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“From mid-October through June, migrating humpback whales come to the islands to mate, give birth and nurse their young in the channel between Maui, Moloka`i, Lana`i and Kaho’olawe that locals affectionately call “whale soup”. An estimated 6 000 whales pass through these waters designated as the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. I am taking a sightseeing boat from the Pacific Whale Foundation, a respected nonprofit organization which conducts whale watching tours and other excursions in Maui. Just before the boat leaves the Lahaina harbor, a loudspeaker blares a Hawaiian prayer for safe voyage- a centuries old ritual begun when outrigger canoes plied these waters. The sounds are still here, we must hear them though.
At first we see only blows (water spraying up in the air), air bubbles and fluke up dives (where the tail of the whale protrudes from the water). Our crew is informative and experienced, pointing out umpteen sightings of different whale body parts. After a time (and time evaporates in this atmosphere) we see another boat few meters ahead. A whale has become interested in its passengers, swimming under and around the boat, even rising out of the water. The initial excitement we feel at witnessing this spectacle turns quickly to deep envy and the captain steers toward our own adventure. Close to Lana`i (Maui’s neighbouring island, separated by only 8.8 miles), we spot a whale with her calf. Our vessel cuts the engine so that we stay the regulated 100 yards away from the animals. While the engine is off and the boat is floating, a whale swims under the boat- its steely body visible beneath the water. I have a clear view of its length as I stand silently at the bow. From then on the whales start coming fast and furious, I hear the crew screaming as they get splashed by water from a breaching whale (as the crew says ‘when you hear us screaming, you know you’ve been on an amazing sightseeing adventure’). I hear a lady beside me say, “In Kauai, they showed us the whales and they were way out. Nothing like this.”
It is a spectacular tour – the sort of rush that reminds me what Maui can bring – a thrilling adventure and that feeling you get only here.”
The Pacific Whale Foundation
612 Front Street, Lāhiana; (800) 942-5311;
Read the full article in the Summer 2012 issue of City Style and Living Magazine. Read More Here.