Maui was beautiful, but for us, the truly amazing thing about the island was this: Whales, whales and more whales! Humpback whales come to Hawaii from December to April to mate and give birth, and most of them stay near Maui. It was a phenomenal experience to be there at this time of year. Never once did we go anywhere near the ocean without seeing whales. You can see them from the airplane on the way in, from highway scenic lookouts, from your car, from the beach. We saw mothers and babies. We saw whales breaching (when their whole body is out of the water). This is what males do to show off. We saw them spy hopping. This is when just the head and top half of the body comes out of the water because the whale is looking around to see what's happening on the surface. I saw 2 whales take turns spy hopping all the way down the beach. It was incredible.
Most of the time, we watched from the beach, but we did take a whale watching cruise on our last day in Maui. It had been very rainy overnight, and was drizzly that morning, so there was almost no one on our boat. A whopping 7 of us. It was great to be able to move anywhere on the boat to follow the whales from side to side, and we never got in anyone's way. And, the naturalist told us that the whales actually seem to be more active on yucky windy days, so we got a good show.
We took a whale watching tour on Oahu last month, but this one was even better. We saw many more whales, and they got very close to the boat. It was great because Crumpet could see the whales well this time, and enjoyed it much more. We also saw flying fish next to the boat which was really cool!
Another way to get close to sea life on Maui is to go snorkeling. It is known for its clear waters and large variety of fish and sea turtles. One of the more famous snorkel trips to take is a boat trip to the island of Molokini. This is a crescent shaped island not too far off shore. The water inside the crescent is very clear, and you can often see 150 feet down. Scuba divers like the back side of the island because it is even deeper.
Crumpet Sr. took a Pacific Whale Foundation tour out to Molokini. They feed you breakfast and lunch while on the boat. He said this looked like the best group to go with - the other boats out there were packed with far more people. I would have liked to join him, but Crumpet would have been bored to tears so we went to the aquarium that morning. I did get a chance to snorkel at Kapalua Beach later in the week. I saw an octopus and an eel (no pictures, sorry!), which were both new finds for me.
Here are just a few of the fish we photographed while on Maui.
Above is the unicorn fish - you can just barely see his horn/nose.
If you do get a chance to go to Maui, definitely try to go in February or March when the number of whales is at its peak. And don't miss the snorkeling. It's an awesome experience!
Above is the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a. This is the Hawaiian state fish. Some name, eh?? We had never seen one before, and we both saw them on this trip.
Below is a sea turtle that Crumpet Sr. saw at "Turtle Arches". All of the Molokini boat tours also stop here, claiming there will be tons of sea turtles. He did see 2 but we've seen more on Oahu...
(For some reason I couldn't enter these pictures in the main part of the blog so they are here at the end...)