Maui News

Pacific Whale Foundation to Host Annual Whale Festival

January 13, 2019, 1:06 PM HST
* Updated January 16, 10:42 AM
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In celebration of the 3,000-mile homecoming of whales from northern feeding waters, Pacific Whale Foundation will be hosting their month-long Maui Whale Festival beginning Saturday, Feb. 2. One of Maui’s longest running events, the festival offers many opportunities for up-close and personal sightings of Hawaiʻi’s largest visitors.

The festival will begin with the Run and Walk for Whales at 7 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2. Filled with a variety of courses for all abilities to enjoy, the race will start and end at the Maui Harbor Shops in Mā‘alaea. A courtyard celebration will follow the race, which will include performances from Hawaiʻi reggae artist Marty Dread, breakfast, prizes, and the annual Wild and Wonderful Whale Regatta. Participants can choose from a 1 mile, 5K, 10K, or 10 mile course. Registration for the race costs $25 and up.

“This is an event I look forward to each year,” Jim Lynch, Co-Race Director of the Maui Marathon and VP of Valley Isle Road Runners said. “To support a great non-profit such as Pacific Whale Foundation is vital. The Run and Walk for Whales has been a consistent run for years and well participated by locals and visitors. It is a good addition to your vacation if you are a visitor and a good morning of fun. And of course, go on one of the PWF cruises. Worth every penny. The crew is friendly and amazing. And this time of the year, you WILL see whales!”

The second week of the Festival will feature the World Whale Film Festival on Friday, Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. This event will feature the work of shark conservationist Madison Stewart, the Kipahulu ʻOhana, big wave surfer Paige Alms and world champion windsurfer Sarah Hauser, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s Ed Lyman, Maui Huliau Foundation student Taylor Redman, and more. Kimi Werner will emcee the event, which will cost $10 to attend.

“It’s a great honor to return to my home island of Maui to be able to help host this event,” Werner said. “What drives me to it the most is that it’s not a film festival based purely on ocean conservation and some of the issues that the oceans are facing; the goal is not just to point out the problems, but to lead people with a positive message of hope and a call to action for how we can help our seas.”


The other Maui Whale Festival events are listed below. Anyone interested in becoming a member of PWF will be able to attend events at a kamaʻāina discounted rate.


Maui Whale Festival Concert Cruises |  Saturday, Feb. 16 and 23 (prices vary): Enjoy live music and dancing at sea with some of Hawaiʻi’s most well-known artists like John Cruz, who will perform on Saturday, Feb 16. The Banana Slug String Band will perform for the keiki on Saturday, Feb 23.

Kihei 4th Friday Celebrates Maui Whale Festival | Friday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Azeka Shopping Center in Kīhei (FREE): PWF will be teaming up with the County of Maui’s Office of Economic Development and Kīhei 4th Friday to host a Maui Whale Festival celebration.

Great Whale Count | Saturday, Feb. 23 at 12 survey sites along the shoreline of Maui: The annual Great Whale Count will give volunteers the chance to count whales from shore as part of a long-term survey of humpback whales in Hawaiʻi. This survey will provide a snapshot of whale trends and is one of the world’s longest-running citizen scientist projects, according to PWF. The event also offers a chance to spend time at a favorite spot or to explore a new part of the island. Anyone interested in participating must create an account on MyVolunteerPage to register for one of these events.


The dates for these events are listed below:

  • Saturday, Jan. 26
  • Saturday, Feb. 23
  • Saturday, March 30

Trail of the Whale (all month long!): PWFʻs trained marine naturalists will be stationed at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, ʻUlua Beach in Wailea, Papawai Point (approximately 3 miles northwest of Mā’alaea Harbor), and the Maui Ocean Club in Lāhainā to help attendees learn about whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine wildlife from shore. The event times can be found online.  

“The level of energy, inspiration, and excitement surrounding this month-long event each year never ceases to enchant me,” PWFʻs acting executive director Kristie Wriggleswort said. “When Greg (Kaufman) first launched this experience in 1980 as a way to share our common voice in support of ocean protection and conservation, I’m not sure he realized the success it was headed for. I feel proud to honor his legacy by continuing the Festival and by ensuring that it engages residents and visitors in our mission work.”

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