Those light southwesterly winds are at it again; that time when vog bogs down on the islands, wreaking havoc on the air quality and breathing of many residents, myself included. But for every bad, there’s a good, and in these icky conditions, Hawaii welcomes calmer oceans and extraordinary sunsets for all to enjoy.

Head to the shorelines on these “Kona wind” days, as they’re more commonly called. (Vog comes from the Big Island’s very active Kilauea volcano.) You’ll find smooth, glassy ocean surfaces that offer prime conditions for kayaking, snorkeling and stand-up paddle boarding. Even surfers enjoy the buttery rides they’ll score as a result of the vog.

And while beach-goers luck out with an ideal ocean setup, whale watchers enjoy front-row seats to the most spectacular shows in nature. Between November and May, more than 10,000 humpback whales journey to the islands from the North Pacific. They’re most often seen on the eastern shorelines. And on days when the skies get blanketed with vog and ocean, the show’s stars get even closer than usual. In past years, whales have been reported to get within 25 to 100 yards from lookout areas.

No matter if you’re surfing glassy waves or enjoying a whale of a show, by the day’s end, all will enjoy the gift of another amazing sunset. A dark band of haze intersects the sun, as it hangs near the horizon and a vibrance of color lights up the skies. A silver lining, if you will, that’s oftentimes the tradeoff during these much-dreaded voggy conditions.


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