While there is an endless list of possibilities for fun things to do on Maui, nothing compares to getting up close and personal with the largest mammal in the Pacific. Whale watching is a wholly unique and magical experience. When the humpback whales arrive to Maui from the cold waters of the Northern Pacific to birth and raise their young, visitors and locals alike are treated day and night to tail slaps, pec fins waving, and full breaches.

If you are looking to cross not just one, but many, marine experiences off your bucket list, come to Hawaii and book the best Maui whale watching tour today!

What to Expect From a Maui Whale Watching Tour

When you book a small group intimate raft tour to go whale watching you are able to closely interact and pick the brain of a seasoned captain and marine naturalist who are well educated in the diverse sea life in the channels separating the islands of Maui County.

While snorkeling with whales is prohibited-- you have the ability with a small boat and crew to experience these mammals safely, respectably, and sometimes up close (if the whale chooses to come to the boat!).

Many people make the mistake of trying to track down or approach humpback whales on their own. Since the reopening of the island there have been reports of paddle boarders and kayakers from the coastline resorts embarking out and getting within arm’s reach of these creatures. This is illegal and unsafe. While whales are considered gentle, they are giants, and like most mammals they are protective over their young; it is not your fault if you look down and happen to notice one of these 100+ foot beings gliding under you but we advise you try and get away to avoid being accidentally trapped under a breach or arm slap. If you are intentionally approaching whales closer than 100 yards you could face fines and jail time for breaking this federal law that protects humpback whales.

An intimate whale watching tour booked to embark from Lahaina town is our favorite option. You not only are able to get out on the water fast but you can experience whales safely and respectfully as well as intimately because of the small group of guests on the boat and the low to water style vessel, providing eye-level encounters with whales.

Other Maui whale watching tours, like those that leave from Maalaea, are typically larger vessels and groups of people. They draw in crowds that are looking for larger, slower boats. While they are still a great option for those that prefer a cruise-like option or are traveling with a bigger party they may not allot much exposure to these whales existing in their natural habitats.

When to Book a Maui Whale Watching Tour

The whales travel to warmer waters of Maui during the mid fall to late spring months; the peak of whale season occurs from January to March. However, whales have been known to be spotted off Maui’s coasts months before or after this projected timeline; in fact, the first whale of this years (‘22-’23) season was just spotted in September! We start whale watching tours December 1st and typically end around the 15th of April. Whale watching during Christmas vacation on Maui is a popular activity!

While pretty much everywhere else in the United States experiences torrential downfalls or snow during these months, Maui’s waters stay seemingly bath-like. So, if you book your Maui vacation for this winter you not only are able to experience the joys of whale watching but swim the same warm waters that all of the unique sea life does.

How to Prepare for Your Maui Whale Watching Tour

There are a few things you must keep in mind when booking and potentially embarking on a whale watching tour in Maui. Firstly, make sure that you book your tour for the highs of whale watching season to ensure you are able to see plenty of whale activity, book early as this experience is one of the most sought after and tickets sell out fast, and make sure that you are aware of all the safety rules that encompass a trip to Maui as well as a trip out on its waters.

There is a phrase that is commonly said amongst the communities across the islands that make up Maui’s county “Respect the 'Aina”. This encompasses more than just respecting the people and the land of Maui. It also implies respecting the ocean and animal life. Listen to your boat crew, residents, and advisors on your Maui vacation to keep you and the 'Aina safe and sharing aloha.

Whale watching is the most anticipated activity to do in Maui in December, January, February and March every winter!

There are some things that you need to know when booking your whale watching tour here in Maui to ensure that your tour is enjoyable, safe, and respectful to those creatures that have chosen to visit.

Where to See Whales on Maui

The best place to book a whale watching tour in Maui is from Lahaina’s harbor. Lahaina is the former capital of Hawaii located on the west side of Maui at the base of the West Maui Mountains.

Just off of the bustling Front Street (the go-to place for a bite to eat or some great shopping after your tour concludes) is the harbor. Leaving from Lahaina aboard one of the award-winning tour boats means just a five-minute journey to the waters where the mother and baby whales are working on the skills and strength to make their journey back to Alaska.

If you are looking for an immersive and all-encompassing whale watching experience make sure to leave from Lahaina harbor aboard an intimate boat like those we have at Hawaii Ocean Rafting— the most up close, eye level and personal experience you can get while still having a safe and respectful distance from the marine creatures.

What You’ll See on a Maui Whale Watching Tour

Whale watching tours on Maui are special because they can encompass much more than just seeing a couple whales tail slapping and breaching in the distance. If you have booked a tour with an expert like the captains we have staffed at Hawaii Ocean Rafting, you are in for an educational, and maybe even an up-close experience that feels like you are almost in the water with those whales (the encounter is really up to the whales!). The low-to-water style rafting vessels put you right at the water’s edge for an eye level whale experience.

More than that, if you are booking a whale watching tour in Maui you are almost guaranteed an extra show. Whether you are on the boat for two hours or six there is so much more to see in the tropical waters. You may encounter a pod of dolphins skimming alongside the boat or a Honu (turtle) poking their head above water.

If you are looking for the most inclusive and immersive experience in Maui, make sure to book your whale watching tor today!

Where to Book Your Maui Whale Watching Tour

There are many ways to book your Maui whale watching tour this winter. If you are staying at one of the great resorts along the West and South coasts— you may be able to talk with your concierge who has recommendations and potentially partners with one of the many great tour companies.

If you are staying in an Air BnB or establishment that may not have one of these connections you can always quickly search “Maui Whale Watching Tour” or “Best Whale Watching Tour on Maui” and find some amazing options.

Many tour companies have online booking features that make the reservations and payment easy; all you have to do is read through the guidelines and show up! But, you better act fast!

Whale watching is the most popular thing to do for tourists visiting Maui from December to March, so make sure that you book ASAP to reserve a spot for this once in a lifetime event.

Are you heading to Maui for whale watching but don’t know which of the many tours to choose from? Well, fret not because it isn’t as overwhelming as it may seem. Here is how to choose the best Maui whale watching tour for you and your loved ones, which will hopefully make it one of the most memorable and out-of-this-world experiences you will have.

Price

Cost is always an important factor when going on tours. It is important to ensure your tour is not too costly, neither is it too cheap. It can be weighed out alongside other factors like your choice of boats etc. You never know, what if you miss the sighting of a whale when queuing up for food or enjoying performances? That would not be ideal.

It is also good to take recommendations from locals, they have insight and know the area, the wildlife and operators. You can always compare prices online and refer to reviews by visitors. When reading reviews look for consistency, if there are lots of great reviews, the not-so-great ones may have been an anomaly.

Company Image

Definitely beware of companies that promise you the ‘closest’ view of the whale possible. Besides it being a sign that they are breaching safety guidelines and laws, it is just too good to be true. On top of that, many unreputable companies operate tours in a more corporate style, with larger groups or not locally owned. Choose a tour by a reputable company that sees you as a person not just a number. Companies where the team loves what they do will give you the best whale watching experience. When reading reviews, look at what it says about the crew. Evaluating a company's image can help you book a more positive experience.

Tour Focus

Many companies run seasonal whale watches, on top of other activities such as snorkeling or diving.  Ensure that the tour you choose focuses on whale watching, whereby the activities are just an add-on, or to be conducted after you have seen the majestic creatures, and not solely a glimpse before taking off into the horizon. Read up on their websites and reviews to know exactly what the tour includes, how the time is designated for activities and where the tour will be hosted.

Whale Sighting Guarantee

Sometimes, nature does its own thing and  you may be unable to spot a whale on your tour. Don’t worry, most companies will book you on another tour for free (sometimes within a specific time frame such as a year or that season) if you do not get to see the whales. Some companies will even refund your trip if there are no whale sightings. This is most likely to happen at the very beginning or end of whale season when there are fewer whales on Maui. But do note, it only applies to certain companies, so do your research to see which tours provide this guarantee.

Choose the Best Tour

Maui is considerably one of the best places to whale watch. While you choose a tour, always remember to prioritize visitor satisfaction. Don’t opt for cheap tours just to save on cost. Ensure your safety is top-notch as well. Only this way can you enjoy whale watching without worry. Book your tour today and enjoy the best whale watching experience of your life!

