Maui Whale Watching PacWhale Foundation
This post covers a tour we went on in Maui Whale Watching PacWhale Foundation.
My wife and I both have wanted to see whales for a number of years. On our previous trips we have been able to see them from a distance on the ground. On this trip, we wanted to go a step further and see them from the sea.
If you are headed to Maui, check out the Lonely Planet Maui Guide for an overview of Maui and all the great things to do there.
We booked a tour with PacWhale Foundation which is a non-profit conservation company and tour operator that offers eco-tours and whale watching in Maui.
When booking a tour with them, you are supporting on the conservation of marine wildlife and the tour includes education on how you can make a different in the world.
PacWhale Foundation offers tours from two locations in Maui, Lahaina and Ma’alaea.
Check them out at: PacWhale Foundation.
We booked a tour out of the Ma’alaea location, which is about 13 miles from the Maui airport.
We arrived about 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time and were greeted by a representative outside the PacWhale Foundation building and store, who asked if we signed a waiver. We said no and she asked us to read and sign the waiver before checking in for the tour.
After taking a minute to sign the waiver, we returned it to the representative who asked us to present it to the reception desk.
I proceeded to the desk and was promptly greeted and offered assistance.
After I provided the waiver, the representative provided boarding passes for the tour and she informed me where to meet the tour guide.
Approximately 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time, a tour guide/conservationist welcomed everyone near the building and provided information on the tour before inviting us to follow her down to the dock for boarding the boat.
Our tour was on the Ocean Voyager which was a medium size vessel that offered two decks.
The lower level included indoor seating as well as snack bar. The snack bar offered light snacks and drinks for around $5 each. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks were available.
The upper deck included seating all around the deck and it was open air.
The boat departed on time and the Captain welcomed everyone on board for Maui Whale Watching PacWhale Foundation and provided detailed safety information as we were leaving the bay.
Once we were outside of the bay, Lauren the tour guide and conservationist greeted everyone and she provided an introduction to the whales.
Lauren explained that the whales in Maui were humpback whales that normally live in Alaska. She explained that they make a six-week journey to Hawaii for warmer water where they mate as well as where the offspring are born.
The whales tend to individually stay in the area for about three weeks. They do not eat while they are in Maui as the water does not have the rich sea life they experience in Alaska.
Whales make Maui and other parts of Hawaii home between December and March.
Lauren explained how they breath and reasons why they come out of the water.
The Captain drove the boat near areas where whales were spotted and stopped so everyone could watch them.
On the tour we noted whales on all sides of the vessel. We would see them spray water for when they were breathing, lifting their fins out of the water to play and ultimately diving down deep in the ocean where their tails are displayed. Some whales also will jump out of the water at times.
The Captain kept the boat about 100 yards away from the sightings; however, they said at times, the whales will venture near the boat on their own. On our tour, we only saw the whales from a distance.
At the middle of the tour, the conservationist put a microphone into the water so we could hear the whales sing. The microphone was left in the water for a few minutes, and we heard the whales constantly singing the entire time.
Whales could be seen all around the boat, although at times there were several minutes which passed where we would not see one up close.
You could also see many other whales at a far distance.
The Captain moved the boat several times to different locations for viewing opportunities.
We observed a group of three whales actively playing in the area and they offered some amazing views.
I’d estimate that we saw about 15-25 whales up close during the tour and perhaps another 25 at a distance.
On the way back to the port on our Maui Whale Watching PacWhale Foundation tour, the conservationist provided information on PacWhale Foundation and about their efforts. We learned that the humpback whales were on the endangered species list for some time; however, they have recently been taken off.
PacWhale Foundation does not support the removal of them from the endangered species list because the whales have lost protections due to it.
We learned that PacWhale Foundation studies the whales up close and their research showed them the proper speed for the boards to operate as to not harm or impact the whales. The speed is 12 knots. Their research brought about change to the entire industry of whale watching in Maui.
While we were returning to port, we saw a few more excellent views of the whales.
We also received suggestions about what we can do to make a difference. A simple thing you can do is download an app which helps in selecting seafood while you are out at a store or restaurant so that you can pick the one with the least environmental impact.
Another suggestion that is easy to follow is to always go for local seafood so that you can avoid all the fossil fuels which are necessary to transport the seafood around the world.
The boat returned to port after about two hours. The crew thanked the passengers and they invited them to return in the future.
We both enjoyed Maui Whale Watching PacWhale Foundation. We felt it was awesome getting the history on the whales as well as the conservation tips during the tour. We were mesmerized by the views we saw of the amazing creatures 100 or so yards away from the boat. We look forward to another whale watch with PacWhale Foundation on a future trip to Maui.
I’ve included some of the pictures we took during the tour. I am afraid that they do not do justice to the feeling you get when you see these whales up close.
Have you gone whale watching in Maui? What was your experience like?
Note: For this tour, we were a guest of PacWhale Foundation however, the opinion in this review are my own.