Every winter, the Hawaiian islands are graced by the sometimes overwhelming presence of humpback whales as they migrate through from colder waters. If you’re looking to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures, a whale watching boat tour is a great way to do it. But which boat should you choose?

Here’s a quick guide to some of the top boats for whale watching in Maui.

Redline Rafting

These south Maui rafts offer unique opportunities to spot whales due to its low profile. If you get “mugged” by whales, you could literally be inches away from one! The crew is knowledgeable and friendly, making this an ideal tour for families or first-timers. Plus, they leave out of Kihei Boat Ramp, which is more convenient than Maalaea for south Maui visitors.

Redline Rafting Maui

Four Winds

This classic sailboat features a spacious deck that provides plenty of room for viewing whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine life. The crew is passionate about sustainability and does everything possible to minimize their impact on the environment. They also offer educational programs about ocean conservation during their tours.

Four Winds Maui

Pacific Whale Foundation Eco-Adventures

This nonprofit organization runs whale-watching tours aboard two vessels in particular – a 65-foot catamaran and a 40-foot luxury motor yacht. Both offer panoramic views from the main deck while providing educational information about marine life via an onboard naturalist guide.

Pac Whale Maui

Kai Kanani Sailing Charters

For those looking for something more intimate, Kai Kanani is perfect – it carries a minimum of passengers on its stable sailing catamaran. This allows everyone to have prime viewing spots on the bow of the boat or right next to the captain at all times! Plus, they provide snacks and drinks throughout each tour.  You’ll love the beach entry at Maluaka beach too: get ready to get wet!

No matter which option you choose, whale watching in Maui can be an amazing experience! With so many options available it’s easy to find a boat that fits your needs – whether you’re looking for something luxurious or intimate or anything in between! So grab your family or friends and prepare yourself for an unforgettable adventure out on open waters!

kai Kanani Maui

Hawaii Ocean Project

The Maui Princess offers a luxurious way to observe whales up close. This boat features comfortable seating and large observation decks with ample space for everyone onboard so you can get a better view of the majestic creatures swimming around you. And if that weren’t enough, they also snacks along with refreshing drinks and expert narration.  They also leave out of Lahaina Harbor, which is convenient for anyone staying on the west side of Maui.

Hawaii Ocean Project


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Some fun humpback whale facts:

  1. Humpback Whales are large marine mammals that belong to the baleen whales family and are known for their long pectoral fins, knobbly heads, and spectacular singing voices.
  2. Males grow to be around 50-60 feet long while females can reach nearly 70 feet long, with weights ranging from 25 to 45 tons.
  3. Humpbacks are found in all of the world’s oceans, but migrate seasonally between cold-water feeding grounds and warmer breeding and calving areas (the islands that make up Maui County draw them due to its shallow basin).
  4. They feed on krill, plankton and small schooling fish like anchovies and herring which they filter through their baleen plates located in their enormous mouths (but only when they’re in colder waters).
  5. These whales have been known to work together in groups when hunting for food, using techniques such as bubble netting or breaching out of the water to corral prey into a tight ball so they can be more easily consumed by the group members.
  6. Humpbacks communicate with each other in complex songs that can last for up to twenty minutes at a time; these songs travel over long distances underwater and scientists believe they may be used to attract mates or mark territory during breeding season.  It’s still unclear why they sing exactly, but we know the song changes throughout each season.
  7. During migration periods they often travel in pods of up to twelve individuals made up of mothers with their calfs, males looking to mate, or younger animals traveling alone; occasionally humpbacks will form larger superpods during migrations stretching over multiple miles of ocean shoreline at a time.
  8. The lifespan of humpbacks is estimated at around 50 years with some living past 80; if left untouched by humans they could potentially live even longer lives than that, although this is not yet proven due to our inability to accurately measure such things in wild animals living out their full lifespans in the ocean depths.
  9. Some unique physical adaptations enable their survival in harsher environments including a thick layer of blubber beneath their skin that helps keep them warm and insulated from both temperatures extremes as well as predators like killer whales; additionally, humpback whales have unique grooves on their throats called ventral pleats which allow them to expand their mouths when taking in large amounts of food or air when diving deep into the watery depths below the surface waves where much of their prey reside and hide away from sight until disturbed by these curious beasts above them tasting the salty sea air with every dip and dive of the day’s hunt for sustenance or leisurely swim across open seas under no particular destination other than maybe just being present within nature’s wildest domain where these creatures belong!

Chris Norberg is Project Manager at Maui Guide. Maui Guide shares photos and video daily along with recording his Maui experiences.

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