The 8 Best Whale Watching Tours in Maui

Hey there, fellow Maui adventurers!

I can’t tell you how much I love going to Maui and exploring its natural beauty. There’s just something about the island that keeps me coming back for more. But what’s really captured my heart is witnessing the majestic humpback whales during their annual winter migration. It’s an experience that never gets old, and trust me, you wouldn’t want to miss it either!

You see, I’ve been visiting Maui with my boyfriend for years now, specifically during whale watching season. We’ve done our research and gone on countless trips to find the most incredible spots to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants in action. And let me tell you – spotting them from a whale watching tour is simply breathtaking.

Now, why am I sharing this with you? Well, I know firsthand the excitement of planning a trip to Maui during whale season and how it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which tours are worth your time (and money). But fear not! With my extensive knowledge and countless experiences under my belt (or should I say life jacket), I’m here to guide you through the best whale watching tours available in Maui.

Warning: After reading this article and going on one of these spectacular tours, don’t be surprised if all your friends become insanely jealous of your newfound expertise in Hawaii’s marine life – especially when they hear about that hilarious moment when my boyfriend mistakenly identified a dolphin as a baby whale!

So grab your binoculars and join me as we embark on an unforgettable journey into the world of humpback whales in beautiful Maui!

2-Hour Whale Watching Tour from Lahaina Harbor

Experience a terrific whale watching tour with the Lahaina Cruise company on this 2-hour excursion. The trip is aboard a spacious cruise with an upper observation deck and an enclosed cabin with wide windows to spot whales. 

You’ll set off from the Lahaina Harbor with a trained crew and naturalists, who ensure passengers can spot the humpback whales and learn about their movements, natural environment, and more. In addition, you’ll see images of the whales from an underwater camera for maximum visibility. 

The tour helps you spot whales up close and other marine life native to the area that swims close to the vessel, all while you take in stunning views of the West Maui coastline.  

My boyfriend and I loved this informative and focused tour, and it’s definitely one of Maui’s best whale watching tours. Here’s why you’ll agree:

  • The tour guarantees spotting humpback whales, or your next trip is free.
  • You can choose between multiple departure times according to your schedule.
  • The ship and tour facilities are all wheelchair accessible.

Eye-Level Whale Watching Tour on an Eco-Raft

Although cruise ships make for a fun tour, the best whale watching happens on a raft, where passengers sit on an open vessel that swims past whale watching hotspots. This 2-hour long tour by Hawaii Ocean Rafting Whale Watch guarantees whale sightings at eye-level from their eco-rafts which only take small groups out at a time. 

You’ll be seated with 16 other people on a small yet spacious raft and set off from Lahaina Harbor. The tour stays safe from the whales, but these curious creatures often swim close to the raft, giving passengers a memorable eye-level encounter. Here you can ask the crew to snap pictures of you with the whales in the background, which is a fantastic photo op.

In addition, the marine naturalist on board shares interesting facts on Maui and the whales’ habitat, and you’ll also be able to hear the whale songs on a hydrophone. 

My boyfriend and I loved this intimate whale watching tour in Maui, and here’s why you have to try it:

  • The rafts travel fast, reducing time in transit and more with the whales.
  • The tour includes three hours of free parking at the Lahaina Harbor.
  • The guides ensure passenger safety at all times on the raft.

Small Group Whale Watching Adventure

Enjoy another great whale watching tour from Lahaina Harbor, this time with Makai Adventures, who opt for a spacious cruise for the tour with limited passengers on board. You’ll be traveling with a maximum of 20 other people on this tour, as the small groups allow the crew to give each person individual attention and ensure the whale watching goes smoothly. 

The cruise has a large open platform for whale watching with cushioned seats for passengers to lounge on as the ship sails to whale pods. The captain for this tour is experienced with marine life and closes in on the best spots for watching the humpback whales break the shore. 

You can take pictures of the whales from a safe distance and listen as the knowledgeable crew shares facts about the marine animals in Hawaiian waters. 

We loved taking this secluded trip with Makai Adventures, and it’s undoubtedly one of Maui’s best whale watching tours. 

  • The spacious ship prevents overcrowding, so each passenger can view the whales closely. 
  • The crew is dedicated to respecting marine life and keeps you a safe distance from them.
  • The captain answers all your questions about the whales and their habitat.

Whale Watching Tour on a Catamaran Cruise

Combine the wonders of whale watching with the comforts of a cruise on this 2-hour whale watching tour from the Lahaina Harbor. You’ll enjoy seeing humpback whales from this double-decker cruise with an open-air observation deck and a shaded lower cabin. 

In addition, this tour is terrific for families with younger children as it includes a Junior Naturalist Program for kids. 

You’ll watch the humpback whales engage in interesting acts from this tour, like males competing for mates and mother whales calving, which the marine naturalist on board explains in detail. There’s also a hydrophone for listening to whale songs as you watch these incredible creatures interact with each other.

This cruise had great facilities and was one of the best whale watching tours in Maui. Here’s why you’ll agree:

  • The cruise is eco-friendly and offers smooth sailing on Hawaiian waters.
  • Children can learn about whale physiology and behaviors from the kid’s program.
  • There are snacks and beverages available for purchase from the lower deck. 
  • The upper observation area offers panoramic views of the shore.

