Whale Watching

Two whales swim into a bar.

The bartender asks, “What can I get you?”

The first whale says, “WOOoooOOOWWWWOOooooOOEEEEAAAAWOOOooooOO.”

The second whale says, “Dang it, Frank, you’re already drunk!”

No? I guess that didn’t go as “whale” as I thought. Jokes aside, what I really want to talk you about is whale watching.

On Kauai, humpback whales arrive in November and leave in late May; peak season occurs in February and March. The small time window to observe these sea creatures paired with the fascination of capturing something so rare is enough for visitors to want to get out on the water as soon as possible. This activity is especially great for families; imagine the moment of awe for your kids to marvel at this 50-foot mammal right in front of them. You won’t find any humpback whales in an aquarium, and, in general, there’s just a little more of a thrill when you’re able to capture wildlife in its natural habitat versus through a window in an overcrowded exhibit.

While it is possible to view humpback whales from the shore, it’s difficult to appreciate a tiny spec so far out, so the best way to get up as close as possible, safely, is to book a boat tour. There’s a law that prevents observers from getting within a 100 yards of a whale, although there is nothing against a whale from approaching people, which provides some excitement and suspense to onlookers. Just remember when you are out there that these mammals have their own agendas, some will be willing to interact, some will be more elusive. It takes patience. Book your tours in advance, as spots will fill up very quickly during whale watching season. In case you’re wondering, there isn’t a perfect time of day to truly pinpoint when the whales will be most active. Humpback whales can only sleep for about 30 minutes before they need to resurface to breathe; this means night-time is just as good as daytime. But, we prefer getting out there during the early hours because calmer conditions make it easier to spot them.