Whale watching in Hawaii is an experience of a lifetime.
It is just after sunset here in Maui on a glorious February evening. For the last hour, we were glued to our balcony not to watch the stunning sunset against the magnificent drop that is Hawaii. That alone should have sufficed, for the beauty which Mother Nature has bestowed upon Hawaii is abundant. But we had more. We were following the playful slapping of a young humpback whale’s tail against the surface of the big blue waters. We have witnessed it dozens of times during our short week here and yet, there is no tiring of such a sight. The sight of these gentle giants of the sea playing, breaching, and tail slapping is something to behold.
It is February and it is the height of season for humpback whales here in the Hawaiian islands, and it is this beauty alone that I believe can restore all of what winter has taken away from us in its bitter cold this year. You can watch these amazing creatures right from the shores of Kaanapali beach (among other beaches in Hawaii) as well as going on special whale watching tours. The humpback whales spend their summers in Alaska where they feed in the polar waters, and then migrate to tropical waters of Hawaii to mate and breed. You can see them there from December to May, but February is the sweetest month of all for indulging in their action and beauty!
The Pacific Whale Foundation is a superb non-profit organization with a mission to research, study, and most of all protect marine life especially whales and dolphins. They do a magnificent job. I have been to several of their whale watching tours over the years and highly recommend using them exclusively for your whale watching trips. Most of all, they speak against the despicable act of Whaling, which there are not enough ways to condemn and which still goes on, unbelievable as it may be, in some parts of the world.
You can join me in supporting their tireless efforts by becoming a Pacific Whale Member and by learning about these beautiful mammals that add so much beauty, grace, and delight to the oceans of the world.
Traveling changes your mind and expands your horizons! If you like to see the other travel stories here, check On the Road category.
Educating ourselves is the first step to better understanding and protecting anything on this planet, and this extends without an exception to the humpback whales. So learn a little about these magnificent animals and love them a lot. Even though the web is filled with heaps of information about these gentle giants, here are my Quick 10 Humpback Whale Factoids for you:
1. Whales are marine mammals. They have lungs instead of gills, hair instead of scales, and they give birth live.
2. The whales do not eat the entire time (6-8 weeks) spent in Hawaii during whale season (Dec-May).
3. The whales come to Hawaii to breed and mate. Their babies are referred to “calves”, and the Mama Whale does not let them out of her sight during their entire stay in the Hawaiian waters.
4. The male whales produce a 10-20 minute male song, the most complex vocalization in the animal kingdom, during the mating season (partially recorded on the video here.)
5. No vessel in Hawaiian waters is allowed to operate when a whale approaches to within 100 yards.
6. The weight of an adult humpback whale is around 80,000 pounds (36,000 kgs)
7. They are called the gentle giants of the sea, and pose no harm to people or other mammals despite their magnificent size.
8. The dolphins in Hawaii have been observed to “hang out” with the whales and researchers still do not know why!
9. Breaching is when the whales jump entirely out of the water, using their powerful pectoral fins, and they do it either to clean their skin, scare off prey or just to have fun!
10. Approximately 1,500 to 2,000 humpback whales visit the waters around Maui each year between December 15th and May 15th and there is no experience like watching them during their yearly visit to paradise.
All photography by Prolific Living during our February 2010 Whale Watching tour off the coast of Lahaina in Maui.