The waters off the South Side of Maui tend to be calm and suited to activities like kayaking, outrigger canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding.

The best and safest way to encounter the astonishing natural richness of the ocean here is on a guided tour, and there’s no shortage of ecotourism companies based around Kihei and ready to take you on the adventure of a lifetime.

Naturally in winter humpback whales inspire an endless sense of wonder, but the year-round residents include hundreds of species of tropical fish, sea turtles and bottlenose and spinner dolphins.

A few local firms are Kelii’s Kayak Tours, Maui Kayaks, Aloha Kayaks Maui, Maui Kayak Adventures and Hawaiian Paddle Sports, and many packages will combine paddling with a guided snorkeling adventure, capturing amazing underwater photos.