Whale watching in Maui has been described as "awe-inspiring", "magical", "mythical", "life-altering" and "thrilling". There are more...many more. These are just a few of the words used to describe the experience.
Maui is world famous for being part of the migratory waters of the majestic humpback whales. While Humpbacks are the stars of the boat tours, folks often see orcas (killer whales) and dolphins while whale watching, too.
The reason the humpbacks are there is because they migrate from North to South and
back again as part of their yearly lives. Some 5000 whales participate in this migration each year.
These "Northern" pods, as they are called, like to "winter" in the tropics. This is from as early as November to as late as April ( January thru March is the peak part of the season.) This is the best time for whale watching in Maui.
These warm waters are where the humpback whales breed and give birth to their young. Then, as the young get their sea legs, they are off on a several thousand mile journey towards the feeding grounds near the North Pole.
When whale watching in Maui the watercraft are not permitted to APPROACH within 100 yards of a whale, nor are swimmers. However, the law does not pertain to the whales approaching you or the watercraft you happen to be on.
When Kim and I went whale watching in Maui, we felt so lucky that we chose to go with Trilogy. Little did we know it at the time, but Trilogy is the oldest, most respected sailing activities company in Maui. They do it right and they do it in a way that respects the whales. Even the readers of the Maui News think so!
Also, captains and crew who have experience with the whale watching season, know how to carefully and respectfully encourage and coax the whales to interact, while operating well within the limits of the law.
We only saw one whale when we went on our last excursion. The captain skillfully brought us close enough to see him as he went up and down for air.
Typically, there are pools of "bubbles" that are the "whale sign" that everyone is instructed to look for if you can't seem to find the actual body of the animal above the surface.
After 10 minutes of fun he seemed to take one of their deep dives. These dives can last quite a while. Not only had we lost him, but since he was the only "show in town" at that moment, we had to start our search all over again.
So everyone started looking for another whale to watch. We looked far and wide and
there was nothing. One lady thought she saw a whale but the captain said that what she saw was actually a sea vessel deep sea fishing Maui!
I was standing on the port side(left as you face the front) amidships (half way between fore and aft) and I absent mindedly leaned over to look over the side, under the boat.
At first there was nothing. And then....to my shock and amazement.....I saw the tip of the nose of OUR whale traveling from under the boat, outward towards port, perhaps 5-8 ft below the surface. Stunned, I mumbled "I see him...". Kim said, "What???!" And then I yelled, "He's under us, look!"
(the picture above is NOT our whale-neither Kim nor I were bright enough to take pictures while it happened)
Like having your first child, there is nothing I can say to describe the feelings that welled up in me as I watched this gentle giant slowly cross under us on a perpendicular course. I cried. I honestly started tearing up overcome with joy.
I'm not sure which of my memories means more to me from my travels on the island. However, I am sure that whale watching in Maui is one of the most moving experiences of my entire life. I highly recommend it.