In past years, we'd always gone out on whale watching trips on large boats full of tons of people. We wanted to have a smaller, intimate, quiet, ecologically-friendly experience this time, so we chose Maui EcoTours Whale Kayaking tour. We have a 9-year-old and a 14-year-old, and we are all beginners, so this seemed like a good option for us. On the morning of our tour, the weather was not cooperating in Makena, so we were rescheduled for two days later. Unfortunately, the weather decided to be uncooperative AGAIN and we were forced to reschedule one more time. Luckily we'd scheduled the original date for early in our trip and this left plenty of room to move dates around if needed. Third times a charm, because day three ended up being absolutely beautiful and calm.
Our guide, Chris, was very friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. He explained everything we needed to know to have a safe, successful, and fun trip in an easy-to-understand yet not-at-all-condescending way. He provided a lot of very interesting information about the geological history of Maui and the surrounding islands, and knew an awful lot about the humpback whales we were there to try to see. After multiple trips in the past with cheesy tour guides who are constantly cracking jokes and acting as patronizingly nice to you as possible to try to earn a good tip, it was refreshing to have Chris' straightforward, genuinely friendly attitude.
Immediately after we all left the beach in our kayaks (a total of four kayaks, plus Chris'), we spotted some whales spouting and Chris didn't hesitate to get us going in that direction. Our main reason for going kayaking was to get close to the whales, and I was a little worried that the tour would seem hurried, but once we got within a "legal" distance to where we'd last seen the spouting, Chris had us stop and was incredibly patient while we all sat quietly and waited--about 15 minutes--until the whales (3 large males) surfaced again. When they appeared, they were within about 30 yards of the kayaks, and the sound of them breathing through their blowholes at that range was indescribably magical. It literally took my breath away. Once they dove back under, Chris didn't rush us off to the next spot, but instead allowed us to hang out and patiently wait for them to surface again.
After moving on to the next group of whales and repeating the same patient waiting as before, we kayaked back towards shore and did some snorkeling around some rocks that are notorious for having lots of green sea turtles, and we were not disappointed. We saw at least 5-6 turtles, some resting on the bottom, others swimming around and periodically surfacing for air. Then it was back to the beach where we'd departed from for a quick snack of granola bars and juice.
Overall, we thought this was a great way to experience the whales (and natural beauty) around south Maui. If you are looking for something that doesn't include a lot of other people and is quiet and relaxing, I would highly recommend Maui EcoTours kayaking trips. If you are more into the crowds and the jokes and the beer and snacks that you can get on the bigger boats, then maybe this isn't your thing. I, however, cannot wait to go kayaking again.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.