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November is marked by the arrival of snow in much of America, but in Hawaii it marks the return of the humpback whale. These migrating behemoths move south from their North Pacific homes during the winter months for courtship and calving, and they put on quite a show. Watching males and females alike throwing themselves out of the ocean and into the sunset awes even the saltiest of sailors. Newborn calves riding gently next to their two-ton mothers will stir you to your core. These gentle giants can be seen from the shore as they make a splash, but there is nothing like having your boat rocking beneath you in the wake of a whale's breach.
Hawaii Sailing Adventures and Hawaii Nautical both run whale-watching charters during the winter months. At Hawaii Sailing Adventures, two-hour whale-watching cruise rates with dinner start at $119. At Hawaii Nautical, three-hour whale-watching cruise rates with snacks start at $100.
Wild Side Specialty Tours. Boasting a marine-biologist crew, this company takes you to undisturbed snorkeling areas. Along the way you can view dolphins, turtles, and, in winter, migrating humpback whales. The tours depart at 7:30 am from Waianae, so it's important to plan ahead. Three-hour whale-watching cruises on a 42-foot catamaran start at $115. Kewalo Basin Harbor, 1125 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI, 96814. PHONE: 808/306-7273. www.sailhawaii.com.