frequently asked questionsYou have questions, we have answers!

What is a “Whale Watch”?

Whale watching is the practice of observing whales and dolphins (cetaceans) in their natural habitat. Whale watching is mostly a recreational activity (cf. birdwatching), but it can also serve scientific and/or educational purposes. A study prepared for IFAW in 2009 estimated that 13 million people went whale watching globally in 2008. Whale watching generates $2.1 billion per annum in tourism revenue worldwide, employing around 13,000 workers.The size and rapid growth of the industry has led to complex and continuing debates with the whaling industry about the best use of whales as a natural resource.

On the Island of Maui, one of the most amazing marine wildlife adventures you’ll ever have the opportunity to partake in is a chance to witness the majesty of the North Pacific Humpback Whales in their natural environment. Year, after year, these magical mammals grace Hawaiian waters and shorelines for their annual Winter migration through the North Pacific Ocean (roughly November-May).

First, it’s important to know that there are in fact 3 separate populations of the North Pacific Humpback Whale. These populations are scientifically referred to as “stocks.” The California/Oregon/Washington stock migrates from British Columbia to Central America. The Western North Pacific stock migrates from the Alaskan Kodiak Archipelago to Japan waters. Finally, Hawaii’s Kohola (whales in the ancient Hawaiian language), also known as the Central North Pacific stock, migrate between Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands.
The exact number of Humpback whales that visit Hawaii every year is unknown, but marine biologists have speculated that an even number of whales make up each stock. Some speculate that 1/3 of the total population of North Pacific Humpback Whales arrive in Hawaii every year, others stating that it could be 1/2 of the total population. But, it is also a fact that the majority of Humpback calves born each year are also born in Hawaii. With all of that information in mind, biologists overall believe that concerning stock populations migrational locations, Humpback Whale presence in Hawaii is the largest. Although each stock is distinct in migration habits, there is an intermixing of stocks, which happens in Alaskan waters during the Summer months.

Due to the efforts of North Pacific Humpback Whale conservation, the whale population has been steadily increasing over the past 50 years. In 1966, the North Pacific Humpback Whale population was believed to be approximately 1,400. In 1993, marine conservationists estimated 6,000, and in 2014, the population of North Pacific Humpback Whales is believed to be 21,000.

Maalaea Harbor Activities offers several options for Whale Watching on Maui. There are different experiences available and all of them guarantee whale sightings. What we mean by different experiences is that there are small zodiac style rafts that get you about as close to the water and the whales as possible, but they can be a bit of a wild ride in rough water… on the other end of the spectrum, we have large boats with over 100 people onboard that offer all the amenities one might expect on a larger boat, like restrooms, food & drink. There are also choices that offer something in-between. Tell us what you want and we’ll do out best to get you the experience that’s best for you!

Should I buy my activities in advance?

The short answer is BY ALL MEANS YES. Why? The best reason is that many activities sell out months in advance especially during the busy season which is November – May. We will our best to accommodate you if possible, but what is available when you choose to book is beyond our control. Best bet is to BOOK EARLY (yes, before you come to the Island!!) Please fill out the form at the bottom of this page for more information.

Do I need to pay for snorkeling? Can’t I just do it from shore?

Yes indeed, you can snorkel from shore and there are some nice places to do it too. There are, however, some significant advantages to booking a snorkel tour with Maalaea Harbor Activities. First, you board a boat with USCG certified crew that will make sure you’re personally safe. Second, most tours offer all the gear you need for snorkeling safely. Third, there are incredible snorkel locations (like Molokini Island) that you just can’t get to without a boat. Actually, the best places to snorkel are difficult if not impossible to reach without a boat.

Maui is surrounded by hundreds of hot spots for snorkelers and divers; it just depends on where you want to go and what you want to see. Everyone is different and there are many different types of snorkel tours to suit all types of adventurers – from families with kids to single athletic types and even older folks. There’s something for everyone and snorkeling on Maui should be on everyone’s bucket list. See our list of the ten best snorkeling locales on Maui.

What’s your Refund Policy?

Of course, the weather on Maui varies based on the season and you never know what it will be doing from one part of the island to another, so we can’t really guarantee anything based upon weather – but in extreme cases, we’ll do our best to accommodate our guests. All activities will, at their option, refund or reschedule if an activity is canceled by them due to inclement weather. Next, please read our Reservation Policy for more details about how we do things. In any event, we do our best to make you happy.

When and how can I book Parasailing?

Parasailing is another one of those, “bucket list” things nearly everyone has to try at least once. The thing we hear the most from our gleeful clients is that they experienced a quality of “peace” once up in the air (not to mention the incredible view) that was wonderful. You just have to try it!

