Humpback Whale Heat Run, Oahu Hawaii Whale Watching

Our favorite whale encounters are those being ‘mugged’ or in the midst of a heat-run, competitive humpback whales – a gigantic version of extreme whale ‘dating’. It’s both exhilarating and un-nerving every time it happens! Seeing a fluke-up dive and mom’s with calves get the ooh’s and aahs, and breach’s are always awe inspiring, but nothing beats the raw power of a heat-run.

Full-on competition is not normally seen, unless you take the time it takes to go where the action is (Ka’ena Point on Oahu is legendary)! Sighting a whale for the first time — or the 101st — routinely elicits shouts of joy, But often after experiencing a heat run, people are just… quiet. They may be scared witless, or awestruck; we’re not always sure!

The behavior of amorous humpback whales can make an awe-inspiring show: 45-foot bodies hurled almost free of the water to crash down again with a tremendous splash; notched tails as wide as a teacher’s blackboard slapping into the water. Bursts of bubbles breaking the waters surface, blown underwater as a screen against other males. Trumpets, as loud as charging elephant, thicken the air. Head lunges, as threatening as a growling dog baring its teeth.