Maui Family Style: Whale Watching with Pacific Whale Foundation

Val Curtis

Maui Family Style

One of our FAVORITE parts of visiting Maui is seeing the Humpback Whales. Where we live, in the San Juan Islands, we have Orcas and if you are on a boat, you have a good chance of heading out and finding one after a cruise. On Maui, we wake up in the morning and look out the window and see Humpbacks. I’m not exaggerating. The whales come to Maui with their calves and there is a whole lot of competition between the males while attempting to “court” the females.

To tell you the truth, nothing beats the up close and personal feeling of seeing them on the water from a boat.

When we visit a new place, we like to do a little research to find out which operators are mindful of the environment. In Hawaii, they have the Hawai’i Ecotourism Association. This group advocates for Sustainable Tourism.

HEA Certification Logo Blue CERTIFIED

For years, our family has cruised with the Pacific Whale Foundation.  Since 1980, Pacific Whale Foundation has pioneered educational wildlife watching and eco-tourism in Hawaii through award-winning ocean eco-adventures. More than 3.5 million people from around the world have learned about ocean wildlife and marine conservation through these tours. Worldwide, their tours serve as a model for sustainable ecotourism practices.

As you can tell, this is right up our alley and when they offered for our family to go out on their BRAND NEW vessel, “Ocean Spirit” we were giddy. This boat is straight up luxury and their knowledgeable crew and whale-conscious captain created a perfect package.

Pacific Whale Foundation Maui Whale Watch

Photo Credit: Pacific Whale Foundation

Here is what my crew had to say about our trip:

Lil Man (Age 7): We saw lots of whales and a competition pod. There were SO many awesome things. We saw an interesting Humpback Whale that was smaller, so I think it was young, but it had a really different color. It was light. They don’t know the story behind that one. There was just SO much action. So much.


Photo Credit: Pacific Whale Foundation

Lil Miss (Age 4): We saw lots of dolphins and LOTS of whales. They were blue colored humpbacks. It was VERY VERY nice on this boat. They told us how to be safe on the boat, which is ALWAYS important. We just rested and watched whales. I got to snuggle with my daddy and watch whales.

Good Apple (my husband): The  Pacific Whale Foundation’s new boat was extremely nice. (Side note: My husband is a Marine Mechanic. He was REALLY loving this boat!) The crew was very informed and friendly. We were able to see you both spinner dolphins and humpbacks and overall, it was an incredible day on the water.


See that area on the front of the boat where those rectangular blue pads are? THOSE are the best seats in the house. You will get a salt water shower if you are sitting there while the boat is underway.  When whales are near the boat slows down or stops and it is the only place to be. Cuddled up with my son, we watched the action of the competition pod unfold and we had front row seats. Saltwater gently spraying on our toes. The sun warming our shoulders, noses, and knees. Humpbacks breaching RIGHT in front of us, fin slapping and going for those deep dives when you get that beautiful image of their tail.  True bliss.


I was a Naturalist on our local boats for quite a few years. As a result, I have seen a lot of  “good boat behavior” and “bad boat behavior”. This crew was intentional about staying a safe distance from the whales while still giving their customers a good “show”. I could hear the crew talking to the captain about whale locations and see how he responded. Pacific Whale Foundation gets 5 stars in this department.


You’ve heard us all mention the Competition pod. We’ve seen a few over the years, but none like this one. The males were AGGRESSIVE. They always are but this group, wow. The crew shared with us that they could last for days with lots of action and then they mellow out until one of the males starts up again. They were competing for the attention of the female and this gal must have been the queen because it was like a bar brawl. One advantage of watching a competition pod of chin slaps and breaches.  Since the whales are so active, they need to stay close to the surface to breathe – a major bonus for those of us who are watching from the boat.


Photo Credit: Pacific Whale Foundation


Sailing with The Pacific Whale Foundation is the perfect way to spend a day. It was just R E L A X I N G. Truly, it was. Every need was met and the boat was safe and sturdy. As a result, it was a perfectly pleasant day on the water partnered up with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable crew.

A HUGE thank you to the team at the Pacific Whale Foundation.

They have a wonderful variety of cruises available for you and your family and they fill up quickly so make reservations ASAP. Click here to learn more about their conservation victories, here to learn about their research team, and here to book a cruise whether it is one of their Whale WatchesSnorkel CruisesSunset & CocktailSpecialty & Holiday or Dolphin Watches. Whichever you choose, you will leave feeling that it was money well spent.

LESSON LEARNED: Photography is one of my passions, however, going on boating trips to take photos is not ideal when you have your kids there. There was the excitement of the dolphins and whales, water safety and general relaxed bliss. I could have focused on my pictures, but I wanted to focus on sharing the moment with my kids, so I left my camera packed in my bag and filled up our “memory camera” instead.

Check out our snorkeling adventure in Maui!

family friendly snorkeling in maui on Trilogy

Check out our evening at the Old Lahaina Luau!


Check out our day at the Maui Ocean Center



Maui Family Style: Whale Watching with Pacific Whale Foundation

Humpback Photo on BigStock Photo (My photos just didn’t cut it!)

BonBon Break Media, LLC was compensated for this post via product and / or payment.

However, as always, all opinions are our own. 

Val is the Editor-in-chief of BonBon Break. A former middle school science/math/tech teacher, she put her career on hold to be at home with her son and daughter on an island in the Pacific Northwest. When Val breaks away from her keyboard, she enjoys gardening, cooking, hiking, camping, photography, tidepooling, sailing and potlucks. She gets a kick out of combing the web for recipes and making them gluten free so she can share meals with her husband, family and friends. She is a tech-gadget geek who is poked fun at, but it doesn’t bother her a bit. Combining her love of photography, tech and graphics to create new, fun content for BonBon Break quenches her “thirst” for integrated technology.