The island of Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 727.2 square miles (1883.5 km2) and is the 17th largest island in the United States. It is part of the state of Hawaii and is the largest of Maui County's four islands, bigger than Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, and Molokaʻi. In 2010, Maui had a population of 154,834, third-most populous of the Hawaiian islands, behind that of Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi.
Maui is a leading whale-watching center in the Hawaiian Islands due to Humpback whales wintering in the sheltered ʻAuʻau Channel between the islands of Maui county. The whales migrate approximately 3,500 miles (5,600 km) from Alaskan waters each autumn and spend the winter months mating and birthing in the warm waters off Maui, with most leaving by the end of April. The whales are typically sighted in pods: small groups of several adults, or groups of a mother, her calf, and a few suitors. Humpbacks are an endangered species protected by U.S. federal and Hawaiʻi state law.