Now that you know how to choose the best whale-watching tours, here are some of the best whale-watching tours in Maui for you to book today!

Hawaii Ocean Rafting

Rafts are the best way to whale watch for two reasons. The first is the low-to-water style of a vessel. Instead of looking over a railing down at the whale, you are at eye-level with the whale. The opportunities to be up close and personal will surely make you admire the beauty of humpback whales. Don’t forget to bring a waterproof camera because you are likely going to get splashed with ocean spray!

The second reason rafts are so popular is the small group size. Each accommodates less than 16 guests which makes it a more intimate and casual setting. Getting to know the people you are rafting with as well as the local crew will make the experience so much more memorable.

Whale Watch and Snorkel

This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience because you get to whale watch and snorkel. Guaranteed a sighting of a whale, you will be with a small group of about 16 people. You will be onboarding a rafting vessel, which has a hydrophone so you can listen to whales. You also get to listen to talks by onboard marine naturalists. Since it is closer to the water, you get the best view possible. Snorkel instruction is included and you’ll be snorkeling along the shallow reef of Lanai or Maui with tropical fish and turtles.

Many people rate a tour like this highly. Tours are available daily from December to April but remember, if your child is below three years of age, they aren’t permitted.

Whale Watch Sail

Set sail to spot the majestic humpback whales off the coast of Maui. Being able to hold up to 50 passengers, it is also equipped with hydrophones for you to hear the whales. Having the tour led by onboard marine naturalists, you will gain new knowledge about whales that you never knew. People recommend the tour mainly because of how good the tour guides are, and of course, being able to see many whales.

Trilogy – Kaanapali Whale Watch

For this tour, you will be aboard a luxury catamaran and set sail from Kaanapali Beach. Learning about whales from the naturalist onboard, you can also enjoy snacks. Tours are available on most days from December to April. If you want to enhance the entire Maui experience, you can also opt for other activities snorkeling, dinner sails as well as scuba cruises.

Making Maui Memorable

Maui is considerably one of the best places to whale watch. It will be something you remember for a lifetime, alongside the beautiful ocean view you have. At sunset, everything is so much more magical and breathtaking. If you are worried about safety, don’t be. This is all thanks to the friendly crew you will be with throughout the tour making it really safe. So, book your tour today and make Maui the most memorable trip you’ve been on!

If you find yourself with a few more gifts to check off the list, you are probably not alone. The holidays can certainly sneak up on us. most folks work right up until Christmas and the kids get out of school mere days before the big day. This accelerated countdown can leave you holding an empty bag. Another difficulty touching a lot of us these days is the fact that we all live so far apart. When we are all spread across the country and even the world, the gift giving deadlines are even tighter. It is far too late to ship a physical gift. What to do? Have you considered a Christmas gift of whale watching?

We Have the Answer

Are any of the folks on your Christmas list planning on a Maui vacation any time over the coming year? Maybe you have family here in the islands. Maybe your own family will be visiting Maui. There is no easier gift to give than a gift certificate, just purchase and print.

When you give the gift of a whale watching tour you will not be locked into dates. The gift recipient can choose and change their dates as they wish. What an exciting way to let the kids know that they are going on a family vacation to Maui: let them open a package with whale watching tour reservations inside. It’s ideal for your friends and family that reside on Maui. Many of us that live here never actually get out there on a whale watch. It is an affordable and unexpected surprise.

Learn About The Kohola

Kohola (whales) have long since been a part of Hawaii’s rich culture and heritage. In fact, our chant of creation vividly describes the birth of whales. Today, Hawaii is known for its Humpback whales which attract visitors in the thousands every season. These whales get their name from their rounded back when they dive down. Close to 80% of the 10,000 whales that migrate to Hawaii end up in Maui. Don’t think you’ll see thousands of whales at once, though! Humpback whales are known to migrate in a trickle pattern.

What Does Whale Watching Entail

Our low-to-water style of vessels and family-style (less than 16 people) make whale watching an unforgettable experience! We depart from the Lahaina harbor and search for whales along Maui’s coast. Apart from observing whale behaviors, you can listen to whale songs on the hydrophone! Our marine naturalists will be a wealth of information on Hawaiian culture.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

It is common for material Christmas gifts to lose their luster over time. Our whale watching tours are operated aboard small vessels that specialize in small group tours. Each seat is a front seat and will give you the best photo opportunities out there. Bring your Go Pro and capture the graceful humpbacks by just reaching your hand overboard. The pictures, videos, and memories will last a lifetime. A whale watching tour is literally the gift that keeps on giving. Book directly with us and save 15% automatically.

We offer snorkeling trips that leave from Lahaina harbor daily throughout the year. We also offer whale watching tours between December and May. The neighbor island of Lana’i is our destination because it is home to endless pristine coral reefs as well as dolphins and turtles. If you book a snorkeling tour between December and May your tour is always part whale watch trip because the journey to Lana’i takes you right through the best whale watching spot in the islands.

Half Day Snorkeling Trip

Our most popular tour is the half day snorkeling trip that departs at 8:00 am for the neighbor island of Lanai. Lanai offers some of the most pristine snorkeling around and is also home to spotted, spinner, and bottlenose dolphins. On this 4.5-hour trip we will visit (at least) 2-3 different and unique snorkel spots as well as dolphin watching opportunities.

What to Bring

All of our tours are aboard our high-speed ocean raft with our knowledgeable captain and crew. They are always happy to answer questions and make sure you are comfortable before you hop in the water. The trip includes a continental breakfast, snacks, water, juice, and soda. We also provide all the gear and instruction you will need, including snorkels, fins and flotation (boogie boards, waist belts, and noodles). There are waterproof cameras for purchase at our booth before departure. Best of all, you will have a full snorkeling and dolphin/ turtle watching adventure and be back in time for lunch on historic Front Street in Lahaina.

The Full Day Snorkel Tour

Our full day snorkeling tour is a unique adventure that we offer each Sunday. This tour is similar in some ways to our half day and includes a delicious deli lunch from No Ka Oi deli. The thing about the full day is the degree to which you get to leap from the beaten path. This trip circumnavigates the entire island of Lana’i. You will travel past breathtaking sea cliffs, walk on untouched beaches, and get to check out the giant ship wreck on the backside of Lanai.

Seasonal Whale Watching

For those of you lucky enough to be on Maui between December and May you won’t want to miss out on our whale watching tour. Like our other tours we will leave from Lahaina Harbor on Maui’s majestic West side. Our whale watches will leave throughout the day and each tour is a full two hours of whale watching. Our rafts are fast which means that we can spend more time whale watching and less time traveling. We offer a morning, midday, and afternoon trip so there is something for everyone. Bring your camera and yourself, we will provide the rest. Our captain and crew are all very knowledgeable in all things humpback whale. There are no stupid questions. These creatures still remain quite mysterious. These tours can sell our fast, so book in advance to secure your spot!

We are your premier tour operator for all things Destination Lanai. Give us a call or stop by slip 8 in Lahaina harbor. You will also save if you book directly through the website, just click on the tour links in the article! When you decide which tour is best for you and book direct, you’ll save 15%!

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 Whale Watching in Maui Is a Great Idea

It’s true, nature documentaries on your TV screen have never looked better and are available at the touch of a button. However, nothing beats the experience of being immersed in the wild, where nothing stands between you and mother nature. Whale watching is a humbling and awe-inspiring experience and can often be a life-changing moment for many who take the opportunity to go. Here are four reasons you should go whale watching in Maui and gain the experience of a lifetime.

Connect With Animals in Their Natural Habitat

Heading out on the waters of Maui is a far cry from the familiar hustle and bustle of city life. Whale watching offers a break from the stress of modern life and allows you to experience marine animals in their natural habitat. You will be awed by the beauty and majesty of these gentle giants as they skillfully navigate the waters they call home. If you’re lucky enough to come close, their sheer size may overwhelm you and even prove to be a humbling experience.

While whale watching is best from December to April due to the migration habits of Northern Pacific humpback whales, there are chances of spotting other sea creatures such as dolphins, false killer whales, melon-headed whales, and whale sharks throughout the year. We recommend our whale-watching eco-rafting tours, as they allow you to be close to the water and spot them at eye level, without having to peer over a railing or a crowd!

