Whales Offshore

We’ve had several periods of very calm seas recently, and some friends borrowed our kayak one weekend to go offshore at Kealia beach. They paddled out over two miles and had an incredible encounter with the whales. It is illegal to approach whales in any boat, and a friend on Maui was cited by a federal ranger for swimming out next to some whales. But if you paddle out and wait, they sometimes approach you.

Our friends saw them surface less than 100 feet (30 m) away, could hear them breathe, and even saw the eye of one that seemed to be looking at them. They also saw the whales wave their flippers and flukes (tails) out of the water, but not so close-up thankfully. Remember that a baby humpback whale is the size of a car, and an adult is the size of a school bus.

Hearing that, my wife and I wanted to go too. So late one afternoon, with ocean still increadibly flat, we put the kayak in the water at Wailua Beach, and then we paddled straight out to sea:

We got some nice views of the coast that we land-lubbers aren’t so used to seeing. Here is Nonou, the Sleeping Giant profile:

And then we saw the whales! First there were several blows, and then one of them was breaching several times in a row. They get far out of the water and come down with a huge splash—it looked like fun to me. I wonder if it was a male trying to impress a female or just someone with an itch. They were still a mile or more away, this is the best photograph I took of them:

Much as we wanted to go nearer, the sun was going down behind Kalepa Ridge, so we had to head back in:

According to the GPS, we were only 1.3 miles (2km) offshore, and whales probably don’t come that close. You can see in the map above that we never went beyond the imaginary line connecting the outermost points of the island.

Back on the beach, we met some other friends who had the same idea and had just landed their kayak as well. Except they had started earlier, went further out, and were approached by the whales, maybe the same ones we saw. They said they were close enough to hear their whalesong above the water.

For the rest of us unlucky whale watchers, we’ll have to be happy with the live broadcast of whalesongs from Maui by whalesong.net. You’ll need the RealPlayer plugin to hear it, but it’s worth installing if you don’t already have it.

Printed from: http://great-hikes.com/blog/whales-offshore/.
© 2024.


  1. Mike says:

    Greetings from the chilly March mainland. Great post, as usual, Andy. Good to see the increase in blogging activity as of late…I hope your gathering a portfolio for a book. Thanks, especially, for that special whalesong.net link…I’ve passed it on to many delighted friends. (with a hat tip to your blog, of course)

  2. Andy says:

    Thanks for reading and sharing, Mike. I had accumulated lots of drafts and many photos that just need a bit of writing, so I’m trying to get in the habit of the daily post. I have more material coming, some bigger posts too, so stay “tuned.”

    When I first discovered the whalesong.net, I wanted to go take a picture of a whale from land and post it. But last year, it was never calm and you couldn’t see them well from land, so it got forgotten. Then I checked it once over the summer, and there was still “live” whalesong, so I thought something was fishy. I don’t know how authentic the whole thing is, maybe they lost their buoy and just play recordings–we’d need a Maui blogger to pick up the story. In any case, it is still fascinating to listen to.

  3. Fred says:

    Love the Blog. My wife and I were in Kauai in September and loved every second of it. Keep up the increased blog activity. Many of the pictures and stories remind me of my time in Kauai. I hope to retire there one day.

  4. Ginger says:

    I just found your blog yesterday, and my husband and I will be in Kauai by the end of the week. What a wealth of information you’ve compiled. Kudos! I hope we get to see whales, but if not, a green sea turtle will do. I am a bit overwhelmed by all the amazing hikes, kayaking and snorkling to the point of “what should we do where and when?”, but conversly it seems no matter what choice we make each day it’s going to lead us to something wonderful.

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