow sandbar and a small cove sheltered from incoming waves, Laniupoko is the perfect beach for all ages. From learning how to surf to simply splashing in the water, we are sure that the entire family will easily find some fun here in the Hawaiian sun.

Olowalu Beach
If Laniupoko happens to be a little too populated for your liking, there is another child-friendly West Maui beach just south of the Olowalu General Store. Also off the Honoapiilani Highway, this spot offers no surf and plenty of shade throughout the day. Grab some snacks from the Olowalu store and enjoy a beach picnic with your family.

Baby Beaches
Living up to their names, both of these beaches feature a sandy playground for your little ones. With one in Lahaina and the other on the North Shore of Paia, no matter where you stay there is a baby-proof shoreline for you to lay out.

Protected by a large straight line of reef, the Baby Beach of Paia boasts warm, still waters while the Lahaina Baby Beach offers a low tide with little to no waves.

And if you are staying in South Maui, the Kamaole Beaches feature calm waters and makes a great place to spend the day! We take safety very seriously here at Hawaii Ocean Project and whether you are out on an ocean adventure or relaxing with the palms, we have some safety tips we would like you to keep in mind for you and your keiki.

When booking a trip to Maui, one thing people often consider is a luau. But which luau is best for you? Luaus on Maui are often ginormous parties with hundreds of people. For those looking for a large party, these luaus are perfect. Others prefer something more romantic or intimate. Thankfully, Maui has this type of luau, as well. Here is our list of favorite luaus on Maui.

  1. Old Lahaina Luau (Lahaina)
    Generally considered the best luau in all of Hawaii, the Old Lahaina Luau, located behind the Cannery Mall in Lahaina, is pretty much sold out seven days a week. Not only serving great food, the show is also authentic and fun. The downside of this luau, if there is one, is the sheer enormity of it. You’ll be sharing your evening with nearly 500 other people (it holds 496, to be exact). That said, if you choose one luau to attend while on Maui, and you had the foresight to book it in advance, you will be greatly rewarded at the Old Lahaina Luau. (Old Lahaina Luau)
  2. Feast at Lele (Lahaina)
    More of a fine dining experience with entertainment than a traditional luau, go to Feast at Lele if quality of food is your first priority. Rather than serving a buffet-style meal, this is a sit-down a five course meal at your own table, featuring cuisine inspired by Tahiti, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa and Hawaii. The meal is prepared by the same folks that operate three of the most popular restaurants on Maui – Star Noodle, Leoda’s Kitchen and Aloha Mixed Plate. After each course, you’ll see eye-popping dancing and entertainment from each locale. (Feast at Lele)
  3. Migrations: Luau Show Kihei
    Unlike the massive luau’s in the more touristy areas of Maui, this one is limited to just 50 guests (reservations are required). It’s billed as Maui’s only interactive luau. During the evening, you’ll work with a master lei maker to create your own head lei, choosing from a variety of flowers, shells and other traditional elements. You’ll also have the opportunity to perform the ‘awa drinking ceremony, where you’ll share a drink of coconut water and ‘awa root. The dancers don’t perform on a stage, rather they are table-side. The food is all locally sourced with table service, not a buffet. The night concludes around a fire pit where the performers and guests share thoughts and gratitudes. If you’re looking for an intimate, romantic luau, this is a great option. The event takes place on the last Wednesday of every month. (Migrations: Luau Show)
  4. Royal Lahaina Luau (Lahaina)
    Maui’s longest running luau, the Royal Lahaina Luau is located right on Ka’anapali Beach at the Royal Lahaina Resort. Unlike other luaus, all seating is reserved, so you don’t need to worry about lining up an hour before the event to secure seating. This luau is the least expensive of the “big” shows and gives you the most bang for the buck. It doesn’t have the best food or show, but it’s very satisfying. For families on a budget, this is our top choice. (Royal Lahaina Luau)
  5. Drums of the Pacific Luau (Lahaina) Located in the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa on Ka’anapali Beach, the Drums of the Pacific Luau has many things going for it. The food for a large luau is good. Considering it’s a large buffet, they also keep things quite orderly. You never feel rushed or like they’re going to run out of food. The show is fun, taking you on a “tour” of the Pacific islands, with stops in Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga and of course, Hawaii. It finishes with a lively fire-knife dance. The one downside to this luau is that it doesn’t take place on the beach, instead it’s indoors in a large hall. (Drums of the Pacific Luau)

RELATED: A Brief History of the Luau

Have you been to a luau on Maui? Tell us your favorite in the comments below, on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Facebook @hawaiioceanproject, or send us a picture on Instagram @hawaiioceanproject.

In its broadest sense, a luau is a traditional Hawaiian party mixing local food and lots of entertainment. Luaus are used to celebrate the many of stages of life. People often don’t remember their first luau. No, it’s not because they drank too many mai tais. People don’t remember because their first luau is often a celebration of their own first birthday! Traditional luaus are often common for Sweet 16 birthdays, graduations and weddings.