Reap the Health Benefits of Being in Nature

Did you know that studies have shown that nature can help to restore us mentally and physically?

Some physical benefits of being in nature are improved immune function, lower risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, accelerated healing, and fewer migraines. Furthermore, the mental health benefits include improved mental clarity and reduced ADHD symptoms.

It may be easy to forget, during the stress of everyday life, that human beings did not evolve to thrive in artificial lights and noisy cities. Improve your quality of life by taking a well-needed break and visiting the ocean, where mother nature will restore your zest for life.

No Two Experiences are the Same

Mother nature is vast, varied, and plentiful. You never know what animals you may see on your trip, or what wild, magical moments you might be able to experience. Many tourists who’ve gone whale watching quickly become addicted to the rarity of each moment and the hope of catching sight of something new or special. Don’t be discouraged if someone you know had a disappointing experience, every trip is different and that's the beauty of it. There are tours that guarantee a whale sighting and offer a free additional tour in the event that no whales turn up! No single experience can capture the endless variety of what the ocean offers.

Reconnect With Your Inner Self

Last but not least, whale watching can immerse you in tranquility and peace that is impossible to come by in a busy city environment. This allows you to unplug and enjoy the feeling of being grounded. As you bob on the serene waters and breathe in the fresh air, you may find a restoration of meaning and purpose to your life in the connection between your inner self and the miraculous world around you.

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!

Where is the Best Place in Maui to See Whales?

Maui is home to many humpback whales, and people often travel to Maui just to check whale watching on their bucket list. It is a stage for some of the most majestic performances of whales. So, if you are heading to Maui for whale watching but don’t know exactly where to spot them from, don’t worry it’s not as overwhelming as it may seem. There are many spots to catch whales in action, but here are some of the best places to see whales in Maui.

Lahaina

Once home to the capital of the Hawaiian Islands and the whaling economy that bloomed with the coming of trans-pacific visitors, Lahaina is the best place for whale watching. Departing from here will ensure the best experience as you spend almost all your time out at sea and amongst the whales. The weather is the most consistent anywhere on the island and the reef that runs along Lahaina’s coast is a favorite for whales to raise their young. In addition, you can also enjoy the view of many other marine life off the west side of the island like eagle rays and dolphins. Venture to the west side and enjoy some of the best whale watching experiences in Lahaina.

La Perouse Bay

La Perouse Bay is home to many archaeological sites, such as canoe hale, salt pans, fishing shrines, temples, coastal plants and many more. It is often visited by Spinner dolphins and whales because of the shallow and calm bay that offers them a resting spot. Snorkeling and scuba diving are also options for those who want to spend time in the waters after whale watching. This is the perfect place to get a glimpse of the majestic creatures.

Secret Beach and Makena Cove

This is the best place for those who enjoy paddling through the calm, clear waters. Over the crystal-clear waters of South Maui, make sure you take a tour in the morning as the weather on the south side of the island tends to become windy mid to late morning. Besides the many aquatic animals and the underwater places you can snorkel through, the highlight is the humpback whales. Keep your eyes peeled because it is the migrating and mating areas of the whales. But remember to keep a safe and respectful distance.

Hookipa Beach Park

Located along the North Shore of the island and nine miles from the Kahului airport, Hookipa beach park may sneak you a glimpse of whales. Popular among surfers, you may spot a whale while sitting on the beach watching the surfers. If you’re on the northeast side of the island, look for whales when you stop at Hookipa beach park.

When you visit Maui, choosing the best place to see the whales is crucial because you don’t want to miss them and have to find another spot. Along the west coast of Maui and Lahaina the water is referred to as the Maui Nui Basin which is the most populated spot for whales. This area was designated a federal sanctuary for humpback whales in the 1990’s due to the majority of the whale population residing in this one location. Get recommendations from the locals, read reviews, talk to the owners and crew to learn more about your best options for a whale watching tour. This way, you can also get a closer view of the majestic creatures, something you won’t forget for a lifetime.

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! It really depends on exactly what you are looking for.

Maui really does have something to offer throughout the year. For those that are all about snorkeling you are pretty good throughout the year. If it is possible for you to schedule your trip during off-peak times you may want to think about it. Pretty much everything will be a bit less crowded and you will probably save on flights and hotel stays. For those that want to make sure to see some humpback whales, the times are a bit more limited.

The humpback whale season here on Maui officially begins in December and finishes in May. We typically stop offering whale watching tours on May 15th because there are just too few whales to guarantee a worthwhile experience with multiple sightings. That said, whale sightings can be sparse closer to the beginning and end of each season. We often wait until the middle to end of December to begin our whale watching tours. Sometimes we see whales arrive as early as October and remain through the end of May with a few stragglers around in early June. Maui’s whale season has peak activity occurring between January and March.

Are there Enough Whales around for an Exciting tour?

The answer is yes! There are still plenty of whales around and we have had some pretty great tours in the last few days. The warm shallow waters surrounding Maui are really quite small when you think about it. Our rafts are super-fast and if we see action off in the distance we can zip you there in no time.

What Time of Year to Book a Maui Whale Watching Tour

Wondering what's the best weather for a Maui Whale watching tour? The peak of whale season in Maui is typically in the latter winter months. While many expect Maui to be sunshine all year round, this island is home to six major microclimates.

This means Maui is not a one-size-fits-all vacation in terms of weather. You can go from frost and freezing temperatures at 10,000 feet on top of the dormant volcano to sea level sandy beaches in less than a few hours. Same goes from the humid rainforest of Hana to the arid south side of Maui.

When planning your winter vacation to Maui, make sure that you are prepared for the different tropical weather elements that you may counter overall and especially on your whale watching adventure!

Whale watching in Maui typically occurs between December and April with the peak of this being from January to March. However, there have been whale sightings reported in the months leading up to and after this timeline (however, they are rare and most whale tours stop offering dedicated whale watches past that timeline).

That is not to say that if you are on a private snorkel or other marine life tour that you might not see whales. While whale experts like our captains at Hawaii Ocean Rafting are unparalleled in their ability to spot and safely approach whales; it is nearly impossible to track down the earlier arriving whales prior to December because there are so few.

What is Winter Weather in Maui?

Rain doesn’t bother whales much like it does humans that opt for an adventure aboard the ocean rafts that track them down! Because Maui is a tropical island in the middle of the pacific, weather reports are rarely accurate. At Hawaii Ocean Rafting however, we use special NOAA and sailing weather reports to get the most accurate weather for our whale watching destinations.

Just like the time of day, there are no seasonal or overall weather trends that appear to affect whale activity or behavior. West Maui, the best place to leave from for a whale watching adventure, is also located on the leeward side of the expansive West Maui Mountains, which is why many refer to Lahaina as a “desert”. In fact, this is how it is categorized amongst environmentalists.

That desert atmosphere ensures that visitors and residents of the west side encounter the greatest amount of sunny days and least amount of wind and rain on the entire island of Maui. The west side of Maui has the best chances for a shining day out on the water and the best possible weather for whale watching in Maui. If the weather turns to a tropical storm and the whale tour is not doable, tours can be rescheduled or refunded for the guests benefit.

How to Book a Winter Whale Watching Tour

When you are looking to book a whale watching tour during the peak season, we recommend that you aim for the peak season. However, we know that tickets can sell out fast especially for an intimate marine experience like what our 27-foot raft has to offer.

If you can’t manage to secure a spot during the peak time, we recommend you reserve a whale watching tour starting in December so that you are sure to see one of these mammals during yours and their time in the South Pacific. There may be fewer whales early and late in the season, but it only takes one amazing humpback whale encounter for an unforgettable whale watch.

The best way to book a tour would be online through our instant booking platform that we host on the Hawaii Ocean Rafting website or by getting in touch with us so that we can properly recommend the whale watching tour that is sure to be the biggest hit for you and any guests you decide to bring with you!

Maybe a Snorkeling Tour is your Best Bet?

As the year progresses into May you may want to consider booking a snorkeling tour instead. Our trips will take you to the island of Lanai for either a half or full day of snorkeling. What many may not realize is that the trip to Lanai takes you right through the very waters where the whales are always most abundant. This time of year, all of our snorkeling tours are part whale watch.

