A Friendly Maui Mugging


Dai Mar Tamarack, Expedition Leader, Safari Explorer

Imagine being mugged by a humpback whale.

That is what we call it here in Hawaii when a humpback whale approaches your boat within the 100 yard limit. As long as the whale stays within that proximity we can’t engage the engines, even to back away.

Thus we are stuck in place, sometimes for longer than we counted on. We affectionately call this a Maui mugging.

Whale next to the Safari Explorer in Hawaii

I have been waiting all season for a good ole’ mugging but it seemed that the whales had more important things to do.

Someone on board this week must have brought us great ocean karma because not only did we get mugged by two whales at once but they both seemed to be playfully hiding under our boat, the Safari Explorer.

Whale fluke in Hawaii

Every few minutes we would see a dark shadow rise from underneath the boat to come up and breathe. The wind was pushing the Safari Explorer steadily away but the whales kept up with us, possibly enjoying the shade or maybe just curious about the screams of delight every time they rose to the surface.

You know it was a memorable encounter when you see guests wiping whale breath off their glasses and camera lenses.

Whales close to guests in Hawaii

A vast majority of the North Pacific humpback whales arrive in Hawaii after migrating from the cold, food rich northern latitudes around Alaska to the warm, protective waters of the Hawaiian Islands. These warmer waters are used for whale mating and calving.

Even though you can see them off any of the islands, the epicenter of humpback whales seems to be the shallow underwater area between Maui, Lanai and Molokai. Luckily this is where we spend a good portion of our Hawaii Seascapes itinerary.

Perfect photo of a humpback whale in Hawaii

February and March are the best months to see whales in Hawaii.

Dropping an underwater microphone below the surface almost guarantees a cacophony of barnyard noises. This is the mystical song of the male humpbacks and a constant reminder of how special a place this is.

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