Awards & Certifications

Pacific Whale Foundation’s many awards, accolades and certifications reflect our passion for the marine environment and our commitment to excellence in our ocean ecotours. We are proud to be Maui’s top-rated ocean ecotour company and the oldest and largest marine conservation organization on Maui.

RECENT HONORS

Best of Maui 2017
Hawaii Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards
Best Guided Tour Company

Best of Maui 2017
Hawaii Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards
Dinner Cruise / Sunset Sail (runner-up)

Best of Maui 2017
Maui Time
Best Children’s Activity: Ocean Camp (runner-up)

Best of Maui 2016
Maui News
Best Kamaʻaina Activity Discount

Best of Maui 2017
Maui Time
Best Children’s Activity: Ocean Camp (runner-up)

Best of Maui 2017 & 2016
Maui News
Best Sea Activity (runner-up)

  • MORE ACCOLADES
  • United States Coast Guard
    William M. Benkert Marine Environmental Bronze Award for Excellence
    Pacific Whale Foundation received this prestigious award presented by the U.S. Coast Guard for outstanding achievements, leadership and innovation in all aspects of marine environmental protection.

    “Hot 100” Blue List
    Islands Magazine
    Ranking us as one of the world’s top ecotourism choices (2007)

    “Keep It Hawaii” Lehua Maka Noe Award
    Hawaii Tourism Authority
    In recognition of our commitment to perpetuating the Hawaiian culture on Maui (2008)

    Best of Maui 2015
    Hawaii Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards
    Best Snorkeling Company (runner-up)
    Best Dinner Cruise (runner-up)

    Best Environmental Attraction
    Maui News (2013, 2011)

    Best Environmental Non-Profit
    Maui Time (2012, 2011, 2010, 2008)

    Best Activity Company
    Maui Time (2013)

    Best Sea Activity (runner up)
    Maui News (2014, 2013, 2012, 2011)

    “Best boat tour to go whale watching”
    Maui Weekly (2009)

    Best Non-Profit
    Maui Magazine (2005)

    Best Community Festival
    Maui Time (2005)

    Hero of Agriculture, Food and Environment Award
    “An Environmental Supporter Who Does Their Work with Excellence”
    Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii
    For our Volunteers on Vacation program (2010)

    Volunteers-in-Parks Award
    United States Department of Interior and National Park Service
    For 125 hours of volunteer service in Haleakala National Park (2005 – 2007)

    Freedom From Oil Campaign
    For using eco-friendly products that saved the equivalent of 1,879 gallons of gasoline (2009)

    Living Reef Awards Program Nominee
    State of Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources (2006)

    WorkBoat Environmental Award
    WorkBoat Magazine
    Judges’ special recognition award for comprehensive environmental management (2011)

    Green Certification Program: Silver Certification
    Hawaii Ecotourism Association (2011)

    “Investing in the Environment” Award
    Island Business Magazine (1988)

    Pineapple Awards: Leaders in Attractions and Activities Nominee
    Pacific Business News (2017)

CERTIFICATIONS

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Honoring hospitality excellence worldwide, the Certificate of Excellence is given only to operations that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Only the top-performing 10% of businesses listed on the world’s largest travel site receive this prestigious award now in its 7th year. 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012
Certified Sustainable Tour Operator We are one of only five tour operators on Maui to achieve Sustainable Tourism Certification (2014-2016) by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association, a non-profit organization that advocates for Hawaii’s unique natural environment and native culture through the promotion of responsible travel and educational programs relating to sustainable tourism for residents, businesses and visitors.
Dolphin SMART Pacific Whale Foundation earned NOAA’s Dolphin SMART recognition by adhering to a set of guidelines and commitments for responsible wildlife viewing. We are one of only six Dolphin SMART tour operators in Hawaii, and only two on Maui. The program was developed established by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and National Marine Fisheries Service, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and the Dolphin Ecology Project.
Advanced Ecotourism Certified We achieved Advanced ECO Certification for our tour operations in Hervey Bay, Queensland. The program from Ecotourism Australia assures travellers that certified operators provide high quality nature-based tourism experiences, backed by a strong, well-managed commitment to sustainable practices. The top-tier “Advanced” ECO Certification is for the most innovative ecotourism products that operate with minimal impact on the environment, provide opportunities to learn about the environment, use resources wisely, and contribute to local communities.
Passenger Vessel Association Green Waters Program Pacific Whale Foundation is a member of the PVA Green Waters Program established to promote green business practices and recognize environmental stewardship.

TRAVEL GUIDE MENTIONS

“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.”
-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 profits from these cruises go to marine conservation.”“Their prices for a two hour whalewatch cruise would make Captain Ahab smile.”

“Plenty of tour operators will take you to see the whales, but the nonprofit Pacific Whale Foundation combines comfort with knowledgeable staffers.”
-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.”
“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.”
“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 Lanaʻi. 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.”.”
“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.”
“With thirty­-five years of whale research and conservation experience, Pacific Whale Foundation is Maui’s #1 whale watching choice. The crew at Pacific Whale Foundation are certified Marine Naturalists that will ensure an innovative and educational whale watching adventure.”
“With the aim of education and protection of marine life, the Pacific Whale Foundation’s staff of marine biologists offer whale watches, snorkeling trips to Molokini crater, dolphin encounter trips, and sunset cruises. Cruises take place in low-emission, energy-efficient boats outfitted with whale-protection devices, as well as comforts for the passengers such as (on some vessels) a galley bar, interior cabins and shaded areas for sun protection, freshwater showers, and armchair seats or low-frills ‘rafts’ that take up to 30 passengers. Trips range from dinner cruises, which last about two hours, to seven-hour whale watches.”
“Pacific Whale Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated studying and protecting the marine environment. They offer a wider range of tours besides just whale watching, including night time stargazing, land-based tidepool exploration and kids camps. Their boats are large, and they are the largest ocean tour operation on Maui.”
“We found 10 things to do that just might beat being home for the holidays… you can choose from three Thanksgiving Day catamaran cruises that leave from Lahaina Harbor. Chefs from the island’s Three’s Bar & Grill whip up a menu with kalua turkey, Portuguese sausage stuffing and pumpkin-coconut squares.”
“Over the water, under the moon… Gliding across the dark ocean under a night sky on a Pacific Whale Foundation cruise, it’s easy to marvel at the way ancient Polynesians looked to the heavens to navigate. PWF’s stargazing ecotour cruises are timed to coincide with the best conditions for viewing bright stars, constellations, the Milky Way and other wonders of the galaxy during the new moon lunar cycle. They, as well as full-moon cruises, are narrated by international award-winning astronomy writer and speaker Harriet Witt, who taught celestial navigation to the Hokule’a voyaging canoe crew in preparation for its voyage to and from Rapanui.”
“The most informative whalewatches by far are the cruises sponsored by Pacific Whale Foundation, a nonprofit research, conservation and education organization.”
“We’d recommend using this non-profit organization, founded in 1980, because its goal is saving the world’s whales from extinction.”
“Pacific Whale Foundation is the ‘humpback whale’ of Hawaii’s whale conservation groups… an 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 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, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and columnist