Humpback whale watching on Maui is the best in the world. This is where Humpback whale moms come to give birth and feed their young.
State of Hawaii Reopening October 15th, 2020
As the State of Hawaii is working hard to transition into our COVID19 reopening phase on October 15, we could not be happier that this time of year we are also looking for the signs of early arriving Humpback Whales! While the official whale season runs December 15 – May 15, every year there are random sightings of the gentle giants in the Hawaiian waters far earlier.
For us here in the islands, those random sightings are like messages of hope and excitement! This year, in 2020, there have been long months of waiting for hopeful messages, it’s time to don the binoculars and, fingers crossed, be one of the lucky ones who get to see the early-bird whales!
Humpback Whales Migration to Hawaii
The migration to Hawaii from Alaska (NOAA guide 28-page PDF), is long for the humpback whales, approximately 3,000 miles each way. As they begin arriving it only makes sense that they should need a time of rest, and that is why their activity isn’t as flamboyant in the early days. At first, we may just see them simply logging along, or perhaps an occasional fluke or pectoral fin wave.
The first to arrive are typically the adolescent/juvenile males. Because they are too young for mating, they will enjoy the warm tropical waters as a place to languish, play, and learn how to court the ladies properly when they are old enough. Adult males follow shortly behind the juveniles, and the last to arrive are the females. Of course, there are always exceptions and the rules above are loose at best, but they are a good overview for the most part.
Female Humpback Whales Migration
Some female humpback whales arrive with new babies in tow, and many others are ready to birth while in the warmer waters of Hawaii. Can you imagine a 3,000-mile trek with a newborn calf? Feeding them, keeping them safe from predators, making sure both mother and calf have enough nutrients to sustain them for the physical journey, it’s something all of the mothers face whether it is while traveling to Hawaii or on the migration back to Alaska. Did you know mother Humpback Whales whisper to their babies?
Since Hawaii is blessed with all of the whale babies, regardless of where they were born, we get to delight in seeing them rest on their momma’s nose as they learn to breathe the air above the ocean’s surface. We get to watch them as they learn to slap their flukes, wave Aloha with their pectoral fins, and oh the cuteness when they are practicing their newly learned breaching skills. There are times when the mother whale will bring her baby up close to a boat and position herself on the outside of her young for rest or protection. This can make for some very exciting whale watching!
Whale Watching on Maui, While Social-Distancing
Speaking of exciting humpback whale watching, boat tours are most definitely the way to capture the best experience and photos! If you are coming to Maui be sure to book some time out on a boat; private charters are available and highly favorable right now as we are all still socially distancing. You may get lucky and see a humpback whale between now and the start of the official season. However, if you aren’t a risk-taker book for January and March, they are strong months for whale watching, or best yet, February is what we call “whale soup” – they are everywhere! Visit here to learn a lot more about the Humpback Whales!