Humpback whales love to winter in Hawaii too.

Each year thousands of humpback whales travel more than 3,500 miles from the waters off Alaska to winter in Hawaii. They come to mate and to give birth, drawn by the clear waters and relative lack of predators.

During Maui’s Great Whale Count the last weekend in February, 984 humpback whale sightings were reported by the citizen scientists who participated in the count.

If you’re lucky enough to stay at Papakea, you can watch the whales play out in the channel from the comfort of your lanai, or from a lounge on the oceanfront lawn. When we were there in mid-March, we spent 20 minutes on our lanai, watching a mama and baby just offshore.  Mama would breach (to show the baby how it’s done), then baby would try to copy her. A few practice breaches (you can tell who’s doing the breaching – the splashes are a lot smaller when it’s baby!)  Take a break (breaching is WORK), then repeat.

It was extraordinary.

Although we can’t guarantee you’ll be THAT lucky, you’ll almost certainly see whales blowing and splashing out there in the channel if you spend a little time just watching for them.

Want to get closer?  Your options for whalewatching tour options range from stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and outriggers, to catamarans and power boats.  Some also include snorkeling; others offer food and an open bar.  If you’re unsure, just ask the staff at Papakea’s concierge desk for recommendations!

Whether you’re onshore or on the water, being reminded that we share paradise with these powerful, gentle creatures is a gift.