Explore Maui Nature: The Humpback Whale

The “winter” months in Hawaii are a wonderful time to travel for warmer weather but there’s another reason to visit during this time; the Humpback Whales have arrived by the thousands!

Of the estimated 21,000 whales on the planet, researchers believe over 10,000 find their way to Hawaii each year to give birth and find mates. During the early months, when they first arrive (November, December) you might not see them in huge numbers because the whales are a bit more secretive. Having just given birth, a lot of moms keep a low profile, watching over their new young. By February though, the mothers have begun to teach their calves all the ways of the whale. This includes a lot of activity at the surface of the water. Baby whales, being new to the world have a natural tendency towards curiosity as well. If you go out on a whale watching tour, don’t be surprised if a whale surfaces right near your boat. It can happen, and it does!

On Maui, one can stand at McGregor Point (Papawai) in January and February and look across Maalaea Harbor and see whales spouting and breaching everywhere! You might even hear beachgoers in the Kihei area exclaiming how they just “heard the whales singing” while swimming underwater. It’s an incredibly magical time of the year. Seeing a whale in the winter months is about as common as seeing rainbows.

By late April though, most of the whales have turned around to head back to Alaska. Mothers are exhausted, having given birth and not eaten the entire time while in Hawaii. -And now, their new young face threats from deep water predators adding a new intensity to their awareness.

Here in Hawaii, we always wait in anticipation for these gentle giants to return. If you are planning a trip to the Hawaiian islands, whales (and rainbows) are two wonderful reasons to visit during the winter months.

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