May 31, 2018

Whale Watching + Lahaina Banyan Tree (and some food, of course!)

So excited for whale watching! 

One of the first things we did in Maui was to take a whale watching cruise. We were told peak whaling season ends in February, but the Pacific Whale Foundation (through whom we bought our cruise) also guaranteed us a whale sighting or we'd get to take another whale watching cruise for free within a year, so we figured why not book it?

And boy, were we glad we did! (Travel tip: you can book your whale watching cruise in advance. You can cancel without penalty up to 48 hours before your cruise, so it's a good move to book as soon as possible. As your trip date gets closer, you can check the weather to make sure you'll have good weather on your cruise. While I'm on a travel tip, I learned that they only offer sunrise cruises during peak season, which is why we took our cruise in the afternoon. Word on the street is that a sunrise whale cruise is an awesome experience. Oh, also, we booked our cruise leaving from Lahaina. If you do this, remember to leave plenty of time to find parking, most of which is in paid lots!)

Whalewatching in Maui

So excited to see whales! whalewatching cruise

We saw not one, not two, but THREE (maybe four?) whales! Our guide said it looked like a love triangle: two males fighting over a female, which seemed especially probably at the end of mating season when the pickings are slimmer. ;)

I'm not sure what I was expecting to see, but the first whale sighting came from a fellow passenger and was sort of underwhelming. In fact, I didn't even see it! The whales were far from our boat, and the only way we could tell they were there was because of the stream of water from their blowholes every time they came up for air. Our captain told us to scan the horizon to see the blowhole spouting better, and that definitely helped. See blowhole spouts below! (Note that the photos below were taken once our boat was closer to the whales.)

whale blowholes
whale blowholes spouting water

Our captain steered our boat as close to the whales as legally permissible, and then he turned off the engine. And then the whales got closer (there's no law governing how closely the whale can approach the boat), and one of them even swam RIGHT UNDER OUR BOAT!! See its back and blowhole in the photo below?? That's how close we were. It was amazing! I'm actually shocked its tail didn't whack the bottom of our boat as it swam.

Whale blowhole

Two whale videos from our cruise:

whale watching video whale tail in Maui

We had an amazing experience. I would highly recommend a whale watching cruise to anyone heading to Maui! Stephen and his parents have done whale watching cruises before, and they said this was, by far, their best experience ever. I guess my bar is set pretty high now! We decided that next time we're in Hawai'i, we'll try a dolphin cruise. :)

After our whale watching cruise, we spent some time in Lahaina Square. We stopped to snap a photo with the famed Lahaina Banyan tree, of course. It was originally planted in 1873, and its canopy spreads out over 2/3 of an acre! It's the largest banyan tree in the United States and the oldest banyan tree in Hawai'i.

Lahaina banyan tree With the in-laws at the banyan tree

And then we had some fantastic burgers (voted Best on Maui 13 years in a row) at the Cool Cat Cafe across the street. Our favorite was the monthly special, which included a burger patty, lettuce, tomato, bacon, a fried egg, and two glazed donuts in place of buns. It was so good! (Of note: I wish we'd known this beforehand, but the Cool Cat Cafe will validate parking!)

Donuts are better than buns any day

Oh, and I can't end this post without mentioning one of my favorite food discoveries from our first day: Dole Whips! AND, even better, I learned they are DAIRY-FREE! Woot woot!

Dole whip in Maui!

We headed back to our resort after dinner to wind down and relax. It was a great first day in Maui!

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