The Winter sport of Whale Watching on Maui
One of the things I absolutely love to do on Maui is get up early, before the sun has breached the top of Haleakala, launch my Kayak at the Kihei Boat Ramp and head out on a glassy ocean. There is nothing but the sea, turtles and I. The further out I go, the less humanity impinges on my senses and the more I settle in to the quiet lapping of the water on my hull. This is my morning solitude in the winter on Maui.
My goal is not too far out. There are usually a few others like me out there already. The occasional steamy whiff rising straight up from the water is my clue. I paddle silently toward it as the sounds of roosters on shore fade into the background. I can’t hear the cars anymore, just the beeping from a trash truck now and then. My quarry is up ahead, maybe 200 yards off now.
As each paddle dips in the water I stare down into the fathomless depths (which is only about 100 feet), but the sunlight now streaming over the majestic mountain slices into the water, dissipating into a color blue I can’t describe. It draws me in, in ever shifting, saturated shades. This is the nursery for new born whales. Safe, warm and shallow.
On shore, the long stretches of Keawekapu beach lined by perfect white sand parallel my course as I head toward Wailea. The luxury homes nestled among the coconuts and tropical plantings, are staring out at me. I wonder if their owners are enjoying this magnificence and much as I? They have one of the most perfect locations on the planet and the few who can afford to own here are sure to appreciate it.
The terrain on shore leads to another perfect beach, then another and another. This is why Wailea and Makena Resorts were created here. The South Maui beaches are perfect. Low rainfall, white sand, on shore breezes, eveing stillness, and Whales. The condominiums and homes perched on the hillsides have a front row view of the ever changing action out on the water. From their lanai the morning armada of boats pass by on their way to Molokini, the stand up paddlers push off from the beaches, and colorful umbrellas begin to pop up in the sand below. While reading the paper and drinking coffee, out-lookers pause to relish the moment, while I paddle by.
I reach a pod of kayakers, all quiet and still. Respectfully keeping their distance as a mother and calf come to the surface. An escort whale is not far beyond her – also respectfully keeping his distance. He knows better, as do we. There is a hefty fine for actively coming closer than 100 feet from a whale. If they come toward us that’s another story, but at sea level their size makes one think twice about being too close. We are but a match stick to them and an accidental flick of the tail would scare anyone floating on a thin piece of plastic.
I can feel the vibrations of their song through the hull, as can anyone just ducking under the water on any beach along this coast. After 15 minutes the mother rises again, preceeded by a huge exhale. We all turn toward her new location as her long shinny body arches quietly out of the water. A second, smaller exhale, and the calf follows. They lallygag on the surface for a while giving us a chance to admire their size. She rolls a little on her side, possibly to nurse, but we can’t see from where we are. Her pectoral fin just lying flat on the surface. Off in the distance, maybe a mile away, a whale breaches, leaving a huge splash as it’s only trace. It does it again. What to look at? The breach, the mother up close or the respectful escort now just slightly slapping his tail on the surface? This is worth waking up early for. “Lucky we live Maui!”
Marina Batham is the Broker In Charge for CENTURY 21 All Island’s Kahului Office.
Cell: (808) 283.5355