- About PWF
- Research History
- Current Studies
- Australia Research
- Abundance, Survival, Recruitment and Realized Growth Rates
- Calving Rates and Intervals of East Australian Female Humpback Whales
- Connectivity and Interchange Between Humpback Whale Aggregation Areas along East Australia
- Dynamics of extralimital feedingby humpback whales off Eden, NSW
- PWF’s Southern Hemisphere Humpback Whale Catalogue
- Rate of Interchange Between East Australia and West Australia Humpback Whales
- Ecuador Research
- Interaction of Small Cetaceans with Artisanal Fisheries in Machalilla National Park
- Population, Distribution and Abundance of Humpback Whales and other Cetaceans in Machalilla National Park
- Photo-identification of dolphins in the Cojimies River Estuary
- Migratory Interchange of Humpback Whales between Peru and Ecuador
- Hawaii Research
- Other Projects
- Australia Research
- Our Research Team
- Notes From The Field
- Donate to help fund our research
- Conservation & Education
- Our Story
- Meet Our Staff
- Inside our Facility
- Educational Eco-Tours
- Education Programs
- Upcoming Events
- How You Can Help
- Become a Member / Renew Membership
- Ways You Can Donate
- Adopt a Whale, Dolphin or Turtle
- Whale Regatta
- Maui Whale Festival Events
- Eco Cruises
- The PWF Difference
- Maui Weather
- Wildlife Guides and Tips
- Book A Cruise
- Whale and Dolphin Sightings
- Meet Our Vessels
- Ocean Store
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive at Pacific Whale Foundation. If you have a question, please let us answer it for you! Please call us toll-free at 1-800-942-5311 ext. 1. From Maui, please call (808) 249-8811 ext. 1.
You can also learn more about Maui's marine wildlife, our ocean tours and happenings at Pacific Whale Foundation by visiting our Facebook page. You don't have to be a member of Facebook to check it out. Simply click here.
Q. What's the best time of year to see whales in Maui?
A. Each year, humpback whales migrate from cool waters near Alaska to their warm-water breeding grounds in Hawaii. The first whale sightings of the year typically take place in late September or October. The whales don't arrive all at once. Their numbers gradually increase as winter approaches. In late November, Pacific Whale Foundation holds our annual "Welcome Home the Whales Celebration" with special whalewatch cruises with guaranteed sightings. From that point until May 15, we guarantee sightings on all of our whalewatches, or you get a free ticket to go again free.
The peak of whalewatch season is typically in February and March.
Q. Where can I see whales while I'm visiting Maui?
A. During the winter, you can see whales from shore. The best views are from Maui's south and west shores, in areas that include Makena, Wailea, Kihei, Ma'alaea, Olowalu, Lahaina, Ka'anapali and Kapalua. In recent years, sightings have become more common off the North Shore, in such areas as Ho'okipa. Hana also offers very good whale sightings.
However, for the best views, go on a whalewatch. By law, vessels can approach whales up to 100 yards away, which is generally closer than you would see them from shore. And often, whales will become curious and approach vessels on their own, to closer than within 100 yards. Pacific Whale Foundation offers whalewatch eco-adventures daily from Lahaina and Ma'alaea Harbors, from late-November through mid-May. During your Pacific Whale Foundation whalewatch, you'll have the opportunity to hear fascinating narration about the whales from our onboard Certified Marine Naturalists. We also give you the chance to listen to whales, via underwater hydrophones that pick up whale songs from underwater. Read more about Pacific Whale Foundation's whalewatches.
Q. Which harbor is better for whalewatching?
A. Both Lahaina and Ma'alaea Harbors offer excellent whalewatching. We suggest that you choose the harbor that's most convenient to where you are staying. Ma'alaea is ideal for people staying in Kihei, Wailea and Ma'alaea, as well as Upcountry Maui. Lahaina is a good choice for people in Ka'anapali, Kapalua and of course Lahaina. Because our captains generally navigate our vessels to remain in the lee of the West Maui Mountains, both whalewatches operate in the calmest waters available each day.
Q. What types of dolphins are found off Maui?
A. Spinner dolphins are the most commonly sighted dolphins, followed by bottlenose dolphins and spotted dolphins. Many people have not heard of spinner dolphins, but fall in love with them once they see them. These social, acrobatic dolphins are named for their spinning leaps above the ocean's surface. Bottlenose dolphins often bowride with our vessels, especially as we cruise through the 'Au'Au Channel between Maui and the neighboring island of Lana'i. We offer daily dolphin watch cruises with guaranteed sightings for those who want to be sure to see these beautiful marine mammals in the wild. Learn more about our dolphin watches.