Humpback whales migrate to Maui during the cold winter months from waters near Alaska to breed. The first whale sighting typically takes place in late September or early October, and occur through mid-May, but the best time to guarantee a sighting is from January to April. The beauty and grandeur of the humpback whales as they glide through the water and leap and spin through the air is amazing to see and you should definitely take an opportunity to enjoy this experience if you have a chance.
Humpback Whale Facts
- In 1966, there were believed to be only about 1,600 Pacific Humpback Whales, now there are over 21,000.
- Humpback whales spend their summers in waters near Alaska. They migrate to warmer waters to give birth.
- Most humpback whales migrate to Hawaii, although some go to Mexico or the islands of the western Pacific.
- Humpback whales grow between 40-50 feet and can weigh over 25-40 tons! Babies can be up to 12 feet long and weigh 1 ton at birth. They are the world’s fifth largest whale.
- Humpback whales have a lifespan of about 50 years.
- While in Hawaii, adult humpback whales don’t eat anything at all, losing up to 1/3 of their body weight. Because of Hawaii’s warm waters, there is no krill or plankton for them to eat.
- Baby whales, on the other hand, eat 100 pounds of milk per day, gaining 7 to 10 pounds per hour!
- There are 10 different surface behaviors Humpback Whales exhibit from blowing spray when they surface to breathe, to breaching, to tail slaps, and more.
- While underwater in West Maui, you can hear the songs of the humpback whales.
Whale Watching Tours
There are many companies that offer whale watching tours, here are a few that have exceptional reviews:
- Pacific Whale Foundation – The Pacific Whale Foundation has tons of different whale watch tour options, with tours leaving from both Lahaina and Ma’alaea harbors. You can even go on a VIP tour with Greg Kaufman, Executive Director and Founder of the Pacific Whale Foundation, who will share expert information on the whales. You can also hear the whale songs through underwater hydrophones.
- Trilogy Excursions – Trilogy Excursions has whale watching tours that depart from Lahaina, Ma’alaea, and Kaanapali. They have great reviews on TripAdvisor as well (5 stars and #1 of 97 Boat Tours & Water Sports in Lahaina!)
- Aloha Kayaks Maui - Want to try something different? How about whale watching from a kayak? Aloha Kayaks Maui has 5 stars on Trip Advisor and offers tours leaving from Olowalu or Makena.
There are many other options for whale watching, be sure to check them out if you are visiting Maui during whale watching season, you won’t be disappointed!
See Whales from the Air
Another option is to take a West Maui/Molokai Tour with Air Maui and see whales from the air. In addition to views of beautiful waterfalls, majestic mountains, and breathtaking sea cliffs, you might get lucky and see whales from this unique perspective. Here are some pictures of whales seen from Air Maui helicopters:
What our guests have to say about seeing whales on their flight:
“Take this adventure!! It was SPECTACULAR! The best part was seeing whales from above- you don't usually get to see the entire whale and only from above can you truly appreciate their size. You will not be disappointed if you decide to do this.” - Dorothy H
“I don't mean to overstate it, but my wife and agreed this was literally one of the best experiences of our lives. The beauty brought tears to our eyes. I got the Costco deal. The cliffs and falls of Molokai were unbelievable, and we even had a whale breach 3 times on the way back. Speechless.” - Drew S
“We had extraordinary service when we scheduled a tour with Air Maui. Our pilot was incredibly informative & played great music. We really had a thrilling view of whales and waterfalls.” - MaryFLincoln
“Janette, our pilot, was absolutely excellent. We also learned a lot of history of both Maui and Molokai as we went. As we flew across the Pallolo Channel between Maui and Molokai we also got to do some whale watching from on high.” - SMMaxwell
“Getting to see whales from the helicopter instead of from a boat or the shore was a unique experience, and Rick circled around a couple times to make sure all the passengers got a good look.” - aaron830
“We couldn't believe how close we flew to the sites = waterfalls, the coastline, and the whales. I would do it again in a heartbeat and recommend to everyone - it was the best experience and worth every penny!” - Ashley P