Sunday, February 7, 2016

A Day with the Humpback Whales

Things I learned on a recent whale watching tour... and some things they didn't tell us beforehand.

If you want to have a front row seat, you have to arrive real early... not five minutes before departure. The larger the vessel, the earlier you will want to come. Otherwise the best seats will be taken and you will have people in front of you in your photos. (this is not my photo... it is what they show online.)

The boat was very large and safe... and there were over forty whale watchers on board with us. We did the tour on motor power... this was not a sailing adventure... but it was a lot of fun.

They show photos online of whales close to the boat... but this kind of activity is rare. Of the 432 photos that I took this tour, you will see that my photos are all at least 300 feet away from the whales!

Using the iPhone panorama feature on a rocking vessel gives an interesting horizon line of Maui.  This was taken off the back of the boat as we were heading out from the Lahaina dock.

As we were leaving one of the first things they told us was the 300-foot rule. If they see a whale at 300 feet way or less they shut off the engines and watch... hoping the whale will approach the boat.

300 feet is the length of a foot ball field... between the uprights at each end.  Good luck getting great shots of whales with your smart phone!  During the Super Bowl on Sunday take a look at how far away we were from the whales.

Whale watching season is a winter sport here.  These large close-up shots are from the whale watching site. We saw over 100 events... breaching, leaping and slapping; there was a lot of activity.

The whales migrate to Maui from Alaska... and November thru April is prime watching season in Maui. These adult whales take about five to eight weeks to make the trip to Maui... travelling between 3 to 5 miles per hour.  They love to come to Maui to breed and to have their babies in the warm 70 degree water.

Where does the Humpback whale come from?  Since many of the humpback whales are born here in Maui waters... I think we can say they come from Maui.

We had more than a full hour of interaction and education with a whale biologist who shared a lot of facts about the whales. For example he asked us if we knew why the whales don't eat during their time in Maui. It is because the cost of food in Hawaii is so high!

What really happens is these whales bulk up when in Alaska waters so when they return they can survive in Hawaii without eating.

The newborn calves, however, will consume 100 gallons of milk daily and gain about 7 pounds every hour. When born they are 10-12 feet long... and grow about an inch every day. A full grown adult humpback whale weighs about 40 tons... and the females are usually larger than the the males.

Why Maui? The humpbacks seem to like the shallow 300-foot max depth water between Maui and Lanai.  It is a safer environment for them to mate and give birth and nurse their young... free of predators.

The humpbacks are well known for their mating songs... you can listen to them on YouTube.

There is another hour long You tube if you care to use it to fall asleep... it is quite relaxing. The one above is only a couple of minutes...

We could not have had a more sunny, warm day for whale watching!

Shirley, and granddaughter Lucy.

As we were coming back our grandson Seth was sitting near the front and the wind caught some of the waves... gave him a soaking on one side!

They served us complimentary beverages on board and a light snack.. but some girls had more than a few too many drinks!

Almost back. Alan in the lower middle with black cap... Sherilee and Seth on the front to the boat (centre.) 

Lahaina, which 200 years ago was a huge whaling industry, today is still in the whaling industry, in a slightly different venue. Whale watching today is a leading tourist attraction.

Can you believe I didn't even bring my Nikon?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Kapalua Coastal Trail

On the first day after arriving we went to the concierge at the Papalua Resort and asked about the best hikes on Maui. There were several, but the closest one, the Kapalula Coastal Trail, was only a short drive to the north of our hotel.

So Shelby drove us down to the farthest point of the trail and dropped us off here at Konokahua Bay.

We started at the far right on the red line of the map... 

The trail goes right between this Ritz Carlton and the ocean... we came back here for dinner with Shelby and family the next night.

Because of a lack of signs... and not watching close enough for the bend in the trail, we missed the first important corner and continued on this street thinking we could come back on the trail, if we ever found an entry to the coastal trail.

At last we found it... and we came to learn that this was Kapalua Bay.

So we walked on this beach... Shirley took off her shoes and walked in the warm sand.

Now things were looking up.  We had a trail or a path to walk on beside the ocean.

 Hopefully this would take us back to the trailhead.

The holes in these rocks were made by ancient Hawaiians to collect salt used to preserve dried fish and  meat.

But our trail didn't last very long... and soon we came to an end with a sign that told us we could not exit thru private property.

We cut thru a hotel property anyway, and came back to the same road we walked out on... past the Kapalua Golf club.

From the road we could look over some of the beautiful homes and see golfers in action.

Then at last we found the corner we missed and in the distance was this sign.  Eureka! 

After walking down a "beach access" type walkway, it opened up onto this boardwalk running parallel to the beach.  It was gorgeous to walk on.

And we could see the waves crashing in to the shore at Oneloa Bay.

The boardwalk was below this housing community... and then the trail went across a large lava peninsula .

There were far more signs than birds here. Jokingly I said that all those signs must have scared the birds away. We never saw a single bird... not even a sea gull.

We took the shortcut across the peninsula going out... and on the way back took the triangle path out to the point and back.

When we saw this prickly pear cactus out here, Shirley and I looked at each other in surprise.

It was not that much further past the peninsula that the trail ended again for us. However we spent an extra amount of time watching these waves crashing into the rocks and splashing high... trying to catch them at the instant they were highest.

We took more photos here than we should have... but that is the benefit of digital. The colours are so tropical.

I watched this couple longer than I care to admit. They were challenging the waves... but I ran out of time to see them get soaked.

This was the closest I saw the waves come to them.

We were almost back now.  Time to call Shelby to pick us up.

As we waited for Shelby we watched this foursome tee off. It doesn't get much better than this!

Only those who have travelled to Hawaii would understand how special the "wild air" feels when you get off the plane... it hits you... and it is so wonderful to drink it in.

A special thank you to our children, who indulged us with a most awesome vacation together in Maui... the best 50th anniversary present we could ever hope for.