So, yes, there is still time left for a whale watch! you will save a few bucks if you book direct.

Do you have children?

There are always a few extra considerations for those travelling with a family. You will quickly find that a lot of the school holidays around the country happen within days and weeks of each other. This means that there are quite few people trying to travel at the same time, resulting in high seasons. The closer to the beginning or end of these holiday seasons that you can book your travel the better. Travelling on an actual holiday is also recommended to avoid crowds and save a buck. When traveling during high seasons it is imperative that you book your tours in advance. Whale watching season can sell out fast during peak season which coincides with the Thanksgiving through New Years holidays. Another option is taking the kids out of school for a week. Many teachers will help to put together some homework and assign a report about the vacation. Sometimes an experience can teach more than they can ever find in a book.

How is your Budget?

Most of us are on a budget, and who doesn't like to save a buck or two? First either prepare to book a hotel far in advance or be flexible enough to book the night before on a site like Priceline. Hotel prices vary greatly here on Maui; if you can travel outside of the high seasons, you will save big. Flights also vary greatly; try using an app like Hopper to see if you are getting a good deal or if you should wait for the price to drop. Finally, you can save an automatic 15% on all of our tours when you book directly online.

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!

Get the Most Out of Your Maui Whale Watch

As soon as you start shopping around for your whale watching tour you will probably be surprised by the variety out there. Tour size is one if the main differences among the various tours out there. Some of the large vessel tours out there can take upwards of 60 passengers at once. While these larger vessels are right for some folks, many find them a little stressful. Large vessels have numerous restrooms and even a gift shop. You can find yourself jockeying for a view or even having to move from one side of the vessel to the other just to catch a glimpse of the whales. These large vessels are often pretty slow moving and you may spend more time traveling than actual whale watching. A smaller tour is usually aboard a smaller vessel and takes far fewer passengers. Our smaller raft style vessels are low profile and allow you to get an eye level view from each seat on the boat.  Our rafts are fast and allow us to spend less time travelling and more time whale watching. If you like a little bit of adventure and prefer to avoid the crowds, a small group tour is for you.

Ask Questions

Our Captains and crew didn't just stumble into positions aboard whale watching boats in Maui. They love where they live and the ocean and its inhabitants as well. One of our Captains actually runs whale watching tours year-round. He follows the whales between Maui and Alaska each season. As you watch these gentle giants you may have all kinds of questions pop into your head, please ask! We love to share knowledge and increase awareness about these wonderful creatures!

Take Advantage of Freebies

It can't hurt to ask about any freebies included with your tour. We can't speak for other tours but here are a few things you can expect on our tours. Each of our vessels is equipped with a fully stocked icy cold cooler full of free sodas, waters, and fruit juices. Feel free to help yourself or request a beverage at any time during the tour. Our crew is often using the Go Pro camera to capture underwater footage, just ask and they will send the footage directly to you. If you are quick to catch a chill or the weather is a bit stormy, we offer complimentary wetsuits to wear on the tour. Just ask before the boat leaves the dock!

Do Not Make These Rookie Mistakes While Whale Watching

You would be surprised at how many folks think that parking at the lookout with binoculars is whale watching. Some even claim to whale watch from the balcony of their condo. Not possible! Since most of you will be able to see some whale activity from your Lanai, why even go on a whale watching tour?

The fact is, you may not be able to truly understand the difference until you actually get out there on the water up close and personal. It is hard to gauge the actual size from shore; one may think they are like a giant dolphin. The actual size of an adult humpback whale is actually more like a school bus, and this is very clear when one swims under our raft. You can’t crowd together on a giant slow-moving boat and expect to have a high-quality whale watching experience. The only highlight of these bargain big boats is access to an onboard gift shop and restaurant. But.... isn't Front Street a big gift shop and restaurant? While lying by the pool with a Mai Tai is a wonderful way to spend a day or three, it is a borderline crime to not get out on a whale watch!

Don't Miss the Drama

The large puff of breath from a humpback is easily visible from shore and not an uncommon sight. You will quickly discover that this breath is no mere puff when it emits from a giant 10 feet from the raft. This breath is rumbling bass with a force of air that is shocking in its power. Going out on a whale watching tour allows you to experience the intricate relationships between mother and calf, bulls and escorts. The competition pod is turbulent and grand as a group of males compete for a mate.

Don't Miss the Intimacy

You may also witness the tenderness as a mother lifts her calf to the surface as a reminder to take a breath. The experience that really touches most of our guests is the "mugging". A "mugging" is when a whale takes a break and comes over to check us out, and they often pop up beside the raft and look us right in the eye. One of our favorite things to do is turn off our engines and drift. We put a hydrophone in the water so you can hear the whale songs being sung below.

The Fix

So, here's the thing. You can't whale watch from the shore, and it is almost as hard aboard a giant tour vessel. The truth is you will never find the kind of experience that we offer anywhere else. We operate small group tours aboard speedy ocean rafts. You can get your food and shopping fix on Front Street and then just hop on one of our tours. Our tours are a full two hours devoted to the majestic humpback whales. Our vessels are fast and we make it a point to travel a bit further to avoid the crowds. The whales are actually bigger than our boats and each seat is literally a front row seat. You won't get better photo ops anywhere!

Still Don’t Believe Us?

Check out this recent review from Tripadvisor: "We went out with Sean and Lydia on July 28 for the half day snorkel trip to and from Lana'i. The snorkelling was fantastic on the other side of Lana'i. We saw dolphins (spinner and bottle nose) at three different locations! Sean and Lydia were excellent guides. This was actually our ninth trip out with Hawaii Ocean Rafting (we have been coming to Maui every summer for the last eleven years).

Our first year on the island we made the mistake of going out on one of those large boats (too many people, too far above the water, felt like cattle etc.) With this Hawaii Ocean Rafting you get to interact and meet everyone on the boat, and you are so close to the water that you can even put your camera underwater for pictures of dolphins. Looking forward to coming back next year and may even do the full day trip. Thanks Sean and Lydia for a great day out."

How To Make It Happen

Our tours leave throughout the day from Maui's Lahaina harbor. Book your whale watching tour directly through our website or give us a call at 808-661-RAFT and lock in 2016 prices throughout 2017!

We know that there are tons of different options out there for you to choose from. It is possible to become overwhelmed with all the different price options and vessel sizes. Some tours look like a great deal, even too good to be true. Many of these super cheap tours require you to sit through a time share pitch. Who has time for that? Your time is valuable too. Some tours even take you to snorkeling spots you could easily drive to and that doesn't make much sense. Do you really need a gift shop aboard your boat? Maui is covered with cool little shops, and you are there to snorkel! We would like to help you narrow it down by giving you two specific criteria to think about when choosing your tour.

Vessel/group Size

This may not seem obvious but there are a few reasons that this can make a big difference in your experience. A smaller vessel is closer to the surface which makes interacting with and viewing dolphins much cooler and more personal. You will get better pictures of the dolphins and turtles if you are not 30 feet above water. Something else you may not have considered is that smaller vessels tend to be faster. Faster isn't just more fun it is more effective. Some of these large vessel tours take half the time meant for snorkeling and spending it travelling. Our rafts for example can zip across the channel between Maui and Lana'i quickly so you can spend more time snorkeling. Another benefit of smaller size is that it automatically limits group size. The experience is just more magical when you aren't snorkeling amidst 30-60 other snorkelers. A tour of 10 usually feels like family by the time you return to shore.

Destination

As previously mentioned, many of the larger slower tours actually take you to snorkeling spots on the road system. You probably already have a rental car so why pay again to go somewhere you could easily get to without a giant group. There is always Molokini which is crowded with boats and snorkelers all scrambling for a spot. The actual volcanic formation is very cool, but the snorkeling isn't the best. We suggest you look for a company that will take you to Lana'i. This is our specialty and here is why: Lana'i is an often-overlooked jewel. This giant private island is sparsely inhabited and is home to many dolphin species as well as some truly world class snorkeling. The variety in locations offered around the island are mind blowing as well as breath-taking. Avoid the crowds and veer from the beaten path. You will not be disappointed. Our tours are very popular, here’s why you should consider giving them as a gift!

