Whale watching in Maui is a pretty big deal. These gentle giants love to frolic in our aqua waters, and will happily put on a show for anyone within eyesight.
If you want your vacation to include breeching whales and flipping tails, this guide will give you the best seat in the house, whether it be on land, on the ocean or high above these incredible creatures!
Whale Watching from the Sky:
While most people know Maui as the Valley Isle, this stunning island is also known as the “Magic Isle.” And there is nothing quite as magical as seeing a pod of whales from an aerial point of view!
Go Fly Maui – For most visitors, the term ‘whale watching’ instills visions of salty breezes, hours on the water, and hopes of catching a glimpse of Hawaii’s majestic part-time residents. While boat tours are a great way to get up-close views of humpback whales, Go Fly Maui now allows you to swap the tour boat for an unlikely whale watching craft- helicopter. Whale watching from above allows you to appreciate the sheer hugeness of these creatures. Go Fly Maui will help you craft a custom flight plan to scour the shallow channels around the island, which almost guarantees you multiple whale sightings in the winter months. For these types of flights, Go Fly Maui utilizes a doors-off helicopter, giving you a chance to snap unobstructed aerial photos. Regardless of whether you find whales or not, the views of Maui below will not leave you disappointed.
Whale Watching from the Land:
You don’t have to get up close and personal with these whales if you’d prefer to keep your feet on solid ground. The south and west side of Maui is the prime viewing location, but we’ve found a few key spots that deliver a whale spotting almost every time! While the whales start their migration into Maui around October, the best time to see them is from December to March. February is known as the “prime” month when the party is in full swing!
Best spots to see whales from the land:
- Maalaea Bay: This large protected area of water is perfect for humpbacks to feel safe giving birth, mating, and just playing. This is the best area in the state to see whales on the surface.
- Makena Beach Park: While the beach has a fine view, many people want a higher vantage point and will climb up Pu’u Ola’i, which is a cinder cone behind Little Beach. There is also a dried lava flow ridge that separates Big Beach and Little Beach, and you can get a nice vantage point from here.
- The Sheraton Maui Resort: Nestled up against Black Rock in Ka’anapali, you have the pools, beach, and great spots from your rooms to watch them!
- The scenic lookout between mile markers eight and nine on the Honoapililani Highway (Highway 30): The Pacific Whale Foundation has naturalists at this location during whale season to point out the whales and answer any questions you might have!
Whale Watching from the Sea:
Obviously, this location is one of the best places to be if you want to get a panoramic picture of a whale tail! There are so many whale-watching tours and it’s hard to know which one is for you! While these are just a few, these are some of the best that Maui has to offer!
Best ocean tours to see whales:
- Sail Trilogy: As an official sponsor of the Whale Sanctuary, this company has the whales’ best interest in mind. They are committed to keeping the whales safe and happy while making sure you have the time of your life! These tours are kept small so that everyone gets a front-row seat. With their incredibly knowledgeable naturalists on board, you’ll be privy to fascinating and informative whale facts.
- Maui Custom Charters: For a private whale-watching tour, climb aboard S/V Artemis or S/V Nova. Operating out of Ma’alaea Harbor, choose from the 47′ Leopard sailing catamaran S/V Artemis, or the 42-foot Catalina MKII S/V Nova, both of which can accommodate up to six guests for a totally private whale watch sailing expedition. The captains and crew pride themselves on sailing as much as possible, so get ready for a thrilling, and quiet whale-watching experience.
Whale watching is one of the most incredible ways you can spend your time on Maui, regardless of where you decide to do it. Make sure to sign up for these tours as soon as possible, as the best tours always fill up first!