Published: March 14th 2006March 8th 2006
Some more photos of maui, including the awesome hostel i stayed at in the (not as awesome, but happily non-touristy) town of Wailuku, which is nestled in the Iao River Valley with the Maui Mountains as backdrop. A short hike into the mountains revealed awesome views of cloud-shrouded mountain peaks, a tree canopy covered in flowers, wild strawberry guavas, and some surprisingly prickly underbrush.
When pictures can't do justice: At Makena (Big and Little beach), I had one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Playing in the surf, one of they guys I was hanging out with told me to dive under the waves, hold my breath for a bit, and listen. So I dove down maybe three or four feet, eyes squeezed shut, trying furiously not to float back up. It has been years since I've been swimming anywhere with real waves. This wasn't just the beach, it was the OCEAN, and with every ebb and flow pounding the white sand she demonstrates her tremendous strength. Underwater I was fighting this movement, tumbling like laundry, but then I heard them - clearly
heard them - it was absolutely unbelievable. Humpback whales were singing. There is such a disconnect
The Banana Bungalow
a great place to chill
between accepting a truth conceptually- there are whales, they live in the ocean, they come to Hawaii in February to mate and have babies - and knowledge from experiencing. The whales are here
, right now, completely oblivious to me, singing!
I couldn't get enough of the whales. You can see them from the highway on the west part of the island, as you wind your way through the dry landscape, just pull over and look out over the water. They are surfacing and spouting, often with their babies, two grey lumps or a disappearing tail.
After this excitement I was pretty set on going out in a boat to see them up close. Some obliging friends from the hostel drove me to Lahaina and dropped me off for the day. There are tons of whale-watching opperations, mostly big cruise-type boats with two "observation decks" that offer free drinks and a narration by a naturalist. Then I stumbled upon the ULTIMATE
Whale Watch company. Whale watching to the extreme. Sweeeeeet. As much as i laughed at first, they take you out in an environmentally-friendly little yellow ocean raft and you can actually dangle your legs in the water. No compitition. The
site of two shark attacks the week i was there.
ride out of the harbor was pretty spectacular in itself - the Maui mountains looming green behind us, the brilliant blue of pacific waters in front of us. Almost immediately after setting out the dolphins came, jumping together through the waves, alongside the boat, in groups of 2 or 3, often with a baby along. It was as if they were calling out come play! come play! And then, in answer, up comes a whale, a hulking smooth mass rising from the water, only to be outdone by a huge explosing of air and water, a bigger whale, the momma! The way they rise together reminds me of those olde-tyme sea dragon pictures, two humps rising from the water, maybe tattooed on somebody's bicep. When the whales dive and show thier fluke you know it is a deep dive and it might be a while before they surface again. Hawaiian law dictates that you can't move a boat within 100ft of a whale (affording some measure of protection) so while we were waiting I was hanging over the edge of the boat, looking down through the clear water. I'm wondering just how deep I can see when a giant shadow
passed directly underneath our raft. We watched as the body, like a schoolbus, passed us, tapered, was eventually followed by a tail... awesome. The longer we were out there, the more it seemed like the whales were just putting on a show for us. We ran across three males fighting for a female, leaping from the water, banging heads and trying to scrape one another with their barnacles! I always think of whales as gentle giants, and here was this titanic smackdown! Then, while these males are going nuts, the female rolls over on her back - not 20 feet away - and starts waving her gigantic, white-streaked flippers in the air. Just flappin them around for us. In the air, they seem like the most worthless appendages, but it was a striking and beautiful display.
There are more photos below