Our Trip to Maui: Part II (Whales!)
Monday morning we woke up at 4:50 am (!!!) and headed out to Lahaina to the pier where we caught the boat to go humpback whale-watching. There are a ton of boat tours with different companies that you can take, whether it be snorkeling, a sunset “booze cruise,” whale watching, a combo of these, etc. We did two on the trip, the first being the sunrise whale-watching tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation. They are extremely knowledgable, enthusiastic and passionate about the ocean and the whales – we really learned a lot on the trip and had an amazing time.
The humpback whales congregate around Maui from November – early May, although peak season is January-March. During this time the mothers raise their calves while others look to mate. The whales are pretty protected in Maui so they are safe and free to swim and play! Now, you don’t have to do a tour, as you can see them all day just from the beach, but I do definitely recommend the tour to get up close views and glean the knowledge from the guides.
We headed out just as it was getting light, but the sunrise wasn’t quite a sight to behold since it was raining. Despite the locals saying the rain (oh so rare) was a blessing, we were a little bummed, although let’s be honest: a little rain in Maui is still a million times better than the polar vortex that was going on in Chicago:) Anyway, we sucked it up and it ended up being truly amazing. The clouds actually allowed us to see really well since there was no sun glare on the water, and the water was pretty calm which also helped.
It started out slow and steady, we were seeing whales in many directions and things were pretty exciting but not a whole lot different than what you can see from the beach. But then. WOW. By law, the boats have to stop 100 yards away from the whales, so that’s the closest you’re going to get unless they come to you. Well, it was our lucky day because there were two males fighting for the “escort position” of a female and her calf (awwww its little baby dorsal fin was so little and wobbly). The calf was frolicking (as I like to think of it), flapping its fin against the water and doing little breeches (throwing itself out of the water and splashing down). The calf swims atop the mama for assistance and to get air. Also, the babies stay with their moms for a whole year! Anyway, the mom was maybe not wanting the male escorts, so she ended up using our boat as an object to keep them away. The mom and calf would swim around us then the 2 males would follow. For maybe 5 minutes, the four of them swam around and under our boat, giving the show of a lifetime. They are so big and amazing – it was exhilarating! Even our guide said that was on of the tours she’s given in 5 years.
Getting up that early and standing in the rain = totally worth it. Even by the end of the week, after we’d seen the whales every day, it was a thrill. You couldn’t help but gasp and clap when you saw a good breech or a couple of whales together.
After our tour we went to breakfast at The Gazebo, an oceanfront , open-air gazebo with diner-like breakfast and lunch food. People on Yelp say to try the macadamia nut pancakes, but I was in the mood for something savory and got the breakfast burrito. It was good! Dan got an omelette.
After The Gazebo, we headed back to the hotel and got in the hot tub, and voila! The sun came out and we had a wonderful afternoon by the pool. For dinner that night, we went to the famous Mama’s Fish House. We ate there on our honeymoon and that was the one restaurant we just HAD to go back to. The fish is so fresh, they catch it that day and list who caught it and from where on the menu. We shared a sashimi app, the crab cakes, and a delicious opah (or was it onaga?) cooked with ginger and soy with coconut rice. So amazing! We had kona coffee and creme brûlée with lilikoi (a local fruit) for desert!
Tuesday and Wednesday remained cloudy with some rain, but we still managed to do some very cool stuff (in addition to relaxing and reading). Tuesday morning we went on a long walk along the beachfront path from Wailea into Kihei and saw tide pools and a chicken! I’ll post those pics next, in addition to our pics from our second boat trip and paddle boarding excursion (involved turtles!).