We’ve been on countless whale-watching trips in Maui waters: large catamarans, fast rafts, sailing charters, kayaks, snorkeling, from the beach, and from the cliffs. But nothing compares to a spearfishing trip on a small zodiac off the coast from Olowalu.

Maui whale watching Hawaii

Olowalu, West Maui

It began with Paul and I entering the water in near pitch-black about 10 minutes away from Lahaina Town.  We took his ten-foot zodiac out from the beach with hopes of spearfishing off the coast during sunrise.  As we geared up around 200 yards from the beach, an 11-foot tiger shark approached the boat on the surface.  My thoughts were on the vulnerability of the rubber raft and froze.  Paul acted quickly and slapped the side of the boat, which made the shark flip quickly in the other direction.

Maui whale watching

I was a bit rattled.  Paul started the motor and we took off for a more remote entry.  As we put on our gear again, we saw movement in the water.  We figured it was the tiger again, and our spearfishing session was never going to happen.  Turns out, it was a curious adolescent humpback whale!

We got mugged by an adolescent humpback whale!  It was unreal.  Watch as two grown men giggle like school girls while this whale bumped our boat over and over again.

humpback whales in Maui

Each year, Humpback Whales migrate to warmer waters where they mate and breed from December through in Maui, Hawaii. We got really lucky to have this whale hang out with us for over 20 minutes.  And even though this was the best whale watch we’ve ever had, to the point of life-altering, we’ve had so many other amazing experiences.  Every year, we get at least one unforgettable whale watch out of the 3-4 we do.  Some of them are on big boats, some on small ones, and even some when we’re chilling on the beach.

February is by far the best whale watching month, so we’re pretty excited about whale season here on Maui.  If you’re looking to do a whale watch, here’s a solid list of Maui whale watch boats.

epic Maui whale watch