If your best friend lived in Hawaii and you were planning to visit, wouldn’t you ask their advice on virtually everything you could think of? Not everyone used to be lucky enough to have that personal resource, but in this age of technology and connectedness, the apps on your phone put you in touch with people who can help you make your best plan for your dream vacation.

If you don’t have them already, upload your new best friends – TripAdvisor and Yelp! I cannot stress enough how valuable these resources will be. They do not lie to you. They are not trying to sell you something. They are the best friends you’ve never had the opportunity to meet in person! See these powerful tools through new eyes – at first glance they may come across as impersonal icons on your screen, but they are so much more. TripAdvisor and Yelp are a virtual melting pot of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people. Many of them are people like you and I who have already visited Maui or have chosen to live here. With honest opinions and voices, sometimes brutal, sometimes humorous, and sometimes generous, one thing you can always count on is that they are always there for you. TripAdvisor and Yelp simply want to tell you the best and worst (or somewhere in between) things to do, places to eat, food to try, fishing onshore or off, surf spots, snorkeling, ziplines, beaches to lay on and be lazy, places to hike, and coffee – ah, the coffee… pretty much anything or anywhere you can think of you will be able gain personal insight into. Be sure to leave time in your days to discover little gems along the way once you’ve arrived. These little nuggets are best learned by talking to locals who are serving your dinner, crewing your activities, mixing your drinks, sharing a beach, a wave, a trail. Take this valuable information to the web and see if it fits into your idea of the perfect holiday. GoogleMaps will get you pretty much anywhere, it doesn’t matter if you’re walking, biking, or driving, it won’t let you down – it will get you to that shave ice!

Don’t get caught running around like the proverbial Hawaiian rooster with it’s head cut off. Let TripAdvisor, Yelp, and GoogleMaps give you the down low, in the know, way to go, and go with the flow (a red line on GoogleMaps lets you know there’s slow moving traffic ahead – what a pal!)

You want to make your Hawaiian vacation be everything you’ve dreamed of. You want it the way you want it. The way you deserve it. Because hey – you worked hard to get here. Make it happen with the help of your new best friends. You are ready to do this thing!

E Komo Maui - Welcome to Maui Sign

Simple and honest, here are a few tips for Maui visitors to help you and the locals blend harmoniously. Island lifestyle is a whole other way of living.  It’s all about sharing Aloha even in the smallest of things.  If you are already here – E Komo May (welcome!).  If you are planning your trip or merely entertaining the idea – let us begin by saying E Kipa Mai (come visit!). The following suggestions are two-fold: they will help us, and they will help you – locals respond kindly to shared Aloha!

Take Your Time — Relax

hammock on the beach

Relax and Slow Down

Relax and slow down… We’re on island time and that means we take our time – with everything! Honestly, if you take a deep breath, slow down, and leave the hurry, hurry, hustle behind you will find that your time here seems to pass by a little more slowly. If you rush and pack your days full your time will seem to fly by and no one wants that, after all, you worked hard to get here! Take a few lazy days and lay on our sugar cookie beaches, listen to the surf and the whisper of the palms and feel the soul of the island.

Share Aloha on the Road

Hana highway

Aloha on The Road

Aloha on the Road:  Please do not drive like you are on your way to a fire! Forget you have a horn, honking is not nice Aloha. If you want to look at something beautiful, which happens a lot, pull over so as not to cause sudden stop accidents.

Be respectful at 4 ways (intersections with each corner having a stop sign). Go in the order you arrive at the stop, if you pull up 3rd, you go third – all you have to do is pay attention to the order in which you arrive at the stop. To go before your turn shows disrespect, and we are all about kokua.

Please, always use the side mirrors on the passenger side of your vehicle to be aware of bicycles and mopeds. These are main modes of transportation for many locals and they are literally everywhere, often coming up along side you as you prepare to make a right hand turn. Many accidents and injuries are avoidable if everyone does their part to be on the lookout. Beware – pedestrians are everywhere too!

Lastly, if you are meandering the beautiful coastline, the road to Hana, or any other twisty turny 2-lane by vehicle or as a cyclist, please, for the love of all things good – locals beg please, pull over and let us pass by. We want to get home, or to work, and while we appreciate that you are sightseeing, we cannot tell you how much we appreciate even more the Aloha you share when you don’t make us sightsee behind you. Mahalo nui loa for letting us go around!

Tipping on Maui

Tipping is important

Tipping in Maui

Tipping: It’s how many of us eat dinner at the end of the day.  Many visitors to Hawai’i are unsure about tipping here and how it works. For those of us in the service industry your generosity by way of gratuity is a large part of our income with regular wages on a lower end scale making it hard, without tips, to meet the cost of living.

We love it here, we love what we do, and we love that you visit us! We do our best to help make your dreams of the perfect tropical island paradise vacation all you hope for and to serve each of you, our visitors, in the Spirit of Aloha.

Please factor tipping into your budget as you plan your time and activities in Hawai’i. From coffee house baristas, food trucks and restaurant servers, hotel valet, room service, housekeeping, boat tours crewmembers, helicopter tours, zip line, hiking guides; the list goes on and on. 15-20% of your total receipt is considered typical gratuity and is very much appreciated by all who spend their days making sure your Hawaiian vacation is the best in every way.

You may share your appreciation and Aloha in a tip jar, the receipt book, or directly into the hand of the one providing service. As manager for a private boat charter company my favorite tip for tipping is this: The wind and waves may rock the boat, but only you can tip the crew! Mahalo nui loa!

Respect Other Surfers

Surfing on Maui

Surfing on Maui

Surfing: It’s a great feeling! The joy of a stoke-filled session can be addicting, but the thirst for great waves needs to be balanced with respect for your fellow surfers. So, in the spirit of keeping everyone’s surf experience fun and trouble-free here are a few guidelines to help you out with some basic rules of thumb.

