Maui Whale Freaks-Out Kayakers!

Maui kayak whale encounter

There’s a reason why this was on Hawaii News Now at 5 last night.

This last weekend, a group of kayakers with Maui Kayak Adventures got legitimately FREAKED-OUT by a curious humpback whale.  Departing from Makena in south Maui, these nature-lovers paddled out with a guide to enjoy the beauty of Maui from the water, get a little exercise, and do some snorkeling.  What they didn’t expect was a playful juvenile humpback following them and forcing them to stop completely (this is called being “mugged”).

Kayak Whale Watch in Maui

The surprised guests got to experience some whale behavior rarely witnessed directly next to a kayak:

  • Spy Hop – This is when a whale moves its body vertically and pokes just it’s head out of the water so that it can use its exposed eyes to assess the area around them.
  • Pec Slap – This is sort of like if you laid along the surface of the water and slapped your arm.
  • Breach – No, they didn’t breach next to the kayak!  Haha!  Humpbacks seem to be well-aware of their surroundings and wouldn’t put themselves or others in harms way.  That being said:

It’s important to note that you should never approach a humpback whale this closely.  It’s illegal and could be dangerous.  In this instance, the guests we’re treated with the close encounter by surprise.  If a whale comes to you, stay calm, stop moving and enjoy being mugged!

Maui whale kayak

Photos and tour by Matt Robson.  Thank you for sharing these with us!  Such a special experience.

The video above is courtesy of Curtis Geary.

Maui whale watch

whale spy hop near kayak

Humpback Whale


  • what an amazing blessing. once in a life time kind thing. yesterday as my bestfriend and I were driving home from Lahaina to Kahului we spotted so many whales so we stopped off at the lookout the people were treated with awesome show ..but as we left we saw more over by the lighthouse so again we pulled out of traffic and to our surprise again more groups of the beautiful animals and one group of the whales were playing and breaching, pec slapping, and headlining JUST GOING OFF! I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!! I even didn’t mind sitting in traffic after because I felt super good and grateful inside. I can’t imagine how amazing it would be to be in these kayakers position u know being the ones the whale was watching…how fun! The whales were people watching hahahah IM SO PROUD AND GRATEFUL TO BE LIVING IN SUCH AN AMAZING PLACE….ALOHA

    Melissa B.

  • What an amazing once in a lifetime experience! The beauty of the Humpback Whale tends to bring a sense of peace and awe. Great images! Thank you for posting this!

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