Best Molokini Whale Watch Trip!

Updated on:
January 11, 2023

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Just a few days ago, we had the best whale watch experience EVER! 

Not only did we have a competition pod next to and below our raft, we got splashed by 2 whales!  No joke, we got wet from the whales doing pec slaps.  UNREAL! Below you’ll find photos from our Molokini whale watch trip. All photos shot by Natalie Brown Photography.

Do whales ever go inside of Molokini Crater?  


We didn’t think it ever happened, but we saw flukes and blows within the crater.  We also saw 2 humpbacks spending quite a bit of time around Reefs End.  It was wild! 

Molokini whale watching

Kihei whale watching

Our trip began out of Kihei Boat Ramp at 11 am with Redline Rafting.  Our captain, Tony, wanted to get back out after the last whale watch, as they had just enjoyed watching a competition pod near Molokini.  A competition pod is when a group of males battle for a female.  They exhibit all manor of surface behavior to get attention as well as scare off other male suitors.  Pec slaps, breaches, and even slamming into each other!  It’s an awesome site to see.

whale mugging

We immediately were surrounded by whales.  The last of the Molokini snorkel boats were just heading out, and those that stuck around got a show.  We saw the Kai Kanani get a front-row show as they splashed all around their catamaran!  A small private boat was out, and someone onboard was playing the violin (Celtic tunes) which might have encouraged the playfulness and proximity of all these humpback whales.  

Molokini boats

Maui line

We got mugged!

Being “Mugged” means having to turn your engine off because the whales come too close.  You’re not allowed to leave until they leave, which was more than welcome.  They swam just feet away from under the boat (see the GoPro footage on the video above!) and they even splash us as they pec-slapped on the surface!  

Redline Rafting whale watch

We’ve always had great experiences on all these Maui whale watch boats, but being on a Kihei whale watching raft for this experience was truly special.

Humpback whale bubbles

Maui line

There are a few reasons why we’re happy to have gone out on a raft vs. other larger vessels:

  1. Leaving from Kihei Boat Ramp on a fast raft got us to the whales in no time.  It helped that it was really calm, so we zipped out quickly.
  2. You’re closer to the water, so I was able to hold a GoPro over the side and get amazing footage (even with the fish eye superview!
  3. The small group allowed for views in all directions without an issue.  Sometimes the bigger boats have crowds where you can’t really see over others without being on a top deck.
  4. Having a small group allowed for us to have some say over where we went.  We could ask the captain to go over to a different group.  We could also ask a crew member, Ary, about the whales.   We had questions about whale song, and he went ahead and dropped a hydrophone (underwater microphone and speaker) into the water so we could hear the whales sing live.  

Molokini whale watching