The person closest to the curl has ‘right of way’ and is in position to catch the next wave. This rule applies regardless of whether the curl is breaking from left or right. Luckily there are plenty of waves to go around, so take a deep breath and wait your turn. On a good surf day the sets will keep coming. Focus on having a good time and not on the number of waves you catch, that way you don’t accidentally end up becoming a wave hog. You don’t want to be that guy! And it’s inevitable, cut offs, drop ins, and snakes happen, so enter the water knowing that if someone hops on your wave just let them have it and brush it off, the karmic wheel will reward you with plenty of nice swells in return.

Some spots are known for intense localism, while others are more mellow. To make sure you don’t end up with a sour session keep your eyes and ears open, gauge the crowd’s mood before making the decision of whether it’s welcoming new wave riders. Once established, a good approach is to err on the side of goodwill and let the locals have contested waves regardless of wave priority. Whether they accept the wave with thanks or entitlement, you are doing the right thing and will put yourself in a better position for the next wave, and possibly, most likely, a new friend.

Maui Guidebooks

Maui Revealed, the Ultimate Guidebook

Maui Revealed Book

Maui Revealed: A great guide publication that has become extremely popular with visitors. It is a wealth of information that ranges from highly sought activities and destinations to secret, sometimes remote, little-known gems. Broken down by areas and townships, you will find the best places to eat: food trucks, local favorites, fine dining top chefs and restaurants, or simply where to find the best poke.

The book will tell you all about the best beaches with sand like brown sugar, black sand beaches, waterfalls and waterfall pools for swimming, well-known trails and remote hiking adventures (please secure a hiking guide, these can be extremely dangerous and put you at great risk). You’ll find drum circles and fire spinning, upscale shopping and hippie towns, information on snorkeling, whale watching, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, helicopter tours, lava tubes, horseback riding, hunting, and wine tasting – it’s hard to name something that isn’t covered in this book. You will find cultural information as well.

If you purchase Maui Revealed, we highly recommend you read it in its entirety. There is much information that will help you understand not only discovering Maui, but also about some things that are very important to those who live here, like: kuleana (responsibility), kokua (help/respect), kapu (a very serious no trespassing), and malama pono keep da aina ono (take good care of the land).  You can purchase Maui Revealed here or explore some other wonderful books about Hawaii’s culture, myths and legends, marine life, etc. locally.  Some can be found at Maui Friend’s of the Library, many at a mere fraction of the cover price! Find them located in The Wharf Center in Lahaina or The Queen Ka’ahumanu Center Shopping Mall in Kahului.

In all of Maui’s beauty, always remember much is still rugged and never go above your physical limitations or explore without local assistance. We want you to fall in love with our beautiful island and at the end of your visit take home nothing but a great tan, the best memories, your souvenirs, and the Spirit of Aloha!! Imagine if everyone who visited Hawai’i would take the Aloha home and spread it wherever they go how much better a place the world would be.

From our Sea Monkey Ohana to yours, know you are always welcome to contact us for any island advice, we are happy to help (info@seamonkeymaui.com or by phone 808-491-9141). Aloha Nui Loa!



Trash found in the ocean in Maui

One of our neighbor boats in the harbor, Ultimate Whale Watch, was out on a typical whale watching tour when they noticed a peculiar line in the water that seemed taut. Peter, General Manager of the company, happened to be onboard that day. He dove into the water to check out what was going on. It turns out that a whale had been entangled and was stuck, trying to drag on the line to get free. With a few smart maneuvers on his part and the help of the Coast Guard, they were able to free the humpback whale.

There are a small number of sharks that frequent Lahaina Harbor in hopes that the fishermen who come in daily will drop some tidbits of fish for their lunch. Actually, they would like more than a tidbit, but it keeps them coming round like clockwork. Everyone loves to look for and wait excitedly to watch the sharks in the harbor. One shark, we call Sandy, has in recent months gotten some line twisted around it’s neck that appears to be getting tighter as time goes on. Several men have tried in vain to approach the shark to cut the line with no luck. We hope Sandy is able to get the help she needs before it is too late.

Lately, here in Maui’s beautiful waters, there has been a deluge of castaway nets and debris washing to the surface. Many boats, including Sea Monkey, have been doing their part to collect and bring the garbage in out of the water. We fear for the whales who have come home for their breeding season. Baby humpback whales are born here and quickly get to business learning the ropes of being good breachers, tail slapppers, and pec wavers. We want to do everything we possibly can to help clean up the ocean, not only for the safety of humpback whales, but for all sea life. Those of us who live here consider all creatures of the sea to be like extended members of our families.

We are sharing this for a two-fold reason. One, to hopefully make everyone a little more aware of the immense dangers ocean pollution and garbage present to whales, dolphins, sea turtles and more, boats, and the livelihood of not only our people, but for many around the globe who live by the sea. And secondly, to extend a huge thank you to everyone who collects the garbage and brings it in; to those who aren’t afraid to get into the water and do what they can to free a sea creature in need of help. These things are fine examples of the true Spirit of Aloha.

We, at Sea Monkey, firmly believe that the creatures of the sea, large and small, know when we are trying to help them and that they truly appreciate our efforts. While out cruising the basin one day, recently, we had literally just pulled a huge floating net in out of the water and secured it in a holding area when a HUGE humpback whale told us ‘Mahalo nui loa!’ (Thank you from the heart!) with a nose to tail, magnificent, awe-inspiring, breathtaking breach RIGHT behind the boat! We cheered, we stood in awe, and we laughed and smiled huge smiles from the depths of our hearts as we said ‘You’re whale-come’! That is a defining moment none of us will ever forget. As a matter of fact the memory of it brings joy to my heart and a huge smile as I write. It is our sincere hope that each of you reading this will have an opportunity to help clean the ocean and receive the kind hearted thank you like we received. Spread the word and do good, on any level that you are able; and we promise it will bring a smile to your heart, too! 

