“It’s a total crapshoot.”
Not specifically the words an expectant passenger desires to hear, but at least our captain had confirmed my suspicions.
On a Maui whale watching tour, whale sightings are under no circumstances assured, contrary to what the name may recommend.
And on the Pride of Maui, the crew members are not just friendly, they’re sincere, also.
There does not look to be a lot consensus on what time of day–if any–Maui’s humpback whales are most active. Tours leave in each the morning and the afternoon, with neither 1 promising improved final results.
It wasn’t my 1st whale watching tour, nor my mother’s. We’d each been going to Maui for several years by this point and had observed several whales from close distances as effectively as a lot from the shore.
But it was my fiancé’s 1st try at seeing the beasts up close in the wild, and in spite of the unknowable odds, we remained hopeful.
We thanked the captain for answering our inquiries and headed toward the back of the boat’s upper deck to kick back and take pleasure in the ride.
No matter what occurred, it was a lovely day to be out on the water sunny but with partial cloud cover, defending us from the complete force of the Hawaiian sun, and breezy but not so breezy that it created for a choppy ride.
We have been headed someplace fairly particular for our snorkel quit, too–the compact half-moon-shaped crater just off Maui’s southern shore recognized as Molokini.
Even if no whales created an look that day, we’d take pleasure in the scenery, the snorkeling, the BBQ lunch, and the open bar serving our preferred Hawaiian cocktails.
But we didn’t have to wait lengthy for the 1st sign of whale activity.
“Ladies and gentleman,” we hear our captain’s voice crackle more than the loudspeaker, “We’ve just observed our 1st spout at about 1 o’clock.”
Utilizing the boat’s bow as 12 o’clock, he was in a position to swiftly direct our interest to the ideal spot on the water for our greatest opportunity of catching a glimpse.
The boat slowed its pace ever so slightly, but considering that we have been on a tight schedule to make it to Molokini, there wasn’t a lot time for dillydallying.
“If you appear closely people, you can really see two whales, the mother and her calf swimming side by side.”
When the whale’s flukes appeared above the water, it was clear our show was more than for the time becoming. This meant, our captain informed us, that the whales have been about to take a deeper dive and likely wouldn’t resurface for awhile.
They use their effective tails to propel them downward exactly where they will keep submerged till they require a further breath of air, which for adults can be as lengthy as 45 minutes (despite the fact that calves require air a lot extra often).
The Pride of Maui picked up the pace once again and we have been back on course for Molokini.
In Maui, whale season starts in November and stretches to April, with peak whale activity taking location in February.
This is the time when a precise set of whales recognized as the Central North Pacific stock migrate amongst Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands.
The majority of humpback calves are born in Hawaii, producing an outstanding show for guests like us as the calves mimic each and every fin flap, tail slap, and breach their mother performs as they strengthen their muscle tissues for the lengthy journey back to Alaska.
Our captain reiterated that anytime we saw an adult whale breach, we ought to watch that similar spot meticulously as a calf breach–utterly adorable by comparison–is most likely to adhere to.
We saw a couple of extra pectoral fins and humped backs from wonderful distances as we cruised toward the crater, but no showstoppers.
As we pulled into Molokini and the water surrounding the crater grew ever extra shallow, we all of a sudden forgot all about these silly whales for a moment–the sights in front of us have been showstoppers in their personal ideal.
We ooohed and ahhhed as the water transformed into a royal blue in contrast to any I’ve observed ahead of. The crater cliffs rose up about us and the wind died down as we drifted into the protected location, shared only with a handful of other boats at this late hour in the afternoon.
Had we created this similar journey in the morning, Molokini would have been overrun with tour boats. This was a definitely particular treat.
We geared up for snorkeling and hopped into the water, assisted by pool noodles if we necessary or wanted them, despite the fact that the saltiness of the water tends to make a particular person completely buoyant with no help.
Hans and I swiftly realized that most of the fish action was taking location ideal subsequent to the crater exactly where the water was shallowest.
We spotted several of Hawaii’s most frequent reef dwellers, like the Racoon Butterflyfish (with a striped mask about the eyes, a lot like that of a racoon) and the Moorish Idol, whose thick black and yellow stripes and lengthy, thin dorsal fin make it 1 of the extra effortlessly recognizable fish species on the reef.
