Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Plan Your Maui Whale Watching Adventure

Not much can compare to witnessing a pod of humpback whales completing its migration to the warm, tropical waters of the Hawaiian Islands. The sheer majesty of these creatures is unparalleled in nature, and Maui offers some of the most intimate views of humpback whales in the wild. Read on for tips on how to plan your whale watching trip in Maui.

Every winter anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 North Pacific humpback whales make the long migration from Alaskan to Hawaiian waters to breed. Pods begin arriving at the islands in November. The final whales depart for Alaska in May. Populations are at their peak between the months of January and March. Any whale watching in Maui should start at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in the town of Kihei. Visitors can interact with exhibits that examine topics such as whale conservation, maritime heritage, weather and climate change. Its scenic beachfront location also offers a great place to do some whale watching.

The interisland waters between Maui, Molokai and Lanai are a hot spot for frolicking whales. You can head to some of West Maui’s beaches for the best shoreline vantage points. Spots such as Black Rock on Ka’anapali Beach or Pu’unoa Beach are perfect for setting up an afternoon picnic to enjoy while whale watching. Pu’unoa boasts calm ocean conditions thanks to protection provided by the exposed reef, meaning less surfers and other water sport enthusiasts to spoil the view. Be sure to come prepared with ample sun protection, some snacks, binoculars and a camera. A light jacket for the evening hours is also a good idea.

For a more unique vantage point, consider taking a tour. Many local businesses offer tours catering to whale watchers. Touring the waters around Maui in a sailboat is an eco-friendly way of spotting whales. For an even more up close and personal experience, take a stand-up paddle board whale watching tour, complete with a knowledgeable guide. If you’re really looking to make some lasting memories, a helicopter tour over the Pailolo Channel offers spectacular views of the Maui, Molokai and Lanai coastlines as well as pods of humpback whales.

For would be shutterbugs looking to capture that perfect whale breach, consider the following tips. A telephoto lens, something in the neighborhood of 200 millimeters, will help you create those breathtaking exposures. It’s especially important to utilize a longer lens if you’ll be whale watching from the shore. If your excursion takes place during the day, use a low ISO setting to counteract the high amount of light. An ISO setting around 100 should work well. To really freeze the action of a breaching whale and create a crisp, clear image, lower the camera’s shutter speed to somewhere around 1/1,000 of a second. You’ll return home with beautiful, stunning images of whales suitable for framing.

Whale watching has become an exceedingly popular hobby, and there’s no better place for it than the island of Maui. For more fun Maui travel tips and recommendations, follow VegasDaze on Twitter. Share your Maui whale watching experience! We’d love to hear from you.

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