Humpback Whale Watching Tours in Hawaii


Small kine* advice from my personal experiences and some whale watching tips.

(*a little bit)

I’m super excited as my friends and I join others for a day on the water, it’s whale soup out there in the Maui basin this time of year, and anticipation is running high as we look about for a spout, a tail, a pectorial fin or breach, anything and everything keeps us on the edge of our seats. And there we sit… Waiting…..Waiting…..Waaaaaaitiiiing… per usual I get fidgety, I look down at my phone or away for a second and BOOM!! Everyone is cheering and whooping at the incredible breach they just saw, Aargh!! I whip my head up or around just in time to see the tail end of a splash, what a horrible feeling of disappointment.

Lesson learned: Be patient!!! If there are telltale signs of a whale’s presence, it’s worth the waiting, waiting, waiting!! A funny joke I heard asked, “How long can humpback whales stay under water?” The answer is about five seconds longer than the human attention span… So true! So patience definitely pays off and saves your neck from what I call WWW (whale watching whiplash), too.

Leave the Cell Phone in Your Bag

Another not fun lesson learned… I used to have my cell phone up and ready only to realize afterward that all of the magnificent whales I just saw were only 3” tall. Unless your cell phone is your camera, don’t even get that thing out or at least make a deal with yourself before you set out to only use it part of the time. Witnessing humpback whales in all of their glory simply does not happen if everything you see the entire trip is through a 3X5 inch screen.

Instead, fix your eyes on the water, the horizon, anywhere the whales might be for you are blessed beyond measure to witness something truly spectacular that most people will never see in their lifetime — so see it for real! Capture that moment and let it be forever emblazoned in your mind’s eye. It’s humpback whales for goodness sake!

I’m in no way suggesting you never take whale-watching photos. I have much respect for the avid photographers who either live or travel here every year and I’ve seen mind-blowing whale shots by them that rival National Geographic. All I am trying to say is don’t let the experience pass you by without taking moments to simply cherish what you are so lucky to be a part of.

Stay Ready

The best advice from lessons learned that I can give you is BE READY FOR ANYTHING! The whales might mug your boat, they might decide to spend an hour or two just cruising alongside you, they might be stinkers and dive deep every single time without so much as a tail slap, a momma whale might lift her baby up on her nose to give you a better view. Can you imagine a mammal as big as a school bus coming up out of the water only a few feet away?! You might get whale splashed or you might get rained on. You might get great photos or empty shots. Who knows what your whale watching adventure will bring? So simply be prepared by bringing your patience, sense of adventure, be ready for anything and above all know that it’s going to be

legen… wait for it… dary!*


Rain at sunset over the ocean in Maui

Like any other vessel that cruises the open waters, we are at the mercy of the weather. At Sea Monkey we know this and try to plan our charter destinations where the weather is less likely to affect the itinerary, but avoiding inclement weather is never guaranteed. From rain, tropical storms and high winds to vog (volcanic ash fog), run-off and low or high waters, there are many ways in which bad weather can force a chartered excursion off course — or simply ruin the day. Bad weather can mean anything from less impressive photos or muddled water clarity, to a rained-out snorkel trip.

We rely on our Captain’s experience to determine your daily destination as it can be cold, rainy, cloudy or windy in one direction on Westside Maui, yet beautiful in another direction with the sun shining and calm clear waters; that is what we are always looking for.

If the captain of your cruise decides it’s too dangerous to proceed with the scheduled itinerary we will cancel your trip and even though full cancellations are rare, they do happen. It is never our desire to cancel and we try to wait as long as possible before making a decision, while still trying to give our guests enough lead time to make alternate plans if necessary.

We can’t lie, winter on Maui definitely brings more challenging conditions on the water, but it also brings something that makes a drizzly day on the water worth it – Humpback Whales! Know upfront when booking a winter month charter that if weather prohibits great snorkeling, we still strive to fulfill your charter with food, fun, and hanging out with Humpback whales will be the focus. If you are prone to seasickness please make us aware ahead of time, we have a number of remedies to help you keep the nausea at bay. Seasickness is no fun and something you should consider seriously as you plan your vacation itinerary. If you are feeling adventurous, bring a bikini, a lightweight long sleeve or jacket, your sense of adventure and be ready for anything!

Aloha! We hope to see you soon!

There are many options for enjoying the beautiful ocean surrounding our island including heading out on a charter boat to snorkel, watch for whales, or see the sunset. These are the top 10 charter boats on Maui. Aloha.

Top Charter Boats on Maui


Sea Monkey Private Charters Maui

Luxury at it’s finest and the most competitive private yacht prices on Maui. Sea Monkey Private Charters is perfect for everyone, whether family fun or honeymoon romance you will not find a better day cruiser yacht to come aboard. Comfortable leather seating in the cockpit under a bimini shade; cushioned reclining seats on the bow for sun, fun, and enjoying the speed of the boat; fresh warm water outdoor shower; a beautiful restroom down below, and so much more! Sea Monkey will take you sightseeing while cruising; whale watching the magnificent Humpback Whales in season; snorkeling in places where you have the water all to yourself; provide all of your gear and feed you well with first class service by Captain and First Mate, all in the lap of luxury on the beautiful blue Hawaiian waters. Go to our tab on this website labeled Book Now or call us at (808) 491-9141 for personal assistance to secure your charter.



Jayhawk cruises the waters off Lanai


If luxury combined with deep-sea fishing or scuba diving is on your bucket list, Jayhawk Yacht Charters is a perfect fit for you. You can even book a stand-up paddle excursion. This is no ordinary fishing vessel, it features beautifully appointed staterooms and is equipped to whisk you away on overnight charters with your own personal chef. Among their amenities are: shimano fishing gear, fish finder technology, GPS, and chart plotters. If you really desire to go all in on the luxury experience, Jayhawk offers an upgrade to have a masseuse onboard to work out those muscles you exerted bringing in your catch! Visit them now at www.jayhawkmaui.com or call (866)326-0636.



