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Hi Hawaii : We Almost Ran Over a Humpback Whale

Boats. I love boating. I think it is my favourite form of transportation. There is something about gliding across water, not knowing what is beneath you, what will surface and surprise you. At home, every summer I look forward to boating with my family on the lake by our house. Nothing as amazing as a whale comes to the surface there however. When we booked the Na Pali Coast cruise, I only expected to see the Na Pali Coast from the view of the ocean, an angle we have not seen yet, but as soon as we arrived, Kauai (one of the crew members) let us down by saying it was too rough to see the Na Pali Coast, but they would attempt to take us there. This was a disappointment, but little did I know we would instead see a few Humpback Whales. DSC_7551DSC_7553

Captain Brian first steered us towards the Na Pali Coast, getting our hopes up about seeing it. The waves were in fact rough, and standing at the front of the boat meant hanging onto the railing for dear life as the bow rose up and crashed down. This was a rush, the same kind of rush I feel with turbulence, but ten times better. Eventually, we came across 10 foot waves. The captain took us over a couple of them and then made the decision to turn us around. I guess the waves would get worse if we kept going, but I was thinking, bring it on. We didn’t get to see the Na Pali Coast from a boat, but I wasn’t too sad about it, I was still on a boat and they said we might get to see Humpbacks. I still had hope.

The first one we spotted was pretty far away. We first saw it blow, and part of its back curve over the surface of the water. This was amazing enough. Every time the crew spotted a whale, it had to slow down and watch from a distance. By law, boats are not allowed to get within 100 yards of a Humpback.DSC_7559DSC_7565We saw a few, sometimes just part of their backs and sometimes, we were lucky to see their tails. For the first few we spotted, I didn’t have my camera because I was stupid and put it away. I finally decided to carry it around in case we saw some more, which we did. With my camera around my neck, hoping to see another whale, a mama and her calf came to the surface. The calf jumped various times, all the while I took video instead of snapping pictures. At one point, the mama lifted its pectoral fin out of the water and one half of its fluke (tail). She started slapping the water, and the captain joked that she was disciplining her young, giving it a good spanking. I just figured she was putting on a show for us, waving aloha. DSC_7583DSC_7594

Nearing the end of the cruise, it started to get chilly, so we wrapped ourselves in towels to keep warm. After we ate the dinner that was served, two regrets of mine happened. The first, I put my camera away again because I said sunset pictures were cheesy and I’d rather enjoy looking at one with my eyes rather than through my view finder. The second, I left the prime spot for whale watching. Below is a picture of where I stood as the boat soared back to port. I was loving this spot. I hate to say it, but I did feel like Kate Winslet and I did feel like I was flying. But I loved it so much, I felt like I was hogging it, so I left–five minutes before we almost ran over a Humpback whale. I would’ve had the front row seat.DSC_0533 (1)I went back to sitting with my family to watch the sunset. As my mom snapped pictures of its orange rays piercing through the clouds, I guess so was the captain and the other crew members because like the ice burg and the titanic, no one saw us approaching the giant humpback directly in our path. One of the passengers up front spotted it and warned the captain. He slammed on the brakes moments before it came to the surface, revealing its black body 50 yards in front of the boat. Everyone ran to the bow to take pictures, and again, I didn’t have my camera. I am still kicking myself for being so dumb. Well, my mom always has hers, I can count on that, and she captured it just as it lifted its tail to dive down. DSC_0573

I have never been so close to a humpback before, and I cannot believe how big they are. For the rest of the ride, I smiled knowing how lucky we were to see it so close. So what we didn’t get to see the Na Pali Coast, whale watching is amazing and incredible. Now, I can only hope one day to see one under water while scuba diving. One new thing to add to my bucket list!

Filed under: Hi Hawaii

About the Author

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I grew up in the middle of nowhere and now, everywhere is where I want to be. Storytelling is a passion of mine and as I travel from one place to the next, I want to share my awkward adventures and encounters. I love the ocean and the colour blue. Follow along and see the world with me from a "deer in the headlights" perspective.

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