This job has its perks! (Tropical Travels – Part 2)

January 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Mark and I had one day to ourselves on my working trip to Honolulu this winter, and we decided to spend it on an afternoon boat trip to see Pacific Humpback whales. These whales travel thousands of miles each year from the northern pacific to Hawaii in the winter where they birth and care for their young calves. Mark and I saw distant whales on our previous trip the the islands, but I was hoping to get a little closer this time, and we weren’t disappointed!

Views of the west (dry) coast of Oahu

I made reservations for an afternoon with Ocean Joy Cruises about two weeks before the date. Their pictures and description of their unique and lovely catamaran-style yacht really hooked us. Plus, they offered pick-up from near our hotel in Waikiki, and were very reasonably priced.

Our very nice speed-boat/catamaran the Kai Oli Oli!

We had a really nice afternoon to get out on the water and cruise around looking for whales and dolphins. In the morning, we got great views of a huge pod of Spinner Dolphins, who lazily surfed the swells in clear tropical water.

This was a big pod (~50) of Spinner Dolphins

Our cruise complied with “Dolphin Smart” by NOAA, so we cut power to the engines when the dolphins were sighted, and drifted along in their wake for close to an hour. Eventually, some of the curious guys came up to our boat to check us out and we got a really great view!

My camera gets sprayed by a dolphin!

We had a few sea turtle sightings and then headed over to reef for about an hour of snorkeling. This reef was deeper and less exciting than some we saw in Thailand, but Mark and I still had a great time swimming through the huge schools of tropical fish. And this time, I did not end up with sea urchin spikes in my fingers.

Sea Turtle surfing the little swell

After snorkeling, the boat headed out to deeper waters for the whales, and the crew pulled out a pretty nice hot buffet lunch. I was eating a pile of kalua pork and fresh pineapple when we found two whales, an adult and a calf. We watched as they rose slowly through the surface, taking huge breaths of air and enjoying the sun for a bit. I didn’t grab my camera right away because I was so hungry, and I got exactly one shot before they disappeared below the surface, not to be seen again.

Pacific Humpback Whales

One last thing, at the port where Kai’Oli’Oli was moored, there was a big industrial-looking area full of weird boats. Turns out, it was a construction area for movie ships, and the Black Pearl was sitting there, out in the Hawaiian sun, slowly being deconstructed.

The Black Pearl was anchored nearby

So, it was a really nice day, in all. Mark and I both managed to escape sunburn, and were back in Waikiki around dinner-time. We watched the sunset on the ocean one more time, had fantastic udon noodles for dinner, and then caught a red-eye flight back to cold, snowy, Colorado.