Groceries, gas, and real estate is expensive on Maui by most standards – but much of the island’s entertainment is free. Experiencing the island and its many sensory pleasures is the core of many an amazing Maui vacation. With the winter comes one of the star attractions of this array – watching the Humpback Whales. There’s no predicting where they’ll choose to show off their aerial acrobatics – pick a beach, and grab the binoculars.
You may get lucky and see these two-ton creatures, as large as a bus, at incredibly close range – or you may see spouts and big splashes in the distance. The whales migrate 2500 miles from Alaska every year to breed and birth. Competing males provide the drama, and the shows are often breathtaking. Mama whales shelter their calves, who do their best to copy the launching (breaching) and splashing moves.
When you see whales, grab a snorkel and submerge: you can clearly hear whale song, in its eerie beauty, sometimes from long distances.
There are ways to increase your chances of seeing these mellow, magnificent creatures at close range. A whale cruise is the surest way for a close encounter. Or, rent a kayak or paddleboards and cruise out a hundred yards and scan the horizon for spouts and spray. A relaxed board or kayak paddle is highly recommended if you’re even marginally fit. Don’t go if the wind’s blowing, go early, and be mindful of the prevailing afternoon trade winds that can make for a miserable return to shore.