humpback migration

Flying all the way to Maui from the U.S. mainland, Europe, or another part of the world can feel like a long and arduous trip, but that’s nothing compared to the annual migration a large colony of humpback whales makes to Maui each year.

#1 Whale Watching Tours in the World

Every fall, these magnificent and serene giants embark on a journey spanning over 3,000 miles, migrating from Alaska’s frigid waters to the warm, shallow waters of Hawaii. As spring draws to a close, they undertake the same extensive trek, covering another 3,000 miles back to Alaska. This remarkable voyage is among the lengthiest migrations recorded in any mammal species.

humpback migration to Maui Hawaii

Each leg of this awesome trip takes the average humpback whale three months to complete. A humpback can swim roughly 3 – 9 miles per hour (4 – 14 kph). They swim almost continuously, covering approximately 1,000 miles of distance a month.

This migration is a very important part of a humpback whale’s life. During the winter months, the whales enjoy the relative safety of the shallow waters around the Hawaiian Islands and off the shores of Maui in particular. This is the time that humpback whales mate and give birth to their calves.

humpback whale breeding

Humpback whales typically winter off the shores of Maui, including Maui’s North Shore from May to December. This makes Maui one of the best places in the world to go whale watching. The waters off of Maui are clear, making it easy and fun to get a closer look at these magnificent creatures in action.

A humpback whale has a black body with a mottled black and white belly. The whales are known for the bumps on their heads (tubercles) from which they get their names and their impressive size. Females are larger than males and can reach 50 feet from head to tail. They can weigh up to 40 tons (36,287 kg)!

whale migration

It is hard to really understand how huge and majestic these creatures really are until you see them for yourself, which is why we encourage you to go whale watching the next time you come to visit Maui’s North Shore between May and December.

At the end of December, the residents of Maui must say goodbye once again to these gentle and playful beasts as they make their trip back up to Alaska. Mothers and their young calves travel closely together on this journey. In Alaska, the humpback whales fill up on small crustaceans called krill and fatten up so they have plenty of strength for when the time comes to visit us once again in Maui.

If you visit Maui between December and May and would like to go whale watching, let us know, and we can help you reserve a trip for your family or your group.


To check out south Maui accommodations and availability please visit Maui’s BEST Ocean Front Vacations at Ali’i Resorts.