There's a lot to celebrate about the humpback whales that are breaching and singing off Maui's coasts at this time of year. Their recovery from the days of widespread commercial whaling is one of the more successful environmental stories of our time.
World Whale Day is Maui's celebration of these beloved leviathans. Now in its 32nd year, World Whale Day (formerly known as Whale Day) is hosted by local nonprofit Pacific Whale Foundation. It is one of Maui's biggest and best attended community festivals.
World Whale Day takes place on Saturday, Feb. 18, at Kalama Park in Kihei. It's expanded this year with a second entertainment stage and extended hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free. Don't miss the Parade of Whales on South Kihei Road at 9 a.m -- the colorful and musical launch of the big day!
Photo courtesy of Pacific Whale Foundation.
Getting to World Whale Day
Free World Whale Day parking with free shuttle bus service is available from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. at two locations:
1. Hope Chapel, on the corner of Pi'ilani Highway and East Welakahao Street;
2. Azeka Place Maui Shopping Center (on South Kihei Road, just north of Lipoa Street). The shuttle bus will stop in front of the Bank of Hawai'i.
Handicapped parking only is available at Kalama Park.
Eco-tip: Take the bus! Hop on the Kihei Islander bus, and get off at Keala Place and South Kihei Road. View bus schedules at www.co.maui.hi.us.
World Whale Day Performers
Anuhea Hawaiian born singer/songwriter Rylee Anuheake'alaokalokelani Jenkins (Anuhea) blends engaging lyrics, acoustic soul, pop, rap and reggae into a style that has earned her a reputation as Hawai'i's No. 1 female artist.
HAPA (Barry flanagan and Ron Kuala'au) The award-winning world music duo HAPA has been called "the most successful Hawaiian music group in recent history" by The New York Times. Hapa's benchmark first release in 1994 still remains the No. 1
selling recording by a group or duo in the history of recorded Hawaiian music, sweeping six categories in the 1994 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, the Hawaiian equivalent of the Grammy's.
John Cruz John Cruz's first individual album, "Acoustic Soul," spawned radio hits "Shine On," "Sitting in Limbo" and "Island Style." John Cruz is the recipient of three Na Hoku Hanohano awards and one Grammy Award.
He has performed at Bluesfest in Australia, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Summerstage in New York's Central Park, and Carnegie Hall.
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real (POTR) This American rock and roll band from Maui and California has appeared at Farm Aid, on the Late Show with David Letterman and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The band has also opened shows for Dave Matthews, Blues Traveler, Toots & The Maytals and B.B. King.
Manutea Nui E A professional dance group with over 50 years of combined hula and Tahitian experience, Manute'a Nui E shows their love of their culture in their exquisite costumes, astounding choreography and incredible music.
Marty Dread Local reggae star Marty Dread has performed around the world with such greats as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and reggae legend Pato Banton. His recent albums, "Keiki Reggae" and "On the Beach," were each nominated for "Best Reggae Album of the Year" at the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
Nuff Sedd Nuff Sedd is one of Hawai'i's premier bands with sell-out crowds throughout the Hawaiian Islands, Japan and the South Pacific. The band was recognized in 2005 with several prestigious awards at the Hawaiian Music Awards: Group of the Year, Best New Artist, and Song of the Year with their hit single "Cherry Bomb."
Willie K A Maui native who has won more than 18 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, Willie K is a winning singer, songwriter and musician-and most recently starred in the movie, "Get a Job." When you experience his energetic and riveting performance, you'll understand why he has been voted multiple times as the best male vocalist and No. 1 entertainer in Hawai'i.
Plus: A Second Entertainment Stage A second entertainment stage offers performances for keiki and adults by Uncle Wayne and the Howling Dog Band, Evakali Ribbon Dancing, Peter and Melinda Wing, Lily Meola, Keisha the Hoopnatizer, Chestemere High School Jazz, Zumba with Roya, Marty Dread and Friends, and Pacific Whale Foundation's naturalists, who will lead a workshop in knot tying.
Parade of Whales This colorful parade at 9 am follows South Kihei Road, beginning at the corner of Alanui Keali'i Drive, and ending at Waimahaihai Street. The theme is "World of Whales." Don't miss the costumed sea characters, and floats of all shapes and sizes created by local organizations. Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa is the official Grand Marshal.
Food Booths World Whale Day offers an array of tantalizing dishes at food booths hosted by popular Maui restaurants and food purveyors, including Stella Blues Caf, Beach Bums BBQ and Grill, Monsoon India, Shaka Pizza and Sandwiches, Porto (the new flame-fired artisan pizza restaurant in Ma'alaea), Down to Earth Natural Foods, Cold Stone Creamery, Paradise Tropical Ice, Maui Kazoowie Kettle Corn, Ola Catering, Sharky's Family Fun Center, L&L Hawaiian BBQ, My Office and No Ka Oi Nut Company.
Wild & Wonderful Whale Regatta Little rubber whales race on a twisting, turning water course. The sponsor of the winning whale will receive free round-trip airfare for two between the U.S. Mainland and Maui (or vice versa, if you live on Maui).
Keiki Carnival Inflatable rides, cotton candy, shave ice and games are all part of the fun at the Keiki Carnival area. Pacific Whale Foundation's Whale Competition Pod game is not to be missed!
Made on Maui Artisans Fair Nearly 100 local artisans, including jewelers, basket makers, potters and more will display and sell their wares at the Made on Maui Artisans Fair.
Eco-Alley Whale Day's Eco-Alley offers booths by more than 15 Maui nonprofits, businesses and government agencies that are working to protect our local environment. Stop by and learn how you can make a difference!
Pacific Whale Foundation Exhibits Check out whale artifacts, information about ongoing whale research, free educational displays and presentations about whales at Pacific Whale Foundation's exhibit tent. Sign up for hourly drawings for free whale watch tickets, too! You can also make reservations for a Pacific Whale Foundation whale watch, right there at World Whale Day.
Silent Auction Shoppers will also find great buys on artwork, gift certificates for activities, restaurants, shows, golf and more at the Silent Auction. The bidding begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.
A Green Event All food products at World Whale Day will be served on biodegradable and compostable ware. Water will be sold in reusable commemorative World Whale Day bottles. Purchase one for $3 and you'll receive free refills throughout the day at the booth hosted by Menehune Water Co., the official water sponsor of World Whale Day. Or bring your own reusable bottle and obtain water refills for $1.
A Mahalo to the Sponsors World Whale Day is presented by Pacific Whale Foundation. Major sponsors include Maui Weekly, Expedia Local Expert, Hawai'i Tourism Authority, County of Maui Office of Economic Development, KPOA and Pacific Radio Group, Menehune Water Co. and County of Maui iDepartment of Parks and Recreation.