The best feature at the Banana Bungalow, was that they offer free daily tours. Katie had done most of them in 2008 but had not had the chance to join the whale watching tour as it was not the season, this was therefore a must for us this time.
Since this tour was organised by another provider, there was a small fee, 27.50$ which seemed extremely reasonable to us. We left just before noon and our guides drove us to the Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF) where we were to catch our boat. The guide organised our tickets and we were then taken in hand by the PWF staff who walked us down to the dock and onto the boat. We were expecting it to be chock-a-block full of other tourist, but the boat was actually surprisingly uncrowded.
We were given a brief safety speech and then set out offshore. It took little more than half an hour before we spotted our first humpback whale, what a sight! And then another appeared, and another, there were so many that the captain didn’t know where to have us look, we could perch at any side of the boat and see them, it was amazing! Alex had the good idea to climb up to the captain’s deck, it was certainly not as stable as down below, but we pretty much had a private 360° viewing deck, only one other couple joined us up there.
What was most spectacular was that many of the humpback were breaching out of the water creating enormous splashes as they crashed back on the surface. The PWF staff explained that we were nearing the end of the mating season, so the males were more eager than ever to win over the females. Breaching was often considered as a provocation to other males and often conducted while they were fighting over a female’s attention. whale duals have been reported to last up to 2 days!! Other signs that we got to witness that battles were going on, were whales flapping their fins against the water and their frequent surfacing for air.
The spectacle was absolutely mesmerising and to enhance the experience, the crew placed a microphone in the water so we could hear the whales’ song. It was magical.
To top all this off, towards the end of the tour, our captain shut off the engines. Now, according to Hawaiian law, the crafts are not allowed to approach the whales by less than 100ft with the engines running. However, should a whale approach your craft while your engine is off, you must not turn it back on until the animal is once again at a safe distance. And by luck, this is exactly what happened, right after he cut the engines, a whale started to approach the boat, it got as close as 30ft, followed by another one. We could see every detail of these majestically beasts. They circled the front of the boat, and one even gave us what could be interpreted as a wave, as he turned to his side and lifted a fin out of the water, and then they slowly swan away, leaving us all on the boat completely aghast.
At that point, the captain said that our tour could not get any better, so we headed back to port.
It was really one of the most mind blowing experiences, truly enchanting!
This post is also available in: French