Satisfaction Yacht

Where else on Maui can you find a luxury powerboat with a lil ‘mini me’ tender tucked inside itself to get you into hidden coves or the shallows for closer views? Aboard Satisfaction you can witness first hand the beauty and majesty of Maui, Lana’i and Molokai on overnight charters. Extreme opulence with luxurious amenities coupled with Penn International Rods & Reels, state of the art equipment, sumptuous dining and much more are all part and parcel for the most discerning and affluent guests visiting Maui. See everything Satisfaction has to offer at www.mauiyachtcharters.com or call (808)866-0338.



Alii Nui Catamaran

Alii Nui means highest royalty in Hawaiian, this vessel is royal indeed – the crown jewel of all sailing catamarans found on Maui. Stretching low and wide she is truly an impressive way to spend your day on the water providing luxury in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. You can snorkel, scuba dive, snuba, or more simply float with water noodles or boogie boards if you just want to relax in the water. Alii Nui berths in Maalaea Harbor and travels regularly to Molokini Crater, a highly sought after snorkel destination where you can see species of fish not found anywhere else in the ocean. If romance is on your agenda and you are not in the market for a private charter, Alii Nui’s Sunset Sail and Royal Feast are extraordinary. Special event sails and packages offer you an opportunity to go dancing, arrange for a private dinner, or even get married! Visit www.aliinuimaui.com to see which excursion they have to offer is right for you or call (808)875-0333.



Kainani Sailboat

Set sail on Hawaii’s most outfitted private monohull yacht. Experience performance sailing, personalized snorkel trips, whale watching, or liveaboard inter-island cruises aboard Kainani. Depart from world famous Ka’anapali Beach, sit back, relax, and discover true Hawaii from the sea. Amidst the beautifully appointed amenities you will find a spacious interior featuring 3 private cabins, 2 marine heads (bathrooms), a comfortable saloon, and a full galley – there is even an outdoor grill on deck. For fun they provide snorkel gear, fishing gear, floatation noodles, deck chairs, a bodyboard, and a 2-person kayak. In the Spirit of Aloha, the Captain and Crew are always eager to share what they know about the Hawaiian culture, legends of old, and reasons behind the names of the places, giving you a truly personal Hawaiian experience. For more information visit www.kainanisails.com or call (808)495-1001.



Atlantis Submarine Maui


Dive 100 feet and more below the surface aboard a real submarine, Atlantis Submarines Maui, and witness first hand Hawaii’s underwater paradise. Marvel at the sight of a replicated sunken ship, natural coral reef gardens filled with colorful fish, sharks, sting rays and more all while enjoying the air-conditioned comfort and safety of the vessel. Atlantis Submarines are the world’s most technologically advanced passenger vessels and host panoramic windows and high ceilings. Featured in National Geographic television specials and owned and operated in world-wide locations around the globe, find all you need to know about Atlantis Submarines at www.atlantisadventures.com or call (800)381-0237.



Ultimate Whale Watch

Since 1982, Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel has been dedicated to sharing their knowledge and experience of Maui’s ocean through whale watching, snorkeling, and supporting education and research. Their small group rafting vessels are fast, fun, safe, and offer up-close and personal opportunities to view and photograph Maui’s finest and most spectacular marine life: whales, dolphins, turtles, tropical fish and more! In the true Spirit of Aloha, Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel donates their vessels, time, and resources to researchers that are working to understand Maui’s marine environment and in turn protect and advocate for it. Their goal is to encourage eco-friendly decisions and appreciation of the Hawaii paradise we are a part of. Book privately or make new friends as you join a shared boat – either way, they guarantee a whale of a time (in season of course)! Call (808)667-5678 or visit them at www.ultimatewhalewatch.com/.



Pride of Maui

Berthed in central Maui’s Ma’alaea harbor, Pride of Maui is a 65-foot maxi-powered Catamaran boasting 3000 sq ft. of deck space (specifically built for Hawaiian waters by professional boat builders in New Orleans). The Company purposely leaves a percentage of the boat empty in order to uphold the quality and service of their international reputation. The Pride of Maui is a well respected large yacht, famous for its stability and comfort. Its size, seating, and layout permit unobstructed panoramic viewing and the convenience to comfortable walk around its spacious decks. Offering whale watching, SNUBA, SCUBA, snorkeling world-class destinations including the famous Molokini Crater, underwater video, and an array of special events. Plan your day of fun and make memories aboard Pride of Maui by visiting their website at www.prideofmaui.com/ or call them at (855)666-3893.



Trilogy Catamaran

With a fleet of beautiful, state of the art vessels, Sail Trilogy offers an extensive selection of activities. You can sail, snorkel, SNUBA, romance and dine, get married, watch dolphins play, and in season experience the world famous Humpback whales. Departing out of Lahaina harbor or off of the beach in Ka’anapali, with Trilogy you can choose your destination package and explore Molokini crater, Maui’s neighboring island of Lana’i, watch fireworks, or join the Captains Dinner Sail and experience a private restaurant feel, fine dining with panoramic views aboard this luxury sailing catamaran. Tables are set for two to enjoy a four-course dinner service with premium open bar. Book privately or go with a shared group, either way Trilogy will not disappoint – visit their website and see why for yourself as you read their story… they don’t just say Aloha – they LIVE Aloha. www.sailtrilogy.com/ Phone:(888)225-MAUI



Maui Princess Dinner Cruise

Departing from Lahaina, enjoy a memorable evening of dining and live music aboard Maui’s largest and most stable 120-foot vessel, the Maui Princess. View the stars, as they come out over the ocean, from their all premium top-deck seating. You will enjoy different musicians nightly, and tableside dinner service provided by their excellent wait staff. Well known to have the most delicious menu and prepared fresh daily by their own chef, the food is really quite scrumptious. After dinner, you can dance, or, relax at your table, and enjoy the rest of your evening cruise along the scenic Maui coastline. Visit www.hawaiioceanproject.com to view the menu selection and book your evening on the sea or call (808)667-6165 to book direct.

