Whales, Ahoy!

It’s probably safe to say that most people think Hawaii doesn’t need any added allure to make the idea of a visit enticing, especially when most of the US & Canada are buried in snow. And yet, if you love wildlife and you’re heading to the Hawaiian Islands in winter, you’ve got yourself a trip that would make even Mother Nature weak in the knees.

After feeding in the krill-rich Alaskan seas all summer, humpback whales make the long journey to Hawaii’s warm waters to mate, give birth and nurse their young from November to May each year. In fact, scientists estimate that easily two-thirds of the entire North Pacific humpback whale population visit Hawaii every winter. As you’d expect, this has resulted in a huge — and hugely successful — whale-watching cruise tour industry.

Maui Humpback Whale

Maui Humpback Whale

There are many places you can go to experience the sight that’s virtually universally described by returning tour passengers as breath-taking, exhilarating, awe-inspiring, and deeply moving. Among some of the best viewing areas, as recommended by the Aloha Hawaii website, are: Maui’s south and western shores between Wailea, Kihei, Lahaina, and Ka’anapali; the Big Island’s Kona Coast; and Kauai’s north shore.

To ensure the best outing, check on the following items before choosing your whale-watching tour. 1) Whale-sighting guaranteed or a full refund issued. 2) Waterborne microphone so you can hear the whale song. 3) Expert narrator/guide. 4) Captain who readily agrees that he complies with Federal law requiring a distance of at least 100 yards from the humpback whales and others protected by the United States Endangered Species Act.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t forget your camera!

January 4, 2013