Our Latest Whale Watch Experience
Let's walk you through our last whale watch experience. We arrived in the late morning at the Kihei Boat Ramp in South Maui to go on a quick hour and a half whale watch with Blue Water Rafting. We usually try to get out later in the day because generally whales are more active then. We gave the morning a shot and were not disappointed.
Immediately as we left the boat ramp, a large whale began doing head lunges (almost full breaches). You can see this from the beginning of the video and from the sequence photos here. It did 2 large lunges directly towards our boat, then turned and did another right next to us (about 10 feet away) and got us wet from the explosive splash. Just after this, a baby whale did a full breach along side it. Then they did 2 more lunges in the distance.
WHAT A GREAT WAY TO START A WHALE WATCH! We've begun to realize that often the best stuff happens right out of the gates when you're least expecting it. Photographers: we ready immediately once on the boat!
After this introduction, we were sure that we'd see very little activity for the rest of the trip. I mean, why should we be so lucky? Well we were wrong. Breaching, fluke slapping, and much more followed. This whale watch was a real treat. And you may not believe us, but this wasn't the best whale watch we've had. More than once we've been mugged by whales. (MUGGED = having whales come to your boat and keep you from leaving. It is illegal to approach a whale within 100 yards, and if they approach you, you can't start your engine until they've moved away.) We got stuck with a competition pod of whales for over an hour. It was fantastic! Being mugged happens more than you'd think. Some whales are curious, and sometimes you're just in their path.
The entire trip was only an hour and a half, but that's all we needed. We hope you enjoy the video half as much as we did making it.
Rafting Vs. Hard Hulled Boats
When rafting, you're closer to the water, which is nice if the whales get really close, but you also may get wet if it's windy or if they splash near you. Regular boats sometimes offer higher decks, which give a unique angle to view whales. Sometimes larger boats are easier for passengers to move around too. You may think that being on a raft would offer a more crowded experience, but this is not always true. It depends entirely on how many passengers the company allow on the boat and how full they can get it. We suggest you ask how full a boat is before booking. You'll notice that some vessels look nearly completely empty when others look like refugee boats carrying half of the population of Haiti. Choose wisely and ask around.
Catamarans are usually a little more stable, and rafts can be bumpy, especially up towards the front. Some regular boats offer food too, when most rafts only offer drinks. In our experience, you can get just as good a whale watch on any kind of boat, but not with any tour company. Some companies pack their boats to the brim, which makes it very difficult and uncomfortable to be on.