Having a chance to see humpback whales up close and personal is something many of us have on our bucket list. Each year, these majestic marine mammals make the long trek through the eastern Pacific Ocean from Alaska to the Hawaiian coast to enjoy the warm, tropical waters each winter.
Dad, Are We There Yet?
The humpbacks whales’ annual journey that spans over 6,000 miles is one of the longest migrations of any mammal on Earth. Because of the whales’ migratory patterns, the Hawaiian whale watching season starts as early as September or October and lasts until April. However, you’ll find that the busiest season for the humpback whales, and the best time to see them, is during their mating season, which peaks between January and March of each year.
Say a Friendly Aloha to the Whales
The natural beauty of whale watching is a source of tremendous pride to the Island locals. In 1997, Hawaii was officially designated a National Marine Sanctuary for the humpback whale, and the locals take their responsibility as whale protectors seriously. Because of the Hawaiian people’s conservation efforts, the number of humpbacks has rebounded so successfully that many of the whale species have been removed from the Endangered Species list in recent years. Their increased numbers mean there are exceptional opportunities to see whales even from land along much of Hawaii’s coasts.
Still, you may want to keep in mind that having the chance to participate in a maui whale watch will be the highlight of your vacation, due to the unique nature of the waters off the coast of Maui. The water is much shallower along the Maui coast, because of the shallow depth of the Auau Channel that runs along the Maui coast. The result? There are large pods of whales swimming in shallower waters, so there is a better chance for you to see them there.
Prepare to Have the Time of Your Life
Be in good shape. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids and take any needed medications for seasickness before you start your tour. The medicines need time to take effect before you hit the water. You don’t want to ruin the best part of your Hawaiian vacation by being under the weather. Speaking of weather, check the forecast. Remember to dress appropriately and keep in mind that there’s a strong possibility you – and your gear – may get wet.
Be patient and share the seas. Remember that these are wild animals in their natural habitat and that you are their guest. The odds are good that you will see not only whales but also sea turtles, a rainbow of tropical fish or pods of dolphins.
Of course, you will want to take pictures to capture the moment but remember not to get so caught up in getting the perfect shot that you forget to enjoy the incredible experience. If you plan well and take advantage of the tremendous array of whale watching opportunities, you are sure to make memories that will last you a lifetime.