They Will Never Guess What’s in This Box

You can book any of our tours well in advance and tuck the gift certificate in a beautiful card. We think it would be fun to wrap it up in a gift basket with some sunblock and a bright and fun Beach towel. Maybe this gift will be the first hint that a Maui vacation is in your loved one’s future! Any way you do it, whether it is a whale watching or snorkeling adventure, it will be a much unexpected surprise!

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Often times the novelty of a material gift wears off and the gift is put in a drawer or the back of the closet. Taking your loved one on an ocean adventure will create memories to last a lifetime. The gift of adventure is also fun for the giver (make sure you book yourself into the adventure, to keep the birthday girl/boy company). The thing about an adventure is that you never know exactly what to expect, you may get to swim with rays or bask in the raft as dolphins frolic all around. It’s just plain fun!

Budget Friendly Gift

You won’t find a more budget friendly one-of-a-kind gift out there (unless you make it yourself, and that can go any number of ways). Our half day snorkeling tour to the neighboring island of Lana’i includes all of the gear, food, beverages, and expert instruction all for under $80. Our whale watching tours are a full two hours of whale watching for just $33.47!

The Photos

Finally, the photos! Bring an underwater camera along with your regular camera or phone and you will go home with a treasure trove of breath-taking birthday photos. Maui and Lana’i are home to some truly majestic coastlines that you can’t really appreciate from shore. As you depart the harbor you can capture the West Maui mountains in all of their glory. The birthday girl could blow one of these photos up to grace the walls of her home forever. Underwater is home to an unimaginable pallet of colors, coming alive with the tropical fish and living coral reefs.

While snorkeling in Maui is very safe for those that want to embark on this adventure, there are a few precautions you should keep in mind to protect both yourself and the marine life.

Wear Reef-safe Sunscreen

The most important thing is making sure that you are wearing reef-safe sunscreen and keeping a safe distance from the sea creatures that you encounter on your snorkeling adventure. A lot of mainstream and generic sunscreens have harmful chemicals that kill the reefs of the coastal shores of Maui. Not only that- but those chemicals can also be harmful to the life that inhabits those areas.

Luckily, due to mandates in Hawaii it is against legislation to wear sunscreens that contain these harmful chemicals making sanctioned reef-safe sunscreens easily accessible. However, there are still some wholesalers that carry those brands and label themselves as reef friendly. The best thing you can do is ask employees of the store, your accommodations, or your tour what are reef safe sunscreens and make sure that you purchase and/or apply those products. Look for sunscreen with ingredients made from Zinc or minerals only. If there are any chemicals with long names, don't buy it and always avoid spray sunscreen.

Don’t Touch the Animals

Another thing you need to keep in mind when going on a snorkel tour in Maui is to make sure that you are respecting everything in that environment. Beyond making sure that your sunscreen is not a threat to the coral reef you should be aware of how to protect the wildlife that inhabits it.

The biggest thing that you will be taught when embarking on your snorkel tour is not to approach too closely or touch any sea life that you may encounter.  Most of us would assume that it would be a bad idea to touch a reef shark that is cruising on by– but many think it is ok to closely approach a turtle or a dolphin. There are federal regulations that protect both turtles and dolphins and you can be fined or go to jail if you approach too closely. Snorkeling with a guide will help ensure you know the proper distance to stay from marine wildlife.

It is super important that you keep proper distance from all marine life and keep your hands off them and their habitats. This includes the corals which are really quite fragile. Coral is easily damaged by contact and is also often quite sharp. It takes many years for reef to grow. Please avoid contact with coral. A lot of people use their snorkel trips to collect memorabilia like shells and coral, but we encourage you to keep everything in its place and preserve the beauty and life for future generations.

What to Look for When Snorkeling in Maui

Main island Maui is home to a lot of amazing snorkeling spots along its shores and off the neighboring islands within Maui County. When looking to book a guided tour make sure you are going to someone who is recommended, with a good amount of positive reviews and experience. They should also have proper booking guidelines that make you feel at ease with booking for yourself and possibly your family on this excursion.

If you and your party are looking to snorkel off one of Maui’s coasts there are a few elements to consider. The greatest amount of sea life gathers around the reefs– so adhere to what we mentioned about keeping hands off and your curiosity as a view-only level. The other thing to consider is the weather and swells of the ocean.

The island of Maui has different waves or ocean swells at different times of the year. The winter we usually categorized as a North Shore swell – this is when you will see a lot of footage of big wave surfers with double or triple overhead waves as their backdrop. This usually means avoiding any snorkeling off of the North Shore of Maui.

In the summer we encounter a south swell – although a little less severe than the big waves – it could mean that the snorkeling spots along Kihei and Makena are cloudy due to high winds and a large amount of churn in the ocean.

What to Wear on Your Maui Snorkel Trip

The gear is almost as important as the trip itself. Making sure that you have snorkeling gear that will keep you safe both on a guided tour and on your own is vital to the success and enjoyment of your excursion. The two most important pieces of equipment are the fins and the snorkel mask.

The Mask

It is helpful to try on and adjust the mask before you leave the harbor, this ensures that you won’t waste any valuable snorkeling time. Begin by brushing all the hair out of your face and gently inhaling so the mask adheres to your face properly. The mask should remain there unsupported, if it does you should pull the strap around your head and adjust straps until comfortable. Feel free to ask for assistance at any time. in order to keep the mask from fogging up there is a defogging solution aboard the vessel.  Also ask for an optical mask before the boat leaves the dock to ensure you won’t miss a thing.

Avoid full-face masks as they do not properly circulated air and can lead to shallow water blackouts. The traditional separate mask and snorkel sets are the safest to snorkel with. If you are snorkeling on your own, make sure that you have a proper snorkel mask that you rent or buy which is endorsed and fitted by dive shops in the area of your stay.

The Fins

Fins are not mandatory for snorkeling, but they help you move much more quickly through the water. If you choose to wear them, there are a few guidelines to ensure your safety and good time on and off board. It is easier to put your fins on seated by the place you wish to enter the water from. If you are entering from shore, do not put your fins on until you have entered the water, walking in it can lead to falling and also looking silly in front of locals. If you are entering from a boat use diligence and upon wanting to reboard the boat, take your fins off before using the ladder. There will be a crew above that you can pass your fins to before you climb the swim ladder.

The Snorkel

The snorkel is pretty self-explanatory. Breathe naturally as you float or swim along the surface. If it seems like it is not staying upright while you are snorkeling the strap that attaches to the mask can be adjusted. Just ask for assistance from the captain or crew. When you return to the surface from a deeper dive, just give a short puff of air to clear and water from the snorkel.

The Best Snorkeling in Maui

All-in-all, when it comes to snorkeling in Maui make sure that you have the proper equipment, are working to keep both yourself and the marine life safe and keep calm. In general, if you are breathing naturally and enjoying the experience you are all but guaranteed a great time!

Not sure what to do In Maui?

There are so many things that you can do on your island vacation! Maui island is home to six distinct and versatile climates. Whether you are looking to trek through the rainforests of Hana or take a dip in the pacific of the desert shores of Lahaina– you can’t go wrong!

If you're looking for ideas on what to do on Maui, we've got you covered! First, let’s dive into the history and legend of Maui!

The History and Legend of Maui

Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727 square miles. According to Native Hawaiian legend, the Polynesian navigator Hawai’iloa, who was attributed with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands, named the island of Maui. His son was given the name after the demi-god Maui raised all the Hawaiian Islands from the sea. The Island of Maui is also called the “Valley Isle” for the stretch of land between two towering volcanoes.

The history of modern-day Maui can be traced back to many large-scale events. One of which was the huge whaling boom in the Pacific and Japan that led to sailors making a pit stop at former capital of the State of Hawaii– Lahaina.

Including walking through the Banyan Trees and the Museum that houses both artifacts and legends around this interesting and integral point of Maui’s history; there are so many things to try and do on your trip to Maui for all ages!

Maui’s Activities for Any Weather

It is no secret that Maui is home to a lot of different climates and weather phenomena. This includes large scale rainforest and more marine areas like the West Maui Mountains that can get up to 400 inches (10m) of rainfall a year– whereas Kihei in South Maui gets only around 19 inches (480mm) of rainfall a year.

