Awards and Accolades

Pacific Whale Foundation's many awards reflect our unwavering commitment to the marine environment and our passion for excellence in our ocean ecotours. We are proud to be Maui's #1 ocean ecotour company and the oldest and largest marine conservation organization on Maui.

Awards We've Received

United States Coast Guard
William M. Benkert Marine Environmental Bronze Award for Excellence 
For outstanding achievements in marine environmental protection. This award is the United States Coast Guard’s premier marine environmental protection award and is given to members of the Marine Industry that have demonstrated sustained excellence and outstanding achievement in protecting the marine environment. 
(2010)  Read more.

Certificate of Excellence

The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Only the top-performing 10 percent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.
(2012, 2013, 2014)

Islands Magazine
"Hot 100" Blue List
Ranked as one of the world's top ecotourism choices.

Island Business Magazine
“Investing in the Environment” Award 
For our many eco-friendly innovations and practices.

The Maui News "Best of Maui" Readers' Poll
"Best Environmental Attraction" 

(2011) Read more

The Maui News "Best of Maui" Readers' Poll
"Best Sea Activity"
Honorable Mention

(2011, 2012) 

Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii
Hero of Agriculture, Food and Environment Award:

“An Environmental Supporter Who Does Their Work with Excellence”
Awarded at the Hawaii Agriculture Conference in recognition of Pacific Whale Foundation's Volunteering on Vacation program.

Hawai’i Tourism Authority
“Keep It Hawai’i” Lehua Maka Noe Award

Maui Organization Category

The Maui News “Best of Maui 2013 Awards” 
“Best Environmental Attraction”

Maui Time Weekly Readers' Poll
"Best Environmental Nonprofit" Award 

(2008, 2010, 2011, 2012,)
“Best Activity Company”

Maui Magazine
"Best Nonprofit"


Maui Weekly Readers' Choice Poll
"Best boat tour to go whale watching"


Freedom From Oil Campaign
EcoProducts: "Million Gallon Challenge"

Recognized for using eco-friendly products that saved the equivalent of 1,879 gallons of gasoline.

United States Department of Interior and National Park Service
Volunteers-in-Parks Award

Recognized for 125 hours of volunteer service in Haleakala National Park.
(2005 - 2007)

State of Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources
Living Reef Awards Program Nominee


Work Boat Magazine
Work Boat Environmental Award

Judges' special recognition award for comprehensive environmental management.(2011)

Hawaii Ecotourism Association Green Certification Program
Silver Certification


Accolades We've Received  

Pacific Whale Foundation's Eco-Adventure cruises earn consistently high ratings on Trip Advisor, Yelp and other travel sites. We are also proud of the many accolades that we have received from travel writers and guidebooks. Here are just a few of the accolades we've received.



"If you want to get within splashing distance of 40-ton leviathans acrobatically jumping out of the water, take a whalewatching cruise. No one does them better than Pacific Whale Foundation a conservation group that takes pride in its green, naturalist-led whalewatch trips."
Lonely Planet Guide, Discover Maui

"An excellent, excellent choice. All cruises are led by experienced marine biologists who get into the water with you for a guided tour of the reefs. In addition to getting a great tour, you can be assured that you're helping to protect the environment, because all proceeds from these cruises go to marine conservation."
Frommer's Maui

"Plenty of tour operators will take you to see the whales, but the nonprofit Pacific Whale Foundation combines comfort with knowledgeable staffers."
National Geographic Traveler, Hawaii Insider's Picks

"The foundation has one of the best whalewatches on the island, aboard its own ships. Most of the information that the other whalewatches dispense to tourists is generated by the Pacific Whale Foundation."
Maui Handbook (Moon Travel Handbooks)

"The best whale watch company, not surprisingly, is Pacific Whale Foundation. After all, it's their passion. Their knowledge is phenomenal and the trips are fun."
Maui Revealed

