There is a common wisdom that wildlife travel should be approached with a healthy dose of patience, cautious optimism and an understanding that nature’s cycles don’t always coincide with yours.
For example, on this day in Hawaii, a cold front had blown in, causing snowstorms at the top of Mauna Kea and critical flash flood warnings in the South for the first time in over a decade. This, on the day we had planned a sunset sail and whale watch.
We set sail on the Riva to completely overcast skies and an honest warning from Captain Steve that sighting whales this early in the season would be unlikely. My travel mates were great sports, making the best of the situation by preparing a picnic of bread, wine and cheese for our romantic sail.
We were snuggled into the bow having one of those soul baring conversations usually reserved for late nights (or the pressure cooker of exploring a place together, thanks travel wizardry!). At the edge of my vision I saw a juvenile humpback do a full breach (translation: leaped it’s entire 25 ton body completely out of the water). Sorry friends, for not paying attention to your deepest thoughts, and worse, for screaming “breach” without any indication of what direction to look in.
My guilt didn’t last long, as what followed was 90 minutes of humpbacks dancing. It was Planet Earth meets Fantasia, with pods of humpbacks content to spy hop, tail slap, fin slap and breach over and over again. I will never forget the sound of a whale spouting as it surfaced right next to us, or the splash of their giant bodies on the ocean (perks of sailing with no motor). Our phones were blowing up with weather warnings and text messages from home asking about Hawaii’s meteorologic anomaly, and there we were, witnessing whales frolicking at sunset. This was the best whale watch I had ever been on. Thanks, Mother Nature.
Travel and nature have this amazing ability to increase my capacity to dream, expanding my own sense of what is possible for me to create and experience in my life. Going forward, on those days that my dreams seem impossible, I will reach for this memory and know that against all odds, anything is with my reach.
A note on conscious ecotourism: I want to take a moment to acknowledge Kohala Sail & Sea. We were not the only boat on the water that day, and while we watched others try to chase the whales, Captain Steve remained quiet and at a distance, creating a safe space where a few humpbacks ended up approaching us. I have been viewing cetaceans around the world and in Hawaii for over 7 years, and his respect for the creatures of the sea were a huge part of what made our experience so phenomenal. Mahalo, Captain!