If you are looking to have a day out in the sun on the beach or on the golf course – you can check out these Maui Activities, or one of our many golf courses like Kaanapali and Kapalua Golf Courses.

If you are looking for more of a rugged adventure while staying here in Maui you could reserve a spot to watch sunrise at the summit of the 10,000-foot-tall dormant volcano Haleakala or take out a dune buggy and rove around the backside of West Maui.

If you are more of a seafaring adventurer there are many different whale watching and snorkel tours like Hawaii Ocean Rafting that are available. Some opt for day long fishing and diving charters as well!

Ocean Adventures on Maui

Maui is a leading whale-watching hub in the world and within the Hawaiian islands come winter, many Humpback whales are sheltered amongst ‘Au‘au Channel between the islands that make up Maui county. The whales migrate approximately 3,500 miles (5,600 km) from Alaska and come here to mate, birth and raise their young in the warm waters.

A whale watching tours is one of the coolest things you can do here in Maui. Spending the day seeing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat, from a safe distance, really gives someone the sense of majesty that both this island and our oceans contain.

If you are looking to visit Maui this is a must see!

Snorkeling or Whale Watching

Maui is home to a vast variety of marine life just waiting to be discovered. Snorkeling is the number one of the top 4 must do activities on Maui. Snorkeling is available throughout the year all around Maui. We would suggest that you hop on one of our rafts and get away from the road system for the best snorkeling. We will whisk you to the neighbor island of Lanai’s and all of its pristine glory. Lana’s is a sparsely habited private island with breathtaking sea cliffs and dramatic lava formations above and below the ocean’s surface. The entire place is teeming with a rainbow of tropical fish as well as several species of Dolphin!

If you will be on Maui between December and May, you should definitely book a whale watching tour. Our tours leave from Lahaina harbor for a full 2 hours dedicated to whale watching. Our rafts are fast which means we can step off the beaten path and spend less time traveling and more time whale watching! The gentle giants leave a lasting impression on all who meet them, it is pretty magical to get up close.

Hana or Haleakala

These two destinations offer the best of the two extremes of Maui's rugged landscape. The stark grandeur of the Haleakala crater is especially dramatic at sunrise and sunset. If you take the time to hike down into the crater it is like visiting an alien landscape (think Mars). The giant telescopes loom in the distance and the silverswords – that live nowhere else on earth – bloom silently all around. Hana, on the other hand, is a lush and secretive jungle. The tiny winding highway skirts jaw dropping cliffs and hundreds of waterfalls just at the edge of dense impenetrable rainforest. Stop for banana bread on the way, and take your time. Hana is home to the seven sacred pools as well as Hamoa beach.

A Day At The Beach

Maui just isn't Maui without a few days devoted to the beach. Sunkissed cheeks and sandy toes may be all you have to show for your efforts, but you won't regret this at all. The thing about Maui is that the gentle trade winds are always blowing, they keep it just cool enough. Our waters hover around 80 degrees and there is always a bit of shade on our treelined beaches. As you bask in the paradise the trades blow the scent of jasmine and plumeria through the air and you can truly relax. For many this is the highlight of Maui.

Unique Island Style Dining and a Luau

Maui is home to a melting pot of cultures that you won't find anywhere else in the world. This rare combination of cultures from all over the globe results in a culinary experience not to be missed. Whether you pick up a musubi at minute stop or take in the Old Lahaina Luau you are sure to experience flavor combinations that do not occur anywhere else.

Where to Shop and Dine in Maui

In addition to an activity to fit the fantasy of any traveler; there are a plethora of amazing places to shop and dine here on the island. Maui has a great culture of shopping and supporting local– it is very important that those who are visiting are contributing back to the local economy and fully immersing themselves in all that the island has to offer.

Some great places to shop and support local are the Lahaina Cannery Mall, Moonbow Tropics, and Made in Maui. For dining one must check out some of the great locally owned and critically acclaimed restaurants like Maui Brewing Company, StarNoodle, and TinRoof– each offer unique dining experiences for a date night or a fun night out with the whole family!

Maui’s Best Kept Secrets

Firstly, Lanai is home to several different species of dolphin which usually greet us upon our arrival to the shores of Lanai. There is something about our quick rafts and wake that the dolphins find irresistible. They jump, spin and surf alongside as we approach our first snorkeling spot. When you snorkel Lanai, you will discover a snorkeler’s paradise. We sometimes see the rarer and more elusive bottle nosed dolphins. These beauties travel in small groups or pairs and are always quite curious. During whale season they are the dolphin that we most often see interacting with the humpbacks. The spinner dolphins are quite a bit more common and are more likely to be the ones putting on a show. They leap and spin up to 5 times before landing back in the water with a resounding slap. You may also see the Pan Tropical spotted dolphins which travel in large pods and are also likely to leap gracefully out of the water time and time again.

The Landscape is Unlike Anything on Maui

Secondly, with so many wonderful rock lava formations all around the island there is a spot for each type of weather.  This is one of the wonderful things about having this whole island at our fingertips, she offers something for everyone. The giant sea cliffs of Lanai offer a striking backdrop as well as protection from swells and high winds. There are pinnacles rising to just below the surface in sixty feet of water and outcroppings reaching out of the sea in the middle of calm little bays. Snorkel Lanai and find such a diverse experience all in one trip. If you join us for our full day snorkel tour, you will see the giant shipwreck towering from Lanai's shallow coastal waters.

You Don't need an Airplane to Get There

Finally, for those of you that have ever watched a sunset from the shores of Maui, you have undoubtedly seen the majestic island of Lanai. Lana'i is the star of the show that darkens in silhouette as the colors deepen and flash and night falls. Our tours leave daily from Lahaina harbor on Maui's majestic West side and set out for this hidden gem of an island. If you enjoy stepping off the beaten path and experiencing nature in its purest form, this tour is for you. We specialize in small group tours aboard our speedy ocean rafts, no cattle cars here. We offer both a half and full day snorkeling tour as well as seasonal whale watching (December-May).  If you have a free Sunday during your star here on Maui you may want to consider our full day tour. The full day tour circumnavigates the entire island of Lana'i as well as take you up close to a giant shipwreck. If you book directly online you will save an automatic 15%.

What to Do in Maui in December

Winter is a very special time here in Maui. While the weather stays warm, with pictures of a sunscreen and grass skirt-adorned Santa Claus lining the shops of Lahaina’s Front Street’s windows and greeting cards; both tourists and locals alike are more excited for the arrival of our greatest tourists: the Humpback whales.

From the months of December to early April (many arriving in December) humpback whales make their way to Maui’s coast to mate, give birth and raise their young in the tropical waters of the Pacific before returning North.

Maui Arts and Cultural Center

The Maui Arts and Cultural Center, familiarly known as the “MACC” hosts some of Maui’s greatest events! From comedy shows to orchestras, the MACC has it all! If you are lucky, you may be able to enjoy this outdoor venue jamming to some local favorite bands or world-renowned stars.

Since the shutdown of 2020, the MACC has slowly been opening their doors to the public; hosting stars like Jim Gaffigan or, more recently, The Green. This December you can grab your tickets to Maui’s Pop Orchestra for their special holiday show “Holiday Pops” or even the 11th anniversary show of Bill Maher!

Whether you’re in the mood for a laugh or to enjoy some great music in Maui’s most beautiful venue the MACC is a great option! Because you are in the tropical pacific, you don’t have to worry about the weather or the cold derailing your enjoyment— this outdoor venue is sure to provide a great time.

Holiday Traditions in Hawaii

If you are looking to spend a special Christmas or holiday season with your loved ones, there is no better place than Maui!

While it may provide a difference experience than the traditional “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” or lighting candles near a frosted window, Maui has other wonderful holiday traditions to share.

On December 11th, there will be a 6-foot-tall Snowman in Lahaina Town, the perfect photo op for your Maui Christmas vacation! On December 18th, from 6pm-8pm, also in downtown Lahaina, there will be a snow zone for kids to play and cookie decorating for everyone to get into the holiday spirit!

Downtown Lahaina town shows off its holiday spirit in December when it lights up the giant Banyan Tree with magical Christmas lights every year. The historical town celebrates with decorative with banners and festive storefronts, Christmas caroling and holiday dining.

