Whale Watching on Maui

No trip to Maui is complete without a tailslap!

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Discover Whale watching on Maui

No trip to Maui is complete without a tail slap!

Humpback whales migrate to the warm shallow waters near Maui each winter from November to May with peak season running January to March. The area between West Maui and the nearby island of Lanai is the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. It is possible to see whales breaching and tail slapping from shore (I've seen breaches from both Wailea's Ekahi Village and the Gold Golf Course) but the most exciting and interesting whale watching happens on the water.

whale jumping close to boarThere are many different types of whale watch adventures you can go on while on Maui. The main departure marina was in Lahaina, but now tours leave from Ma'alaea and Kihei. Some just cruise the open water looking for whales, while others take you on a snorkel trip with the added bonus of whale watching!

Here are some of our favorite Whale Watches

If you are interested in giving back a little, then the Pacific Whale Foundation is the tour for you. A non-profit with the stated goal "to protect our oceans through science and advocacy." During the whale season, the foundation runs several daily tours departing from Lahaina and Ma'alaea Harbors. Their boats are tall and you can see well, but you're off the water. You won't get close like in the photo above.

If you want to stick your nose (well not literally) into the action, then you'll want to ride along in one of Maui Adventure Cruise's Zodiac boats a large inflatable outboard engine boats similar to the Coast Guard so you are very close to the water. And yes, you can stick your Go Pro in for some cool underwater shots! They do not take too many people, either, so you can really get up close and personal on this tour! Remember that the water really reflects the sun, so be sure to take sun glasses, a hat, sunscreen, and a light jacket as it can be cool and windy at times on the water. This company lost their boats in the Lahaina fire in August 2023. They are acquiring new ones so keep checking back.

Looking for some fun while out on the water you can try Trilogy. They have great Molokini and even sunset snorkel trips. A fast gorgeous catamaran and great food with knowledgeable and fun staff you really can't go wrong here either.

If you're staying in South Maui, then I do like the folks at Blue Water Rafting. They also use a Zodiac boat, but they leave from the Kihei Boat Ramp, so much closer to the resorts and hotels in Kihei, Makena and Wailea. Their tours often include snorkel and site-seeing along the way.

You will not regret the decision to go for a whale watching excursion. The guides provide a lot of background and history, so not only do you get to see the whales, you get to learn about them, too!

Want to research some more whale watches and other adventures? Check out these links from our partners at The Snorkel Store.

Best resorts for whale watching on Maui

Grand Champions Villas

Enjoy the ocean, mountain or golf view from your private lanai. Located in the heart of Wailea, on Maui's sunny south shore, Wailea Grand Champions is a family friendly resort offering good value and great views adjacent to golf and tennis facilities.

Hale Kamaole

Located on nearly 8 acres just a few blocks north of Wailea, on Maui's sunny south shore, Hale Kamaole is directly across from Kamaole III beach park in a quiet part of south Kihei.

Haleakala Shores

Affordable condos with covered parking, this 4-story development is located across the street from Kamaole III Beach Park - a very popular park with a grassy area for kite flying, a small play ground, and wonderful, protected sandy beach.


Located in the center of Wailea and easy walk or free shuttle (for some residences) from all the resources of the beach front Grand Wailea Resort.

Honua Kai

Suites & Spa with Hotel Amenities on 38 lush acres on a beautiful stretch of Beach

Kamaole Sands

The very popular Kamaole Sands offers 440 individually owned units in 10, four-story buildings on 15 acres of lush, tropical, Maui in a resort like setting across from Kamaole III beach park in South Maui.

Kamaole One

Located on spectacular Charlie Young Beach (Kam 1) offering affordable luxury ocean front.

Kapalua Golf Villas

Private community on Kapalua Bay Golf Course within the Kapalua Resort. 16 Buildings on 15.85 acres. 3 pools, Hiking trails, and complimentary resort shuttle.

Kihei Akahi

Amazing ocean views, 2 pools, across from Kamaole II Beach Park. A perfect family setting

Kihei Kai Nani

Affordable Condos Across from Kamaole II Beach. Relax by the pool steps from shopping.

