Your trip to Hawaii should be an utterly memorable experience, sparking your imagination and filling you with a sense of wonder and adventure the moment you arrive in paradise. Whether you’re poking around dormant volcanoes or snorkeling in Maui, Hawaii is an incredible treat no matter if it’s your first or your tenth time. Engaging all five senses seems to be this island state’s top priority, with its vibrant and lush landscapes and wildlife, tantalizing cuisine and truly awe-inspiring attractions.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Maui, know that whale watching is one of the most popular ways to get out of your resort room; it’s a thrilling world-class experience unlike any other. But if you’re not a Hawaii native or you’re a first-time tourist, you might not know where to go to get the very best whale watching views. However, that’s easily rectified! Get ready to learn about Maui’s most celebrated spots for humpback spouting.
McGregor Point Lookout and Lighthouse
Also referred to as Papawai Point, McGregor Point Lookout and Lighthouse is a popular free spot that often features, during the height of whale watch season, the best views of these majestic creatures. Pay special attention to the horizon from this vantage point, as it’s quite common to see water spraying up to 20 feet in the air. This is an indicator that the humpbacks are surfacing.
Between McGregor Point and Olowalu lies the reef, and it’s not uncommon for vehicular traffic to come to a standstill along the road if a whale puts in a spontaneous appearance. While this is an excellent spot for a chance encounter with one of the world’s most majestic creatures, it’s also the perfect storm for a car accident, so be aware of your surroundings; if you decide to stop, jump out of the car and go sprinting toward the beach to watch, making sure to pull over and leave enough space for less interested traffic to pass.
D.T. Fleming Beach Park
Located in West Maui in the Ritz Carlton resort area, the D.T. Fleming Beach Park is popular with surfers and picnickers, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do both while you’re waiting to catch a glimpse of the ocean’s giants. Bring a picnic basket, all your best sand toys, even a volleyball and pass a truly pleasant afternoon that is full of promise at a great family beach.
Did you pack your hiking boots? Because you’ll need them for this challenging climb in the middle of Makena State Park. With three beaches, known as Big, Little and Black Sand in the near vicinity, Pu’u Olai, a dormant volcanic cone, rises some 360 feet in the air, making you work for the superior view from such an advantageous height, though pretty much everyone who’s done it has zero regrets. While the nature of whales leaves nothing to certainty, even on the slim chance you don’t spot any whales from your high-up perch, the beauty of the surrounding area still makes for a totally worthwhile hike.
Betty’s Beach Café
Set up with seating that accommodates a generous line of sight to the beach, Betty’s Beach Café is a surprising yet altogether proven location for whale watching. Located in Lahaina and opening at 8 a.m. for breakfast service, it’s the perfect place to sally up for a morning coffee and a couple of eggs or a scrumptious dinner featuring classics with an island twist. And there’s always an opportunity for some whale spotting on the side while you’re dining.
By Kayak via Lahaina Harbor
What could be more “ocean view” than floating atop the water and getting even closer to the breaching, spouting whales than the viewers on the beach? Lahaina Harbor is a fantastic place to join a kayaking or rafting tour out into ocean for an incomparable whale watching tour that gets you close to one of the largest concentrations of pods in the Pacific. Imagine the thrill of being that close to such an enormous animal, hearing its piercing cry and realizing that you are in the presence of the most acrobat species of whale in the world. You can do a lot more than imagine it!
Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons
Carla Edison is a contributing writer who has traveled to Hawaii dozens of times over her lifetime. Her parents maintain a home in Maui where she has spotted breaching humpbacks more times than she can count, though the majesty of the experience never fades.