Credited as the second-largest island of Hawaii, the Island of Maui is also referred to as the “Valley Isle” for the various large valleys and abundant emerald mountains. In Maui, humpback whales breed in the warm waters before heading off in May to search for sustenance. The Island of Maui is consistently rated as the Best Island in The World (Conde Nast, 2013), with April being an ideal month for whale watching in many destinations.
The waters off West Maui and South Maui are surrounded by the West Maui Mountains and Haleakala, creating a serene and clear atmosphere for high visibility. Humpback whales are drawn to the area’s shallow waters from December to May, making whale-watching an easier activity for visitors. The majority of Humpback Whales that migrate to Hawaii end up in the oceans around Maui with many being spotted throughout the Winter and Spring seasons. During the late season, as the whales are preparing to leave the Hawaiian waters, male bulls come to guide a female and her calves safely out of the Hawaiian channels. Humpback Whales migrate over 3,000 miles from Alaska to Hawaii every year in December and take their leave in April. For the majority of whales, it takes them an overall eight weeks to complete this journey.
Lahaina, once known as Lele, (meaning “relentless sun” in Hawaiian), is a historic whaling village in West Maui and a popular hotspot. During the mid 1800s, the village was the centre of whaling in Hawaii with over 1,000 sailors who took leave in Lahaina including Herman Melville, who was influenced by the era as shown in his classic novel Moby Dick. This port town was once the royal capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom before it was advanced to Honolulu in 1845. Over the last few decades, conservation has helped to increase the overall whale population in Hawaii. Lahaina Harbour boasts a wide range of whale-watching tours, from charter boats to rafting rides. Some may prefer to delight in a historic look at the past with whale-watching kiosks lining Lahaina Harbour to reveal a variety of whale-watching possibilities.
Neighbouring the Lahaina harbour is the Pioneer Inn built in 1901 which celebrates in the milieu of whaling history. Fragments of the past may be spotted throughout this historic town from the Lahaina Lighthouse (considered to be the oldest lighthouse in the Pacific) to Hale Paahao, the Old Lahaina Prison, where sailors were rounded up for the night in the 1850s.
Off of Kaanapali Beach, the upscale Whaler’s Village mall also has a vast Whaling Museum that is free to the public. Some hotels provide discounts such as Maui Sheraton at Kaanapali Beach which has rooms 20% off through 2015. The waves of Maalaea (or freight train), are considered to be one of the world’s fastest rideable waves for surfers, however, they are available for rides only on large southerly swells.
The humpback whale and the blue whale subspecies habiting the Indian Ocean, are known to produce a series of continuous sounds at differing frequencies known as the popular whale song. The humpback whales’ song is probably the most complex in the animal kingdom with many researches having been conductive to discover more about their mysterious musical habits. Many visitors may have the opportunity to hear them singing, said to be strikingly similar to human musical traditions.
There are numerous areas on Maui where humpbacks may be seen regularly from the shore during whale season. The picturesque McGregor Point lookout west of Maalaea and the beaches of Kihei, Kaanapali, and Wailea are also ideal spots to see whales or take part in sea adventures of all sorts.
How may conservation programs in Hawaii promote productive awareness for wildlife?