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“Best Whale trip yet!!!!”

Pacific Whale Foundation
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Molokini And Turtle Arches Snorkeling Trip
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Whalewatch Sail Deluxe Lahaina
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Whalewatch Sail Lahaina
Ranked #1 of 11 things to do in Maalaea
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Cruise with the experts at Pacific Whale Foundation on Maui's top-rated ocean ecotours based on more than 38 years of marine research and sustainable ecotourism experience. PacWhale has cruises for every style of adventure, including whale and dolphin watch ecotours, snorkel trips, sunset cocktail and sunset dinner cruises, holiday cruises, stargazing ecotours, and more. You'll cruise on ultra-stable, eco-friendly vessels with knowledgeable, friendly certified Marine Naturalists. Choose PacWhale Eco-Adventures and make a difference: all profits support research, education and conservation programs to protect marine wildlife and the ocean environment.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed February 15, 2012

We went out the 1st week of February with The Pacific Whale Foundation dolphin snorkel trip. This is the trip to book on. It goes out 1st to the crater, then to Lanai. Our family saw more whales on this trip than any other we have been on. The views were fantastic and the crew took great care of us and made it a real blast.
The captain was great stopping many times for photo ops and incredible sights. The crew explained the activities of the whales and why they were behaving this way. The PW Foundation is an awesome group of people that are doing their best to protect these fine creatures. Not every trip is the same, but this was by far the most entertaining. If you want to take the family out for an enjoyable day, this is the group to book with. You can snorkel at both locations and they will fill your bellies. They also provide great beverages to help you relax after a hard day of snorkeling. Lol
Thank you very much for making our trip a memorable one. A+++

Thank mailboy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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6,955 - 6,959 of 7,623 reviews

Reviewed February 14, 2012

I think the whale foundation is great, but, I think they should leave booking to someone else. The tickets I purchased from their sight showed a Lahaina address, where they have a storefront, but that was NOT where this trip originated. Luckily I figured that out in time to make this excursion, just barely. Wait, did I say luckily??? HOLY COW, the waves on the ride out to Molokini were HUGE. They were trying to feed us fruit out on the deck, and it was hitting us in the face. Now I know why they serve juice instead of hot coffee! The crew seemed to think this was fairly normal, and expounded the virtues of being able to move faster on this catamaran...faster, are you kidding? Quite a few paying guest were seasick. My take on the trip out to the crater was torturous. Once we got there, we were able to snorkle either alone, or with a group. The snorkling was fun, but cold. We were suppose to be able to snorkle with turtles at another location, but we were told it was too rough...ya think? The trip was pretty good after the initial shock, lunch was served,ahhh. I just get tired of these organizations always looking for more money. I paid a good buck to go on the excursion, and now you want me to be a member, make a donation etc? No thanks.

Thank Corey O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 14, 2012

We did the Whale Watching Trip with Pacific Whale Foundation back in March of last year. Overall, the experience was great. But it all depends on the weather, and where you are seated on the ship. The say we were there, it was cloudy and thus difficult to spot the whales. Also, by the time we got on the boat, all the front seats were taken. So we had to sit on the side area. I feel the front seats are the best as you get the whole view of the ocean. We missed a whale breach as it was not visible from where we sat. So its very important to get a good seat.

We did see a lot of whales from a distance. Overall, the experience was great. But I wish they had more seats in the front, so everyone can get a good view.

Thank Ani J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 13, 2012

My husband and I are avid whale photographers/observers. We booked Pacific Whale Foundation's raft Ocean Freedom for a Sunday morning "Whale Photo Safari." PWF emphasizes that this new, low to the water, fewer passenger raft is recommended for whale photography, offering three-hour Sunday morning "photography" whale watches from Lahaina Harbor. Positives include that the voyage occurs in the morning (nice lighting and calmer seas than one generally encounters in the afternoon); is on a small, close to the water raft (better backgrounds for photos; i.e, one is shooting at the animal rather than down into the water); and is a three hour tour rather than the customary, far too short typical 2-hour Maui whale watches.

On the other hand I cannot recommend this vessel for photography. The captain's console is smack dab in the middle of the boat so if you are sitting to right or left of or to the rear of the captain's helm, views will be obstructed. When the boat is underway one must be seated so if whale action is occurring on the opposite side of the captain's station, one will not see anything until the vessel stops and passengers are allowed to move about. (It should be noted that photography is well nigh impossible when the raft is underway due to the motion and waves but it still would be nice to see whales rather than the captain's console and other guests' backsides while racing toward breaching whales or an active competition group.)

PWF takes out 28 passengers on the photo tour, far too many guests to allow people to properly position themselves for photography. If you insist upon booking this tour, try to make your way to the bow. I sat on the cooler at the front so was able to swivel around from port to starboard. My husband was stuck in the back of the boat. The rule on these types of whale watches is for people closest to the side whales are spotted to remain seated or kneel so that those behind them can view the show ala stadium seating. Despite repeated requests from the captain for guests closest to the side whales were seen to please sit down, many guests ignored this time and again, standing and blocking views of those to their rear. Much of this is due to the seating pattern on Ocean Freedom. A big problem with this raft is that the seats on the pontoons force guests to sit looking into the boat rather than out toward the water. Thus, if seated on the pontoon seats when whales are seen port or starboard, one either has to crane one's neck 180-degrees or turn around and kneel in front of the pontoon for a view. Since it is very cramped in the back of the raft, it is difficult for one to kneel and shoot over the pontoons to afford those directly behind a view. Additionally, the Ocean Freedom has bench seating in the middle of the boat, located between the port and starboard pontoons. In other words, if whales appear port side, those on the starboard are looking through a sea of heads and vice versa. The people in the middle bench seats stand thus blocking the view of those behind them. The entire experience was unappealing from a photographic standpoint.

Following is PWF's verbatim description of the Whale Photo Safari with regard to what to expect, "Join us for a Sunday morning whale photography workshop at sea, led by a Pacific Whale Foundation naturalist and a professional wildlife photographer. Whether you are a novice or an experienced photographer, this unique hands-on adventure will help you learn and practice expert techniques for photographing whales and other wildlife. During your 3-hour cruise, you’ll discover the most effective camera settings for our local conditions at sea. You’ll also learn about and have the opportunity to use proven digital photo techniques to maximize each opportunity presented by the whales that you encounter."

Two assistants were on board the PWF raft to help guests photograph whales. They were cheery and decent, trying to help some people on an individual basis but there was no basic instruction typical of other photographic workshops I have attended. My husband and I have much experience photographing whales so this was not an issue for us but it was unfortunate for those who came on board trying to learn something about how to use their cameras to photograph the big guys. This was most assuredly NOT what I consider a photographic workshop! Please, read your camera instruction manuals and understand and practice with your camera/lenses/etc before trying to work in the field. You'll save yourself much frustration by knowing how your gear works in advance.

With photography our main purpose, of all the five raft whale watches my husband and I sampled from Lahaina, I recommend Captain Steve's (Mala Wharf) and Maui Adventure Cruises (Lahaina Harbor) for Maui-based whale watch operators that appeal to photographers' needs.

2  Thank Whalegeek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2012

Great to get out snorkeling with marine biologists. They teach a lot if you want to know more about where you are, fish and turtles you will see, and about the whales. The whales were plentiful.

Thank Dbamtm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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