Why does Maui keep winning so many “best of” awards? It’s because of the amazing array of outdoor activities. From all the beaches to play on, ocean sports like SUP, surfing and all the wind powered toys, the amazing road to Hana, great accommodation options and all the dive and snorkeling spots and boats, it’s no wonder people keep voting Maui as one of the best vacation destinations in the world.
Maui is also a “best of” kinda place for one of the world’s largest mammals – the Humpback Whale. Every year hundreds of these impressively large animals make their way to Maui to give birth and mate.
This gives us humans a chance to get to know them up close and personal. Most boat tours in Maui involve whale watching even if you’re headed out to snorkel spots like Molokini Crater.
Along the way out to this world class reef there is no telling what you may encounter along the way. Aside from whales you might also be visited by dolphins, turtles and seabirds.
There is rarely a dull moment on Maui’s offshore waters!
When people ask what’s the best time of year to visit, I usually say anytime is great but try and visit during Maui’s whale watching season which runs from November thru May.
The “peak season” of December thru March happens to coincide (not by accident) with the peak visitor time, which means top price for flights and lodging. However you can still experience Maui in the transition times of November and April/May and have a chance to save a little money.
Whale watching tours, like those offered on the Pride of Maui which operate out of Maalaea Harbor guarantee plenty of whale sightings on their tours between Dec 15th and April 1st.
Maui residents look forward to the whale’s arrival just as much as the visitors who’ve traveled thousands of miles to spend some time with them. It’s not just a big animal or a cool ocean adventure to get out on a boat and see these whales.
It’s just as much a spiritual experience to be in their presents too! Boats must stop at a minimum of 500 yards from a visible whale. When a boat stops and shuts down the motors an amazing thing often happens – the whales come to the boat!
To see something so large yet graceful and nimble as they swim around and under your boat (also known as a whale mugging) is an experience that will warm your heart!
They are often curious about humans and it is thrilling to realize that something bigger than the boat you’re in is interested in you as much as you are in them!
Many of Maui’s boats also have a naturalist on board relating all the whale behaviors as you’re observing them. These naturalist will often drop an underwater microphone too so everyone can hear them singing to each other.
It’s fascinating how these animals live their lives and communicate with one another and us! One of my favorite things to experience on a whale watching tour is called a spy hop. A whale will slowly rise straight up, nose first, until it’s eyes are above water.
This enables the animal to look directly at the boat. Their eyes are incredible to see and look very similar to a blue human eye only their eyes are the size of a human head!
Maui loves it’s largest and most famous visitors and though you can see them breaching and splashing around from shore the true connection with them can only be had from a boat.
To see baby whales and their mothers teaching them the ways of the ocean or the young males breaching and trying to impress potential mates is something you will treasure for a lifetime. And just so you know, the absolute best time of year (according to my marine naturalist friends) is when the whales are most active during the full moon days in February.
So there you have it! If you love our beautifully warm pacific ocean there is no better experience than spending some time with these gentle giants who visit Maui every winter.