Whale Watch Q&A
When is whale watching season on Maui?
Unofficially, whale watching season runs from December 1 – April 30. But you may also see the whales before and after those dates. In 2017, for example, the whales arrived in late October, and we started up our whale watch cruises on November 6th. This year they arrived in mid-November.
When do you take payment?
We take payment at the time of booking.
Are whale sightings guaranteed?
Although we cannot guarantee whale sightings, our captains will give out “sleeping whale passes” to all of our guests that are on a rare whale watch that does not see any whales. Our sleeping whale passes allow you to go again for free.
Are children allowed?
Yes, children are welcome on all our tours.
What are the age limits for children on each tour?
Children, of all ages, are welcome on-board.
Are pregnant women allowed?
We welcome pregnant women on-board, as long as they are comfortable. For pregnant women, our vessels are the best, as they provide the smoothest sailing experience. We do, however, always recommend to consult your Doctor beforehand to ensure they approve.
What should I bring?
If you are on the whale watching tours, please bring sun protection, your camera, and any medications you may need.
What is the cancellation/change policy for your tours?
You may cancel or change your reservation as long as you do it 24 hours before the time of your tour.
How many people can the boats hold?
Although all of our vessels are Coast Guard certified to be able to hold more passengers, we limit the number of guests that can join us for each activity in order to maintain the best experience and comfort for our guests.
Kaulana -145 maximum capacity, however, we do not go out with more than 100 passengers; often less.
Lahaina Princess – 99 maximum capacity, however, we do not go out with more than 80 passengers; often less.
Maui Princess – We do not go out with more than 149 passengers.
What happens if the weather is bad?
Our Captains thoroughly check the weather for each tour-if they determine the weather to be too bad to go out in and need to cancel the tour, we try to contact you as soon as possible, and can offer a full refund or the option to reschedule. It’s important to leave a good contact number or email so we can get a hold of you if we need to.
What happens if it is raining all day?
Our captains check the weather for each tour, and determine the trip based on their reports. We often have localized passing showers, so it may seem like poor weather where you are, but won’t actually affect our trip in any way. Trust your Captain!
Is there parking at the harbor?
Yes. There is parking, across from the harbor, at the corner of Prison St. and Front St.
Can I bring a camera?
You may bring a camera on board, but please keep in mind that by doing so, you are doing it at your own risk.
Can we smoke on the boat?
No, smoking is not allowed on any of our vessels.
Will I get seasick?
Each person is different, and we cannot predict if you will become seasick or not. Chances of getting seasick are higher if you are prone to motion sickness such as car sickness or air sickness. When in doubt, take preventative measures!
What can I do to prevent seasickness?
Take a seasickness preventative beforehand. While on the boat, make sure to have access to fresh air, and make sure you can see the horizon at all times. Also avoid the lower deck area and restrooms if you are feeling ill. Please inform our Captain and crew if you are feeling ill.
Do you sell seasickness preventatives?
Yes, we do. We sell Anchor Bars for $5 at the check-in booth at the harbor. Anchor Bars are a more natural (whey crisps, whey protein isolate, blueberries, fiber syrup, almond butter, brown rice syrup, vegetable glycerin, vanilla extract, sea salt, and ginger) form of nausea relief. It works in 15-30 minutes, and lasts for 3-4 hours. We’ve had rave reviews about their effectiveness.
Do you sell seasickness preventatives on-board?
We do not sell Anchor Bars on-board, so if you are concerned about seasickness, please bring your medication, or, buy an Anchor Bar before you hop on-board.
What’s the best seasickness preventative?
There is no proven preventative to be better than the other, but our captains recommend taking Bonine or Dramamine. Ask your doctor what is best for you.
Will I get service with my phone?
Typically, you will still have cellphone service for the duration of your trip, however, it does depend upon your cellphone provider.
Can I bring food/snacks on-board?
You may bring any type of food or nonalcoholic drinks on-board.
Can we bring alcoholic beverages on-board?
We do not allow passengers to bring alcohol on-board.
Will there be shade on board?
There is a large covered cabin area, with plenty of shade, on the lower deck of all of our vessels.
We are celebrating a birthday/special occasion- can I bring cake/cupcakes on board?
If you are having a celebration, please let our office staff know. Although you may bring cupcakes or cake (the shorter the better, because of wind), our resources are limited, and we do not have candles available on-board.
Does your company do pick-ups/drop-offs/shuttle service?