One of these Maui holiday traditions is enjoying some of the seasonal fruit and vegetation that grows during the winter months like squash, strawberries, and melons! Even though most of Maui is classified as a warm tropical climate there are still seasons around some of the most popular crops that locals and visitors alike anticipate.

Maui Whale Watching Tours

The winter months are a time where Maui sees an influx of both visitors and wildlife. As mentioned, whale season in Maui spans from November to early spring at its peaks. If you choose to vacation in Maui during December, make sure that you are aboard one of Maui’s award-winning whale watching tours.

If being on a boat isn’t your thing, you can swim or snorkel in the warm waters that line Maui’s coasts. Lahaina and the West and North Side of Maui host winter surf swells, making it a go to spot for epic surfing during the winter season. If you are lucky, you might see an early firing of “Jaws” the greatest big wave surf of the Pacific (this usually happens in mid to late winter each or every other year).

Bottom line— if you are looking to travel to Maui there is no better time than the winter season!

What Not to do in Maui?

Looking for information on what NOT to do in Maui?

Maui is a magical place filled with majestic beauty and a host of amazing activities. We should we all work to preserve that natural environment. While locals are working hard to spread the message of how important it is to respect the “'Aina”; many tourists are oblivious to some of the mistakes they may be making. That said, keep reading to learn what not to do on Maui. Ever!

Disrespecting Hawaiian Culture

Something that many tourists both from the mainland US and other countries don’t understand is that the Hawaiian islands were not a part of the US until very recently; even if they do know that Hawaii only joined the union in 1959, they may not be aware of the dark events that lead to that decision.

Hawaii was a US territory since the 1800’s, however, this occupation was not one void of mistreatment and tensions between the native Hawaiians and the foreign occupants. American plantation owners have been occupying sacred land across the islands which came hand-in-hand with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.

These tensions continue to this day which is why it is imperative that those that visit the Hawaiian islands are aware of the traditions and sacred sites that remain vital to the culture here in Hawaii. This spans from not disrespecting sacred sites like Iao Valley, Hale remnants, and beaches like Red Sand to name a few. It also spans to respecting both the native Hawaiian language and the creole language of Pigeon which is used across generations to this day.

Respecting the Land ('Aina)

One thing that has become central to the missions of Hawaiian residents when it comes to tourism is making sure that visitors respect the land, or 'Aina in native language. While some planes like those of Hawaiian Airlines include an informational video on the dos and don’ts of visiting Hawaii State; many either choose to ignore it by not watching or leave their headphones in and miss the important message.

Some of the main things that we encourage tourists to consider when visiting Maui is making sure that you leave no footprint. This includes picking up any and all trash, not taking or leaving anything in any park, beach, or hike; as well as making sure that you aren’t defacing any nature or sacred landmark here in Maui.

There can be tensions between locals and visitors because many visitors do not respect the land or ocean. Some visitors go on private property, take sacred rocks, fish where they are no allowed, leave trash behind and conduct themselves with an attitude of entitlement; these tensions have only escalated since the reopening of the islands after the pandemic. To give context; when there was less foot traffic in Maui from 2020-2021, many witnessed a massive healing and resurgence of plant and animal life as well as, and most importantly the coral reef and marine life.

You don’t have to volunteer for beach cleanups during your vacation (although the community would love it if you do) but make sure you are doing your part by cleaning up after yourself, be kind and even the small things like making sure your sunscreen is reef safe and no spray sunscreen.

Don’t Put Yourself at Risk on Your Maui Vacation

This might seem obvious but it’s more common than you think! While our Monk Seals are cute and that hike seems like a good time– it’s not worth it if you are risking yours and everyone else’s safety!

One common no-no we see all the time is visitors trying to touch wildlife. A big PSA that we would like to offer is if you see a monk seal or a turtle, especially, lying on the beach; it isn’t dead, just sleeping!

Besides our marine animals; we even see some people displacing local kittens and deer. While there is a large population of both– there are many different precautions when interacting with even the most unthreatening wildlife here in Maui.

Besides not messing with the wildlife, whether that is kittens or a wild boar– make sure that you are watching yourself and where you step. Unfortunately, due to tragic accidents, a lot of iconic hiking and swimming spots are off-limits and illegal for both tourists and locals to visit. Off-limits is not an invitation to break the rules.

When an area is marked off-limits, restricted, or sacred there is a reason. If you are looking for a good hike to an amazing swimming hole it is not necessary to go off the book. Stick to what both locals and your guide say is safe and accessible– you’ll have an amazing time and not be at risk to any injury!

When it comes to planning an amazing vacation in Maui it’s not that hard. Just because some things are ill-advised and off limits does not mean that you have to settle for a “regular” experience. Maui has so much to offer from whale watching and snorkel tours to great golfing and even dune-buggy rides! There is truly fun for every family member to be had! Stay humble and listen to the locals and guides for the best experiences Maui has to offer.

Overall, Maui is home to many activities for any individual of any age! If you are looking for an amazing vacation or just a fun thing to do locally, this is the place to start!

Maui is home to a wide variety of marine life. One of the most fascinating creatures that call this island their home is the Hawaiian green sea turtle, also known as Honu. Honu have been an integral part of Hawaiian culture for centuries, and they continue to be an important part of the ecosystem in Maui. Read on to know more about these turtles of Maui!

The Turtles of Maui

Hawaiian green sea turtles are easy to recognize, thanks to their unique appearance. They can grow up to three feet long and weigh as much as 350 pounds! Their shells, which are a mix of brown and green, are covered in algae and other marine organisms. This camouflages them when they are resting on the rocks or sand, making them almost invisible to predators. The hawksbill turtle – named after its unique beak-like mouth that resembles a hawk's bill – is a rarer sight. Unlike the green sea turtle, which can be seen basking on the sand, hawksbill turtles are more elusive and tend to hide in crevices or caves during the day.

Does “Turtle Town” exist in Maui?

There is a bit of misinformation out there when it comes to snorkeling with the turtles of Maui. We get quite a few phone calls asking if we go to “turtle town”, and the answer is yes and no. First of all, there is no one “turtle town”. Wouldn’t it be odd if all the turtles lived in one little spot, with the entire coastline of Maui at their flipper tips? One thing that there will definitely be lots of at this so called "turtle town" is people. If you really want to experience the magic of these amazing creature you will want to avoid the crowds. They are so graceful underwater. Watching them swim through the crystal blue water is truly something to behold.

Is There More Than One?

In reality there are many areas where the turtles of Maui tend to hang in out in larger numbers and unending cleaning stations for the turtles too. We avoid the crowds (of people) and have found some really great spots to snorkel with turtles. Mala wharf on Maui’s West side is one such spot. There once was a giant concrete pier just West of Lahaina. Hurricane Iniki destroyed the pier and it still lies below the surface as a man-made reef teeming with life. This spot is one of our favorite turtle spots and we are usually the only group there. You get to see more natural turtle behavior when you visit them away from the crowds. Less stress on the turtles means a better experience for all because we all love the turtles of Maui.

For The Love of Turtles

One final word on snorkeling with turtles, it is the most important thing about the whole experience. It is never ok in any way to ever touch a sea turtle. We think it better for the turtles when hundreds of people don't crowd around all at once. So, let’s get out there and make some memories and snap some photos! If you love the turtles of Maui and want to take a tour, stop by HERE to save 10% on your next snorkeling trip!

Planning a Maui vacation in the summer? As the rest of the country experiences record high temperatures, Maui remains pleasant at just around 80 degrees. Summer snorkeling around Maui is one of the absolute best ways to cool off and beat the heat. Our crystal-clear waters are relatively cool and refreshing. If you plan to escape the summer heatwave on the Mainland, Maui is always a great choice. Our speedy ocean rafts are super fun and the wind in your hair feels great.

Let us whisk you away to the island of Lanai, which is home to some of the world’s best snorkeling. Lanai is a sparsely-habited private island just a short trip from Lahaina harbor on Maui. The reefs and waters surrounding the island are nearly untouched and you won’t believe the lava formations that lie just below the surface! Read on to find 7 ways that you might be sabotaging your trip.

