I went to Hawaii in February, the height of whale watching season, to spend 4 days whale watching. Each day we spent about 3-4 hours whale watching and each day we saw more and more spectacular whale sightings. Whale watching Maui is the way to go.
If you’re looking for a great whale watch, I would highly recommend the Pacific Whale Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a great track record for not only spotting whales, but providing a safe environment for their guests and the whales. Their mission is to save whales from extinction and protect our oceans through science and advocacy. They are an international organization, with ongoing research studies in Hawaii, Australia, and Ecuador, and are active participants in global efforts to address threats to whales and other marine life. I became a donor to Pacific Whale Foundation two years ago have enjoyed supporting them ever since. I would suggest looking into membership if you know you’re going whale watching because there are great benefits and discounts for members.
Humpback whales are one of the most amazing species in my opinion. They are so big and clunky looking yet so graceful when they breach out of the water. I’ve had the opportunity to go whale watching in several places including Alaska where I saw several types of whales including Orcas, Vancouver Island where I saw Gray Whales, and several Hawaiian Islands where I’ve seen lots of Humpback whales. In my opinion, Maui is the best for pure whale watching even though you can see them anywhere.
A lot of people ask what type of camera is best to use when capturing whales. There are a ton of options but the best is a DSLR with at least an EF 75-300 mm lens (telephoto zoom). Make sure you bring a camera cover in case you get wet or water splashes into your boat. If you don’t have a cover, or don’t want to buy one, bring a one-gallon zip lock bag and a rubber band with you. Cut the bag on one of the corners so that the lens just barely shows through and then use the rubber band to hold it in place. I went out on a very bumpy day and got drenched by a big wave. I was so happy that my camera was covered.
The key to getting good whale shots is to use a mode that allows you to take rapid shots, like the sports mode or action mode. Keep your camera ready, you never know when you’ll spot a whale and start snapping as soon as you see one. Take as many shots as you can in rapid succession to improve the odds of getting that perfect photo. If you don’t want to spend a fortune on your camera, or your not a photographer and only have a point and shoot or iPhone, don’t worry, you’ll be able to take pictures as well. On the iPhone you can use rapid fire mode by holding down the camera button, that will improve your chances of getting a great shot. A point and shoot with some zoom will be helpful as well.
Here are some of the amazing images I captured on my trip. I used a Cannon Rebel T5i with a 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens with f/4.5-5.6 maximum aperture. To see more full size photos click here Whale Watching Maui Feb 2015