Most people pay for long and arduous whale watching boat tours off the coast of their chosen vacation spot to catch a glimpse of a whale breaching or a pod feeding. When I was in South Africa, one of the towns I stayed at was entirely a tourist destination, developed solely for the ability to watch whales from shore at certain times of the year.
This post was originally published in 2008. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
Here in Hawaii, away from the tourist beaten path on the permaculture property where we’re volunteering, with the ocean on our front step and North America as the next land mass, whales love to play. And we don’t even have to get out of bed to go whale watching.
It started with the unmistakable sight of a blow spout – or rather the fountain of water that shoots up as the whales come up for air and purge their blow spouts. Once we spotted one, we were mesmerized by that spot on the water, and didn’t take our eyes off it. We were afraid to blink for fear that we would miss another blow spout and realize we were crazy for even supposing that a whale could really be so close to shore.
But sure enough, our efforts at blink-less staring were rewarded as another blow spout and yet another appeared. As we continued to watch, it became apparent that there was a pod of whales moving along the shoreline (approx 100 feet away from the cliffs), and we spotted the occasional body arching gracefully as more and more whales came up for air and broke the surface of the water.
We are told that blue whales and humpback whales often frequent these seas around the wintertime, and for the next few months they can be regular sightings. When they are feeling playful, we will see more of their bodies, and the real treat is to see them breach. You can apparently hear the smacking sound as their huge bodies flop into the water, and we are told that it is so loud it sounds like somebody is clapping right inside the house.
And if you know anybody who took a whale watching tour and tried to show you all their wonderful whale pictures, you’ll know why I chose not to include any of those pictures here…..although the experience is larger than life when you are there, the whales in the pictures are smaller than heck!