Humpback Whales

The 2023 Maui Wildfires

An ultra-wide panorama photo of Lahainia, on the Island of Maui. Photo was taken in the winter of 2023 before the tragic wildfires.

Here’s a portion of the town of Lahaina, under a rainbow, as seen on a whale-watching trip in February of 2023. I created his ultra-wide photo by stitching together many images to create a really wide, and ultra-high-definition photo.

This page is about our photography of Humpback whales! You can help the people of Maui recover from the tragic wildfires by purchasing our Humpback whale photography or any of our Maui photographs. 100% of the profits from the sale of prints will go directly to the recovery effort.

Click on this Link to View Our Combined Maui & Humpback Gallery

Please Click Here To View Our Humpback Whale Photography Gallery

The Island of Maui, Hawaii

Joannie and I fell in love with Hawaii on our trip to photograph Willie and Brittany’s wedding on the Big Island of Hawaii. All of the islands of Hawaii are amazing, however, Maui is our favorite! On that trip, and on each subsequent trip to Hawaii, we have visited the Island of Maui. We’ve stayed in the Lahaina area every time because of the town’s wonderful vibe, great food, and most importantly, the awesome people who live and work there.

Like all of us, Joannie and I have seen the aftermath of the wildfires that have devastated the island of Maui and the wonderful town of Lahaina. We want to help Maui on the long road to recovery by donating 100% of the profits from our Maui and Humpback whale photography.


We’re Donating 100% of Our Maui Photography Profits to Help the People of Maui

We want to help by using my God-given talent, photography, to help our friends on Maui. For the foreseeable future, all profits from the sale of any of our humpback whale photographs will be given to THE MAUI UNITED WAY.

In addition to purchasing prints of our humpbacks, you can help by directly donating to this cause at the link below.

The Maui United Way is providing financial resources for the rapid response and recovery from the devastating wildfires on the Island of Maui.


Humpback Whales

The "humps" of two Humpback whales off the coast of Maui, Hawaii.

This photograph of a pair of Humpback whales pretty much sums up exactly why they’re called “Humpbacks”!

Joannie and I have had the amazing opportunity to see and photograph Humpback whales in Hawaii on several occasions. We went whale-watching on Maui just one time back many years ago, and we were hooked! We can tell you that once you see one of these magnificent creatures close up, you’ll probably get hooked too!

On our second-ever whale-watching tour, (just a couple of hours after our first one), we had two Humpback whales swim right under our boat! One of them even poked its head out of the water, right next to the boat, and looked right at all of us for a moment before submerging and swimming back under the vessel! This type of whale behavior is called spy hopping.

We were officially hooked on whale watching!

Photo of a humpback whale doing a "spy hop" (peeking out of the water) off the coast of Maui, Hawaii.

Here’s what a humpback whale “spy hop” looks like from up close! A large portion of the town of Lahaina, including the tall smokestack, is seen in the distance. This image was captured in February 2023.

Spotting “The Spout”

Whales “spout” when they come up to the surface to breathe. Both baleen (Humpbacks) and toothed whales breathe through blowholes, the whale’s version of our nostrils. “Spouts” are formed on the ocean surface when whales expel warm air that meets colder air on the surface and condenses into small water droplets. Occasionally, you can even see small rainbows in the spout vapor.

A humpback whale spout in the distance off the Island of Maui, Hawaii.

Here’s what a humpback whale’s “spout” looks like from the distance. That’s part of the town of Lahaina, before the tragic wildfires of 2023, that you see in the distance.

I’ve always been blessed with pretty decent eyesight, especially for distance (even now, even with my glasses). Well, that has made it possible for me to spot Humpbacks from pretty far away, especially when they spout.

Back in 2016, Joannie and I were enjoying a cocktail while watching the sunset on the beach. This was after a fun day of whale-watching and other fun stuff on Maui. Well, another couple asked if they could sit nearby, which of course was perfectly fine with us.

Photo of a humpback whale coming to the surface to take a breath of fresh air, causing a "spout" to form.

Here’s what a humpback whale “spout” looks like close up! Portions of the town of Lahaina are seen in the distance.

We started chatting about the islands and of course, whale-watching came up. Mostly because I kept seeing spouts, and even some breaches, and announced them each time. Most of the sightings were pretty far away, and the two of them thought that I’d had plenty to drink (which was not the case)! That was until I showed them what to look for and they started to see them for themselves!

The Breach

A young humpback whale breaching near the town of Lahaina in 2020. Many homes and businesses are seen in the background. All of them burned to the ground in the wildfires of 2023.

A young humpback whale practices its breaching in front of Lahaina back in 2020. Most of the homes and businesses that you see in the background burned to the ground in the wildfires of 2023.

If you ever have a chance to see a Humpback whale breach, you will be amazed! It’s hard to believe that something the size of a school bus can jump almost entirely out of the water! Actually, it’s kind of rare to witness, but they sometimes do leave the water entirely!

