Travel

Knocked two more items off my Bucket List

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I have known Kenny and his wife Jan for 10 years. We met them in Hawaii with my Australian friend Peter during our 50th birthdays celebration. Hawaii is the halfway point for both of us and we spent 3 glorious weeks on Waikiki celebrating. They own a pizza and surf shop on the beach in Maui. We were invited to visit them anytime and I stowed it away on my bucket list. 

At 60 I have been working my way through the list and was time to knock off numbers 15 and 17 in one trip. Whale watching and visiting friends in Maui respectively. I have been to Hawaii many times and was looking forward to seeing a different island. I contacted them and they were eager for a visit and certain they could accommodate the wheelchair and I had a place to stay. Knowing that I would just be using frequent flyer miles my budget would allow me to visit longer and see more of what Maui has to offer. 

Living in Arizona and having no family to worry about visiting this year; I booked my trip for the second week in November. One of the things that they told me about was the amazing whale watching Maui. After a little research I found that the season starts in December and runs through June. In recent years the humpbacks have been seen as early as September. I figured my trip in mid-November would be perfect timing for another bucket list item. 

My friends picked me up at the Kapalua Airport and we drove to their place a few blocks from Kaanapali Beach. We arrived at dinner time and they had arranged a beautiful spread of local sushi and sashimi, my absolute favorite. We retired early and they informed me that they had planned a wonderful day for me whale watching and were excited that local buzz confirmed whales had been seen in the area already. 

The next day we walked down to the beach to have breakfast. Both Kenny and Jan were carrying binoculars so I was excited that we were no doubt going to see whales today. We had reservations at a resort right off the beautiful beach and I was surprised that we had such an unencumbered view of the ocean. Given the time of year I figured that there would be crowds of other people with the same idea. 

We had hardly been seated when Kenny pointed to a point South of where we were sitting and I caught my first glimpse of a humpback whale. It looked small from here but when the tail shot up, I thought to myself how majestic an animal it was. We were booked on an excursion (or so I thought) in a couple of hours so we had a leisurely breakfast while we watched the whales in the distance. At about Noon another couple they knew arrived and we were ready to go. Turns out the couple own one of the premier whale watch & snorkel companies on the island. As their client cruises do not begin until December, we had the treat of going out with the experts. 

When arrived at their vessel they explained that they donate to humpback and other marine researchers. They are dedicated to donating their vessels, captains and crew to marine researchers to protect and understand our oceans. They are also first responders for humpbacks in trouble during migration and participate regularly in entanglement rescue of the beautiful creatures. 

During our trip we saw a lot of bottlenose dolphins (I stroked one) and many humpbacks whales within 500 yards of the boat. We saw many mamas and baby calves. I was awestruck and frankly, a little overwhelmed when I realized the enormity of these mammals. We also encountered a couple of short-finned pilot whales not normally seen in this area. Our hosts were knowledgeable of every species we saw that day. Luckily, I brought a waterproof camera and rain-proof gear as I was soaked after a couple of hours. This was just day one of my Maui trip but I wanted to share with you another bucket list item complete!