I have known for quite some time now that I wanted to do a whale watch cruise but up until last month it just hadn't happened. The minute I knew I would be in Maui during whale season I knew this was the opportunity to share it with all of you.
Whale season in Hawaii runs from December through April. Last year we saw one whale when we were hanging with the turtles on Oahu and we have seen many here in the waters off both Hilo and Kona on the Big Island. Without a doubt the main whale watching area though is in the warm waters off of Maui.
There are several different whales that make the journey from Alaska to the warm Hawaiian waters to mate and give birth but the Pacific Humpback whale is the one most commonly seen. Their numbers reach into the thousands during the peak time of February/March, quite impressive since we saw many and there were only roughly 800 at the time.
Teralani Sailing company, who offer snorkel trips and sailing excursions as well as multiple daily whale watches, offered a whale watch to me during my stay and I was thrilled. I had heard good things about this company through numerous review sites so I had a feeling it would be a great day. I was not disappointed!
They offer early bird trips at the crack of dawn, AM trips that are also quite early in the day, mid day whale watches, and sunset tours as well. Since I am a late riser I opted for the mid day whale watch.
We met on the beach just in front of whalers village. It was quite convenient since I was staying at the Sheraton just 10 minutes walk away. It was a bit confusing as there was no clear area to wait but we saw the boats off shore and waited until we saw a large group of people. After a quick sign up on the beach we were ready to board.
The boarding was tricky but I think that typically the waters are much more calm as we happened to go out at the start of a nice swell coming in. To be honest it was quite an adventure not only getting on board through the crashing waves while protecting my camera but it was also fun watching everyone else as well. The crew was amazing in helping everyone on board the small staircase. They got soaked but most of us cruisers did not. I would expect to get wet though so dress accordingly.
The boat itself is an impressive and large catamaran. There must have been roughly 40 cruisers on board as well as 4 staff and there was plenty of room for everyone both inside and out. Once on board we were very clearly given safety briefings and were immediately offered drinks and snacks, all included free of charge when you purchase the tickets. It was lovely.
I was, however, there for the whales so I immediately went back outside in order to capture it all. The ocean was a bit abnormally rough as well so the sea sickness was definitely better out in the fresh air. Most people seemed to do fine though.
Tip: If you are prone to motion sickness at all take Dramamine or whatever you do to prevent nausea (ginger, wrist bands, etc) an hour before you leave. Also if nausea does strike keep your eye on the horizon or land if you can and take slow breaths.
We sailed out and saw whales immediately. One of the crew came out and told us all you could ever need to know about whales and their habits. It was extremely informative. She answered questions and they even had an underwater microphone so we could hear the whales songs.
I have had many exhilarating animal experiences over the past few years but this was really at a whole new level. I am not sure if every whale watch is so spectacular but this one truly was. We saw whale after whale and more than 20 breachings. I will leave you with some photos as describing it just doesn't quite do the experience justice.
As you can see it was an amazing day! So many wonderful photo opportunities. I will say though that next time I do a whale watch I plan to leave the camera behind. I am so glad I got all these shots but as I often feel with the camera I miss out on the experience a bit!
Thanks to Teralani for a great day out on the sea. Next time you are in Maui I would not hesitate to do a whale watch with Teralani, they were professional, knowledgable, and I really could not have asked for more.
Have you done a whale watch? What did you think? Did you see any whales?