An adult humpback whale breaches off the coast of Maui, Hawaii.

A breaching humpback whale! By far my favorite thing to witness on a whale-watching trip (or from shore)!

There are many theories as to why whales breach. Everything from just having fun, to communicating with other whales, and dislodging barnacles from their skin. Whatever the reason(s), it is so amazing to witness, especially up close!

Makai Adventures

On our visits to Maui, we found that the best whale-watching company is Makai Adventures. While there are no bad whale-watching companies in Lahaina, we’ve found that the crew at Makai Adventures have that little extra that makes their whale-watching cruises just a little bit better.

The Makai Adventures boat, Kainalu, on a whale watch in the winter of 2020.

A sign of much happier times. The Makai Adventures boat, Kainalu, on a whale watch in 2020. Their vessel was lost in the devastating wildfires in August of 2023. Thankfully, her crews are all safe. However, nearly all of them lost everything in the fire.

With their fun and caring attitude, smaller boats, great captains and crew, and their attention to safety, these guys and gals are the BEST!

Makai Adventures departs out of Lahaina from harbor slip #16. Once things get back to some semblance of normal, look them up when you’re planning a trip to Maui (or use the link below). But be sure to reserve your whale-watching trips well in advance! On our trip to Maui in 2020, we found out the hard way that whale watching has become VERY popular! It took us a few days to even get on a boat! So follow our advice and book as early as you can.

Here’s the link to the Makai Adventures website so you can see for yourself what they’re all about and book your own adventure.

I should also mention that they also offer fishing, snorkeling, dolphin tours, sailings, and private charter adventures!

More About Humpback Whales

Before the moratorium on commercial whaling back in the mid-eighties, worldwide populations of humpback whales were greatly reduced, most by more than 95 percent. Thankfully, they are now increasing in abundance throughout much of their range. But they still face threats from entanglement in fishing gear, vessel strikes, harassment, and underwater noise.

Humpback whales live in all oceans around the world. They have one of the longest yearly migrations of any mammal on the planet. Some populations swim 5,000 miles from tropical breeding grounds to colder, more productive feeding grounds. Many of the Humpbacks found in Hawaii during the wintertime travel there from Alaska where they spend their summers.

The huge splash from a humpback whale breach!

The huge splash at the conclusion of a humpback whale breach. This cool image was taken on a whale-watching trip with Makai Adventures in the channel between the Hawaiian islands of Maui and Moloka’i.

Humpback whales feed on shrimp-like crustaceans (krill) and small fish, straining huge volumes of ocean water through their baleen plates, which act as a sieve. The waters of Alaska are full of these small fish that these whales prefer to dine on.

The humpback whale gets its common name from the distinctive hump on its back. Its long pectoral fins inspired its scientific name, Megaptera, which means “big-winged”. Humpback whales are a favorite of whale watchers, like Joannie and me. They are often active, jumping out of the water (breaching) and slapping the surface with their pectoral fins or tails.

A photo of a humpback whale doing a peduncle throw off the coast of Maui, Hawaii.

This humpback whale mom is seen here doing a “peduncle throw”. She was doing this in an attempt to chase off another humpback whale from her and her calf.

Thank you for stopping by our Humpback whale page! We hope that you enjoyed the story and photos. Please check out our gallery page and perhaps consider purchasing a print or two to help the people on Maui.

Aloha, and Mahalo! – M&J

Humpback Whale Photo Gifts

A Humpback whale showing its pectoral fin.

Humpback pectoral fins can be up to 8 feet long!

  • Our Humpback whale gift photographs are available as Metal Prints (our favorite because of how vivid they are), on canvas, or printed on luster paper.
  • Humpback whale Metal Prints “float” off the wall about 3/4 of an inch. They are heat-pressed onto aluminum and come with a high-gloss finish.
  • Humpback whale Canvas Prints are wrapped on a wooden frame. Both metal and canvas prints do not require frames, although we can frame them for you as an upgrade. Please contact us to discuss that option.
  • Finally, there are Humpback whale photographs printed on professional luster paper. Any luster paper image larger than 8×10 inches will be mounted on an acid-free mounting board to keep it nice and smooth in a frame.

Below is the link to what will be our always-growing Humpback whale Photography Gallery. Enjoy, and thank you!

Please Click Here To View Our Humpback Whale Photography Gallery

Click on this Link to View Our Combined Maui & Humpback Gallery

If you enjoy nature and wildlife photography, we have several other featured pages on our website. We invite you to check them out!

Photographs of Bald Eagles

Photographs of Alaska Brown Bears (Grizzlies)

Humpback Whale Photographs

Photographs of Pele’s Well in Hawaii

Wildlife Photography in South Florida

“Humpback Whales” © 2024 Michael Anderson Photography