Up Close 2 Hour Whale Watching Tours 808-667-5565

CaptainSteve_WhaleMainPageImageUp Close 2 Hour Whale Watching Tours–Available December 15th-April 15th

Winter 2024 season Update! As you are most likely aware, the devastating Lahaina fire took Captain Steve’s house, office, shop, garage and both of our rafts. The Mala ramp commercial usage is very restricted right now so we are honored to work together with Peter and Toni of Hawaii Ocean Rafting so that our guests can still experience small group whale watching from Lahaina. Peter and Toni also lost their home and their rafts so two temporary vessels will be used and check in will be at the Dive Maui Shop next to Snorkel Bob’s. Captain Jack is driving on Mondays/Thursdays/Fridays and Crew Jess is working on Wednesdays/Thursdays! Hawaii Ocean Rafting’s crew is stellar as well! They will provide boarding passes in the order that you check in and everyone will be walked to Mala as a group. Please note that currently weekends/holidays are not allowed for commercial activity. They also offer unlimited weekly and monthly passes! Please use this link to book as a Captain Steve’s customer. For those of you going multiple times, we would appreciate you using this link for each whale watch that you book as that will help keep Captain Steve’s Rafting afloat!


Our most asked question is “when is the best time of day to see the whales?” Well, those whales are out there all day and all night long. They really don’t care what time of day it is. It typically is a calmer boat ride on the ocean in the morning which is why our morning trips can sell out 5-14 days in advance during our busy months of January-March. Our tradewinds typically pick up in the afternoons and the whales do love the wind so our afternoon trips typically have fantastic whale action although the ride can be bumpier. We are a rafting company so it is more adventurous!

Imagine that out of the corner of your eye you see a glowing turquoise color moving through the crystal clear, deep blue waters of the Pacific. The silence is broken as the captain sings out, “Thar she blows!” He explains that it’s the white pigmentation on the 15-foot-long pectoral fin of a mother humpback whale with the bright Maui sun reflecting off it. You look down as a 45 foot, 45 ton whale glides under your raft with her newborn calf riding on her back. Your heart is racing, and the silence is broken again, this time by the vigilant crew. He yells, “Breach at 2 o’clock!” You look out to see the 40 foot, 40 ton male escort whale in mid air. He spins and crashes to the surface with a thunderous roar. Then the captain stands and exclaims, “Looks like a large competitive pod out toward the shipwreck on Lana’i. Hold on, let’s go!” You look down at your watch: 20 minutes ago you were still standing on the dock. The most recognized visitors to Hawaii each and every year are the North Pacific humpback whales. While not every animal in the population visits Maui County, there are many days when you might think that is the case. It is widely accepted throughout the cetacean research community that the Au’au Channel (Coastal Maui and Lana’i) receives the second largest concentration of Humpbacks during the winter months. The largest concentration is located just off the coast of Moloka’i, which is also in Maui County and within the range of Captain Steve’s rafts on a calm day.

Protect yourselves while out in the sun with our whale and turtle sun protection shirts! Our Solar Performance Long Sleeves offer superior sun protection featuring UPF 50+ solar protection & PURE-tech™ moisture wicking technology. They’re lightweight, comfortable, & sure to keep the sun’s rays from penetrating through to your skin.

You can purchase these shirts as upgrades during your booking or at our online store. These shirts are in MENS SIZES (Deb is in an XS. Sleeves run long to cover hands for sun protection). Check out our whale neck gaiters for sun protection!







Our four whale watching tours are all 2 hours

7:30, 9:45, 12:15 and 2:30

Adult: $74.99 ($83.58 inclusive of taxes/fees-$84.65 after 1/1/24 with new State Of HI Ocean User Fee)

Child (3-12 yrs.): $64.99 ($72.87 inclusive of taxes/fees–$73.94 after 1/1/24 with new State of HI Ocean User Fee)

Check out our 2024 Special 25% Off on a private charter for up to 20 people in the afternoons!

Special $1,125 ($1,291.46 inclusive of taxes/fees, a savings of $402!). Book here:

Know your boarding capability! Please read!

You will board our rafts at the Mala Small Boat Ramp. When the tide is high, loading is as simple as stepping onto the pontoon off of the dock and is quite easy. Getting off, you need to be able to step up onto the pontoon yourself and then onto the dock with a little balance help from your friends. When the tide is low, it can be a very large step down onto the pontoon from the dock. For safety when it is a very large step down, you have to be able to sit down on your derriere on the dock, swing your legs over and step onto the raft. This is usually no problem at all for most of us. However, it can be very difficult or impossible for those with hip/knee replacements or some older folks or the fragile. To disembark at low tide, you may be required to step up on the pontoon, sit on your derriere on the dock, swing your legs up on the dock, then stand up (getting to your knees if you have to). Again, it can be difficult if you have hip/knee replacements. We encourage you to know your loading capability. To check when the tide is high, you can go to this link and put in the date (remember you will disembark two hours after you get on and the tide matters at both times).

What’s Included & Restrictions

We provide personalized information on Hawaii’s humpback whales and a quick ride to get to the active whales in our fast rafts. Life jackets are also available upon request. These excursions are NOT recommended for pregnant women, people with bad backs, neck problems, bad knees, heart problems, elderly, fragile people, or children under the age of 3 years.

Starting on October 1, 2022, only mineral sunscreens will be allowed in the County of Maui . Aerosol sprays are not allowed on our rafts to protect the reef and to improve the overall passenger experience. To help protect Maui County reefs, choose only mineral sunscreens made with ‘non-nanotized’ zinc oxide or titanium dioxide—natural mineral ingredients. Since no sunscreen is completely waterproof or effective, the first line of defense in protecting your skin is seeking shade, and wearing protective clothing such as hats, long-sleeved shirts and sunglasses or rash guards and wetsuits in the water. What is non-mineral sunscreen and how does it harm the reef?

Non-mineral sunscreen is any sunscreen that uses an active ingredient other than zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (mineral UV filters). When we swim in the ocean or shower at home, these non-mineral sunscreens (containing petrochemical UV filters) can wash off, enter our rivers and ocean, and harm corals and other marine life. According to NOAA, damage includes but is not limited to:

  • Coral: Accumulation in tissues; bleaching; DNA damage; deformed and killed young
  • Fish: Decreased fertility and reproduction; female characteristics in males
  • Dolphins: Accumulation in tissues and transferred to young

Please take the time to view this video about coming to Hawaii and how to Travel Pono.

Captain’s Note

All of my whale seasons have been awesome! I love the whales but it’s the people, our employees and our customers (so many of which return year after year), that make it so much fun for me. I am looking forward to this next season! Captain Steve’s Rafting Adventures contributes to science! Help us and get to know your whales too by sharing your whale photos at: