AirVentures Hawaii

February is Peak Whale Season on Kauai

What an exciting whale season we’ve had this year on Kauai! The weather has been outstanding and whale sightings have been extremely frequent. February is peak season for watching Humpback whales here on Kauai. Most of the calving has already taken place, so you are sure to see plenty of juvenile whales just learning how to play. And there is a lot of playing going on! How do you know these whales are playing? You don’t really, but you can look for a half a dozen different whale behaviors and use your imagination to decide if they are playing or not.

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Here are some common Humpback whale behaviors:

The most dramatic of course, is the full breach. Witnessing a 40-ton animal launch out of the sea and land with an explosive splash can leave you breathless! There are a number of other behaviors to look for when watching whales. These include the pec slap, spy hop, peduncle or tail slap, and the spout.

 

The pec slap occurs when the whale lies on its side and uses its extremely elongated pectoral fins to slap the surface of the water. Sound like playing? You decide.

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Tail and peduncle slaps are pretty self-explanatory. This behavior can last for several minutes at a time and is quite entertaining. Then it’s hide-and-seek time when the whale takes a long dive before resurfacing.

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The spy hop is almost comical. This happens when a whale emerges vertically out of the water to just above the eye, then pivots about to take a peak at what’s happening above the surface. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, any of these behaviors can be simply mesmerizing.

 

Humpback whales are also known as kohola in Hawaii. These whales migrate nearly 3000 miles each year from the food-rich waters of Alaska to the Hawaiian Islands. It is here in the warm tropical waters where they will mate and birth their young. They will hang around and delight us for about 6-8 weeks before returning to their summer home to feed.

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Whales can be viewed from just about anywhere along the coast and it is quite enjoyable to just pick a beach and gaze out at sea. Common viewing locations include Poipu Beach Park, Spouting Horn, and the Coastal Path on the east side of Kauai. It can be fun to take a whale watching tour, but did you know that whales can also be seen from the air? However you choose to view them, just make sure to take some time to watch these magnificent animals while you are visiting Kauai.

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Whales are just one type of amazing marine life that you are likely to encounter while visiting. If you enjoy viewing marine life, try snorkeling at one of Kauai’s snorkeling spots, or you might want to take a stroll along the south shore to watch the sea turtles. A secret you may not know, is that you are more likely to encounter a turtle at high tide. This is when they come in to feed. It is also common to spot one of the most endangered mammals in the world right here on the south shore of Kauai. Hawaiian Monk Seals will often haul themselves out onto the warm sunny sand to rest, or to give birth.

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As a reminder, always watch marine life from a distance. This protects you, your family, and the marine life, and it is the law.

 

If marine life is your thing, Kauai is the place to be!

Kauai’s Secret Gardens

With its lush tropical vegetation, it is no wonder that Kauai is also known as the Garden Island. Well-established Gardens such as the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Poipu, or Limahuli Gardens on the North Shore offer tours of their extensive and unique properties where scientists engage in important research, habitat restoration, and rare plant preservation. While gardens like these are well worth visiting, there are a few “secret” gardens on Kauai that are free and open to the public, but they tend to be tucked away just out of site.

 

These secret gardens offer visitors a unique place to stroll, relax, and enjoy some of the diverse and exotic vegetation and history that has been brought to Kauai by its equally diverse population. Revealed below are a few these secret gardens.

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Pa’u a Laka Gardens

 

On the sunny south side of Kauai, located on the site of the Moir Plantation Manor in the Kiahuna Plantation Resort is the historic Pa’u a Laka Gardens. The garden was started as a hobby by the woman of the house (Sandy Moir), sometime back in the 1930’s. Because this region is so dry, she brought in cactus and succulents that thrived in this environment. The cactus garden soon became world famous. Sandy also planted orchids and bromeliads and later her collection was supplemented by a generous donation. Today, there are over 1000 varieties of orchids on display in the garden.

