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It is whale season in Hawaii and a great way to see them is from a boat.
Cruising on the Blue Dolphin—a 63 foot catamaran—I’m amazed at how many whales we see. They go off like fireworks. We see sprays of white plumes, splashing breaches, tail slaps and pectoral fins reaching for the endless blue sky.
Barefoot passengers begin to pick out whales and calls bounce around the catamaran. “There’s one at 2 o’clock! A breach at 11 o’clock! Three at 7 o’clock!” My head zings around in search of spontaneous eruptions.
Captain Chris Stowe of Blue Dolphin Charters keeps us entertained while crew members pass out soda, beer, wine and mai tais. “Sometimes, whales are right next to the boat, and their pectoral fin comes up and goes over the bow of the boat. There are people there, and the whales will move their fin away,” he says of the cetaceans’ gentle spirit.
I sip on “the best mai tai off the island,” according to Stowe, as a hydrophone is lowered into the water. Soon, we hear high-pitched whale songs from whales that are about 100 yards from the ship.
Ding! Ding! Ding! “Dinner’s ready!” The crew calls from below. The all-you-can-eat luau style dinner consists of Kalua Pork, Teriyaki Chicken, steamed rice, Hanalei poi, salad, bread, fresh pineapple and chocolate chip cookies.
When my parents took a Hawaii vacation last fall, we took them on this four-hour Na Pali Sunset Dinner Cruise ($109.00 for adults and 89.00 for children). It was the wrong time of year to see whales but the scenery was captivating as always.
Sitting at the bow of the ship, starboard side, I enjoy the meal and listen to captain Stowe.
“Every Humpback whale is born on Hawaii, so we get residency on them,” Stowe says as we watch a baby play next to its mama. “Babies gain between 150 to 180 pounds per day.”
The sun, a fiery orange ball, hangs just above the horizon. The island of Niihau is faint in the distance. I sit back and watch silhouettes of whales against the setting sun and take deep breaths of fresh, salt air.
Photos by Dan Lane