We also saw a lot spiky sea urchins, and even a sea cucumber or two.
All in all, a effective snorkel created even extra particular by the coveted locale. Not each and every tour with Pride of Maui visits Molokini for snorkeling, and the privilege wasn’t lost on us.
Of course, the crater is house to an massive quantity of fish species (more than 200) and we just scratched the surface. Whale sharks have also been recognized to stop by the crater, so if you make this trip your self, maintain your eyes peeled for the gentle plankton-feeding giant.
When back on the boat, I couldn’t assistance but take benefit of a further enjoyable function on the Pride of Maui, a slide suspended off the front finish of the boat.
I may possibly be in my thirties but I under no circumstances strategy to develop up. You can not maintain me away from a very good slide, specifically 1 that plunges me into the refreshing waters of Hawaii.
Subsequent, it was the cocktail hour. The server at the bar mixed us up some stronger-than-usual Mai Tais and we settled back into our seats on the best deck for the slow ride back toward Ma’alaea Harbor.
As we sipped on our cocktails, our eyes have been fixed on the water in search of extra humpbacks. We have been fortunate sufficient to see a very good quantity of breaching whales (followed by child) as effectively as tails and pectoral fins slapping the water.
However, I discovered just how difficult it can be to snag a very good photo of a whale in mid-air. It is close to-not possible to predict exactly where it’ll come about, and it is more than in the blink of an eye.
I also felt like I would miss it with my personal eyes if I was also focused on obtaining the shot, so right after a couple of attempts I place my trusty camera down and opted rather to merely take pleasure in the show.
Then a further announcement blared more than the loudspeakers, and this 1 actually caught our interest: it was time for our BBQ buffet lunch.
Burgers have been served with all the fixings, accompanied by a quantity of salad possibilities as sides. Veggie burgers are obtainable on Pride of Maui tours, but be confident to request them ahead of time (similar goes for any other dietary needs).
As we ate, the crew continued functioning their buns off to guarantee every thing was going smoothly. Closing doors if it got also windy, saving paper plates from going overboard, maintaining pathways clear, and carrying out it all with substantial smiles on their faces.
Hans and I located a spot close to the front of the boat on the reduced deck to consume our burgers we have been transfixed on our meals when all of a sudden, we felt the boat grind to a halt (effectively, as a lot as a boat can grind to a halt, that is).
As we looked up from our plates, we could see the footprint of a fresh whale-sized splash not even 100 feet from the bow of the boat.
By mere seconds, we had just missed witnessing a complete out of water breach by an adult humpback whale. To give you an thought of the excitement on the boat for these who had observed it, watch this brief video.
Absolutely everyone on the boat was whooping and hollering, cheering and clapping at the outstanding sight. It was the cherry on best of an currently stellar day of whale watching, and no 1 was going house disappointed.
The sun was just starting to set as the boat continued its slow roll back into Ma’alaea Harbor. Our hearts have been complete from the encounter of obtaining up close and individual with some of Maui’s most incredible sea creatures, and our bellies have been complete of scrumptious meals.
As we bid adieu to the crew, we have been offered with a compact wooden treasure chest in which to location guidelines, and we tipped them generously.
The persons who perform on tours like this 1 by the Pride of Maui actually do embody a sense of pride for this magical island. They do it for the sheer like of it, and to share that like with other people.
They also do every thing they can to pass on a profound respect for the ocean and all of its inhabitants.
If you overlook to bring reef protected sunscreen, they’ll give it for you at no charge. At the snorkel web-site, they’ll remind you not to touch the animals and under no circumstances to feed them so as not to disrupt the delicate all-natural habitat.
They’ll maintain the boat a protected distance from any animals they encounter, promptly cutting the motor if a whale is nearby.
Across my several visits to Maui and the several other tours I’ve been fortunate sufficient to be a element of, this deep respect for ocean life pervades them all.
If you want a whale watching tour that is enjoyable, accountable, friendly and protected, you merely can not go incorrect with the Pride of Maui.
Mahalo to Pride of Maui for inviting us to encounter this whale watching tour as guests. All opinions expressed in this post are these of The Sweetest Way.