The Pacific Whale Foundation (www.pacificwhale.org) is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization dedicated to protecting whales, dolphins and the ocean environment. As pioneers in noninvasive whale research since 1980, they have identified over 4500 individual humpback whales throughout the Pacific.
Based in Hawaii, with offices and retail outlets on Maui, they offer eight different trips on seven vessels. We chose September to make our trip because of the good weather and fewer crowds. It worked out perfectly. Most excursions were about thirty percent full, so there was plenty of room to spread out with maximum time in the water. I recommend becoming a Pacific Whale Foundation member several months before your trip. This allows ample time for receiving the membership package, which includes one free ticket for a Whalewatch (check for seasonal dates) or Wild Dolphin Encounter Cruise. You also save 25% on all Eco-Adventures, 15% discounts at the retail stores and V.I.P priority boarding.
The first excursion was an all day (eight hour) snorkeling trip to the Molokini crater and then on to Lanai. Included was a light breakfast on the way to Molokini, a full lunch as you crossed the channel to Lanai, drinks, and snacks after the last snorkel. Captain Jeremy, a Tennessee transplant, expertly maneuvered the Ocean Voyager inside both locations and instead of dropping anchor, hooked to permanent underwater moorings. We dropped off the back (or slid down the slide) into clear water for a least an hour of exploration at each place. Safety was paramount, with the crew watching and guiding our movements. Neoprine tops are optionally available for a $10 fee, adding warmth and comfort in the water. Especially fun was the crewmember lead underwater snorkeling “tour” off the coast of Lanai. As we bobbed up and down in a group, Jackson, the first mate, native to North Carolina, pointed out the subtleties of the area and directed our attention towards easily missed sea life.
Equally charming was Jenn, a naturalist from Wisconsin, who managed to give an informational talk, along with visual aids, while balancing expertly on the front deck without a microphone. I bet she can rub her head and pat her tummy at the same time, too!
There are a myriad of choices in Maui for ocean exploration. The Pacific Whale Foundation does an equally good or better job of entertaining their guests. By sailing with them you support a nonprofit organization that does so much more than just tourist cruises. Greener Living today highly recommends checking them out on your next trip to Maui.