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Boat Tours

Island Whale Watching

If you visit Maui between November and April, you can witness one of the most thrilling sights in the world — humpback whales breaching (jumping out of the water) and blowing in the waters just off Lahaina.

Each year, humpbacks migrate from Alaska to Hawai’i’s warm waters to mate and give birth. (It’s ironic that one of the whales’ destinations is the same place where whalers put in after extended hunting sojourns at sea.) The warmth of the water brings the whales because their newborn calves could not survive in Alaska’s frigid waters. No one knows why humpbacks breach (perhaps they want to do some sightseeing above water), but they make awesome spectacles as they leap and crash into the waves. The fact that it’s an endangered species (only about 1,500 remain in the world) has heightened interest in humpback whales and their protection.

Since many people want to get as close as possible to these gentle giants, there are various laws and regulations in effect to ensure their peace and safety during their Hawaiian winters. Boats must keep a certain distance from the whales and may not chase after them, jet skis and motorboats are not allowed in the area. You don’t always have to go out in a boat to see humpbacks, they are often quite visible from the shore.

There are many whale-watching excursions from which to choose. Some are non-profit, educational organizations whose proceeds go toward whale research and conservation. These groups, as well as other tours, provide a highly educational and exciting experience — don’t miss it!

Click here for Maui Whale Watching Tour Providers.

Deep Sea Fishing

If you’re coming to Hawaii in search of “the big one,” Maui’s deep blue waters are a great place to find it. Hawaii’s famed blue marlin, known to reach a thousand pounds, is the prime catch. But, you can also reel in 100 to 200-pound striped marlin and sailfish, 300-pound ahi (yellowfin tuna), and other delicious fish such as ono, mahimahi, and aku.

Fishing vessels will take you trolling. Some have advanced sonar technology to help locate the fish.

Fishing charters depart from Lahaina and Ma’alaea Harbors, and usually head to calmer waters on the leeward (southwest) side of the island. (You can also take a boat tour of the rougher, windward coast.) Hawaii’s charter boat rates are generally low because any fish caught belongs to the boat rather than to the angler (though most captains will share good table fish with the fishing party).

Most game fishing takes place from February through December. You can hire an entire boat or share one for a full day or half-day, with equipment and bait provided. Licenses are not required but bring your camera. You won’t want to miss a shot of you and “the big one.”

Click here for Maui Fishing Charter Providers.

Island Sea Tours

In addition to boats that take you snorkeling, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, and whale watching, there are many boat tours and cruises which offer varied maritime experiences of Maui, and some also travel to the nearby island of Lanai. On these pleasant cruises, you can relax into the elements, wind in hair, perhaps champagne in hand. The excursions leave from Lahaina and Ma’alaea Harbors and can be booked through your hotel or any activities office.

Interisland cruises: Some cruises to Lanai include fine food and drink, as well as a variety of activities — swimming, snorkeling, bicycling, volleyball, horseshoes, and more — or you can just sit and watch the ocean. Some beautifully luxurious boats offer these cruises. Choosing one may be difficult.

Sailing excursions: Various types of sailing vessels offer short sails and half-day or day-long tours, which may combine snorkeling and whale watching. Sunset sails are romantic and often include drinks and pupus (appetizers) or even serve dinner (see “Nightlife” section).

Yacht cruises: Luxury yachts and catamarans are available for custom charter trips, which include premium beverages and gourmet dining.