The Best Time to See Whales in Maui

Aloha to all you whale-lovers out there!

I’m excited to share my passion for the humpbacks that grace Maui’s waters each year. After countless hours researching and experiencing these incredible creatures firsthand, including a hilarious yet unforgettable trip with my boyfriend where we almost ended up in the ocean ourselves, I’ve gathered vital information on when to catch these gentle giants in action – and now, I just can’t wait for you to experience it too!

You see, if there’s one thing I know about you, it’s that you don’t want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while visiting Maui. Trust me; witnessing these majestic mammals frolicking in their natural habitat is nothing short of awe-inspiring. So fear not! This article will provide everything you need to plan your visit at just the right time.

Throughout my extensive study and personal encounters with humpback whales around Maui, I’ve discovered the peak months and ideal times of day for optimal viewing experiences. With this insider knowledge under your belt, spotting these amazing animals will be a breeze (or should I say spout?).

Warning: Once you’ve experienced Maui’s whales up close and personal, there’s no turning back – prepare yourself for a lifelong love affair with these incredible creatures!

So grab your binoculars or snorkel gear and let’s dive into discovering the best time to witness humpback whales in magical Maui together!

Peak Seasons to See Whales in Maui

Whales in Maui begin to appear in the late Fall months, from September to November and last until the beginning of May in Spring. 

However, during this long period of whale-watching in Maui, the peak months are in winter from December 15 – January 15, when you’re bound to spot humpback whales. 

During this month, you can take great tours to spot whales which guarantees sightings and help you learn about their natural habitat and behaviors. 

My boyfriend and I love taking this whale-watching tour from Lahaina Harbor in West Maui, which includes spotting whales with an onboard marine naturalist and hearing whale songs. 

But if your trip to Maui falls outside the peak season, don’t lose hope! There have been whale sightings even in May end and early June, so you might spot the last of these migrating species from snorkeling trips.

Best Months to See Whales in Maui

Whale watchers and marine life enthusiasts will love to know all about the different types of humpback whales that swim to Maui’s shores, as you can spot a new kind depending on which months you visit. 

So below, I’ve included a seasonal breakdown of whale watching in Maui, which will help you choose the best months for you and the kind of whale species you’ll encounter.

September to November

The Fall months in Maui are the beginning of whale sightings, although ‘official’ whale season hasn’t started yet. That’s because whales are pretty tired from swimming 3,000 miles from Alaskan waters and are less likely to make appearances like breaking the shore. 

So the first whales that migrate are adolescent males, which haven’t started breeding yet but travel for the warm waters and to learn the mating process. 

After the first month, females start to arrive who are usually pregnant and ready to give birth from the mating done in the last whale season. Mother whales bring their baby calves along as well, which crowd the waters once they arrive in full and make lots of small splashes.

The best way to spot whales early in the season is from snorkeling tours when you’ll see a spout or a fluke but not much other activity. We’ve taken part in the early whale sightings from this snorkeling tour in Maui, which combines swimming with tropical fish with whale sightings.

December to January

As the official whale watching season in Maui, you can expect the most whale sightings during these months. Now that the whales are well-rested, you’ll spot a ton in the water as their mating activities begin. 

Males will form pods to compete for females, and the pregnant mothers will start giving birth to baby calves. You won’t spot the babies immediately as they usually rest after birth, but their activity becomes more common in February.

You’ll see lots of aerial displays from whale-watching tours in December and January when whales breach the surface to breathe and release warm air from their blowholes. These puffs of air often get caught in the light and make a gorgeous rainbow over the whale’s blowhole, which is an incredible sight.  

My boyfriend and I like taking this whale-watching tour in the winter as it places you on eye-level with the whales and allows much closer sightings than from a cruise. 

February to April

As the season progresses, the newborns are now a month old and will become more active, mimicking their mothers’ breaches and splashes. By February, the young will do a lot of activities in the water and display adorable actions. 

When spring is near, from early to the end of April, whale sightings become less common by the day as most will start to return. The remaining whales are males looking for a last chance to mate, and some mothers who are still nursing their calves. 

The males are also the ones you’ll spot by chance until May end and June, but the sighting is usually very rare. 

Best time of day to see whales in Maui

The early morning hours lasting till late afternoon, are the best times of day to spot whales in Maui. That’s because the water is calm and clear, so you can see whales better, and they prefer to breach in such waters. 

However, if your whale-watching tour falls on an overcast day, don’t lose hope because whales also prefer breaching when it’s windy and when the waters are choppy. 

In addition, whales need to surface every 30-45 minutes to breathe, so you’re guaranteed some action on your trip. 

Winding Up The Best Time to See Whales in Maui

The beauty of whale watching in Maui is that no two trips are exactly the same, and you’re guaranteed a different level of activity depending on the months and seasons you visit. 

So schedule your trips according to the whale action on Maui’s shores, which steadily increases from September, peaks in December, and declines in April. 

We find that taking snorkeling and whale-watching tours is the best way to spot whales in Maui, as you’re led by experienced crews who know their way around the waters. 

Need to see whales in their early migration in Maui? Take a whale-watching tour from September to November. 

Want maximum whale activity and guaranteed sightings? Go whale watching from mid-December to January.

Want to see whales outside of the official season? Try taking snorkeling tours from May till June, which offer occasional sightings. 

Don’t miss the best time to see whales in Maui on your next trip!

Last Updated on April 3, 2023 by Brigitte