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Maui Whale Watching Tips for the Upcoming Season

breach whaleOne of Hawaii’s larger islands, Maui, is a premier location for snorkeling. You can see a plethora of colorful fish and exciting aquatic life that you have likely only seen in photos. Perhaps you have seen a live whale before, but you probably haven’t seen them Maui style! With whale watching season fast approaching, here are some excellent tips to help you make the most of an upcoming excursion!

One of the Best Spots to Whale Watch

Humpback whales can be spotted in any ocean around the world, but that doesn’t mean that just anywhere is a good spot to see them in action. During the summer, they are typically found near the coast where they stay to feed. When the water gets cold during the winter, they head to tropical waters to breed.

This means that the best place to see humpback whales ultimately depends on what time of year it is! You certainly can see them during the summer, but you’re much more likely to have a better time looking for them in the tropics during the winter. This islands of Hawaii are particularly nice for whale watching because of the abundant warm and shallow waters surrounding them.

When is Whale Watching Season?

Considering that winter is when humpback whales make their way toward the equator to breed, this makes winter the official time for whale watching season in Maui. The season can start as early as November and end as late as April, but January to March are generally the best months for whale watching. 

How to Watch Whales in Maui

If you want to see these beauties in action, then January, February, and March are the prime months for it. However, how you try and spot them makes a huge difference! You can probably see some from the beach, but this really limits your field of vision because of how big they are. Whales simply can’t get close enough for you to capture any memorable photos.

Instead, if you really want the best view in the house, then you need to be on the water! This may sound worrisome due to the fact that humpback whales can grow up to 40 tons in size and as long as 50 feet. Any creature that large surely has a lot of power behind them, but being close to them isn’t actually much of a danger thanks to how friendly humpback whales are. Local laws also restrict you from coming within 100 yards of a whale. Knowing this, you might be wondering how some people take photos of whales that are literally right next to your boat

While you can’t actually approach humpback whales, there isn’t anything preventing you from letting them approach you! There are a few locations around Maui where humpback whales are known to play in, so heading to these waters before the whales are there is the best way to encounter them up close. This naturally makes a whale watching cruise perfect for spotting whales, especially if you want to see them right next to you!

What to Expect

Something that is important to know before you make a trip to see the whales is that not everyone has the same experience. You’re looking for wild animals in their natural habitat, meaning that there is a chance you don’t see any at all! Whale watching is fairly unpredictable, but being on a boat with an experienced crew is your best bet for actually seeing whales. This is why you should look for a sailing experience that guarantees a whale sighting (which means you’ll get to come back again for another shot if you don’t see one). 

With that in mind, you should set your expectations quite low and allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised. In the event that you do see humpback whales, you’re in for quite a treat. Humpbacks are known for being particularly playful. One of their most iconic behaviors is breaching, which is when they literally launch their body up out of the water. You might also see them slapping their tail around and poking their head above the surface.

What to Bring

When it comes to whale watching, being on a boat with an experienced crew is definitely the most important thing to do. To make your experience better and more comfortable, here are a few other recommendations:

  • Binoculars – Even if you are out on the water, a pair of binoculars will come in handy. This will give you the option of seeing whales that are further out and also allowing you to see detail!
  • Camera – Seeing with your eyes is what whale watching is all about, but don’t you want a physical memory of it? If you plan on bringing a camera or smartphone, make sure to keep them in a waterproof case because it can get pretty wet near the whales!
  • Sunscreen – You won’t be directly sunbathing, but the sun will create glare when it hits the water. This will indirectly cause you to burn, which can be avoided with sunscreen. Don’t let cloudy days fool you either!
  • Sunglasses – Much like sunscreen, you’ll want some sunglasses to combat the sun glare. When you’re trying to look at whales in the water, the last thing you want to do is squint and rub your eyes. Protect yourself with some polarized shades to keep the fun going!

Make the Most With a Sailing Tour

Whale watching is something anyone can enjoy because of how massive these creatures are. If you’re planning on taking a trip to Maui, the months of January, February, and March are your best opportunities to spot them. There’s never a guarantee of seeing a whale, but you can increase your chances by going on a whale watching cruise to keep you up close. Bring along some binoculars, a camera, sunscreen, and sunglasses to keep the experience comfortable!

You definitely don’t want to miss out on whale watching season this year. Looking from the beach is one way to do it, but have you considered sailing on a luxurious catamaran for an even better view? Join us aboard the Kai Kanani II to enjoy the show up close as humpback whales swim and play in the nearby water! Our crew is well versed on these beautiful creatures and can help ensure that you have an amazing whale watching cruise. Check out our Adventure Whale Watch tour for the best view in all of Maui!

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