Every year humpback whales make their way from Alaska to Hawaii for (ahem) romantic reasons. They are just another group full of romantic tourists, one could say!
// Why do the whales come to Hawaii?
The waters of Alaska get cold and are full of predators, so the whales make their way south for protection during the breeding season and to protect and nurture the newborn calves (from last year’s breeding season).
While they will be present in the water from November to May, the peak time to see them is often January through March.
// Which whale watching Tour should we take?
There are tours from every island but the most popular area to go from is Maui. Why? The water between Maui, Lana’i, and Kaho’olawe is the most popular area of the humpback whales to journey to because the water is shallow and warm and provides a safe place for all the whales, especially the calves. It’s a really big kiddie pool.
On Maui, we recommend the Pacific Whale Foundation. They do boat tours of various types (including a reggae sunset dinner cruise). Each tour is packed full of information from their staff (most of who are marine biologists or have a fair amount of training in the science of whales).
The reason we like them the best is they are a non-profit organization who has spent the last 35 years in research, education, and conservation. We appreciate knowing that they are helping to protect the whales so that future generations can enjoy them as much as we do today.
// When should we go out
As a photographer, I always like being out around sunrise or sunset for the best lighting. It’s great to see the island come alive when you leave before sunrise.
Sometimes the water is calmer in the morning, so if you’re prone to get sick, take some Dramamine and the early boat.
Whales can are active at different times of the day, so one tour isn’t better than another. If you can only make the 2 pm, do it. You will have a lot of fun then as well.
// A more adventurous option
Although a bit more expensive, a more adventurous option would be to take a kayak tour. Maui Kayak Adventures would be a good vendor for that.
There are laws which keep you from approaching the whales, but if they end up approaching you it’s just a matter of sitting back and watching the beauty of nature happen around you.
Just like with all a lot of the other more adventurous activities we mention, our standard disclaimer about safety applies here.