When we first moved to Hawaii, I had no idea that whale watching was such a big draw or that you’d actually be able to see them when they got here. But holy whale balls, Maui whale watching is absolutely amazing.
Maui Whale Watching
From December to May, about 10,000 to 12,000 humpback whales swim from the gulf of Alaska to Hawaii to breed, calve and nurse their young. Since so many humpback whales are born in Hawaiian waters every year, they are treated with great respect and are seen as “aumakua”, or family guardians, among the locals.
If you have the chance to come to Hawaii during Whale Season, I think it might just be the best time of year to make the trip. Not only can you see them by renting a kayak (great option), stand up paddleboarding, taking one of the bajillion whale watching tours available or riding the ferry to a neighbor island, but we’ve been lucky enough to see them from just about everywhere… standing on the beach, driving our car and even riding the damn bus.
As far as tours go, whale watching is one of the cheapest options you’ll find on the island, with most costing between $15 and $50 per person. And even if you’re on a $0 budget, stand on the freakin’ beach and open your eyeballs and you’ll be just fine. Since Peter’s parents are in town, and despite the fact that it has been the worst week of weather since we moved here, we decided to brave the rain and take a tour with Maui Adventure Cruises.
Our tour guides were wonderful, and 5 minutes after arriving at our first whale watching spot, we got to see a breaching baby whale along with a mama whale, a couple of male escort whales and some tag-a-long dolphins. It’s not known whether they breach (use their tail to propel their body out of the water) to clean pests from their skin or just for fun, but either way, keep on’ doing it cause it’s sweet! We learned that humpbacks breathe voluntarily and sleep by shutting off half of their brain at a time. They have a life expectancy of a minimum of 50 years, although research suggests they can live upwards of 90 years.
The “kohola” (whales), eat only in the summer months and live off of their blubber in the wintertime. The calves, on the other hand, consume around 100 pounds of their mother’s milk per day and learn to swim within 30 minutes of being born. Humpbacks typically weigh an average of 30 to 50 tons and reach 48 to 63 feet in length, with females being slightly larger than the males. One of the best places in the world to see these animals is the Auau Channel, a shallow area between West Maui and the neighbor islands of Lana’i and Molokai.
February is Humpback Whale Awareness Month in Hawaii, so if you’re on Maui, make sure to get out there and witness the whales. Also, I will be dressing up as a mermaid in the World Whale Day parade next month, so if you’re on Maui, make sure to get out here and witness the tails.