For visitors, a luau is often less personal, but maybe even more culturally important. Often, a visitor’s first luau is their introduction to native food and dance. Attendees are able to sample local foods like kalua pig buried and roasted overnight in the beach, freshly pounded poi (taro root), purple Hawaiian sweet potatoes, poke and haupia (a coconut-based dessert). Most modern luaus combine Polynesian dances and traditions into their shows. The traditional Hawaiian hula is a beautiful, slow dance. But for the modern luaus catering to visitors and locals looking for a lively celebration, we’ve come to expect dancing with quick hip undulations and fire. These forms of dance come from outside of Hawaii, but are still relevant to the Polynesian culture.

To learn about the history of the modern luau, we need to go back nearly 200 years. Prior to 1819, for large feasts (not yet called a luau), men sat separately from the women and children, and some celebratory dishes, like pork, moi (a reef fish) and bananas were only eaten by the chiefs. The common dishes for all to enjoy included other types of fish, sweet potatoes and poi. However, in 1819 King Kamehameha II started openly eating with women, thus breaking century’s old taboo of separate meal celebrations. It was during the king’s large gatherings with men, women and children that the term “luau” was first used for special meal events.

King Kamehameha’s luaus soon became legendary. The saying “enough to feed a king” is definitely apropos to his 1847 luau that featured 271 hogs, 1,820 fish and 2,245 coconuts! Years later, another king, King Kalakaua, for his 50th birthday, invited more that 1,500 people for a luau so large, the attendees were fed in three shifts.

Today, modern luaus are still about the food, dance and celebration. One can find public luaus all over the state of Hawaii. We’ve put together a list of our five favorite luaus on Mauiif you need help deciding on which one attend. Luaus are still a great way to celebrate and learn about Hawaiian and Polynesian culture.

Earlier this year, we published a piece on the best packaged cookies on Maui. Packaged cookies are popular on Maui and all of Hawaii because they travel well and keep for longer than a day. But sometimes we just want one, fresh-baked cookie. Well, lucky for us, and you, Maui has plenty of bakeries that sell fresh cookies. Here is our list of favorite bakery cookies on Maui.

  1. Hula Cookies and Ice Cream (Ma’alea)
    Located in the shops at Ma’alea, next to the Maui Ocean Center, Hula Cookies and Ice Cream doubles up on the good eats with fresh baked cookies and ice cream. Why just eat a cookie or an ice cream cone when you custom make an ice cream sandwich, choosing your favorite cookies and ice cream flavors? (Hula Cookies and Ice Cream)
  2. Sugar Beach Bake Shop (Kihei)
    Known for the fresh malasadas, Sugar Beach Bake Shop also offers up fresh cookies and delicious macarons in an assortment flavors. We think these are, hands down, the best macarons on Maui. The texture is perfect. The first time we tried them we were immediately sent back to Paris. Their classic chocolate chip cookies are also excellent. (Sugar Beach Bake Shop)
  3. BanyanTreats (Lahaina)
    If you’re stepping off one of our Whale Watchor Snorkel tours, across the street from the wharf you’ll find BanyanTreats. BanyanTreats features eight different types of fresh baked cookies, locally made Roselani ice cream and over 30 different shave ice flavors. Our favorite for the keiki (kids) is the cute combo of smiling ice cream with a cookie “hat.” You’ll get that reference if you check out the website link below. Conveniently located on Front Street in Lahaina, BanyanTreats is a wonderful place to relax and take a break from strolling in that wonderful Maui sun. (BanyanTreats)
  4. Maui Bread Company (Kihei)
    New to the bakery scene, Maui Bread Company opened its Dolphin Plaza Kihei doors in 2017. It serves fresh baked bread (duh), brownies, pastries, cookies and more, including a large selection of gluten-free products. As for the cookies, we can never resist the peanut butter and bacon cookies. They are large, fat cookies with just the right blend of sweet and savory. (Maui Bread Company)
  5. Zippy’s (Kahului)
    Inside of Zippy’s resides Napoleon’s, a counter bakery that offers a full menu of sugary baked goods. From cakes to donuts to fantastic turnovers and everything in between, Zippy’s is a great place to pick up sweets on your way to your hotel or condo from the airport. As for the cookies, we highly recommend the Melting Moments shortbread cookies, a Hawaiian take on Russian Tea cookies. (Zippy’s)

Do you have a favorite place for freshly baked cookies on Maui? Leave a comment below or tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Facebook @hawaiioceanproject or send us a picture on Instagram @hawaiioceanproject.

With all the fun and exciting activities here on Maui, it is no surprise that many adventures take place in the ocean. As an enjoyable experience for all ages, we would hate for you to miss out on the clear and warm Hawaiian waters. So it is important for us here at Hawaii Ocean Project to pass along a few ocean safety tips that we would like you to keep in mind as the waves wash over your feet.

