Hawaii Part 1: Ahoy there!

03 October 2022

Aloha! How’s it?


Standing on the beach in early 2015, surrounded by sun-soaked tourists and towering palm trees, I couldn’t believe we were finally at our dream destination – Hawaii!


After months of scraping pennies together and making lists of must-see sights, my partner and I had arrived for a two-week holiday with an empty suitcase (ready to shop) and bucketloads of enthusiasm.


The first couple of days were spent orientating ourselves (i.e. scoping out the best beach-chair locations and perusing endless cocktail menus).


And then, it was time to sightsee. First on the list – whale-watching.


I slipped on my All Out Bolds and we made our way into town; we purchased cruise tickets and scrambled onto a huge boat, jostling our way towards the front for a prime view.


Not long into the boat ride, humpback whales were spotted in the distance and our captain began charging the boat towards them. Everyone clung to the sides of the boat in giddy anticipation, cheering and holding cameras aloft – and then the engine stopped. Our boat drifted to a standstill. As we glanced around, confused, squinting into the distance to see the faint mists of water rising from the blowholes, our captain explained that we weren’t allowed to sail any closer to them. We’d have to hope that they came to us.


AllOut Bold – so comfy!

A quiet disappointment settled over the boat, and we waited impatiently, sipping water and shielding our eyes from the sun.


Ten minutes later, just metres from the front of the boat, two whales suddenly breached the surface, their huge, shiny backs glinting in the sunlight.


Well, I’m surprised the boat didn’t capsize after everyone charged to the front of the boat like a herd of stampeding buffalo, screaming and waving their cameras.


I stayed back, more amazed by the group’s hysteria than by the whales themselves (and also preferring not to get crushed within the throng).


Instead, I stood on the other side of the boat. One lady (who was also hesitant to join the crush) stood nearby.


We turned and gazed in the opposite direction, enjoying the peacefulness of the ocean for several minutes – and then, directly in front of us, three massive whales rose from the surface, their enormous backs shining with water.


Well, I hold no responsibility for the scream that erupted from my mouth; I certainly didn’t expect it. The lady beside me shrieked too, almost dropping her camera over the side of the boat as she scrambled to switch it on.


Our close-up view of the whales was incredible; we could see the wrinkles on their skin, the details along their faces, their glistening, black eyes.


And then the wild stampede joined us, pushing their way along the side of the boat and waving their cameras over our heads.


Luckily, we weren’t squashed for too long; the original whales re-surfaced just moments later on the other side of the boat and the crowd went charging back again.


Our captain could barely contain his excitement as he explained that this was called a ‘mugging’. The whales had surrounded our boat; it was a ‘competition pod’, the captain told us, which explained why they were so active. They were competing with each other for the attention of a female.


The whales continued to pop up on either side of the boat for over thirty minutes. We couldn’t switch the engine on while they were so close, so we were forced to stay and enjoy the incredible show.


I would have been happy staying all afternoon; I was captivated. But, alas – the whales soon left, and so did we. Arriving back on the shore was a bit of an anti-climax; we were jostled off the boat amongst the other tourists who had all suddenly been struck with an unnatural urgency to disembark. (Why does that always happen?)


With one last look at the ocean, we headed for the nearest coffee shop.



By Hannah Begg – an Aussie writer, traveller and coffee-drinker.