Whale Watching

Overview & Activity Comparison

Overview

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. PWF's passion and expertise is on full display as certified marine naturalists explain the whales’ social behavior and, if conditions are right, let you listen to whale songs through an underwater hydrophone.

All profits from your tickets go directly towards PWF's 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 marine life poster is given to each party, and a junior naturalist program (on most of the cruises) teaches and inspires the younger ones.
Guidebook Reviews

Maui Revealed Guidebook:

Maui is the undisputed whale watching capital of Hawaii.

For whale watching, Pacific Whale Foundation remains our top choice because of their knowledgeable crews. This is their passion.

Make sure you book a dedicated whale watching tour that focuses on that and nothing else.

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 highly regarded Pacific Whale Foundation. Lahaina Harbor is in West Maui and is about 15 minutes from Kaanapali and about 30-50 minutes from South Maui (Kihei/Wailea). Ma'alaea Harbor is in Central Maui about 10-30 minutes from South Maui (Kihei/Wailea) and is about 30 minutes from West Maui (Kaanapali/Lahaina). The cruises do not go to a designated location, but instead head towards wherever whales are spotted. For those looking for an evening cruise, check out our sunset cruises, which also see whales during whale season. Please visit the individual pages for all the details and to book.
Activity 1
Lahaina Whale Cruise
Activity 2
Ma'alaea Whale Cruise
Activity 3
Lahaina Whale Sail
Activity 4
Whale Research Cruise
Activity 5
Whale Photo Safari
Special Features Double-decker Boat, Most Shade Double-decker Boat, Most Shade Sailing Whale researcher discussing current projects Professional photography workshop
Departure Location Lahaina Harbor Ma'alaea Harbor Lahaina Harbor Ma'alaea Harbor Lahaina Harbor
Days and Times Daily
6:30, 8, 9,
10:30, 11:30, 2:30
Daily
6:30, 9, 11:30,
12:30, 2, 4:30
Daily
7:30, 10, 12:30
Wednesdays
10:30
Sundays
7 am
Duration on Water 2 hours 2 or 3 hours 2 or 3 hours 3 hours 3 hours
Type of Boat (Max Passengers)
Often less than max
Double-decker (70 or 147) Double-decker (75 or 147) Sailing catamaran (65) Single deck (38) Sailing catamaran (34)
Refreshments Included Water Option with lunch & alcohol Option with lunch & alcohol Lunch & alcohol Continental breakfast & drinks
Junior Naturalist Program Yes Yes Yes No No
Price
Includes 10% online discount
Age 13+: $39 or $59
Age 5-12: Free or $35
Age 4 & under: Free
Age 13+: $39 or $77
Age 5-12: Free or $38
Age 4 & under: Free
Age 13+: $53 or $77
Age 7-12: $27 or $39
Age 6 & under: Free
$75 per person $94 per person
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