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.


  • Best Places to Work 2021 Hawaii Business Magazine

  • 2022 Travelers' Choice Tripadvisor

  • First Place 2021 Readers' Choice Best of Hawaii


    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.

    TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice (Formerly Certificate of Excellence)
    2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012
    The Travelers’ Choice Award celebrates attractions that consistently deliver fantastic experiences to travelers and are around the globe. Only the top-performing 10% of businesses listed on the world’s largest travel site receive this prestigious award. PacWhale Eco-Adventures has now received this award for 10 years in a row!

    Best Places to Work
    2021, 2020, 2019

    Hawaii Business Magazine
    Medium Size Companies

    Best of Maui 2019
    Hawaii Magazine Readers’ Choice
    Best of Guided Tours

    Best of Maui 2018
    Hawaii Magazine Readers’ Choice
    Voted Among the best Dinner Cruise or Sunset Sail

    Winner Marine Based Tour 2018
    Business & Tourism Awards
    Fraser Coast Tourism and Events

    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)

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

    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)

    Best of Maui 2016
    Maui News
    Best Kamaʻaina Activity Discount

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

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

    Best Activity Company
    Maui Time (2013)

    Best Environmental Attraction
    Maui News (2013, 2011)

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

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

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

    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)

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

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

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

    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)

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

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

    Best Non-Profit
    Maui Magazine (2005)

    Best Community Festival
    Maui Time (2005)

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



“If you want to get within splashing distance of 40-ton leviathans acrobatically jumping out of the water, take a whale watching cruise. No one does them better than Pacific Whale Foundation, a conservation group that takes pride in its green, naturalist-led whale watch 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

“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 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 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 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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“The foundation has one of the best whale watches 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 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.”

“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

“KAYAK has chosen Pacific Whale Foundation as one of our top activities & attractions for our Kahului Travel guide.”

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Hawaii Visitor Update

Aloha, We Are Open!  Our PacWhale Eco-Adventures are open for booking as we welcome visitors back to Maui.  Quarantine restrictions were lifted on Oct. 15th for those following the state’s pre-arrival COVID-19 testing requirements.