In Maui nature is everywhere, abundant and amazing. Lucky to live in Hawaii, we are surrounded, literally, by an underwater world that is full of wonder and magnificent creatures. Not even in our wildest imaginations can we dream of all that exists out there in the deep blue, but we can share with you some fun things we do know about a few of our neighbors who dwell ‘unda da sea’.

Green Sea Turtles (Hawaiian Name – Honu)

Green Hawaiian Sea Turtle

Gentle giants of the sea, pro surfers of the waves, and protectors of the coral reefs – Hawaii’s honu cruise in graceful motion to the beat of no ones drum but their own. If only they could throw the shaka as they drift by on island time, it would seem only fitting. They feed on algae (helping to keep our coral clean and healthy), and sea grass which turns their fat layer green; it is that and not the color of their shell that gives them their name.

The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is the only indigenous reptile found in Hawaii, dating back as many as 150 million years. It is a symbol of good luck, by ancient Hawaiians in the form of a guardian spirit (Aumakua), believed to be departed loved ones that continue to look over and protect their lineage. Because they are revered as Aumakua, combined with that they are born on land and often come to rest on sandy beaches; even though they spend most of their lives in the ocean, they are considered by ancient Hawaiians to form a revered triangular link of man, land, and sea. If you search them out you will find the Honu pattern is heavily used in ancient petro glyphs as well as in modern graphic form around the islands.

Sea Monkey Honu fun fact: there is a giant green sea turtle that frequently cruises one of our snorkel destinations and his name is Stage Coach because he is so big! We can never promise he will show up, but when he does – wow!


Humpback Whales (Hawaiian name: Kohola)

Humpback Whale

Of all the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Hawaiian islands each year, there is none more eagerly anticipated or welcomed back than the Humpback Whales! Whale season in Hawaii is officially from December through April. February is the month known to the local folk as ‘whale soup’.

Humpback Whales travel to the warm tropical waters in the safe basins to birth their offspring. They come from Alaska, Mexico, and Russia; traveling approximately 39 days of non-stop swimming around 3,200 miles to get here. They can actually turn off half of their brain at a time to rest it for the long journey.

Once here, there is great excitement! Thrilling breeches as they hurl themselves far up into the air only to come crashing down in a giant splash – giant tail fins slapping the water with a resounding crack – waving Aloha with their school bus-sized arm fin, the pectoral – singing – courting – giving birth – nurturing – competition pods of males fighting over a female (yes, the whales – but not unlike the sailors in the old local watering holes, too!).

One of the most amazing things to experience is hearing the whale song underwater while snorkeling, or seeing the magnificent creature silhouetted off in the not too distant water, knowing you are sharing the same space – it is exhilarating beyond all belief! We could go on and on with facts and tales of whales. Join Sea Monkey during the season and let our crew expand your knowledge while you laugh, oooh and aaah together over the breathtaking spectacle of the Humpbacks.

Sea Monkey Humpback Whale fun fact: It’s only October, but they are back! At least the scouts are, which is incredibly exciting. The scouts travel right ahead of the pods to ‘scope things out’. They look out for killer whales, sharks, and other dangers. They find the safe havens, and they sing it back to the pods on their way. Meanwhile, the local boats and fishermen have officially received their first playful Humpback Whale shows and Aloha waves of the season – – – Come join us!!


Sharks (Hawaiian Name – Mano)

White Tip Reef Shark

The serious side of the ocean – Hawaiian waters are home to over 40 species of sharks, though the most commonly seen is the docile white tip reef shark. White tips eat many small fish, octopus, and crustaceans, and are harmless to humans unless harassed and provoked. Most sharks have to continuously move in order for water to move in their mouth and over their gills, allowing them to breathe.

White tip reef sharks can rest on the ocean floor and pump water through their mouth. Ram ventilation is what it’s called for sharks to breathe while swimming; they use muscles around their mouth when resting. Their skin is made up of what is called denticles which is essentially rows and rows of almost microscopic shark teeth which prevent the growth of algae on their skin, so make sure you pet your shark from head to tail and not the other way around!

Hammerhead Shark

Other common sharks found around Maui are Tiger and Hammerheads. Definitely not friendly, tiger sharks will eat turtles and whales and are known to attack humans as well. Hammerhead sharks are mostly found around Molokai but can be found in small numbers around Maui. Sharks are considered a most prized Aumakua in the Hawaiian culture.

Tiger Shark

Sea Monkey shark fun fact: Mala Ramp, on Westside Maui, collapsed in 1992 during hurricane Iniki and has become a favorite hang out for white tips. They like to be lazy and hang out under ledges and in lava tubes, so the fractured ramp provides a fun playground for them to eat, sleep, and put on a show for snorkelers! If weather permits, Mala Ramp is a place we like to visit because it is safe and full of an amazing array of marine life – you might get lucky and see a white tip in the distance!


Dolphins (Hawaiian Name – Nai’a)

Spinner Dolphin

Beloved for their ability to look like they are always having the time of their life – jumping – spinning – swimming – dolphins are full of excitement! Hawaii’s 3 most commonly seen dolphins are the Bottlenose, the Spinners, and the Spotted. We would have to say that Spinner’s are definitely the most fun. They are small, have a long beak and in a single leap out of the water they can spin as many as six times. They are found around all of the main islands of Hawaii, hunting at night and either resting or playing during the day.

