Awards and Accolades

Pacific Whale Foundation's many awards reflect our unwavering commitment to the marine environment and our passion for excellence in our ocean ecotours. We are proud to be Maui's #1 ocean ecotour company and the oldest and largest marine conservation organization on Maui.

Awards We've Received

United States Coast Guard
William M. Benkert Marine Environmental Bronze Award for Excellence 
For outstanding achievements in marine environmental protection. This award is the United States Coast Guard’s premier marine environmental protection award and is given to members of the Marine Industry that have demonstrated sustained excellence and outstanding achievement in protecting the marine environment. 
(2010)  Read more

Certificate of Excellence 2015 Winner TripAdvisor

Certificate of Excellence

The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence worldwide, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Only the top-performing 10 percent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.  (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)


Hawai'i Magazine
Readers' Choice Awards 
Pacific Whale Foundation placed in two categories:
  • Best Snorkeling / Scuba Rental or Instruction Co. (2015 Runner Up)
  • Best Dinner Cruise / Sunset Sail (2015 Runner Up)
Islands Magazine
"Hot 100" Blue List
Ranked as one of the world's top ecotourism choices.

Island Business Magazine
“Investing in the Environment” Award 
For our many eco-friendly innovations and practices.

Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii
Hero of Agriculture, Food and Environment Award:

“An Environmental Supporter Who Does Their Work with Excellence”
Awarded at the Hawaii Agriculture Conference in recognition of Pacific Whale Foundation's Volunteering on Vacation program.

Hawai’i Tourism Authority
“Keep It Hawai’i” Lehua Maka Noe Award

Maui Organization Category

The Maui News "Best of Maui" Readers' Poll
"Best Environmental Attraction" 
(2011, 2013) 

The Maui News "Best of Maui" Readers' Poll
"Best Sea Activity"
Honorable Mention
(2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) 

Maui Time Readers' Poll
"Best Environmental Nonprofit" Award 
(2008, 2010, 2011, 2012)

Maui Time Readers' Poll
“Best Activity Company”
Maui Time Readers' Poll
Best Community Festival (World Whale Day & Parade of Whales)
Maui Weekly Readers' Choice Poll
"Best boat tour to go whale watching"

Maui Magazine
"Best Nonprofit"

Freedom From Oil Campaign
EcoProducts: "Million Gallon Challenge"

Recognized for using eco-friendly products that saved the equivalent of 1,879 gallons of gasoline.

United States Department of Interior and National Park Service
Volunteers-in-Parks Award

Recognized for 125 hours of volunteer service in Haleakala National Park.
(2005 - 2007)

State of Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources
Living Reef Awards Program Nominee


Work Boat Magazine
Work Boat Environmental Award

Judges' special recognition award for comprehensive environmental management.

Hawaii Ecotourism Association Green Certification Program
Silver Certification


Hawaii Ecotourism Association Sustainable Tourism Certification
Pacific Whale Foundation is one of only five tour operators on Maui to receive the Certification for 2014-2016.
Dolphin SMART Progam
A voluntary recognition and education program developed  by NOAA, the Dolphin Ecology Project, and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
Passenger Vessel Association
Pacific Whale Foundation is a member of the PVA's Green Waters Program.


Accolades We've Received  

Pacific Whale Foundation's Eco-Adventure cruises earn consistently high ratings on Trip Advisor, Yelp and other travel sites. We are also proud of the many accolades that we have received from travel writers and guidebooks. Here are just a few of the accolades we've received.


Lonely Planet Guide logo

"If you want to get within splashing distance of 40-ton leviathans acrobatically jumping out of the water, take a whalewatching cruise. No one does them better than Pacific Whale Foundation a conservation group that takes pride in its green, naturalist-led whalewatch trips."

~ Lonely Planet Guide, Discover Maui?

Frommer's Maui logo

"An excellent, excellent choice. All cruises are led by experienced marine biologists who get into the water with you for a guided tour of the reefs. In addition to getting a great tour, you can be assured that you're helping to protect the environment, because all profits from these cruises go to marine conservation."

~ Frommer's Maui

National Geographic Traveler logo

"Plenty of tour operators will take you to see the whales, but the nonprofit Pacific Whale Foundation combines comfort with knowledgeable staffers."

~ National Geographic Traveler, Hawaii Insider's Picks

Maui Handbook logo

"The foundation has one of the best whalewatches on the island, aboard its own ships. Most of the information that the other whalewatches dispense to tourists is generated by the Pacific Whale Foundation."

~ Maui Handbook (Moon Travel Handbooks)

Maui Revealed logo

"The best whale watch company, not surprisingly, is Pacific Whale Foundation. After all, it's their passion. Their knowledge is phenomenal and the trips are fun."

~ Maui Revealed

Hawaii for Dummies logo

"If you consider yourself ecologically minded, you can't do better than to give your snorkel cruise dollars to the Pacific Whale Foundation. This nonprofit has been at the forefront of Maui-based whale research, education and conservation since the 1970s—and they also happen to host very fine cruises. Their first-rate modern catamaran fleet offers some of the best tours of Molokini and offshore Lana'i. Not only is there always at least one naturalist on board, but the entire crew is knowledgeable, eco-conscious and friendly. The boats even burn eco-friendly fuel. What's more, the cruises are great for beginning snorkelers, because guides lead fish talks and reef tours and a wide variety of flotation devices are available. The winter whalewatch cruises are unparalleled, of course. You simply can't go wrong with these folks."

~ Hawaii for Dummies

Frommer's Maui logo

"Their prices for a two hour whalewatch cruise would make Captain Ahab smile."

~ Frommer's Maui 2002

Rum & Reggae's Hawaai logo

"We'd recommend using this non-profit organization, founded in 1980, because its goal is saving the world's whales from extinction."

~ Rum & Reggae's Hawai'i

Fodor's Hawaii logo

"Pacific Whale Foundation pioneered whalewatching back in 1979... the guides are knowledgeable, hydrophones allow you to hear the whales, and if the whales don't surface, you'll receive a "Just-A-Fluke" coupon for another trip."

~ Fodor's Hawaii

Birnbaum's Hawaii logo

"The most informative whalewatches by far are the cruises sponsored by Pacific Whale Foundation, a nonprofit research, conservation and education organization."

~ Birnbaum's Hawaii

Maui News logo

"Pacific Whale Foundation is the 'humpback whale' of Hawaii's whale conservation organization ahead of its time, a pioneer in the whalewatch business, an ecotourism juggernaut that was doing ecotourism before anyone knew what to call it."

~ The Maui News

Pacific Business News logo

"Pacific Whale Foundation is a nonprofit organization that focuses on marine research, public education and marine conservation to protect and save whales, dolphins, coral reefs and the oceans beyond. Its efforts include serving more than 10,000 Maui County schoolchildren with marine education programs each year and conducting six marine research programs in Hawaii and Australia. As a nonprofit, Pacific Whale Foundation is largely self-supporting, thanks to its wholly owned subsidiary called Pacific Whale Foundation's Eco-Adventures. This cruise company operates under 'for profit' rules but donates all profits to support the group's work."

~ Pacific Business News

Dave Barry logo

"The real threat to whales is whaling, which has endangered many whale species. This is why I say to young people: "If you're ever in school or at the mall and somebody in your group whispers to you, 'Pssst...wanna go whaling?' you should 'just say no.'" Also you should tell your congressperson that you favor the thirty-day cooling-off period on the purchase of harpoons. Or you can support the Pacific Whale Foundation, which is the nonprofit outfit that operates the boat that took us whalewatching."

~ Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and columnist