"If you consider yourself ecologically minded, you can't do better than to give your snorkel cruise dollars to the Pacific Whale Foundation. This nonprofit has been at the forefront of Maui-based whale research, education and conservation since the 1970s -- and they also happen to host very fine cruises. Their first-rate modern catamaran fleet offers some of the best tours of Molokini and offshore Lana'i. Not only is there always at least one naturalist on board, but the entire crew is knowledgeable, eco-conscious and friendly. The boats even burn eco-friendly fuel. What's more, the cruises are great for beginning snorkelers, because guides lead fish talks and reef tours and a wide variety of flotation devices are available. The winter whalewatch cruises are unparalleled, of course. You simply can't go wrong with these folks."
Hawaii for Dummies

"Their prices for a two hour whalewatch cruise would make Captain Ahab smile."
Frommer's Maui 2002



Voted "Favorite Whalewatch Tour"
Maui Concierge Readers Poll 2001

"We'd recommend using this non-profit organization, founded in 1980, because its goal is saving the world's whales from extinction."
Rum & Reggae's Hawai'i

"Pacific Whale Foundation pioneered whalewatching back in 1979... the guides are knowledgeable, hydrophones allow you to hear the whales, and if the whales don't surface, you'll receive a "Just-A-Fluke" coupon for another trip."
Fodor's Hawaii

"The most informative whalewatches by far are the cruises sponsored by Pacific Whale Foundation, a nonprofit research, conservation and education organization."
Birnbaum's Hawaii

"Pacific Whale Foundation is the 'humpback whale' of Hawaii's whale conservation organization ahead of its time, a pioneer in the whalewatch business, an ecotourism juggernaut that was doing ecotourism before anyone knew what to call it."
The Maui News

"Pacific Whale Foundation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on marine research, public education and marine conservation to protect and save whales, dolphins, coral reefs and the oceans beyond. Its efforts include serving more than 10,000 Maui County schoolchildren with marine education programs each year and conducting six marine research programs in Hawaii and Australia. As a nonprofit, Pacific Whale Foundation is largely self-supporting, thanks to its wholly owned subsidiary called Pacific Whale Foundation's Eco-Adventures. This cruise company operates under 'for profit' rules but donates all proceeds to support the group's work."
Pacific Business News

"The real threat to whales is whaling, which has endangered many whale species. This is why I say to young people: "If you're ever in school or at the mall and somebody in your group whispers to you, 'Pssst...wanna go whaling?' you should 'just say no.'" Also you should tell your congressperson that you favor the thirty-day cooling-off period on the purchase of harpoons. Or you can support the Pacific Whale Foundation, which is the nonprofit outfit that operates the boat that took us whalewatching."
Dave Barry


"Our voyage with Pacific Whale Foundation the night before was also unusual, weatherwise. The twilight sky was striped with silver clouds instead of the normal, Mai-Tai-enhanced sunset pinks, purples and yellows. The ocean was like glass.

It was definitely whale soup out there with plenty of mothers, newborns and male escorts hoping to get lucky virtually surrounding the boat. The commentary from our naturalist onboard was full of details we had never heard on scores of previous sailings. (Have you ever noticed how the gender of the person providing the narration tends to determine how the whales are portrayed ∓as competitive rivals by male naturalists; as nurturing, caring mothers by their female counterparts?)

But despite the lively commentary, the whales themselves  didn't feel like showing off. Their activity was slow. Lazy. Content.

It didn't matter. Despite what the folks at Kodak might tell you, in spite of the whales' power to send a whole boatload of passengers, eyes glued to their viewfinders, running from one side of the vessel to the other like a Keystone Cop comedy at sea, this actually is not a Sea World attraction.

Even when you're lucky enough to get a tail, or a fin slap like a wave hello, or even a breach, or even two breaches at once that elicit spontaneous oohs, ahhhs and cheers from the boat, the image in the viewfinder will turn out to just be a little black smudge in a field of blue when you get around to printing it.

The Kodak moment's not the thing. What's great is just being out here with them on a lazy Sunday afternoon, as though, regardless of whether you have legs or fins, we're all cousins in the same extended family. "
Rick Chatenever, The Maui Scene