Humpback Whales make their grand debut in the Hawaiian waters every year from December through March. They come to breed, give birth, and to play! These incredible mammals are very easy to spot this time of year! All you need to do, is simply go to the beach and look out into the ocean. Within seconds to minutes you will spot one, two, or 10 whales! It is baffling how many whales you can see during the season here in Maui. Whether it’s your first time seeing a Humpback Whale, or you are lucky to experience them each year, they amaze each and everyone no matter how many times you’ve lived through the whale season. Although they appear to be harmless, it is important to keep your distance from these magnificent creatures. Human’s can also cause harm, and we don’t want to crowd them. Below I have listed the best places on Maui to see Humpback Whales.
Whale Watching Boat
There are 2 harbors where you can depart from Whale Watching boats. One is Lahaina Harbor, and the other is Maalaea Harbor. Both are great and offer the same types of experiences, however it just depends which location is closest to where you are staying. One of our favorites is Ultimate Whale Watch and Snorkel. You can book Whale Watching tours, snorkeling tours, or both combined for affordable prices! This is a great activity for the whole family. You will get to be so up close and personal with the whales, in comparison to watching them from land. If you’re lucky, you may even get a surprise appearance from dolphins!
Ma’alaea Bay off of Honoapiilani Highway
This is one of the most popular scenic lookouts to spot the Humpback Whales! The viewpoint is located on the west side of Ma’alaea Bay. You will find it between mile markers 8 and 9. There is a pull off from Highway 30, with plenty of parking spaces. It never gets horribly crowded, and is spread apart enough so you can enjoy your time there. Sometimes the whales get very close! If you bring a pair of binoculars, you will see them even better. This is a great spot for taking photos-don’t forget your long lens!
Kaanapali is a beautiful, long beach where you can spot whales and dolphins close to shore! Morning time is always best with wind and currents-making it easier to spot the whales at that time of day while the water is “glassy”. However, the whales are out and about all day, so you will see them no matter what time it is! If you spot some whales close by, go take a dip underwater. You might even be able to hear them singing. It is quite the experience! Kaanapali Beach is also a great area for snorkeling, lounging, and close to restaurants and shopping areas.
The Wailea Oceanside Pathway is the perfect place to watch the sunset and spot the whales! The pathway runs from the Kealani Hotel to Ulua Beach.
Lahaina Pali Trail
This is a beautiful hike that leads you up onto one of the most beautiful mountains in Maui. If you start on the Olowalu side, you will get ocean views and it’s the perfect place to spot whales! There is such a magnificent view and you will incline straight up the mountain. It’s definitely a rigorous hike and would only recommend it if you’re comfortable doing this. Bring lots of water and snacks! You can do part of the hike just to see the views and the whales. Or if you are doing the whole thing, it’s best done with either two cars (one parked at beginning of trail, one parked at the end of the trail). You can also have someone drop you off on one side of the trail, and pick you up on the other.
As the hike is not a loop, you would need to do it all over again to get back to your car.
Have a great time whale watching! We hope that our guide to the best places on Maui to see Humpback Whales was helpful! Feel free to stop by Belle Surf Cafe and say hello! We are open Thursday through Monday 7:30 to 1pm!
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