Spotted Dolphin

Spotted dolphins are easily confused with spinners; they are closely related and look very similar. However, the end of their beak is white-tipped and mature ones have a spotted color pattern on their body. Mostly seen in the channels between the islands, the spotted do not rest near shore. Both the spinner and spotted dolphins travel in schools from small numbers up to hundred.

Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins are much larger in size, live in smaller pods, their color is uniformly gray, and their beak is thicker and more blunt. Super intelligent and very playful they love bow riding where they surf in front of a boat or even a whale’s bow wave.

Sea Monkey dolphin fun fact: It’s so much fun to listen to the stories of captains and fishermen here in Lahaina harbor, and one of them shared this little tidbit: since we are not allowed to pursue swimming with dolphins, she has found that if they are in the nearby waters while your snorkeling, sing into your snorkel while you’re swimming around often times they will come to you – don’t know if it works or not, she swears it does – but it’s worth a try!


Manta and Eagle Rays (Hawaiian name: Hihimanu)

Manta Ray

The Hawaiian name means lavish, magnificent, and elegant. The beautiful creatures glide through the water and along the sandy bottom of the ocean like they are gracefully dancing the waltz. Their large flat side fins look like giant butterfly wings. Feeding on mostly plankton and occasional clams, snails, shrimp and fish with no shell, it uses the head fins like speared paddles to scoop food into its mouth.

Manta ray ‘wings’ can get so large that a grown man could lay on each one, each with their arms stretched over their heads and possibly still not cover the full span from tip to tip. That’s huge! Rays have skeletons made of cartilage like sharks, but the resemblance stops there other than the fact that both are awe inspiring. Quite often seen in the Hawaiian waters while snorkeling, the rays are still considered elusive for as soon as you see one, they are off in a moment, perhaps they are related to Batman?

Sea Monkey ray fun fact: though this is a cheat and really nothing to do with the animal ray – Sea Monkey boat is a Sea Ray, too, and glides just as beautifully along the top of the water as the animal rays do underneath! If only it was able to run on fish food instead of gasoline.


Hawaiian Monk Seal
(Hawaiian name: Ilio holo I ka uaua which means dog that runs in rough water)

Hawaiian Monk Seal

Extremely endangered with numbers reported to be below 1,200, the Hawaiian Monk Seal is only found in US waters around Hawaii. They are one of the only two mammals in existence that are native to Hawaii. Often found snoozing and warming themselves on local beaches, they are still considered a rare sighting.

Tiger sharks are the main predator for the monk seal, especially the young. However, entanglement from fishing gear, coral bleaching, canine diseases, and ocean acidification are factors that contribute to the dwindling numbers.

Able to dive up to 900 feet in deeper waters, most of their hunting is done in shallow reefs where they thrive on fish, octopus, and crustaceans. They live 25-30 years if they are lucky enough to elude the threats that humans pose. A monk seal pup has a very hard time surviving tiger shark hunts and human interference into their habitat. If you see a Hawaiian Monk Seal consider yourself blessed, but please be respectful and keep your distance. There are preservation teams around the island’s that will come to stand guard over the seal while it rests at a moment’s notice.

Sea Monkey Monk Seal fun fact: There is a local gentleman known to all as “Doc”, his life is dedicated to the monk seals and he can be seen in Lahaina harbor daily spreading his love and knowledge of the seals that he claims to be able to communicate with. If you see a man in a funny straw hat with whirly-gigs sticking up 2 feet above it, that’s Doc! And you can rest assured knowing that he would love to stop and chat with anyone about the Hawaiian Monk Seal. You can even check out his series of informational videos on YouTube by searching DrLeisure1. The following video, not by Doc, is rare footage of the monk seal and a green sea turtle playing, though we do not believe the turtle is having very much fun, what do you think?

Monk Seal Playing With Green Turtle


 Eels (Hawaiian name: Puhi)

Whitemouth Eel

Conger Eel

Zebra Eel

Yellowmargin Eel

Eels are elongated fishes with a snake-like body. They live in crevices and roles, rarely displaying their entire body in the open. In Hawaii they are quite abundant and represented by many species

Eels tend to be territorial, but do not live in only one hole or location for a long time. Eels are constantly opening and closing their mouth, which makes them appear aggressive; however, this is simply the way they breathe. Since eels generally stay in their hole during the day, many of them are quite willing to model for you, at least facial shots. Some of the bolder species such as the Yellowmargin and Whitemouth Moray, along with the Conger Eel, may even allow you to place a framer on them.

Sea Monkey eel fun fact: It’s a little more challenging to photograph the shy garden eels, so this is how you outsmart them paparazzi style – leave your camera outside of it’s burrow and back off about 20 feet, sure enough the eel will reappear and perform for your video!


Picasso Triggerfish The official Hawaiian State Fish
(Hawaiian name – Humuhumunukuapua’a)


There are some very showy guys and gals swimming around in the ocean here in Hawaii – they sport a very ostentatious name and look like they’re all dressed up with nowhere to go, so they hang around the coral reefs showing off their fancy selves. They are the Hawaiian state fish and their name is Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Intimidating, but it’s a lot easier to pronounce than it looks.  Just say it like this and you will sound like a Hawaiian in a minute: Who-moo-who-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-pooh-ah-ah. Easy, right, so cheehoo and pat yourself on the back!

Humuhumunukunukuapua’a is a triggerfish that is very territorial, so even though they are a show off for snorkelers, they like their space and we highly advise you give it to them, as they have been known to aggressively bite ankles! When Humuhumunukunukuapua’a are happy, healthy, and feel non-threatened their colors are bright and beautiful. When sleeping or feeling invaded they have the ability to tone themselves down into muted coloration for protection.

