Sharon Biggs Waller 2017-12-06 04:47:28
As various types of whales migrate to find their home for the winter, many coastal Montage Hotels & Resorts guests are given a breathtaking view of the mesmerizing marine mammals. One of the many joys of visiting the ocean is catching a glimpse of marine life; tide pools, seals and dolphins never fail to delight. But the biggest wonder is left to the whale, the largest mammal on Earth. According to statistics from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation, more than 13 million people take whale watching trips each year worldwide. Peak season for whale watching is during migration, when the animals are on the move and most predictable. Whales can be seen breaching, lobtailing and spyhopping from beaches and cliff tops, but the up-close and personal experience is best achieved on the water. MONTAGE LAGUNA BEACH: PEAK SEASON, DECEMBER THROUGH APRIL In Southern California, whale watchers can see gray whales in winter, and blue whales and humpback whales in summer. However, fin and minke whales can be seen year-round. By land, watch whales from the cliffs right in front of Montage Laguna Beach as well as the headlands in Dana Point. By sea, guests staying at Montage Laguna Beach can contact their concierge to book an excursion with the whale-watching outfitter Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching. Kid-friendly, and loved by Montage guests, the family-owned outfitter offers two-hour chartered tours with a whale expert on board. Concierges can also book private tours for guests, Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching offers a two-hour jaunt for small (up to six people) groups aboard its 65-foot Hatteras yacht called The Boardroom. MONTAGE KAPALUA BAY: PEAK SEASON, NOVEMBER TO MAY (BEST IN FEBRUARY) North Pacific humpback whales have a trickle migration—juvenile and males arrive to the breeding ground first, then females, and later pregnant females. “At any given time, there can be 500 to 1,000 humpback whales in Maui County waters alone,” says Ashleigh Gay, recreation manager of Montage Kapalua Bay. “January and February are the months where the population overlaps and the waters are full of whales. From any coastal vantage point, you will observe these whales, and on most boat charters you won’t be able to go five minutes without stopping for a whale or two.” By land, the leeward or west-facing side of Maui is the best vantage point for whale watching, as the whales prefer its shallow, calm waters. By sea, 20- to 25-foot inflatable rafts allow you to move between pods of whales. Catamarans—a good choice for multigenerational families— can accommodate larger groups of passengers. A Montage concierge can provide options for private tours. By air, helicopters offer viewers a chance to glimpse the magnificent creatures from 1,000 feet above. Montage Kapalua Bay also offers a coastal hike and whale watch for guests on Thursdays at 8 a.m. (also available for private hikes). Hikers can see cow-calf pairs and other whales from the Kapalua Coastal Trail, which begins at Kapalua Bay. MONTAGE LOS CABOS: PEAK SEASON, DECEMBER THROUGH APRIL In the wintertime, humpback, gray and blue whales begin arriving from their 6,000-mile journey from frigid northern waters in the summer to winter at the southernmost point of the Baja California peninsula. Guests of Montage Los Cabos, opening in 2018, can spot them at their wintering grounds by land from the beaches, especially Medano and Chileno Bay. By sea, Buccaneer Queen, Cabo Expeditions, Cabo Rey and Cabo Sails are among the companies offering whalewatching tours. Whales can also be seen from private yacht charters and from a water taxi or WaveRunner on the way to the stunning Land’s End rock formations. WHAT TO BRING Discover how to best prepare for a day on the water with marine mammals. MONTAGE LAGUNA BEACH To stay warm during your atsea experience, Donna Kalez, general manager at Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching, suggests dressing in layers and topping your outfit with a windbreaker. She also recommends keeping your skin safe. “Sunscreen is a must since you will be out on the open ocean for two hours, although shelter is available,” she says. MONTAGE KAPALUA BAY In the coastal waters of Maui, Ashleigh Gay, recreation manager at Montage Kapalua Bay, recommends a reef-safe sunscreen (some ingredients can cause coral bleaching). For apparel, Gay says, “Wear light and airy clothing, and bring a sun hat.” If prone to seasickness, consider bringing along Bonine, Dramamine, motion sickness wristbands, ginger candies or ginger ale to fight nausea. MONTAGE LOS CABOS At the southern tip of Baja California, the weather is generally clear and hot, but it’s always recommended to bring a jacket just in case. Additionally, the sun can be very strong both from the sky and reflecting off the water, so sunblock, sunglasses and a hat are suggested. WHALE LINGO TO KNOW Get a jump on your whale knowledge with these terms. BALEEN: Instead of teeth, some whales, such as the ray whale, have long, flat structures in their mouths that allow them to sieve the water for food, such as plankton and krill. BLOWHOLE: A modified nostril through which the whale breathes air BREACHING: When a whale leaps from the water to rid its body of parasites, to play or to communicate with other whales. FLUKES: The two lobes off each side of the whale’s tail FOOTPRINT: A flat circle of water left behind when the whale pushes its tail just under the surface of the water; proof the whale is near LOBTAILING: When a whale slaps its fluke on the water; considered a long-distance communication to other whales. POD: A social group of whales PECTORAL SLAP: When a whale lies on its side, slapping one or both pectoral fins on the water’s surface to communicate with other whales. SPYHOPPING: When a whale pokes his head above the water in order to view the surroundings
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