Whale watching off the Maui Coast

January marks the beginning of humpback whale season in Maui.  On a recent family vacation to Maui, I was excited to take my 4-year-old, Harry, on his first whale watching adventure.  We booked an afternoon whale watch out of historic Lahaina with Pacific Whale Foundation, whose mission is to protect our oceans through science and advocacy.  The afternoon whale watch showcased Maui’s newest, eco-friendly state-of-the-art sailing catamaran, the Ocean Spirit. The two-hour whale watch was led by a team of Pacific Whale Foundation’s certified Marine Naturalists and marine biologists, who explained and interpreted the social behavior of humpback whales.


The day of the cruise was a very windy afternoon with extremely choppy seas.  Not ideal for whale watching!  The crew, however, was in great spirits and Captain John told great stories about the history of the Hawaiian Islands and the behaviors of the humpback whales.  As we waited to see our first whales, the crew did a great job showing pictures of the whales and explaining about mommy and baby whales in a way that little kids could really grasp.


After an hour and a half of whale waiting, we saw a mother and newborn whale calf playing together in the ocean!  Our afternoon was suddenly very exciting!  The boat raced over so we could watch them splash and play.  Then Captain John turned on the underwater hydrophone so we could listen to the whale songs, while watching the mother and baby interacting.  It was AMAZING for kids and adults to hear the beautiful songs!!  Harry felt like he was listening to Dory speak whale just like in Finding Nemo!  What a treat and an unforgettable experience to see and hear whales in their natural environment!


Despite the rough waters, we loved whale watching with Pacific Whale Foundation.  I would absolutely recommend any of their cruises to those visiting Maui during whale season. We were impressed with the knowledgeable, experienced crew and had a fantastic and memorable day at sea.  Watching and hearing the beautiful mother and humpback whale calf play together was absolutely worth the wait!

Whale sightings are guaranteed on all Pacific Whale Foundation whale watches, or your next trip is free! This is a big promise that they are serious about keeping.  I would suggest a morning cruise, when the ocean is usually much more calm and conducive to whale spotting. I didn’t know this when I booked a cruise for the afternoon, which is often windy. Be sure to pop by their gift shop after the cruise for a free post card and to check out the cool merchandise.


We were guests of Pacific Whale Foundation on the whale watch sail for purposes of this review. As always, I give my honest options no matter who is picking up the check.

Sarah Hirsch
Sarah Hirsch

Sarah is a Chicago-based luxury travel influencer, Virtuoso luxury travel advisor, luxury family travel writer, an Oprah Daily Ambassador, and the founder of WellTraveledKids.com. Sarah’s best travel companion is her sweet 12-year-old son, Harry. Her favorite getaways include a luxe hotel stay, quality family playtime, champagne & chocolate-covered strawberries.

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