Sea Monkey Humumunukunukuapua’a fun fact: We hope someday you have an opportunity to snorkel and encounter this flashy fellow, if you’re not a water adventurer you can visit him at the Maui Ocean Center or any aquarium in Hawaii. If worst comes to worst, he is so popular, you will surely see him sported on t-shirts up and down the strip in Old Lahaina Town!


Sea Urchin
(Hawaiian Name: Wana, pronounced vah-na)

Beautiful spiny creatures called sea urchins draw the attention of snorkelers and divers for their exotic presence. Either round or oval, their spines are designed for special habitats. They have five zones of tube feet, which allow them to attach themselves securely to the coral reef or the ocean floor, and five zones of spiny needles to protect them from predators. Some sea urchins hang out directly in the wave crash zone so these tube feet keep them from getting tossed around. Hawaii has several species of sea urchins; the Collector Urchin and the Pencil urchin are two of the most popularly seen.

Collector Sea Urchin

The collector gets it’s name from the fact that it’s an ocean hoarder, hanging onto debris that washes over it like seaweed, gravel, and shell – it uses the debris to hide itself.


Pencil Sea Urchin


The Pencil urchin is brightly colored and make for beautiful photo opportunities. Neither of these are harmful, unless you accidentally step on them, so don’t do that! Always be aware of what’s around you as you play in or explore the ocean.


Diadema Sea Urchin

The Diadema urchin is the one you want to look out for. Its slender spiky needles are venomous and extremely painful, so look but don’t touch, it could send you to the emergency room.

Sea Monkey sea urchin fun fact: watch our homepage video and see our crew holding a pencil urchin for the guests to see. Our crew loves to guide you as you snorkel and share the wondrous creatures that live beneath the sea – it’s a magical place down there!


Mahalo for joining us on this short version journey about a few of the amazing creatures that live in Hawaii’s natural aquarium – the Pacific Ocean. Should you find yourself visiting one of our little rocks we call islands, we hope you will take the time to swim, snorkel or dive in our clear waters and experience the spectacular underwater world up close and personally. Truly, there is nothing like it! Whether whale watching from a distance, snorkeling from offshore or chartering your own personal experience aboard a luxury private day cruiser yacht, you will take home memories that will last a lifetime. Aloha!


Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube; “Hawaiian Reef Fish” by Witte/Mahoney; “Documenting The Super Moms of Seals The Hawaiian Monk Seals of Kalaupapa” by Dr. George R. Harker.

Hawaii Wild Life Fund

Maui Ocean Center

Smithsonian Ocean Portal

Hawaii Travel Guide


Hurricane Irma Florida Keys

Sea Monkey is all about fun, excitement, and luxury. Sometimes, however, life has a way of pulling all of us back away from ourselves to recognize the needs of others and serious, sometimes tragic events. In the wake of the destruction, devastation and heartache left behind by Hurricanes Harvey, and Irma, the arms of Sea Monkey are extended outward. We grieve for the insurmountable loss of many. Please join Sea Monkey in prayer and relief effort to help restore the loss. Every prayer, every gift, no matter how large or small matters to the people who desperately need it. Hurricane relief efforts can be found online, you can give monetarily or even purchase products online that will be shipped directly to the affected areas. Sea Monkey has a lot of happy memories from the time the boat was in Key West and we want to do our part to do support the communities. Come together and help rebuild – while we cannot halt the operations of fun and excitement that our guests seek on their Hawaiian vacations – we can show our kuleana (responsibility) aloha (love) and kokua (assistance).

Sea Monkey Private Charters is donating 10% of all charters booked in the month of September 2017 to the American Red Cross hurricane relief effort. Our thoughts are with all recovering from or bracing for the hurricanes. 

Aloha and blessings from Sea Monkey Private Charters Owners, Staff, & Crew.

Private Maui Snorkeling Tours

Why using reef safe sunscreen is important?

Anyone swimming or snorkeling in the tropical ocean near coral should consider a coral reef safe sunscreen. It is not a mystery that sunscreen that washes off your body when swimming may affect aquatic life.  Some commonly used chemical sunscreen ingredients cause coral bleaching and may be affecting coral reefs. In fact near 10% of the world’s coral reefs may be threatened by sunscreen induced coral bleaching.

Each year between 4000-6000 metric tons (4400-6600 US tons) of sunscreen washes off swimmers and snorkelers into coral reef environments. Some of these common sunscreen ingredients were shown to cause complete coral bleaching at very low concentrations.

Avoid these reef-harmful sunscreen ingredients:

  1. Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3) – Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects.
  2. Butylparaben – Preservative with several suspected human health effects.
  3. Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) – Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects.
  4. 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC) – Sunscreen with several suspected human health effects. Allowed in Europe and Canada, not in USA or Japan

There are many other chemical ingredients that are commonly used in wide variety of sunscreens that are bad for you and the coral reef.  As a general rule of a thumb it is a good idea to avoid products with a long list of chemical ingredients you can’t read or understand..  The two base ingredients that score best for safety of the coral today are: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.  Please read Environmental Working Group reports for more detailed and current information about true meaning of “reef safe” sunscreen today.

Other factors to consider when trying to stay sun safe.

Do not confuse SPF number and amount of time the sunscreen will protect you against the powerful UV rays!  Many people believe that the SPF number equals the number of minutes you are protected (meaning: SPF 100 gives 100 minutes of protections, while SPF 30 only protects you for 30 minutes).   That is not exactly how it works.  In fact, SPF 30 filters out 97% of UVB, SPF 50 filters out 98%, and SPF 100 filters out 99%, according to the the American Cancer Society.

In addition, consider other factors when using a sunscreen, such as your water exposure, sweat, and the power of the UV rays.  Your weather channel app can tell you how strong the UV Index is in your area at all times.  It is a great idea to avoid sun exposure between hours of 10am and 4pm, while UV Index is at its highest.  Other ways to stay sun safe is to use hats, sunglasses, and clothing to cover up and seek shade whenever possible.

