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5 Noteworthy Facts About Whale Watching on Maui

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Maui is filled with natural beauty. One of the island’s most amazing examples of this is the humpback whale. Prime whale-watching season usually falls between November and May, when these mammals arrive at the warm waters surrounding Hawaii after a long migration through the Pacific Ocean.








Humpback whale breaching about a mile offshore from Mākena, Maui. (1.4.18) PC: Ellen Raimo

Humpback Whales Swim More Than 6,000 Miles Yearly 


Every fall, migrating whales travel from feeding grounds near Alaska to the temperate waters of Hawaii, where they mate and bare offspring. The trip is more than 3,000 miles one way. The whales take roughly six to eight weeks to make the trip at an average speed of 3 to 5 mph.

They Have a Built-in Navigation System

You may wonder how whales stay on course during the migration. Their brains contain trace amounts of magnetite, a natural substance with magnetic properties. Experts think whales can use this substance to tap into the Earth’s magnetic pull to help them know which way to go.


They Sing 

If you are swimming or snorkeling in Maui’s waters during whale-watching season, you may be able to hear them singing below the water. Only some males sing, and they do it between 50 and 60 feet below the surface. The songs can last upward of 40 minutes and help attract females while deterring competition from other males.

Whale Breech. PC: Ellen Raimo/ Kīhei, Maui (1.12.17)

The Whales Fast While in Maui

It is hard to imagine fasting in Maui, but that’s just what humpback whales do. They lose up to a third of their body weight during the winter since there isn’t anything for them to eat. Maui’s waters don’t have the whales’ primary source of food. Because they consume more than a half ton of food a day while in Alaska, they build up a thick layer of blubber that helps them survive their Maui fast.

They’re Huge

While whale watching in Maui, you will be amazed at their massive size. Humpbacks are the fifth largest type of whale and grow between 40 and 50 feet in size, weighing about 1 ton per foot. Females tend to be larger than males, and their calves are about 12 feet long and weigh around 2,000 pounds.

To learn more about whale watching on Maui and these beautiful creatures, click here.

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