No, we do not offer transportation. However, there are many alternative methods of transportation, including asking if your hotel has a shuttle that goes to Lahaina harbor, the bus that will drop you off at Wharf Cinema (across from the harbor), and Uber/Lyft.
How long does it take to get to your harbor from South Maui?
Half an hour.
Are you able to accommodate wheelchairs and wheelchair passengers on board?
As long as your wheelchair can be folded up/not electric, our crew will do their best to accommodate wheelchair passengers by assisting with boarding and finding seating. Depending our your mobility, seating may be limited to the lower-deck, as all of our boats require using stairs to get to the top-deck. We ask that passengers, with reduced mobility, remain seated while the boat is under-way. Please be aware that restrooms are located on a lower-deck at the bottom of a ladder. If you have any questions, please contact our office to inquire further.
I use a cane/crutches. Am I allowed to bring and use on board?
A cane or crutches can be used to assist in boarding the vessel, however once on board they cannot be used and must be stored safely. There are railings and handholds throughout the vessel. Our crew members are able to assist as well.
Are there life vests on board? Child size life vests?
All of our vessels are equipped with adult and child size life vests.
Do we have to wear life vests?
The state of Hawaii does not require you to wear life vests, but if you would like to, you may.
Is there a Hawaiian name for humpback whales?
Yes, the Hawaiian name is kohola. The scientific name for the humpback whale is megaptera novaeangliae, in case you were wondering.
What types of whales come through Hawaii?
North Pacific Humpback Whales
What do they look like?
They are primarily grey, with some areas of white. Oh, and they’re big. Huge, in fact. The North Pacific Humpbacks are the fifth largest whale species on the planet and can grow to 60-feet long and weigh between 25 – 40 tons.
Why do they come to Hawaii?
They come to mate, give birth and nurture their calves. Hawaii is the only state in the country where they will mate. It’s believed the humpbacks are drawn to Hawaii for its warm waters, underwater visibility, varying ocean depths and lack of natural predators.
How large are the humpbacks when they are born?
Females are pregnant for roughly 11-12 months before they give birth. The calves are 10-to-12 feet when they are born and usually weight between 1 and 1.5 tons. The calves live off their mother’s milk for about six months, drinking up to 100 pounds of milk per day.
Do they arrive in any particular order?
They do! Normally the first to arrive are the mother whales who are nursing their calves. Next up is the juveniles, then the adult males, followed by adult females. The last to arrive are the pregnant females. The pregnant whales bring up the rear because they feed and nourish themselves until the very last minute up in Alaska.
Once they get to Hawaii, where do they go?
They basically go to two different areas. A four-island cluster comprised of Maui, Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe make up the first area. The other area, called the Penguin Band, is a section of shallow water about 25 miles southwest of Molokai. That said, whales have been spotted by residents and visitors on the Big Island, Oahu and Kauai in recent years.
How many whales are there?
In 1993, there were an estimated 6,000 humpback whales in the North Pacific Ocean. Of those, about 4,000 came through Hawai’i. Since the signing of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which banned commercial whaling, that number has increased. Scientists estimate there are now roughly 23,000 humpback whales, with about 12,000 – 14,000 of those coming through Hawai’i each year.
How long do Northern Pacific Humpback Whales live?
They live about 50 years, but there have been accounts of some living much longer.
What do they eat?
They survive mainly on small fish, plankton and tiny crustaceans. What’s interesting is they never eat in Hawai’i’s waters. They spend all summer eating in Alaska, then store up the food as blubber, which they then use to fuel their winter trips to Hawaii.
How long can the whales stay underwater?
While adults can stay underwater for up to 45 minutes, they tend to come up for air every 10-15 minutes. The calves come up about every 5 minutes.
Why do the humpback whales "sing"?
Humpback whale songs are known for the complexity of beauty. The songs were first recorded in the 1950s by researchers on Oahu using hydrophones developed by the Navy. It’s believed the humpbacks sing to attract females for mating purposes, yet the males sing during non-mating seasons, as well, putting that theory into question. Other theories say whales sing to communicate with one another, to protect their territory, and/or they use it as a type of biosonar.
Why do they jump out of the water?
Commonly called breaching, a study published in January, 2017 showed that humpbacks are more likely to breach when they are far apart (2.5 miles or more,) while tail or fin slapping occurs more frequently when they are together. This suggests that the humpbacks breach for long-range communication versus simply water slaps when they are near other whales.