Our reef safe sunscreen recommendations.

Elta MD UV Pure Broad-Spectrum SPF 47 SunscreenMaui Surfer Honey Natural Sunscreen

Sea Monkey Private Charters offers a variety of reef safe sunscreens onboard our vessel. We want not only our coral reefs and marine life to be safe, but you too!  One of the highly recommended products by many dermatologists today is Elta MD UV Pure Broad -Spectrum SPF 47 Sunscreen.  It is sold on Amazon as well as in many dermatology clinics throughout the Country.  Purchase it in advance, tuck into your suitcase, you will be ready before you even get to your vacation! If you are planning on snorkeling or swimming in Hawaii – please consider using a locally made sunscreen product. Maui Surfer Honey All Natural Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30   can be purchased online or in many local stores.  It is reef friendly natural sunscreen, made in Hawaii with natural ingredients and Maui grown essential oils with the crisp dry aroma of rosemary and lemongrass. It contains no Avobenzone, no Homosalate, no Octinoxate, no Octocrylene, no Oxybenzone, no PABA, no Parabens, no Retinyl Palmitate, and no Nano particles and is water resistant for 80 minutes.  Protect yourself, your loved ones, and our ocean – and smell great, too!

Sea Monkey, and all of Hawaii say a big mahalo nui loa for your kokua to all who choose wisely to help us preserve our beautiful marine world!

Private Maui Snorkeling Tours

Whether your most remote destination is your backyard swimming pool or off somewhere on a tropical vacation, learning how to snorkel opens a whole new world of fun for all ages.

First things first and that is always safety! Never swim without a buddy, no matter where you are, if you do not have someone to look out for you, do not get in the water. Period! Why? Because even the most simple encounters with water can become dangerous situations in a moment’s notice.

Secondly, be honest with yourself about your level of swimming expertise and whether or not you need a life jacket or other type of floatation device. Let’s face it, the honest truth is they are not a fashion statement by any means, a little bit of an ego-deflator, and basically for the most part, all kids hate them. But, they do their job well and help keep you and your loved ones safe, and besides, we are about to strap on fish-like apparatuses with big buggy eyes and webbed fins, how much more silly looking can we get?! If ever in doubt, listen to your gut and use the safety devices available to you.

Never last or least – apply sunscreen! Always apply before you go outside and re-apply after excessive perspiration or when you exit the water. And again, to err on the side of safety, please take a moment to read the ingredients of any sunscreen you are considering for purchase as it means everything to your body as well as that of the ocean! General rule of thumb is this: if you can not pronounce the ingredient, you do not want to apply it to your body; so buy smart and slather away!

Now, we are ready to get into gear!

Choosing a good fitting mask is key to having the best snorkel experience. If it suits your wallet, stretch a little bit and overlook the cheaper plastic skirted masks and go for silicone which is not only more comfortable, but more durable as well. For all snorkelers, large and small, it does not matter how tightly you pull the straps to make it fit, that is not how it’s done.. once you can suck in while pressing a mask to your face and the suction alone keeps it in place with straps dangling you have for the most part found a good fit. (Always ask a professional for help if available.) Adjust straps just enough to help keep the mask in place. All masks come from factory with a protective film that needs to be removed before your first snorkel. A thin layer of toothpaste (not gel) rubbed into the entirety of the inside lens and allowed to dry is one of the best ways to take care of the film and to keep your mask as fog free as possible. Once dry use a dry, clean soft (dry)cloth to remove the toothpaste film, do not rinse! After you are in the water give the mask a quick dip and press it to your face for a snug fit, be sure no stray hairs keep the mask from a compete seal. Getting your hair wet first and slicking it back usually takes care of this problem. Kids will typically want to take their masks off occasionally and dump any stray water that seeps in, as they become more comfortable with their mask teach them the method of applying pressure to the top of the mask in the center and blowing out through their nose – this is the best way to keep your mask crystal clear and free of water (note that a teeny bit of water inside the mask that you can swish around acts as a nice wishy-washy).

The snorkel you choose should always be relevant to the size of the person using it. Do not buy an overly large snorkel for a small child. Practicing in a bathtub with supervision should allow the child to gain confidence in breathing through the mouthpiece instead of through the nose. Make sure the mouthpiece is a comfortable fit and teach them to rest their teeth in place while not biting down.

Proper fin fit is essential to avoid blisters. Fins typically loosen a tad while in use. Never ever walk around in fins, only penguins can get away with this! It is a good way to fall and sustain injury. Put your fins on at waters edge and gently walk in backward, if you’re entering the ocean never ever turn your attention away from the water! Back in, but keep your eyes on what the waves are doing. In a pool simply sit on the edge, slip on your fins and drop into the water. Fins on small children are sometimes more trouble than they are worth, go with the comfort level of any snorkeler, large or small. Once the snorkeler gets the hang of using fins they will quickly learn how much more mobility they have in the water.

Families that build memories learning the process and snorkeling together get to discover whole new worlds that many never get to experience. Bright colorful fish and coral reefs in their natural habitats. Sea turtles, dolphins, and manta rays! Marine life still living in shells – it is essentially paramount that you teach your children from day one how important it is to look but not touch. These are all living creatures and their lives depend on our respect that it is their world and not ours – we are simply visitors!

We hope that you and your family take the snorkel tidbits of information from this guide and visit a surf/snorkel shop as well for more professional instruction.  Our goal is to open an under-the-sea curiosity in your family! If you simply spend your first snorkeling years in the backyard pool, you will still have a lot of fun racing for sinkable pool toys and such, all the while building your skills. You never know, one day you might end up on Maui on a snorkel adventure aboard Sea Monkey Private Charters! Do you have snorkel tips you would like to share with us? Please send them along to info@seamonkeymaui.com, we would love to hear from you!