Our Social Enterprise Model

Pacific Whale Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1980 to protect a declining humpback whale population from global threats, including commercial whaling. Early pioneers in noninvasive whale research, our scientists began offering educational whalewatches on the weekends, after studying whales and their ocean environment during the week. The trips were a means to share our findings, educate the public about whales, and raise needed funds for our research and conservation work.

That same tradition continues today. Our PacWhale cruise operation is 100% owned by the non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation, as are our retail Ocean Stores. All of the profits that we generate go to supporting Pacific Whale Foundation’s work to protect our oceans through science and advocacy.

Your ticket to adventure on a PacWhale cruise directly funds research, education and conservation programs on behalf of marine wildlife and their ocean home.

View our 2018 Annual Report >

View previous reports Tax & Charities Division, State of Hawaii >

Learn more about our programs: Research | Education | Conservation


  • Chevron down GO WITH THE EXPERTS
  • We are a world leader in sustainable marine ecotourism. Since 1980, we have carried more than 6 million guests on our ocean ecotours based on nearly four decades of marine research. You get the latest facts and findings available because we are the ones gathering the data and conducting the studies.

    Each trip is led by our certified Marine Naturalists, all of whom hold graduate or undergraduate degrees in marine biology or related sciences. These dedicated crew members receive continual professional training through our rigorous certification program, which includes testing their knowledge about wildlife behaviors and biology, Hawaii’s marine environment, and local geography and culture. They also conduct our popular and innovative onboard Jr. Naturalist Program for children.

    This focus on experience and expertise makes our snorkel ecotours ideal for families and beginners. Our crew will provide the equipment, instruction and encouragement needed to help guests feel 100% comfortable on the ocean. We offer multiple free options for flotation devices, as well as a brief “Snorkel 101” class for those who want an introduction or a refresher.

  • When it comes to our guests’ safety, we pride ourselves on not only meeting, but exceeding all industry standards. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) requires two to three crew per vessel and that half are CPR and First Aid certified. On our ecotours, you will see up to seven crew members per trip, all of whom are certified in First Aid, oxygen administration, and CPR for adults, children and infants. Hawaii has no specific requirement for certified lifeguards on vessels, but all our crew members on snorkel trips are lifeguard certified.

    Our well-stocked kits on each vessel include multiple oxygen set-ups, back and neck supports, and complete AEDs (defibrillator). We also employ a USCG licensed Maritime Safety Coordinator who conducts in-house American Red Cross certifications, safety drills, trainings and inspections to ensure our guests receive the most safe and comfortable cruise possible.

  • Chevron down BOATS TO BOAST ABOUT
  • We have invested in the most modern and environmentally-sound catamarans on Maui. Our vessels feature SmoothCat technology for an ultra-comfortable ride, and run on energy-efficient, low-emissions engines. We developed and outfitted all of our vessels with Whale Protection Devices, the first devices in the nation for commercial vessels that guide whales away from propellers and running gear.

    View our Fleet of Vessels >

  • We are a proud member of the Hawaii Ecotourism Association and are a Certified Sustainable Tour Operator. From following strict wildlife viewing guidelines to using biodegradable and compostable plates, cups and utensils — we work to ensure that all our operations are as environmentally friendly as possible.

    Learn more about our Environmental Commitments >