Chancing upon a whale in the warm, tropical waters of Hawaii is a magical experience like no other. In fact, it’s not uncommon for it to be the highlight of any vacation here! In this article, we provide an introductory guide to Maui whale watching to answer any important questions you may have, such as the best time for whale watching in Maui and the best whale watching in Maui that Hawaii has to offer.

Why do Whales Migrate to Maui Every Year?

As many as 12,000 whales will migrate from the cold Alaskan waters to Hawaii yearly to mate and give birth. For Northern Pacific humpback whales, which are the focus of most whale watching tours, the gestational period is 11 to 12 months. This means that the whales will mate in Hawaii for one year, and return next year in order to give birth. Many whales are actually returning to Maui where they were born to continue the life cycle.

Where is the Best Spot in Hawaii for Whale Watching?

You’ll be able to see whales from any one of Hawaii’s islands. However, Maui is undoubtedly the best place for whale watching since most whales will travel through the shallow waters of the Auau channel and reside in the Maui Nui Basin. This increases your chances of spotting one, especially if you’ll be staying on the Western side of Maui.

While you can absolutely spot whales from dry land, we recommend heading onto the water with a whale watching tour boat and marine naturalist. This increases your chances to be closer to humpback whales and have a more immersive experience as you experience the true majesty and sheer size of these awesome creatures!

What Types of Whale Watching Tours are There in Maui? 

There are five types of whale watching tours:

  • Raft
  • Catamaran
  • Sailboat
  • Kayak
  • Outrigger Canoe

Which One Should You Pick?

The main differences between the above types of whale watching tours are group size, proximity to water, and the amount of physical effort required.

For tourists who’d simply like to kick back and enjoy their experience while listening to a guide, catamarans, sailboats and rafts are ideal choices. Catamarans involve the largest group sizes – usually over 100 people. Sailboats may take groups of 60 people or less, while rafts take even smaller groups. Out of these three, rafts also offer closer proximity to the water at eye level for a better view. Our award-winning Maui eco-rafting tours take less than 16 people out to the ocean at a time, thereby promising each person an oceanfront seat without having to peer over a railing or a crowd!

If you’d like to get in some exercise while whale watching, however, kayaks or outrigger canoes may be attractive choices. However, the reliance on your group’s physical effort means that you will cover much less ground as compared to regular boat tours.

When is the Best Time to Go Whale Watching in Maui?

Whale watching typically begins in December and continues into April. Any time of day is the ideal time to watch whales, they are active and resting in intervals 24 hours a day!

How Much Does it Cost?

We offer a range of prices starting from $54 per child and $69 per adult, depending on the time of visit and age, and even have a discounted price for tourists who’d like to whale watch in the afternoon. Private charter prices begin at $900.

Visit our website today to learn more about our award-winning tours and experience the majesty of these gentle giants!