Best Maui Whale Watching Tours And Cruises

Every year between December and April, humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Hawaii to breed and raise their young. If you want to go whale watching Maui is one of the best spots as the humpback whales can often be seen swimming up the Auau channel between Maui and Moloaki. When picking a whale watching tour, there are plenty of options for kids, adults, and couples. Check out these top whale watching tours on Maui!

whale watching maui#1 – Classic whale watching cruise

Pacific Whale Foundation offers classic whalewatching cruises out of Lahina and Maalaea Harbors that are great for families and kids. This two-hour whale watching Maui adventure features a junior naturalist program where kids can learn all about whales, listen to them sing underwater using special hydrophones, and take home a wildlife poster as a souvenir. But keep in mind that there might be more than a hundred people on this tour, so arrive early if you want good seats on the deck.

Departs from: Lahaina and Maalaea (Central Maui)

Choose this for: kid-friendly whalewatching

#2 – Kayaking whale watching tour

Feel totally connected to nature on this four-hour whale watching kayak tour. Departing from both Makena in South Maui and Olowalu south of Lahaina, this tour is great whether you’re a first-time kayaker or have experienced kayaking before. Your guide will help you get set up on the kayak and take you to the best spots to see whales in season. Once you’ve experienced an 80,000 pound humpback whale gliding underneath your kayak, you’ll never be the same.

Departs from: Makena (South Maui) and Olowalu (near Lahaina)

Choose this for: kayaking whale watching

whale watching maui

#3 – Molokini snorkel with whale sightings in season
Maalaea, Central Maui

Combine whale watching with this luxury Molokini snorkeling cruise. Off the Maui coast, the Molokini crater is one of the best places to snorkel—and during whale watching season it’s a convenient place to spot humpback whales as they swim toward the Auau Channel. At the crater, you’ll see colorful fish, sea stars, and sea turtles—and once you’re done snorkeling you can soak up the sun on the deck of the luxurious Paragon II sailboat. This is a good option during whale season’s shoulder months when sightings are more rare—you’ll enjoy snorkeling so much that if you do happen to see a whale as well, it’s a nice bonus.

Departs from: Maalaea, Central Maui

Choose this for: Molokini snorkeling and whale watching

whale watching maui#4 – Lahaina Champagne Sunset Sail
Lahaina

Who doesn’t want to watch whales with a flute of bubbly in hand? Sail Maui’s Champagne Sunset Sail takes you on a two-hour cruise along Maui’s west coast as the sun slips beneath the horizon. This is a high-traffic area for humpback whales in season, so you’re very likely to have a handful of sightings during the journey. Champagne, cocktails, and light snacks are served throughout, making this a classy way to spend an evening with your sweetheart.

Departs from Lahaina

Choose this for: romantic whale watching

whale watching maui#5 – Small-group whale watching

For those who wish to see these giant mammals up close, this catamaran ride is a great option. Unlike the large cruisers, this catamaran can get super close to the whales and the onboard capacity is much smaller so you’re guaranteed a more intimate experience. There is a possibility that you might get wet if a whale makes a splash, so bring your swimsuits or rent a wetsuit if you like.

Departs from: Lahaina

Choose this for: small-group whale watching

#6 – Sunrise Whale Watch
Lahaina and Maalaea

The best time to see the whales is early morning when the water is calm and there are few motorboats to scare the whales away. As the sun rises over Haleakala and throws a glowing golden light over the landscape, this is also a favorite time for photographers to capture these glorious creatures breaching. This cruise departs from both Lahaina and Maalaea.

Departs from: Lahaina and Maalaea (Central Maui)

Choose this for: early morning photo opportunities

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It’s important to be respectful of all marine life. If you want to learn more about NOAA Fisheries guidelines for safely and respectfully viewing marine life, check out this page on their website.

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