Kihei Surfside

Located adjacent to the north end of sandy Keawakapu Beach in sunny, south Maui, Kihei Surfside Resort is a 6-story building with 83 apartments each with fabulous ocean views.

Ma'alaea Banyans

One of island's best condominium values, the serenity of Maui's south coast can be found at the beach front Maalaea Banyans Resort located near Maalaea Harbor overlooking scenic Maalaea Bay.

Ma'alaea Kai

Immaculately maintained Resort overlooking scenic Maalaea Bay; a short walk to Maalaea Marina, Built in 1974 with 79 units, on 2.28 acres, Maalaea Kai is the largest residential property in Maalaea Village. A great central location to access all parts of the island for your Maui holiday!


On the West side of Maui at the north end of Ka'anapali, quieter than the nearby resort hotels, the owner managed units at The Mahana offer easy access to nightlife in a spectacular but peaceful beach front setting. A favorite spot for "Snow Birds", honeymooners and families.

Makena Surf

The lovely grounds of Makena Surf offer a putting green, 2 pools, tennis and access to 2 beaches

Maui Kamaole

Two blocks from Wailea on Maui's sunny south shore; directly across from Kamaole III beach park & the Kihei boat ramp; Maui Kamaole offers 1 bedroom 2 bath, 2 bedroom townhouses & 1 bedroom + den ocean and garden view condos.

Maui Sunset

Located near Sugar Beach, the beauty & location (about as central as you can get to enjoy all the activities Maui has to offer) of Maui Sunset is hard to resist.

Maui Vista

Sitting across from one of the best beaches on Maui, enjoy pools, tennis courts, great grounds and gorgeous ocean views.

Nani Kai Hale

Beachfront mid-rise w amazing ocean views. Central location on Sugar Beach in Kihei.

Papakea Resort

Papakea Resort is located at north Kaanapali near Lahaina Harbor. Condos here have unique ocean views overlooking the islands of Molokai and Lanai.

Polo Beach Club

Ocean front living in the heart of the luxury setting of Wailea & Makena. The 8-story Polo Beach Club boasts 71 oceanfront 2 bedroom, 2 bath condominiums all with spectacular ocean views on 2.3 acres.

The Palms at Wailea

The lush tropical grounds of the Palms of Wailea welcome you to the large, private grounds close to Keawakapu Beach

Wailea Beach Villas

The Ocean front pool is steps from gorgeous Wailea Beach and the first class exercise facility.

Wailea Ekahi Village

Tucked along Keawakapu Beach, Ekahi Village is the perfect destination for a special Hawaiian vacation in an ocean front setting that truly feels like paradise. Great Wailea beach front values.

Wailea Ekolu Village

These affordable luxury vacation properties offer sweeping ocean views & great values in the heart of Wailea near beaches & shopping.

Other Activities on Maui

Snorkeling on Maui
You can snorkel off most any beach on Maui!!!
Snorkeling is a great way to experience the amazing variety and colors of tropical fish, sea anemones and coral just below the surface of the water. If you are lucky, you may even see a sea turtle or two. There are places all over the island where you can rent or buy a mask and snorkel. Fins aren't necessary, but some folks like them as they make it easier to move around. In addition, a small kick board can be useful; as this will allow you to float without a lot of effort.

Surfing on Maui
With millions of wave-riding visitors, Maui is known as a surfer's paradise. Learning to surf on Maui is a must do. With its gentle breaks and plethora of surf schools, our island is built for learning to surf. Both the South and West side of Maui have numerous breaks made for long boarding. The gradual slope of the ocean contour at these spots make for a gently breaking wave perfect for getting you up and going. Most of our surf schools on Maui guarantee you'll stand up the first time you take a lesson. Many will also rent you a board if you want to try surfing by yourself.

Shopping on Maui
Staying in a condo means you have a kitchen and full resources to eat at home. Great for the best sunset views or a quick lunch for the kids, etc.

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