Pacific Whale Foundation

Pacific Whale Foundation - Esteemed Whale Watching Tour Group
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

The Pacific Whale Foundation is an exceptional non-profit organization that has been advocating on the whales' behalf for over forty years now. They are an excellent outfit to go to when you are on Maui and want to see and learn more about the whales that call these islands home. 

- The Local Expert Team

In April 1975, Greenpeace launched the world’s very first anti-whaling campaign by way of a video showcasing activists taking on whaling ships that were harvesting whales in the Pacific Ocean. That one video served as a great catalyst to ignite the public interest in whales and kickstart the great global Save the Whales movement. The Pacific Whale Foundation was one of the non-profits to take advantage of the growing public interest in these great beasts and get people more engaged with marine conservation via activities like their whale sighting tours in Wailuku.

The Pacific Whale Foundation opened its doors in 1980 with its port location in Wailuku on the island o of Maui. Their mission was twofold. First, to conduct whale research to further support both conservation efforts and to learn more about these magnificent creatures. And second, to capitalize on that wave of new public interest and get people educated and engaged with the marine life that calls this part of the Pacific home.

Today, the Pacific Whale Foundation remains best known for their whale watching tours, but that is not all that they offer. This prestigious group also offers snorkeling tours, dolphin encounter charters, and daily sunset cruises. 

All of the Pacific Whale Foundation’s boat adventures out of Wailuku sail from the Maalaea Harbor. Whenever you book an excursion through the group, this harbor is where you will meet. The Maalaea Harbor has a huge dedicated parking lot as it’s available to all charters and boating outfits operating from this location, but that parking lot is not free. Expect to pay 50 cents for each half-hour or $12 per 24/hours for parking at this location.

Available boating adventures hosted by the Pacific Whale Foundation include:

Molokini Eco-Express Maalaea 
This three-and-a-half-hour cruise takes guests directly to the Molokini Marine Preserve that is renowned for its excellent snorkeling. Once there, guests are provided with sanitized masks, snorkels, swim noodles, fins, and other flotation devices and invited to get right into the water and explore. Those new to snorkeling can opt for a quick “Learn to Snorkel” class before heading out on their own. 

Molokini & Turtle Arches Snorkel Maalaea 
If the eco-express sounds too short for you, opt for this extended snorkeling adventure in the Molokini Marine Preserve. This tour includes all of the necessary snorkeling equipment (and extras) as well as a continental breakfast and filling BBQ lunch onboard. 

Ultimate Whale Watch with the Experts 
This three-hour whale watching excursion is headed by the Pacific Whale Foundation’s Certified Marine Naturalist and is designed to both showcase the beautiful whales in the areas and educate about humpback whale behavior and other marine life.

Standard Whale Watch Tour 
If you are looking for a more wallet-friendly whale watching tour, skip the Ultimate and go for the Pacific Whale Foundation’s standard viewing tour. This two-hour tour departs several times from the harbor and is renowned for offering some of the best whale-watching experiences across the islands. Past tours have included watching mothers and their calves play, males competing for female attention, and listening to the underwater songs of these behemoths. 

Sunset Cocktail Cruise 
A top choice for those looking for maybe some whale sightings but more so want to enjoy a fantastic sunset aboard a yacht. This cruise departs nightly, lasts two hours, and includes appetizers and drinks.

And more! These are the most popular regular tours, but there are other tours you can find on the Pacific Whale Foundation’s website. They have both other regular tours that depart daily or nightly, as well as special event tours, such as Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve specials if you are traveling during those times. 

Insider Tips:
-Make sure to check your emails in the day and hours leading up to your event. Or make sure to call the morning of your boating adventure. The reason is that, due to their being a nonprofit and profits made from adventures being funneled back into that nonprofit, they won’t operate boating tours that are not appropriately filled. So if too few people sign up, they are known to cancel five to twenty-four hours in advance with refunds.