Maui Whale-Watching Tour by Raft from Kihei

Although most whale watching tours in Maui set off from Lahaina in West Maui, there’s a huge population of humpback whales on the southern coast. So head to Kihei for this tour on a rigid-hulled raft that boards 24 passengers per trip for a small group experience. 

On this 1.5-hour trip, your captain will lead the high-speed raft to marine life hotspots, where you’ll see whales as they breach, spout and slap the water with their massive flukes. The onboard naturalist provides great insights into the whales’ behaviors, biology, and territory in Maui’s waters. In addition, the tour stops by places where you can see bottlenose, spinner and spotted dolphins, and Hawaiian green sea turtles. 

Take pictures of the incredible animals, see the baby whales swimming with their mothers, and enjoy as they playfully leap out of the water close to the boat or ride alongside it. 

My boyfriend and I had the most fun on this tour because it felt like we were hanging out with the whales! Definitely try it out, as it’s one of the best whale watching tours in Maui.

  • The expert captain spots whales quickly, leading you to them for prolonged viewing.
  • The raft’s shade and a misting from the ocean spray will keep you cool on the trip.
  • There’s also a hydrophone onboard to hear whale songs on.

Whale Watching from Ma’alaea Harbor

The Ma’alaea Harbor in Wailuku is an island-favorite spot for marine life tours, especially whale watching in the winter. So take this tour from the harbor, spanning two hours, with a team of marine naturalists as they uncover the stories of humpback whales and their habitat in Maui and hear whale mating and interaction sounds from a hydrophone.

This is one of the best whale watching tours in Maui, as the humpback whales swim pretty close to the ship, and you can see their massive forms moving underwater. Listen to whale songs from underwater hydrophones, have the crew take pictures of you with the creatures, and learn insightful information about humpback whales.

In addition, the coastal scenery from Wailuku is an incredible sight, which makes the trip even better.

We loved this laid-back trip as it’s one of the best whale watching tours in Maui. Here’s why you’ll agree:

  • The crew is terrific and makes sure everyone sees the whales well.
  • They offer a second free trip if you’re unsatisfied with the sightings on the first one.
  • Their early morning tours have the most whale sightings.

Whale Watching Cruise with an Open Bar from Ka’anapali Beach

The Ka’anapali Beach in West Maui is one of the largest marine life hotspots on the island, making it a perfect spot to take a whale watching tour. So enjoy this 2-hour tour on a comfortable catamaran cruise, which sets off into the Ka’anapali shores.

You’ll enjoy being on the spacious ship with open nets, allowing you to see the whales up close. There are also naturalist guides on board who help you look for pods of whales in the waters and educate passengers about the whales’ behaviors and migratory patterns. 

In addition, the tour has an open bar on the lower deck, so guests can get unlimited drinks throughout the trip.

You’ll love this incredible cruise with abundant whale sightings, as it’s one of the best whale watching tours in Maui.

  • The Ka’anapali coast is one of the world’s best whale-sighting locations.
  • This is a family-friendly tour with special seating for kids.
  • The crew is fantastic and keeps passengers entertained throughout. 

Ultimate 2-Hour Exclusive VIP Whale Watch Tour from Lahaina Harbor

Enjoy all the thrills of sighting whales up close on this secluded small group tour from the Lahaina Harbor. This trip is aboard a high-speed raft with only 12 passengers, which ensures everyone has clear views of the whales. 

On this two-hour trip, the captain sails up to ten miles from the harbor to reach pods of humpback whales, and at this distance you’ll see a variety of dolphin species. 

Watch the whales at eye-level as the rafts are low on the water, making them perfect for close encounters, get educational talks from the naturalist onboard, and hear the whale songs and interactions from the boat’s hydrophone on this great tour. 

So make sure to try this personalized trip, as it’s one of the best whale watching tours in Maui.

  • The rafts are Coast Guard style which ensures safety and speed.
  • The captain is terrific and shares fun anecdotes with the passengers. 
  • The tour includes snacks and bottled water.


What is the best month to see whales in Maui?

Whale watching in Maui is ideal during the winter months, December through May, with mid-January and March being peak whale watching months. This is because the humpback whales migrate from the Atlantic during these months to Maui for its warm waters.

What part of Maui is best for whale watching?

Lahaina Harbor and Ka’anapali Beach on the West side of Maui and Kihei on the South shore are the best for whale watching, as an abundance of whales migrate here during winter.

Is whale watching worth it in Maui?

Whale watching in Maui is an incredible activity and one everyone visiting the island needs to try. You can spot massive whales breaking the shore from whale watching tours on the West and South shores and see these incredible creatures up close.

How much does it cost to go whale watching in Maui Hawaii?

Whale watching tours in Maui cost between $50-200 per person but are usually on the lower end of the price range. You’ll spend more on cruises with pricey facilities, so go for the same whale watching experience on rafts instead, which are much cheaper.

Winding Up The Best Whale Watching Tours in Maui

Maui has an incredible whale population on its shores during the winter months, which makes it an ideal spot for whale watching tours in Hawaii. You can book some terrific whale watching tours in Maui, which travel on catamaran cruises and high-speed rafting vessels to see the whales up close.

The best places for spotting humpback whales on the island are from Lahaina Harbor in West Maui and the South shore. In addition, the humpback whales in Maui’s waters are so abundant most tours guarantee a second tour for free if you don’t spot enough whales on the first one!

So make sure to book a tour for whale watching on your next trip, as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Last Updated on March 29, 2023 by Brigitte