#1: ‘Mai Tai’ Mayhem

The beloved Mai Tai is a staple of any Luau worth its poi here on Maui. Only adding to the appeal of this tropical libation is the fact that this beauty is often complimentary, that’s right FREE! The combination of exotic drums, gently scented breezes, and aloha spirit make this cocktail a sweetly hidden threat. A “couple” of Mai Tai’s can easily become a “few to many”. Beware: this tropical sunset colored cocktail may leave you feeling a bit green aboard your early morning snorkeling tour. Keep an eye on early morning plans while planning your Maui vacation.

#2: Being ‘Landlocked’

Seriously there is nothing out there on the water that you can’t see more comfortably from shore. Whale spouts (breaths) can be spotted from shore while avoiding the stinky whale breath experienced by those up close.  If you are “lucky” enough to get out on a vessel with a hydrophone you won’t even be able to hear yourself talk over the “beautiful” whale songs piped through the onboard speakers.  For those that choose to book a seat on a whale watching adventure, here is a word of warning. The experience that many have on a small group tour that takes you right out to the majestic humpback whales can be a bit magical. Once you witness these gentle giants up close and personal, you may never be able to simply watch from your Lanai again.

#3: Being a ‘Culinary Coward’

Loco Moco, spam musubi, and shave ice, if they were so delicious, they would serve them on the mainland like McDonalds and Olive Garden. Don’t get sucked into all those roadside fruit stands and farmers markets either. Some of these places even try to push tropical smoothies on you. Does pineapple, Lili koi, and passionfruit even really sound good? Best to stick to the tried-and-true foods from home. Your Maui vacation isn’t the place to go to have any fun!

#4: ‘Hangin too Loose’

Most folks don’t see this one coming. For many the “aloha spirit” strikes directly upon arrival and sets one’s normal brain to “Maui Time”.  This particular syndrome affects folks in the most unforeseen ways.  Normally, you would see people jumping off of Kaanapali’s Black rock; you may snap a photo and discuss it over dinner.  Now that you are “hangin loose”, you may give a whoop and get in line. Such enthusiasm is great until you swim back to shore all exuberant and realize that your wallet and cell phone are still in your now soaked shorts. Sometimes this “no worries” feeling can manifest when you leave your purse with everything in it on top of your car and drive off into the sunset. Hey, you don’t need “stuff” in paradise.  Sure, security won’t let you anywhere near a plane without your I.D!

#5: Underprepared for Adventure

Make sure that you plan any strenuous/dangerous activities for the very beginning of your vacation. Scheduling your bike tour down Haleakala on the first day will ensure that any minor injury or soreness will plague you for the remainder of your trip. Also, sunblock is highly overrated. Sure, it may hurt to move or wear clothes, but how else do you plan to prove that you were on vacation. Just wing it! What kind of a “stick in the mud” books a whale watching tour in advance? Like it really matters that they often sell out quick during the high season (see #1 Landlocked).

#6: Feeling Overcrowded and Underwhelmed

Many folks prefer a smaller more “intimate” tour experience. How on earth are you going to be sure that you are in a “worthwhile” spot if there aren’t crowds of others there? Sure, you could look an attraction up on TripAdvisor or Yelp, but then you are only taking a bunch of other people’s word for it. The whole “online review racket” could be there just to throw you off the scent. Best to follow the tour buses and look for activities that really pack ‘em in. You may not be able to get an unobstructed view of anything, but you won’t be the only one.

#7: No Time for “Maui Magic”

Make sure to squeeze every last second of your vacation into a regimented schedule of activities and tours. So, what if you end up not having a moment left to watch the surprise monk seals basking on the beach, you have plans! Mai Tai by the pool, no time for that. Google it and make it at home! Some less experienced travelers may book a few highlight activities during their trip and leave a little free time for some Maui Magic, but where’s the fun in that?

(BONUS) #8: Legend of the “Lava Not Left Behind”

Take a picture. Bring home an Aloha shirt. Leave the lava rock behind. This particular mistake may not ruin your Maui vacation, but it may have the power to curse any future plans. Lava rocks arrive back on Maui by mail on a daily basis from tourists claiming to have had bad luck after taking the lava rocks home. You are now experts so don’t make this rookie mistake.

How You Can Make the Most of Your Maui Vacation

Summer snorkeling in Maui is just a step away and there is no better way to beat the heat. Check us out online or stop by our ‘office’ at slip 8 in Lahaina harbor. Book online and save an automatic 15%. We specialize in small group tours stepping far from the beaten path. Because our rafts are fast, we can spend less time travelling and more time snorkeling! See coral reefs, sea turtles, tropical fish, dolphins and more on this Eco snorkel adventure. Departing daily from Lahaina for intimate snorkeling and whale watching tours. Climb aboard our ocean rafts and spend the day snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands of Maui and Lana'i. We encounter the Spinner dolphins quite often on our excursions. We'll spend time interacting with them as they frolic in the water.

Skip the over-crowded snorkeling tours that can only take you to the well-known spots. Instead, opt for a Zodiac rafting adventure where we go to the hidden spots so you can snorkel Maui's pristine waters. Continental breakfast, snacks and cold drinks served throughout the day. Snorkel gear is provided. This trip will be the highlight of your vacation! We depart daily from slip #8 Lahaina Harbor. We also offer whale watching tours from December through April from Maui, Hawaii.

Experience the ultimate underwater adventure on the island of Lanai with our top picks for Lanai snorkeling spots! From the stunning coral reefs of Shark Fin Cove to the captivating sea turtles of Turtle Haven, Lanai has an abundance of marine life waiting to be explored. Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Manele Bay, where schools of colorful fish will surround you, or discover the hidden gem of First Cathedral, where underwater caves and arches will leave you in awe. Our guides at Hawaii Ocean Rafting can help you explore all these spots, so keep reading to find out more.

Club Lanai

Club Lanai, located on the east shore of Lanai, is a popular snorkeling spot that attracts many visitors each year. The area is named after the club house that used to be open for visitors on the nearby beach. This spot is closest to Maui and is often sheltered from weather, making it a go to for calm snorkeling.

The water is crystal clear, and the coral formations and colorful fish make for a unique underwater experience. Whether you're an experienced snorkeler or a beginner, Club Lanai  is a must-visit spot for anyone looking to explore the beauty of Lanai's underwater world.

Manele Bay

Manele Bay in Lanai is a prime location for snorkeling, with crystal-clear waters that allow for exceptional visibility of the underwater world. The area is home to a diverse range of marine life, including colorful tropical fish, green sea turtles, and even spinner dolphins.

The calm, shallow waters make it an ideal spot for beginners, while more experienced snorkelers can venture further out to discover larger creatures, such as moray eels and reef sharks. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, Manele Bay is definitely worth exploring for an unforgettable snorkeling experience.

First Cathedral

“First Cathedral" can be a popular snorkeling spot on Lanai Island but is most attractive as a scuba diving location due to the depths that draws visitors with its stunning underwater landscape. The site features an underwater archway that leads to a spacious chamber with colorful coral, schools of tropical fish, and occasional sightings of sea turtles and octopuses.

The cave-like structure of the First Cathedral creates a unique atmosphere for snorkelers and free divers alike. This spot is recommended for intermediate to advanced snorkelers, as currents can be strong and the entrance to the Cathedral requires a deep dive.

Shark Fin Cove

Snorkeling enthusiasts looking for a unique and exciting underwater adventure in Maui should definitely visit Shark Fin Rock. This picturesque cove is home to a wide variety of colorful fish and marine life, and is known for its clear waters and vibrant coral reefs.

Snorkelers can explore the nooks and crannies of the rock formation and encounter friendly sea turtles, schools of tropical fish, and even the occasional eel. The cove is accessible by boat and offers a one-of-a-kind snorkeling experience that is sure to be memorable. This spot is far from Maui and is typically visited if you book a 6 hour private snorkel charter.

Get ready for an unforgettable experience with Hawaii Ocean Rafting's dolphin watching tours! Join us on our high-speed, inflatable rafts as we explore Maui's stunning coastline and encounter pods of playful and curious dolphins. You'll have an up-close and personal experience with these magnificent animals without breaking the bank. Book your snorkeling trip or dolphin watching tour today and create memories that will last a lifetime!