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There is no charge to stroll through the garden that is dotted with lily ponds and historical artifacts. Here you will find enormous succulents towering overhead, many of which tend to be flowering during the early part of the year. A variety of lizards can be found sunning themselves on the unique lava rocks that adorn the garden. The original grinding stone from the Koloa Sugar Mill and a rusty whaler’s boiling pot that was once used for melting blubber can also be found in the garden. If you are visiting near dusk, look for the Auku’u or Black Crowned Night Heron, which may be found fishing in the ponds.

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Located in Kalaheo off Papalina Road, you will find the once private estate of the late Walter McBryde. The property was donated to the people of Kauai and now serves as park, golf course, and garden for everyone to enjoy. Locals frequent the area because of the numerous trails and jogging paths.IMG_1226

Two very unique gardens are also located on the property. The Japanese Garden has recently been renovated and offers a peaceful place to stroll or sit, with unique stone lanterns, a natural footbridge, and other fascinating artifacts. Just up the hill from the Japanese Garden is the Hawaiian Garden where visitors can view one of the best collections of Hawaiian Pohaku outside of the museum. There is also a meditation pavilion where visitors can just rest and enjoy the view.

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The Spark M. Matsunaga International Children’s Garden for Peace is tucked away in the backyard of Storybook Theatre in the sleepy town of Hanapepe. The iconic red building of the local nonprofit organization sits near the corner next to the bank. Because of the noncommercial use of the building, it is not open as a store or gallery on a typical day, instead it opens most regularly in conjunction with Friday Night Art Nights. It is free to walk through this secret, walled-in garden where you will find gold spotted day geckos, koi ponds, water gardens, and both native and exotic plants.

 

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The Spark Matsunaga International Garden for Peace

 

If you lucky enough to find the gated entrance on the street near the park, you might expect to find the white rabbit hustling off to see the queen, or perhaps you might run into Alice looking for the key to the tiny door. Yes, there is a tiny door that leads to a vine-covered archway where exotic jade and passion fruit hang from the walls. An orchid-covered nursing log lines the side of the brick path leading into the garden. This special garden is dedicated to the peacemaking efforts of the late Senator who was once a resident of Hanapepe. If you are dying to see it during the day, you can also make an appointment.

 

If you have a little time to spare and need to take a relaxing stroll or just sit for while, finding one of Kauai’s secret gardens might just be what the doctor ordered.

Stellar January Weather on Kauai’s South Shore

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Locals and visitors couldn’t ask for much more in January! The weather on Kauai’s South Shore has been simply stellar! While the U.S. mainland experiences storms, snow, and cold winter weather in January, Kauai has been feeling mild temperatures and clear blue skies. Light winds have turned the ocean to glass, which makes great conditions for paddling, snorkeling, diving, fishing, beach going, and any other ocean activity you can imagine. The mild temperatures are not to hot for activities like golf, bicycling or just taking walk. These types of conditions are also perfect for taking flight on sightseeing air tour.

 

You might be wondering if the weather is always this perfect, and the answer is no. January is no stranger to winter storms even here on Kauai, and the Garden Island will often experience thunderstorms during January. In fact, these types of storms are common during winter months. The good news is that they are typically fast moving. They come in and dump a ton of rain and light up the sky, usually in the middle of the night. In fact, they are quite magnificent to watch. However, as fast as they arrive, they are gone and Kauai is back to clear skies and temperatures in the mid-seventies.

 

As you might have noticed, this article was titled, “Stellar January Weather on Kauai’s South Shore”. You might be wondering what is happening up on the North Shore. Well, the weather has been just as beautiful, but winter storms bring winter surf and many North Shore beaches are often closed due to high surf conditions. Kauai tends to receive the big swells during the winter season, with surf heights that  increase to well above warning levels. Always ask a lifeguards where it is safe to go in the water. Sometimes, it is not even safe to walk along many North Shore beaches due to dangerous shore breaks and strong currents. Big surf is best if watched from a distance. Of course, another great way to see these monstrous surf conditions is from the sky!

 

Play it safe out there! Watch from a distance, take a tour, or hit the South Shore and enjoy the stellar January weather here on Kauai!