Whale watching season in Maui is November-May with peak season typically running between mid-January and March.
At Pacific Whale Foundation, our whale watching season officially kicks off in early November with our Welcome Home the Whales cruise. But on occasion, we will have our first whale sighting as early as October or even late September. The beauty of whale watching in Maui is you can always expect the unexpected. On any given day, whether it’s in October or April, the Hawaiian Islands can surprise you with endangered false killer whale sightings, humpback whale sightings and everything in between.
Humpback whales tend to gravitate towards warm, temperate waters in the tropics and subtropics during the winter breeding season. These whales can be found in the open ocean and closer to shore throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Although humpback whales can be seen from all of the Hawaiian Islands, the shallow ‘Au‘au Channel between Maui, Moloka‘i and Lānaʻi is one of the best whale-watching destinations in the world.
Humpback whales are by and large the most common type of whale you’ll see in Maui. However, there are also several other species found in the surrounding area, including melon-headed, short-finned pilot, pygmy, and endangered false killer whales. Our expert marine naturalists will help you identify exactly what kind of whales you come across during your cruise.
Based on our genetic and photographic research, there are three populations of false killer whales surrounding the Hawaiian Islands: the main Hawaiian Islands insular population, the northwestern Hawaiian Islands insular population, and an offshore/open-ocean population. The Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) insular population is endangered and in dire straits, with a population of less than 200, making the species a top research and education priority for Pacific Whale Foundation.
Explore our Live Whale & Dolphin Sightings Map to see what kinds of whales are in Maui as we speak.
Our certified Marine Naturalists provide the most innovative and educational whalewatch ecotours in Hawaii, drawing from nearly four decades of whale research and ocean conservation. We are proud to be Maui’s top-rated whalewatch offering the most options from both Maʻalaea and Lahaina Harbors.
UPDATED 9/24/20 -- We eagerly welcome visitors back to the islands as quarantine restrictions lift Oct. 15 for those following the state’s pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements.