I am a self-confessed “whaleaholic”. I go 2 or 3 times a month during Maui’s whale season. Last year, I had been out 6 times by Christmas but this year the whales were late arriving (because of super El Nino conditions?) and I’ve only been out twice so far. Hopefully, they will stay longer.
My tips for the best whale experience:
- I love the 4pm-6pm sail on Boss Frog’s newly named Malolo (formerly the Frogman) out of Maalaea. Whales enjoy Happy Hour too and I think you see more activity on the late afternoon cruise than the 1:30pm-3:30pm.
- Days with less wind allow for greater visibility and are easier on those passengers who fear getting queasy.
- I go out even if windy or rainy. A good captain will avoid rough conditions by hugging the coastline on rough days. Yesterday it was raining in Wailuku and I grabbed a rain jacket and drove the 5 miles to Maalaea. Lo and behold — perfect sunny skies. It is smart to bring a jacket but you may not need it.
- On windy days avoid the bow unless you don’t mind getting wet.
- For those who are more comfortable on land, consider the Quiksilver – a larger 2 level boat with plenty of inside seating. You’re not as close to the water, but some people prefer the stability and shelter of a bigger boat.
- Use the sports setting on your camera for the best chance of a good whale shot. But shutter delay makes it tough. I have resigned myself to “mental snapshots”. Unless you get seriously “mugged” in which case you have a chance to get some real whale action. See below.
- I experienced a serious mugging on the old Frogman a few years ago. A mother and new calf circled the boat for over an hour. Two males were trying to woo the female and she chose to use the vessel as protection for her and the new baby. It was AMAZING as they swam around and under the catamaran for almost 90 minutes. The two males put on a macho display in their efforts to lure her away for romance. It was a wonderful experience.
- Boats are required to stay 100 yards away from all whales and if an animal approaches the boat they must immediately stop forward motion. Getting mugged is great fun. Often it makes for some really good photos as opposed to the all too common post breech splash most people get. Mental snap shots are your friend…
- My go to whale watch — Boss Frog (808) 662-0075 – Kama’aina rate — 2 for $29.95. Visitor rate — 2 for $39.95. Children under 12 are free. GE tax and a small harbor fee are added. Limited but very reasonable bar — sodas $1.00. Adult beverages $3.00. A great improvement this year is the addition of Maui Brewing Company beers — a real deal at $3.00!