Time to pack up and return home from the sun and sands of Maui to the snow and cold reality of Minnesota. We didn’t have the best of luck with the weather in Hawai’i this year… four days of our week were very windy and overcast with showers on and off all day. This cut severely in to the time we could spend on the beach or by the pool, but honestly that was no big deal. We have a very comfortable room with a great ocean view and spent a lot of time lounging around in it. Our lanai (deck) was sheltered from the wind and the temperature was a balmy 70 degrees or warmer, so we sat out there a lot as well.
These trips to Hawai’i we take each year are important therapy for The Lovely Anna and I. We do nothing but what we feel like doing, with no agenda or timetable. Our life back home is centered around the kid’s school schedules and activities, my deadlines and various business commitments, and we squeeze in personal time where we can. We need this week to completely unwind and be selfish for seven days. By the end we are ready to get back home and have recharged our parental and professional batteries. We very smartly purchased this timeshare week 10 years ago, knowing that one day we would need this trip very badly and might be tempted to skip it because of cost, time or hassle. Instead we have an economical tropical hideaway that once a year we can visit on either a budget or with a pile of loot and have a good time either way. This year was the budget plan. We splurged on our dinners, but did only one activity. That was a whale watch boat trip yesterday. We used to come to Maui in October each year, but switched to January/February to take advantage of whale season.
The Hawaiian islands are special in many ways, but one of their most unique attributes is their waters playing yearly hosts to the majority of the North Pacific’s humpback whale population from approximately December through March.??á¬¨‚Ä† The Hawaiian islands are made up of eight main islands (although there are over 100 total islands and atolls that are part of the whole). Of the eight, there are four that form a unique area between Hawai’i proper (the big island) and Oahu, which contains Honolulu and Waikiki. These four islands are Maui, Lanai’i, Molokai’i and Kahoolawe. They are actually one single island, but the center of it is beneath the ocean surface. This creates a shallow basin of water between the islands, averaging about 300 feet in depth, that remains warm and mild year around. Scientists believe it is this unique warm and shallow area that attracts the humpback whale as an ideal mating and birthing area. Indeed, approximately 60% of the entire population of North Pacific Humpbacks migrate from the feeding waters of Alaska and upper North America to Hawai’i to mate, calve and feed their young. It’s a journey of about 3,500 miles. During “whale season” there are literally thousands of humpback whales in the waters between the four islands. You can stand for a few minutes on the beach scanning the horizon and always spot at least a few blows, and often see some whales near to the shore being active. That might include pectoral fin, tail or head slaps, spy hops (where their heads come straight out of the water slowly, rotate like they are looking around and then slip back in), peduncle throws (where they toss their lower body out of the water in a kind of sideways flop) and the mighty breach, when they explode out of the water nose first, often clearing two thirds of it’s 40 foot, 80,000 pound body from the water, and splashing back down. Their tails are so powerful they don’t need much of ahead start to do this… they can breach with only a few kicks of their fluke fins. Whale watch excursons are very popular, where boats go out and get closer to a pod so you can see them do their thing. We always go out on the Pacific Whale Foundation watches, as the proceeds partly fund the foundation’s research and conservation efforts.
It’s amazing how little we now about these creatures.??á¬¨‚Ä† Despite the fact that we know exactly where they go to mate and to give birth, neither of these activities has ever been seen and documented. The reasons for the behaviors they exhibit are only guessed at. Scientists are not even 100% sure how they produce their ‘whale song’ sounds, although they think it’s from valves and muscles around sacs in the respitory tract. They have no idea what these complex songs are communicating. We really know very little about these amazing animals.
These are awesome creatures and Anna really loves watching them.??á¬¨‚Ä† Maybe it was the rougher seas in the storms this week, but they were more active than we’ve ever seen them this year. We watched several breaches from our lanai that were very close to the shore, and two whales put on a show one day as we lunched on Kanapalii by the beach.
So, it’s mahalo for another year to Maui. Anna will be blogging about our dining experiences on the island this year on her restaurant review blog, so check that out if you are interested in fine dining.??á¬¨‚Ä† Meanwhile it’s back to the drawing board….
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