Once we got settled in to our new living arrangements, we went upstairs to meet the whole family. My aunt and Uncle had been there for a little while. They are such an inspiration to me. They are recently retired and now they spend their time traveling throughout the world looking for rare and exotic birds. When they’re not in Borneo, Madagascar, Brazil or Sri Lanka they are in Florida rescuing sea turtles and helping with conservation research.
Needless to say, it was good to have them around when we are adventuring. My cousin and her boyfriend also were staying there at the time. They lived in Connecticut for half of the year and then wintered over in Hawaii. They are such a good match for each other and a ton of fun to be around. Both of them had seasonal jobs so it allowed them months to travel throughout the Hawaiian islands. Not a bad life! My other aunt has done a ton of travelling in her life, but for right now she was more than happy to stay in Hawaii and host friends and family. She was an excellent hostess and we are so lucky to have someone willing to take all of us in. There was so much loving energy in this house it was hard not to smile the entire trip.
After catching up, we had a fun time making a big dinner together. Almost every night we would all meet up for dinner and it was a great opportunity to catch up on the day and to share recipes with one another. Of course I was on vegetable duty, and I was basically chopping and julienning for an hour to make enough for the 9 people that were eating tonight. We had 3 more people coming so eventually that count would be up to 12. Together we ate a nice stirfry and caught up with one another. We also planned out what we would be doing the next few days.
We were visiting Hawaii in February, which meant that it was whale season. Humpback whales would come to visit the warm waters of Hawaii to calf. I still hadn’t seen one of these huge animals prior to the trip and I was hoping this would be my chance! Makapu’u Lighthouse was just a short drive from where we were staying and you can get a great view of them from the lighthouse. Because it was going to rain tomorrow, this was pretty much going to be our only goal for the day.
I woke up to a beautiful Hawaiian sunrise overlooking the Mokes. The view from up here was incredible. I was so grateful to my aunt for allowing us to stay in one of the best spots on the island. Lanikai was one of the fancier neighborhoods in Kuilua we had one of the highest houses up on the mountain so we could see everything. After showering and getting ready, I headed up to the main house for what would become a morning ritual. We all ate our oatmeal together every morning and watched the sunrise. We talked about different wildlife we had seen and took a look at some of the paddle boarders and kayakers getting an early start to the day. We also had a few good pairs of binoculars so we could look out onto the Mokes. There was a small Hawaiian monk seal warming himself on the beach. My cousin would look for him every morning and if she saw him she would call the local wildlife conservation group so they could rope off an area for them. The problem is so many tourists want to get in close with the seals to take pictures, but this disturbs them and makes them not feel welcome at the beach. You want to stand your distance from them, like 30 feet or more so that you don’t scare them away. There are only about 1,000 of these animals left, so they take conservation very seriously. Hawaii has very few native mammal species, so maintaining the population of this beautiful animal is so important.
We packed our stuff and left on a journey to see a new type of marine mammal, the humpback whale. We brought Mochi along with us, one of dogs my cousin had rescued from a kennel in poor condition. She had made an excellent recovery, but still had a hard time adjusting to strangers. When I walked into a room, she would leave immediately. I was determined to be her friend by the end of the trip. At least I knew one thing she liked, mongooses. There were so many mongooses on the Makapu’u lighthouse trail, she would constantly be chasing them. At one point, she tracked a mongoose into a patch of deep grass and then just dove in head first and disappeared. She never caught one, but it was funny to see here running around in and out of the grass.
The hike itself was gorgeous. I guess I couldn’t really call it a hike because it was all on paved road, but I felt like we were getting a decent amount of exercise. If you look down, you see a massive rocky cliff and crystal clear waters below. From up here, you could really tell what part of the water was deep and what was shallow. The waves slammed against the rocky cliff walls below and shot white water up. The water would collect to form little tide pools down below. I wanted to go down and swim in the tide pools, but I really did not have the right footwear for it. Perhaps another day I would go down there.
We got to the first lookout point and saw a telescope set up just for whale watching. We looked for the telltale signs of whales and couldn’t see any. We searched the nearby sea for about half an hour until finally, a pod emerged in the distance. There was about five or six of them swimming together in unison. These creatures were so magnificent I didn’t want to take my eyes of them. They were swimming pretty slowly and coming up for air frequently, so we got to see a lot of them. We saw a few pectoral fins slapping around and then we even saw the whole tail come out of the water! You can barely make out their silhouette underneath the water, so sometimes you have to wait until they come out to get a good look at them.
This pod of whales followed us for the remainder of the walk, and we got to watch them from the first lookout all the way to the lighthouse at the end of the walk. It was such an amazing experience to see so many of these amazing animals up close. We returned to the house with a successful day of whale watching under our belts. In the net few days, we would be seeing a lot of whales, but it this hike was a great start to the trip because it is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time!