Keep the local lifeguard in your sights
With an understanding of the current condition of the water, it is helpful to pay special attention to any information the lifeguard may announce. Important broadcasts can include information about high surf, rip currents, and dangerous rocks that are hidden due to the tide. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on where the lifeguard is at all times, so pick a spot to set up “camp” that has a clear view of the tower.

Please keep in mind that not all of the beautiful white sand beaches of Maui have a lifeguard on duty, so check out where lifeguard towers are present before you go!

Buddy System
As we mentioned before, the buddy system is crucial in any outdoor activity. Having an extra set of eyes to watch surroundings will prove useful and, besides, who really wants to have all the fun on their own? It is recommended that inexperienced swimmers, as well as children, wear life jackets in and around the water. Children should also never swim alone and should have a watchful adult close to the water in case of an emergency.

Currents and Wave Action
Along with keeping watch for your buddy, it is important to pay close attention to the water. While lifeguards are actively doing this, it does not hurt to be proactive yourself! Here in Hawaii, we are taught from a young age to never turn your back on the ocean and this is something we would like to share with you. Even in shallow water, wave action can easily cause a loss of footing in all ages which could potentially be dangerous.

Rip currents are another hazard that lies beneath the surface. Lifeguards have a pretty good idea of where these lie but should you find yourself caught in one it is crucial to remain calm and to not fight it, the last thing you want to do is exhaust yourself. Swim parallel towards the shore until you are out of the current and, if you cannot make it out, draw attention to yourself by calling for help. Should you see someone in trouble, call a lifeguard or 911 if one is not present.

Whether you are lounging amongst the beachfront palms or on an ocean adventure tour, safety is Hawaii Ocean Project’s number one priority and it is something that we take very seriously. While these tips may be general knowledge, there is value in recalling them before your next day of fun in the sun.

Like coffee beans, the only place cacao beans, the main ingredient for making chocolate, are only grown commercially in the the United States is in Hawaii. Here on Maui, we have our own cacao farms. Not all of the chocolate made on Maui uses our local beans, but some do. Those are noted below, with a special shout out to Hana Gold. We highly recommend their plantation tour if you have time on a trip to Hana. Here, then, are our five favorite chocolates made on Maui.

Hana Gold
The Hana Gold chocolate bars are made using organic cacao grown and hand-picked on their Hana plantation. Not only is the cacao grown on Maui, but 100% of the ingredients used are cultivated on Maui. The bars themselves are even poured and molded in Hana. Hana Gold offers plantation tours Monday – Saturday at 2:00. Beyond the plantation, Hana Gold chocolate bars can be found at Mana Foods, Down to Earth, Maui Ocean Center and other specialty shops. (Hana Gold)

Hawaii Fudge Company
With locations on Front Street in Lahaina and on South Kihei Road, the award-winning Hawaii Fudge Company, makes it convenient for you to try their various candies. Beyond fudge, they also make toffee, caramels and taffy. Our favorite is the salted caramels, but everything we’ve tried has been good. Hawaii Fudge Company also offers daily classes in their Kihei shop where you’ll take home a pound of fudge that you make. (Hawaii Fudge Company)

Maui Specialty Chocolates
Maui Specialty Chocolates is one of Maui’s best kept secrets. These dark and milk chocolates, made by the owner of the company, are rich and smooth and come in many varieties. Our favorites are mint truffles and the crunchy peanut butter cups. Beyond chocolate, they also make delicious peanut butter and chocolate mochi that melt in your mouth. The only place to purchase Maui Specialty Chocolates is from their little outlet in Kahului, about 5 minutes from the airport, making it a great place to pick up gifts for your flight off the island. (Maui Specialty Chocolates)

Sweet Paradise Chocolatier
Making chocolate with locally grown ingredients, Sweet Paradise Chocolatier has been on Maui since 2007. Perfect for gifts, their hand-crafted truffles and patterned chocolates are absolutely beautiful and taste great, too. Each piece is like a little piece of art. But you’d be a fool to not eat them, after taking an Instagram photo, natch. The lava sea salt caramels are also heavenly. At their Wailea shop, they also sell chocolates from other Hawaiian-based chocolatiers, so it’s definitely worth a visit.(Sweet Paradise Chocolatier)

Wow Wee At just $2.50 a bar, decidedly less expensive than the other chocolates on this list, Wow Wee calls its chocolate bars “Maui’s Candy Bar.” Wow Wee makes bars in a variety of local flavors, using local ingredients like macadamia nuts, coconut, Maui potato chips, Kona coffee, Maui rum and Hawaiian sea salt. Our favorite bar is the Dark Chocolate with Hawaiian sea salt and caramel. Wow Wee chocolate bars are available at Long’s Drugs and other local retailers. (Wow Wee)

Do you have a favorite chocolate made on Maui? Leave a comment below or tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Facebook @hawaiioceanproject or send us a picture on Instagram @hawaiioceanproject.