Be Whale Aware

Be whale aware guideFrom December through May, thousands of humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the warm waters of Hawai'i to mate and give birth. While it is the chance of a lifetime to experience humpback whales in their natural habitat, it is easy to forget that our presence can affect marine wildlife and habitat.

During their time in Hawai'i, humpback whales are engaged in important social and behavioral activities. Approaching whales too close or fast may disrupt these behaviors and cause unnecessary stress to the animals. 

As an endangered species, humpback whales are protected by specific federal and state regulations. These regulations are designed to minimize negative impacts to whales, while also ensuring the safety of both humans and wildlife during whale watch activities. 

Building on these regulations, Pacific Whale Foundation has developed its "Be Whale Aware" guidelines. By following these guidelines and local laws, you help promote responsible whale watching.

View or download the "Be Whale Aware" guidelines >

Did you know?

  • Federal and state laws prohibit approaching humpback whales closer than 100 yards by any means. This includes, but is not limited to, tour boat operators, recreational boat operators, sailboats, kayakers, swimmers, windsurfers, standup paddleboarders, surfers, and kite surfers. Exceptions to the 100 yard approach limit are granted only to specified permit holders.
  • Speed increases the risk of a collision. Go extra slow in coastal waters around Maui during whale season from December to May.
  • Be Whale Aware flagVessels flying the Be Whale Aware flag are actively searching for or watching whales. Please maintain a distance of at least 100 yards.
  • If a collision occurs immediately call the National Marine Fisheries Service Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at 1-888-256-9840.
  • To report Humpback Whale approach violations contact NOAA Office of Law Enforcement at 1-800-853-1964.