Think of Maui and you might imagine volcanic Mt. Haleakala or the thrillingly curvy Hana Highway along the island's rainforest-covered east coast.
But did you know Hawaii's Valley Isle was once the center of the 19th-century Pacific whaling industry? Nowadays, these gentle giants can rest easy, as Maui's residents have hung up their harpoons and turned instead to a rigorous conservation campaign. It's not hard to see why whales have become so popular in these parts. Often spotted playfully breaching and flicking their tails just off the coast, humpback whales might be seen as a symbol of Hawaii's genial, laid-back vibe.
Humpbacks typically stay in Maui's warm, shallow waters between November and May for mating season, and February and March are considered the peak time to view their surface acrobatics. Landlubbers can enjoy whale watching from Papawai Point (a naturalist from the Pacific Whale Foundation is stationed here during the winter) or the McGregor Point Lookout. But the truly adventurous should hit the water: Hop in a sea kayak, snorkel, or go on an eco-cruise to see these beautiful creatures up close and personal.
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Explore these beautiful locales in Maui
West Maui's many historical sites offer a peek into the island's past as a retreat for Hawaiian royalty.