Whale Watching ... and Dolphins

On Tuesday morning, we were up and at it early again, this time heading out on the same boat we went snorkelling on, this time to go whale watching. It had been a highlight of the trip last year, and we were hoping to top that experience.

We had not been out to sea much more than five or ten minutes when the captain got word of a pod of dolphins quite close to us. We headed down to the beaches near Wailea, and sure enough there was a big pod of spinner dolphins, playing in the shallow water right near the beach. We kept our distance, but the snorkelers, kayakers and stand up paddle boarders were having a blast. I was definitely jealous.

The pod of spinner dolphins was more than happy to swim amongst all the people.

Three spinner dolphins at play in the warm waters off Maui.

I didn't get a picture of one completely out of the water, but they lived up to their names, with some pretty good acrobatics.

After the initial excitement of the dolphins, the whale watching started a bit slowly. We had a couple of views of some whales at a bit of a distance, but it was mainly blow spots and a few backs. After a little while, we had good close encounter with a mother/young pair that stayed near our boat for quite some time.

As you can see, the whales get quite close to shore.

A mother and calf stayed near the boat for quite a while, giving us a great view of the two of them. We saw more of the calf than the mother, as the young one can't hold its breath as long.

A mother and calf stayed near the boat for quite a while, giving us a great view of the two of them. We saw more of the calf than the mother, as the young one can't hold its breath as long.

And with a flick of her huge tail, mom was diving to the depths, leaving us for this trip.

Not long after that encounter, we had a single, big male come quite close to the boat.

The top of the head comes out of the water, allowing us to see some of the bumps along the top of the head.

It wasn't long before he too took the deep dive, and disappeared from sight.

The highlight of the trip happened a little while later, as two smaller groups of whales came together for an impressive display. Initially, we had a mother with a calf, and what we thought was an escort male. Two other males came along, and there was much trashing, tale slapping and partial breaches, as they all vied for the females attention. It was quite the spectacular sight!

The three humpbacks all together.

The three humpbacks all together.

One back, one tail.

Almost the entire back half of the whale was out of the water as it did these incredible tail slaps on the water.

More tail slapping, with incredible effect.