This page includes
• how you can watch humpbacks for free from beaches and overlooks
• why choose a Maui whale watching tour on a boat
• learning about Maui humpbacks at the free Whaler's Museum
• why whale watching is the most popular Maui activity from December to May
Free Maui Whale Watching from Beaches & Cliffs
How did Maui residents watch whales in Maui for centuries before all the tour boats in the last few decades? Don't let all the advertisements convince you that Maui whale watching requires spending money on a boat tour.
Humpback whales can be also viewed from a distance by finding the right beaches and high observation areas. Restaurants and roadsides also offer free ways to watch whales. Their spout (spray from their exhalations) can be easily viewed from miles away.
Binoculars may be required to see the details of the whales. You miss the impact of size and sounds of the whales, but this provides a very economical way to watch whales.
Maui Whale Watching Tours
Maui whale watching tours let you get up close and personal with the huge size and loud sounds of humpback whales.
And the way to get closer to the whales is from a boat. Each type of boat had its own advantages and disadvantages.
There are a wide variety of Maui whale watching tours - large and small boats, sailboats and motorized boats.
• Our Pacific Whale Foundation whale watch. Pacific Whale Foundation is the 800 pound gorilla of Maui whale watching tours. They have several large motorized boats and operate out of Lahaina harbor and Maaleae harbor - and they have storefronts at both locations.
• Small operators such as the Ultimate Whale Watch raft out of Lahaina harbor. Be prepared for high speed and close encounters.
Maui Whale Watching Combo Tours
Maui whale watching combo tours are created by tour operators to combine activities such as snorkeling, sailing, and dolphins with whale watching.
Just about all ocean activities on the leeward (west) side of Maui during the months of December through May become whale watching activites because of the many whales in the area. Some examples:
• Humpback whale watching while sailing on the America II or Scotch Mist.
• Humpback whale watching before and after snorkeling on the sailing catamarans
Learning About Maui Humpback Whales
Open daily from 9:30 am to 10 pm, the FREEWhalers Village Museum at Kaanapali offers free admission to over 200,00 visitors a year.
The museum is full of exhibits to let you experience humpback whales and whaling in Maui during the mid 1800's.
To learn about about Maui humpback whales, visit the
Maui Ocean Center near Ma'alaea. According to the Zagat survey - U.S. Family Travel Guide - this marine park was voted the top-rated Hawaii attraction and one of the 50 top-rated attractions in the United States.
The exhibit on humpback whales that visit Maui each winter will help you understand what you observe during your whale watching trips.
Why the Humpback Whales are in Maui
The humpbacks migrate to Maui each winter (December to May) to have babies in the the shallow waters on the calm leeward side of Maui - that is the blue area on the map. Maui is also where the babies for the next year are made.
The town of Lahaina on the island of Maui developed as a base for hunting whales, and today Lahaina serves as a base for watching whales.
Why Maui Whale Watching?
Whether from a boat on a Maui whale watching tour, or from a beach or restaurant or cliff or roadside, watching a humpback whale the size of a school bus rising halfway out of the water is just plain exciting.
Or observing a pod of active male whales - each larger than the boat you are riding in - pushing, shoving, and butting each other to try to get close to the lone female - you can't do that back home.
How about quietly sailing at sunset, observing a peaceful mother whale with her calf frolicking at her side?
Maui Whale Watching Videos
Maui Whale Watching Videos offer a quick way to help you hear and see the differences between watching whales from observation areas, or spending the money to get up close to them from a tour boat.
In the video below, a mother and calf humpback whale provide a show for a cruise ship by continously breaching (jumping out of the water) as we watch from the lanai (balcony) of our hotel in Lahaina on Maui. Watch for the calf doing smaller 'baby' breaches close to the mother's much larger breaches.
Click on the PLAY button in the image below to view our Maui whale watching video.