Whale Watching

Overview & Activity Comparison


Maui is the prime spot in Hawaii for viewing hundreds of humpback whales from November through May as thousands congregate in the warm waters off the coast to eat, mate, and raise their young. Witness these magnificent creatures in their natural environment with an educational and fun boat cruise from Maui’s whale watching experts.

Since 1980, the non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation has focused on studying and protecting whales, and marine life and the oceans more broadly, through research and educating the public. Their passion and expertise is on full display on their tours as certified marine naturalists and biologists explain the whales’ social behavior and let you listen to whale songs through an underwater hydrophone. All profits from your tickets go directly towards their important work of protecting the oceans through science and advocacy. Whale sightings are guaranteed (97% success rate) or go again for free within 1 year. A whale poster and color whale watch guide is given to each party, and most of the cruises include a junior naturalist program to teach and inspire the younger ones.
Guidebook Reviews

Maui Revealed Guidebook:

Maui is the undisputed whale watching capital of Hawaii.

The best whale watching company is Pacific Whale Foundation. This is their passion. Their knowledge is phenomenal, and the trips are fun.

Lonely Planet Guidebook:

Whale Watching: Top 10 Maui Highlight

The Pacific Whale Foundation whale watching cruises are immensely popular

Fodor's Guidebook:

Whale Watch: Top 15 Maui Attraction. The humpback whales’ attraction to Maui is legendary, and seeing them is a highlight for many visitors. It’s one of the most popular activities on Maui.

Moon Guidebook:

Whale Watching: Top 10 West Maui Highlight: The waters off Maui are home to the highest concentration of humpback whales on the planet

Activity Comparison

The below table outlines the key differences between our whale watching options, all run by the reputable Pacific Whale Foundation. The Lahaina Harbor is in West Maui about 15 minutes from Kaanapali and about 30-50 minutes from South Maui (Kihei/Wailea). The Maalaea Harbor is in Central Maui about 10-30 minutes from South Maui (Kihei/Wailea) and about 25-30 minutes from West Maui (Kaanapali/Lahaina). Please visit the individual pages for all the details and to book.
Activity 1
Activity 2
Activity 3
Photo Safari
Special Features Option of special cruise with researchers Sailing Professional photography workshop onboard
Departure Location Lahaina or Ma'alaea Lahaina Lahaina
Days and Times Daily
Sunrise, morning, afternoon, & sunset
7:30 am, 10 am, 12:30 pm
Sundays at 7 am
Duration on Water 2 or 3 hours 2 or 3 hours 3 hours
Type of Boat (Max Passengers) Double-decker (110 or 147) or single-level (38) power catamaran Luxury sailing catamaran (65) Sailing catamaran (35)
Shade Available on Boat Yes Indoor cabin only Indoor cabin only
Refreshments Included Water, juices, soda
Lunch & alcohol
Water, juices, soda
Lunch, dessert, & alcohol
Water, juices, soda
Continental breakfast
Junior Naturalist Program Yes Yes No
Digital Photos IncludedTaken by pro on your cruise No No Yes
Price Age 13+: $39-$75
Ages 12 & under: $0-$75
Age 13+: $53-$77
Age 7-12: $27
Age 6 & under: Free
All Ages: $94.45
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