Parasailing is not available year-round. The reason why is that the waters around Maui are a whale sanctuary and during whale season, parasailing services are not allowed. Whale season is between  November-December and April-May depending on the whale density. What that means is that Parasailing is available from mid-May – possibly early December.

How do you book Parasailing? We offer parasailing tours, just ask us! (Fill in the form below)

What’s the BEST Luau on Maui?

There are many Luaus on Maui – we mean there are a lot of them, and they’re all different. Saying that one of them is the “best” is really rather subjective. If you ask ten people who’ve been to several luaus, you may get ten different answers. We can tell you a lot about each one of them, and you can tell us what you’re looking for in a luau, and we’ll try our best to match you with what will work best for you.

One consideration is your budget. There is no, “cheap” Luau, but they do vary in price – and they vary in what you get for your money. In any event, you will be well-fed, you will get something to drink (or a lot to drink) and be entertained – again, the entertainment varies too.

Another consideration is the venue. Some luaus are located in Hotels, some are right on the beach, at least one is in a theater setting. You should have in mind what you’re looking for – the outdoor luaus are subject to wind and rain, but are more authentic in nature. The indoor luaus are more about the incredible show/entertainment.

Something else to keep in mind is if you’re looking for a more ‘family’ atmosphere or more adult atmosphere.

Here’s a list of all of the Maui Luaus:

Sunset Luau in Maui at the Sheraton
The Drums of the Pacific Luau
Royal Lahaina Luau
The Feast at Lele
The Old Lahaina Luau
The Grand Wailea Luau at Honua’ula
Polynesian Village Luau 
Te Au Moana
The Westin Wailele Luau 

Ask us about each one of them (fill in the form below) and let us know what you’re looking for – and we’ll get right back to you.

Isn’t it better/cheaper to buy tickets directly from the activity vendor? Why buy from you?

You can buy tickets directly from each vendor and naturally they will tell you that you’re getting the best deal from them, but here’s a little secret: we can offer you the best deal.

Here’s the simple answer about why to buy your activity tickets from us: We sell all the different activities and we know what’s going to fit you best. It would take half your vacation to visit all the vendors and we already have all that information which we’re more than happy to help you with at no additional charge… not only will it not cost you any extra, but you’ll even save money!

Why are we different from every other activities vendor (located all over the island)? First, we do NOT offer those nasty, high-pressure, three-hour “timeshare” or “vacation club” presentations as a means of lowering or subsidizing the price of your ticket. We will not rope you into anything like that. Next, we have FAR more experience with Maui activities than almost anyone else in the business. Most activities vendors hire young, often new on island salespeople who really don’t have the experience. Our people have literally decades of experience on island consulting with folks who just want to have fun.

We also offer an Exclusive Concierge service. We can handle everything from arranging pickup at the airport, delivering you to your hotel, taking you and your group to each activity or private charter. Just call or fill in the form below and mention the concierge service. You’ll be glad you did.

Should I buy an activity “Gift Card”? Isn’t that cheaper?

Well, yes and no. You can get what appears to be a good price for the activity however what they don’t tell you is that the amount of the gift card you buy doesn’t match the cost of the actual activity so you’re left with money on the gift card you can only use some other way. It’s like being forced to buy stuff you don’t really want or leave value on the so-called ‘gift card’. So while it seems like a great deal, it may not be as good as it seems. VALUE is the key word here – ask yourself, do you also get the benefit of our vast knowledge of the Island and all activities with these cards? Of course not – you’re stuck with what you get. Think about it, you’re here on a paradise island – for which you’ve spent a lot of money to get and stay here. Do you want to take a chance on your experiences here to save ten or twenty bucks, or would you rather let us make sure you have the time of your life? Well, of course, that’s up to you.


What kind of fishing is available on Maui?

There are basically two or three kinds of fishing available on Maui, one is called “bottom fishing” which means the boat stops, you drop your bait and wait for the bite. The other kind is called “Sportfishing” which involves dragging a lure (or lures) behind the boat. Most boats do only one or the other and a few do a little of both. You will catch different kinds of fish bottom fishing than you will by sportfishing but your chances of actually catching something is far better with bottom fishing than it is sportfishing. If you do catch something while sportfishing you’re more likely to catch a larger fish, but again, you may go several days without catching anything, on the other hand, many people catch fish like Mahi-Mahi, Ono, Travali and the like in the inland waters while sportfishing. Some boats go further out leaving very early in the morning for big game fish like Marlin and sailfish. Of course, sportfishing is a more expensive operation so it costs more, but it’s another one of those bucket list items for many folks – not one to be missed.  Want to know more? Call or fill out our form at the bottom of this page.

You may request more information by filling in this form - we will get right back to you as soon as possible.
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