For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to go Whale Watching in Maui. Sure, I can sit on the beach and watch them play but I wanted to see them up close and personal-from a safe distance, of course. For those of you who don’t know, whale watching “season” goes from mid December to mid April. I say “season” because there are always whales roaming the ocean but during these particular months there are more whales in Maui County because they are migrating here from Alaska to either make or have their calves. We chose to come back to Maui in February because it is peak season for the whales. I know that sounds a little funny but it’s true, February is the best time to see these amazing mammals in their natural habitat.
That being said, there are so MANY companies you can choose from for your whale watching adventure. Each of them offer something a little different to entice you to choose their company. I knew from the start I wanted our whale watching adventure to be with Pacific Whale Foundation. They are an international non-profit organization founded in 1980. They use the money from these excursions as well as the money from their retail store and donations to continue research and conservation of whales, dolphins, and other marine life. It’s so important we preserve our oceans and help ensure not only whales but other marine life can survive for centuries to come.
Pacific Whale foundation has quite a few options for whale watching. They are out of two harbors Ma’alaea and Lahaina. You can choose from a sunrise whale watch, morning, afternoon or evening. Your adventure also depends on what type of vessel you want to go on, they have a raft, catamaran and a larger boat. We chose the classic whale watch adventure out of Lahaina and it uses the larger boat.
The day of our whale watching adventure we arrived at their store-front on Front St. forty-five minutes prior to our scheduled tour to check in. If every person in your party has not signed the online waiver that you will receive via email you will need to do so when you check in. Once checked in you will head down to the harbor, once all passengers have arrived you will get a safety briefing and they will tell you how the boarding process will work. Once you have handed over your ticket, you take a souvenir picture you can purchase once you get back, it takes a few minutes to get everyone on board and in a seat. Then you’re off!
When you finally leave the harbor the whale watching begins! You never know when or where you will get to see a whale. Dave was our captain and Maddy was the main staff member keeping us informed on where to look and educating us on the humpback whale. Our tour started off great, the farther out we got the closer we got to the rain. At one point, almost everyone on the top deck got soaking wet and ended up downstairs. After a while I figured I was already soaked so I went back upstairs to see some whales! The battery to my canon died so I pulled out my handy iPhone 7 plus started pointing in the direction of the whales and prayed I got some decent pictures. I wasn’t able to get any pictures of breaching this time but I saw it and it was AMAZING! We encountered a decent amount of whales, most from a good distance but it was still great to see these mammals in the wild. Two hours later and we are pulling back into the harbor. Despite all the rain and choppy water I really enjoyed this experience. There are a few things I would do different next time, like bring a hat and wear a sweatshirt not my knit cardigan (it got heavy after the rain), make sure the battery to my camera is fully charged but you live and learn and now I know what to expect and bring next trip. I think next time my dad, sister and I are going to try the raft whale watching Eco-tour. It’s a little bit more money but there will be less people on board trying to get a spot up front to see the whales.
Address to check-in location: 612 Front Street, Lahaina
Price: $33-125 depending on which tour you select
Have you been whale watching in Hawaii or anywhere else? What company did you use? Would you do it again? Let me know in the comments below!