Blissfully unaware of masks and travel-related restrictions, the Humpback whales are back for another season in Hawaii. Every year locals do their best to answer the myriad of questions by visitors to the islands who are hoping to see the whales. Below we have put together the answers to a small handful of the most frequently asked questions.
When is whale season in Hawaii?
December 15th – May 15th are the official dates set aside as the Humpback whale watching season. The whales, however, can begin arriving in small numbers as early as mid-October and typically trickle back down to small numbers by early to mid-April as the season comes to a close. Your best opportunity for a prime whale watching experience would be mid-season which is January – March. With that being said, February is the peak of mid-season and our most favorite time for extraordinary whale watches.
How is Covid-19 affecting the whale season?
Not a fun subject, but education is always a good thing! Thank goodness Hawaii has strict Covid-19 travel guidelines set in place! They are not only keeping the human population as safe as possible but unknowingly these guidelines are also helping to protect our Humpback Whales, dolphins, monk seals, and all marine life in general.
How is that possible? Well, with everyone having followed the strict guidelines in order to visit, we can feel more secure in knowing that we are doing the most we can to help prevent the spread from humans to marine life. University studies have found that many marine mammals can be even more highly susceptible to the coronavirus and that the danger comes from human wastewater that makes its way into the sea. The virus can cause mild disease as well as life-threatening lung and/or liver damage. They found that the mammals could be infected via their ACE2 receptors, which is a protein that sticks out from the surface of some cells to which it can attach and infiltrate cells thereby enabling infection.*
Wow! So, to all of our visitors to Hawaii – a huge mahalo for all of the inconveniences you go through during the pandemic to make sure you are safe before you get here!
Can we swim with the whales?
The only way you can legally swim with a whale(s) is if you are already in the water and the whale approaches you. Without maintaining a 100-yard distance from whales, it is against the law to actively seek them out and get into the water where they are.
What time of day is best to see the whales?
Since humpback whales are wild creatures of the ocean, the best time to see them is when they appear! We realize that is not the answer you are seeking, but it is the only truthful one. Mornings are better lighting for photography; evenings offer the chance for that once-in-a-lifetime breach in front of a sunset. Other than that, trying to figure out where they will jump out of the water next is a nail-biter. Just when you don’t expect to see anything – they surprise you with a great breach or another fun whale antic!
Although you can never be sure what to expect on any given whale watch tour if you visit during the peak season you can be 99.9% guaranteed that you will see something many people only dream of seeing. A Maui private boat charter can make that experience even more than what your dreams could fathom.
Boats are required to keep a safe distance from the whales, but the whales themselves have no regulations. Oftentimes you will find them pec slapping, tail slapping, spy hopping, and even breaching up out of the water within mere feet of the vessel.** So, bring your cameras, sunglasses, raingear, and expect the unexpected.
The magnificent, majestic humpback whales with their bold athletics are a sight to behold. As you see their fluke stand tall out of the water before it slides quietly below the surface – you know they have just waved goodbye as they dive deep into the depths of the blue Hawaiian waters. Aloha!