02 Feb Maui Whale Watching w/ Ultimate Whale Watch
Maui whale watching is one of the best in the world. The waters off Lahaina, become concentrated with the gentle beasts. During the winter months, it becomes a whale fraternity house. A ritualistic rendezvous ensues, with male humpbacks performing mating rituals and exhibiting antagonistic behaviour. Sounds like a night club to me? Females travel down to mate and give birth. These majestic beasts migrate from the freezing waters of Alaska, down to tropical Hawaii each year. It’s a long way to travel for a booty call. The surrounding islands – Maui, Lanai and Molokai form a shallow basin, ideal for mating and calving. Humpbacks prefer shallow waters for warmth, the above activities and the lack of predators. Juvenile humpbacks (i.e the clueless teenagers) start arriving in November. The arrival of mature adults peaks in February. Either way it’s pretty impossible not to see whales during this time. We joined Ultimate Whale Watch for an awe inspiring trip.
Maui whale watching is a short walk from accomodation. If you’re travelling to Maui, we recommend staying in Lahaina with numerous whale watching and snorkelling tours departing the sleepy town. Ultimate Whale Watch includes expert narration from experienced guides. The boat is cosy, allowing 18 tourists onboard, for an intimate whale watching experience. We visited in early December (non-peak season), but still managed to spot 4 whales! Often tourists expect to witness whales leaping – this is called breaching. I don’t wish to disappoint, but this is rarely observed in Maui. In winter, whales stop feeding and tend to conserve their energy. The more active behaviour is exhibited in colder waters, where there is a plentiful food. But never fear, whales exhibit a range of interesting behaviours, including pectoral fin slaps, head and tail slaps and of course diving and spouting.
The Whale Encounter
Ultimate Whale Watch departs several times daily, guides remain energetic and enthusiastic each time. Zipping through the Maui basin, we patiently search for spouts i.e small gushes of vertical water from whales exhaling. It’s pleasantly soothing, sitting in the middle of the ocean – complete silence, searching for the gentle giants. The first few times, there’s nothing, but we remain hopeful. The guide drops a large homophone in the water. The device picking up the infamous whale song. The vocalisations are unique to each whale, with average song length lasting 30-40 minutes. From high wails to tearful moans, the emotive complexity fills me with emotion. I’ve dreamed of seeing whales since I was a little girl, the intensity of being so close to one overwhelmed my animal loving heart. Unfortunately, whales only sing deep in the ocean, which means we weren’t close at all. As I fall into a trance listening to the song, ‘ Look there’s a spout!’. Once again, we start zooming north, and this time we’ve struck gold. In the distance, two juveniles are spotted spouting. Alas, their tails disappear into the water. Damn! We’ve arrived a tad late.
20 minutes later we encounter a whale, much closer to the boat. He swims under, everyone jumping to the edge, hoping to catch a glimpse. The white of his pectoral fins glimmer in the sunlight. Tourists whip out their go-pros, dunking them underwater and a magnifying cone is thrusted for a closer look. The whole experience is exhilarating. I can’t wait to do it again, in colder waters!
Maui whale watching requires patience and a good eye. In Maui, it’s a guarantee you’ll be rewarded with a memorable wildlife encounter. My childhood dream of encountering a whale was fulfilled. Those hours watching Animal Planet and National Geographic was totally worth it. I couldn’t be any happier and recommend this experience for all. Onto the next adventure!
Check out the video below for an incredibly close encounter!
A close encounter w/ Ultimate Whale Watch
Ultimate Whale Watch
Departing: Slip 17, 675 Wharf St
Tickets: $52.50 USD – 2 hour whale watch
Hungrycookie enjoyed this experience, courtesy of Ultimate Whale Watch. All opinions are strictly my own.