Every winter North Pacific Humpback Whales (Koholā in Hawaiian) can be spotted along the Maui shore, after making the 3000+ mile trek from Alaska to Hawaii. Their 4-6 week-long annual migratory journey begins in late Autumn and they can be seen as early as October or November, although whale watching season doesn’t officially begin until mid-December.
Migrating from Alaska to Maui
Maui is known to be a hotspot for the humpback whale because of the warm, predator-free, calm, and shallow waters and the protected sanctuary of the Maui Nui Basin. Over 10,000 humpback whales migrate annually away from the ice-cold waters of Alaska to find their breeding and mating grounds in the warm waters of Hawaii. The reason the humpback migrate from Alaska to Maui is to mate, give birth, and nurse their young.
Watching the Whales from Shore
In Maui whale watching from the beach is a popular and relaxing way to spend the day or watch the sunset. Although you can catch a glimpse of humpbacks any time of the day, it’s best to do this before noon or at sunset when the water is calm, the sky is clear, and the weather is just right. When it’s windy or the water is choppy, you will not find many whale sightings. If you’re looking for the best time to capture images of a humpback whale, the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. is the most opportunistic time to spot them spouting or doing pec slaps. You may even catch them diving back in the water with their fluke (tail) in the air as the sun goes down. That’s when it is time to say goodbye and goodnight.
Movements such as the following can be seen from the shorelines of Maui:
* Breaching is where the whale’s entire body propels out of the water and creates a big splash as they return to the water can often be seen from Maui’s shorelines.
* Spyhopping is the humpback kicking its tail fluke to hold its head above the water line to scan its surroundings while surfacing in a vertical position.
*Spouts are when humpbacks, large mammals who need air, come up to breathe at the surface. They can hold their breath up to an hour, but blows rise up to 40 feet when a whale surfaces to breathe.
*Tail slaps is when a whale splashes its fluke at the surface. We don’t know exactly why they do this but it is likely some form of communication or play.
The waters of Maui are a huge stage for the humpback to perform. These playful majestic creatures are known to put on a good show, which can be seen or heard from the shorelines of some of Maui’s beaches. These acrobatic performances from the humpback whale can be viewed from the shore or on a boat. Dive Maui is known for providing memorable private boat tours with up close and guaranteed whale sightings to view these whale behaviors. If you want to experience this for yourself, book a tour with Dive Maui.
Here are some recommended spots and beaches to view these unforgettable whale sightings:
* McGregor Point Lookout- There’s a sign for the lookout which is between Lahaina and Maalaea
* Kaanapali Beach- From the shores, you can watch calves with their mothers breaching and putting on a show. They are frequently seen in this area.
* Lahaina Harbor- from the Lahaina Harbor you can view the humpbacks at play in their protected sanctuary the Maui Nui Basin
* Olowalu Reef- sightings of whales leaping out of the water has caused traffic jams in this area
* Launiupoko Beach Park- This area in West Maui is popular for offering an ocean view of humpbacks breaching.
Getting Close to the Whales
If you want to get closer to these majestic whales and learn all about them, then you should book a whale watch tour with Dive Maui. Dive Maui is a family-owned operation and will provide you with an intimate humpback experience while being COVID safe and practicing social distancing. Our 2-hour private boat tour on a rigid hull inflatable raft is the best way to view humpback whales up close and learn all about them while capturing memorable moments with your camera.
Everyone at Dive Maui has a love for the ocean and the whales and we are ready to share this with you when you book a whale watch tour with us. We are fully equipped to provide you with an unforgettable whale watch tour experience.
When you join us for a boat tour, you have an opportunity to witness humpbacks spy-hopping, breaching, courting, playing, or hearing a song from a male humpback. Give us a call and book a safe, private, memorable whale watch tour.