Ten Sounds That Will Bring You Back to Hawaii

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Ten Sounds That Will Bring You Back to Hawaii

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Hawaii Island , Kauai , Maui , Oahu
Feb 11, 2014

  1. A big sigh. It’s only when the 45-ton humpback whale exhales not more than 50 feet from your boat that you realize you’ve been holding your breath. And that you’re sitting on nothing but air in an inflatable boat that’s about half the length of the marine mammal breathing next to you. Humpback whales breach, breed and breathe in Hawaii during the winter months. Some even surface next to your boat, perhaps as curious to see you, as you are to see them. Where: Entire Hawaiian Island archipelago.

  2. White noise. Why is its presence so noticeable the first time you open the sliding glass door of your oceanfront room and, then, by day two of your visit, you almost cannot hear the sound of the water lapping on the shores of Waikiki Beach? I think it’s because the ocean—water—makes up 75 percent of our muscles, 82 percent of our blood, 85 percent of our brain cells—even 25 percent of our bones. Where: Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and Outrigger Reef on the Beach.

  3. A horn. It follows the whoosh of water as it rushes through a hole in a lava shelf. One note whose length depends on the amount of water gushing through the narrow opening along the coastline. It comes a beat after the whoosh has stopped echoing in your ears. Some say giant mo`o, lizards, lived here and the sound is their warning to stay away. Where: Spouting Horn, Kauai. Halona Blowhole, Oahu. Nakalele Blowhole, Maui. Caution: Keep your distance. Do not venture too close. Stay on dry rocks.

  4. A sneeze. It comes out of nowhere and can make you jump out of your skin. You see the sleeping Hawaiian monk seal, presumably so cozy on the warm sand as it dreams of that 15-pound tako, octopus, it just gobbled. It’s a scene so paradisiacal it hypnotizes you into your own lethargy. Then, like a whack on the side of the head, its fleshy lips shudder. Gobs of snot and sand fly in all directions. The seismic sneeze, however, doesn’t disrupt the pinniped’s dreams, and soon peace returns to the beach. Where: Wherever a monk seal decides to haul out! Which tends to be more on the beaches of Kauai, Oahu and Molokai than the rest of the island chain.

  5. Marking time. The plink, plink, plink of water dropping from one banana leaf to the next after a heavy rain, as consistent as a metronome. Where: Outside my neighborhood yoga studio last night;-)

  6. Sweet nothings. The e—ee—eee of a Laysan albatross parent whispering to its chick—even while the chick is still inside its calcium enclosure. Where: Most Laysan albatrosses nest on the North Shore of Kauai and Kaena Point on Oahu. But if you cannot make it to either location, you can watch a nest site via the Cornell Lab or Ornithology’s bird cam here.

  7. Palm rattles. They rustle as you doze in a hammock between two palm trees—those slender leaves of palm fronds catching imperceptible movements of air. But as insistent as they are, they cannot intrude on a good nap. Is there anything more peaceful? Where: Wherever palm trees gather—anywhere and everywhere in Hawaii.

  8. The Unique Uke. Its sound is synonymous to Hawaii, but what is it like exactly? How do you describe the sound of a ukulele? High. Thin. Like the beach. You know what I mean, right? Where: Any hotel room overlooking the pool at Outrigger Reef on the Beach where Hawaiian musicians perform nightly at Kani Ka Pila Grille.

  9. Words. Aloha. Mahalo. Where: Hawaii.

  10. Silence.                                     Where: The far ends of any remote beach and deep into all the tropical jungles of Hawaii.

What are your favorite sounds of Hawaii?


Val | Feb 11, 2014 08:09 PM

So smiled at this post today. My day consisted of monitoring a monk seal, watching whales breaching in the distance, listening to the ocean lapping near the snoozing monk seal. I enjoyed the light mist on my face as the palm tree swayed, and yes the seal did sneeze and snort!!! Love all the sounds of Hawaii. Great post KIM!

Heather George | Feb 12, 2014 06:15 PM

Crashing waves, big or small, at any beach on Kauai always works for me... :)

Joy | Mar 05, 2014 01:50 PM

For me, it's the sounds of the zebra doves.

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