The most comfortable Maui whale watch tours are on the larger and more stable boats. Make sure you get a boat that is fast because an important part of any whale watch is about getting to the next pod of whales after the ones you are watching “sound” or dive below the surface.
Watching whales from the surface level of the ocean like on a zodiac or a kayak gives you a better sense of the enormity of these whales. The zodiacs or rigid-hulled inflatables are extremely fast, take smaller groups and are very personalized. The most popular are the humpback whales.
Humpbacks are the largest animals in the ocean. They live in pods called “pods” and travel together throughout the oceans. A pod consists of 15 to 30 whales. Each member of the pod has its own unique call, which allows them to communicate with each other. When a whale surfaces to breathe, it opens its blowhole and lets out a loud sound. Humpbacks are usually gray color, although some individuals may be brown or black.
Males have a larger head than females and a prominent curved fluke extending down their sides. Females do not have this fluke and their heads are smaller compared to males. The size of male whales range from 23 feet to over 40 feet. Female whales range from 19 feet to 25 feet in length.
Coast guard regulations require all boats to remain at least 100 yards away from the whales so don’t expect to be getting right up next to them. The whales however, can and do, come up close (sometimes under) the boats on their own volition.
Morning time is usually the best time for whale watching on Maui as the ocean waters are generally calmest and allow for better viewing and the whales are easier to see in the distance as they break the surface.