Whales are most abundant in the channel between Maui and Lānaʻi, so this area will be your best bet for sightings. The first whales arrive here as early as October, however your odds of spotting a whale are best from February and March. The population then tapers off through as late as June.
1. Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary
Not surprisingly, the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in Kīhei is a prime spot for land-based whale watching. Located just steps from the ocean, there’s viewing scope and public bathroom facilities. Be sure to stop in at the sanctuary’s education center.
2. Papawai Point
Near mile marker 8 on Honoapiʻilani Hwy., you’ll notice a road sign marked “Scenic Point.” This is Papawai Point, a hot spot for spotting whales from land. There’s a small parking lot, informational signage, and be advised that this spot can get crowded during peak season.
3. McGregor Point
Another, less crowded option is to head for nearby McGregor Point. From Papawai Point, travel about three miles towards Maʻalaea, and you’ll notice a dirt path on the ocean side of the road. If you see a lighthouse near the water’s edge, you’ve arrived. Be mindful that the car in back won’t be expecting you to turn, so use caution when driving to this off-the-beaten path spot. Both Papawai and McGregor points are on a cliff above the ocean, offering a great vantage point.
4. Wailea Coastal Walk
The Wailea Coastal Walk is a worthwhile jaunt any time of the year, but come whale season, this is really the place to be. Access the path from any of the resorts between Andaz and Fairmont Kea Lani, or via any of the beach access paths dotted along the coastline. Besides the whales, you’ll enjoy stunning views of four islands.
5. D.T. Fleming Beach
D.T. Fleming Beach in Kapalua is another hot spot for whale spotting. You’ll find lots of parking, restroom facilities and showers, and easy access to the easy 1.76-mile Kapalua Coastal Walk. The trail is bookended by D.T. Fleming Beach to the north and Kapalua Beach to the south. In between, you’ll pass golden beaches, crystalline bays and rugged wind-swept coastlines—and with any luck, humpback whales.