Will Humpback Whales Be Taken Off the Endangered Species List In 2016?

Humpback whales, (Kohola in Hawaiian), are an integral part of our Hawaiian history and even our mythology. From time immemorial, these huge, gentle creatures have traveled thousands of miles from Alaska to the Hawaiian Islands each winter to mate and birth their calves in the warm, safe waters off our coast.

For much of our modern history, humpback whales have been under threat, their population decimated around the world by whalers. Fortunately, we came to understand that the value of the ocean’s humpback whales wasn’t just in the sale of blubber and oil and meat. In 1970, humpback whales were designated an Endangered Species, and hunting them was outlawed around the world.

During the last 45 years, the humpback whale population has rebounded in an amazing and welcomed way. Today, researchers estimate that over 100,000 humpback whales are swimming in the oceans in 14 distinct groups. One of the largest pods are our own Koholas, which are thought to number upwards of 10,000.

Is it Time to Take Humpback Whales Off the Endangered Species List?

In April of 2015, the U.S. government proposed taking the majority of the world’s humpback whales off the Endangered Species list. Of the 14 distinct humpback whale populations around the world, only two would remain on the Endangered Species list, which would not include our Koholas. The rest of the humpbacks would still receive some protections through the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The U.S. government is expected to make a final decision in the early months of 2016.

This news has been celebrated by many. Bringing the humpback whale population back from the brink of extinction in only 45 years is an incredible achievement. The fact that we’re even considering taking them off the Endangered Species List is a testament to the strength of their numbers. At the same time, however, some worry that stripping humpback whales of all the protections afforded to them as endangered species could put them in greater danger once again and slow the growth of their numbers.

Hawaii’s Commitment to Humpback Whale Conservation

Here on the Big Island and throughout Hawaii, we treasure our wonderful Koholas, and work hard to keep them safe. Whales are still under threat from fishing gear entanglements, ship strikes, and disruption to their habitat. Here at Splasher’s Ocean Adventures, we are even more aware of these threats, and we are committed to following all of the rules set in place to protect our humpback whale population.

When you take a humpback whale watching tour with Splashers, you’ll notice that we always follow the federal regulations that requires all boats to keep a minimum distance of 100 feet away from humpback whales so as not to stress them or risk a ship strike. You can read all of the other safety rules we follow on our tours as designated by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, one of the foremost humpback whale research and conservation institutes in the world.

We hope you appreciate our dedication to creating a fun and exciting whale tour experience that keeps our humpback whales relaxed and happy too! Together, we can share the water and appreciate these gentle giants of the sea!

Learn more about our winter whale watching tours in Kona.


You Need At Least One Ocean Adventure On Your Trip to Hawaii’s Big Island

Are you planning a trip to Hawaii’s Big Island in 2016? Good for you! Can’t you just feel the warm sand under the soles of your feet and the sunshine on your shoulders already? Okay, enough daydreaming! It’s time to get planning. After all, you want to have the very best vacation ever, right?

There are so many things to do and see on the Big Island. You absolutely must spend some time on the beach. You can also hit the golf course, do some mountain biking, shop to your heart’s content, and attend an authentic Hawaiian Luau.

Yep, there are tons of things to do on land, but don’t forget all of that amazing water lapping up against the shore. The ocean holds a lot of great adventures too, including things you can’t do almost anywhere else.

Dolphins, Manta Rays, and Whales…Oh My!

Make sure you plan at least one ocean-related adventure tour while on your visit to Kona and the Big Island. We at Splasher’s Ocean Adventures are here to help. We can take you on a number of different trips that are perfect for a honeymooning couple, a group of friends, or the whole family.

Want to know what’s just under the surface of the water? Then take our Dolphin/Snorkel tour. The island’s delightful spinner dolphins will play alongside the boat as we take you out to Kealakekua Bay for some of the best snorkeling in the world. The water is warm and clear, letting you gaze into an aqua metropolis of brightly colored fish, sea turtles, coral, and maybe even a manta ray or two!

Speaking of manta rays, you can say hello to these big, harmless creatures on our Sunset Manta Ray Swim or our Moonlight Manta Ray Swim. Our expert guides will take you out to their favorite “watering holes.” You can slip in the water and watch these strange and majestic creatures glide by on their huge, wing-like fins. Both tours are an unforgettable experience.

Finally, if you visit us during the winter months, take a whale watching tour and catch sight of some of the biggest creatures that the ocean holds. Our much beloved humpback whales come visit us every year, and we can usually spot a spout or a huge tail breaking the water on our tours. This is a great experience, especially if you have older or younger people in your group who won’t appreciate snorkeling or swimming with manta rays.

Give us a call today, and we can help take your Big Island vacation from merely fun to AMAZING!


Five of Our Favorite Restaurants on the Kona Coast

Playing on the beach and in the water all day long is bound to work up an appetite. Good thing that Kona is filled with restaurants and eateries that are as excellent as its beaches. You can find everything from the very finest beach-front dining to local sandwich shops that will hit the spot. There are so many good places to choose from, so we did the hard work for you and picked our top five favorites:

1. Splasher’s Grill Bring the whole family down to this friendly and casual dining restaurant owned by the same team behind Splasher’s Ocean Adventures. Splasher’s offers great ocean views as well as delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. Its menu also includes local craft brews, or you can head over to the full tiki bar and get creative with your drink order. If you come for dinner, try the island seared ahi, fish-n-shrimp, or the ribeye steak.

2. Kona Brewing Company – Kailua-Kona Pub & Brewery If you really want to know the Big Island, you can’t miss out on its most famous brewery. This is the perfect place to taste some fine craft beer after a long day of adventuring and to fuel up on typical pub fare, including pizzas, salads, and sandwiches. Some of its most popular year-round brews include the Longboard Island Lager, Big Wave Golden Ale, and Fire Rock Pale Ale.    

3. Amici Ristorante Italiano The old country meets the Island at this authentic and classy Italian eatery. Chef Giovanni Saffioti whips up your Italian and pasta favorites, including fritto misto, lasana, and spaghetti vongole. Of course, if you’re in the mood for a nice red ribeye, you can order that too! Sip a signature cocktail or choose from the generous wine list as you enjoy the warm night air on the gorgeous patio.

4. The Harbor House For quick service and great prices, try the Harbor House, a favorite of the Kona locals. You can quench your thirst with some of the lowest priced beer on the island and make your stomach happy with a burger or basket of fish n’ chips while looking out at the harbor. A great way to fill up on good food, fast!

5. Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers You in the mood for a burger? You’ve got to head over to Annie’s Island Fresh Burgers. It’s not just in the name. Annie’s, a local favorite, has been voted the best burger in West Hawaii five years in a row! Annie’s is proud to use grass-fed, island raised beef as well as local, organic produce on its menu. You haven’t lived until you’re tried one of Annie’s six signature burgers, including The Ultimate Classic Burger, The Fire Cracker Burger, and The Bacon Swiss Burger.

Want even more great dining suggestions in Kona? We might be a little biased for our own restaurant, but if you’re scheduled to take a tour with Splasher’s Ocean Adventures, ask your tour guide about their favorite places to eat on the island. The best advice comes from the locals!

Why Manta Rays Are One of the Coolest Animals in the World

Beneath the tropical waters off of Kona lurks a mysterious creature. It is flat like a carpet, with triangle fins that flap up and down, almost like it is flying beneath the water. This creature is also huge! It can easily top 3,000 pounds in weight (1.4 tons), and stretch over 15 feet long (4.5 meters) from fin to fin. When it feeds, its large mouth opens wide to scoop the plankton of the sea.

Pretty scary, right?

Nonsense! This is the manta ray, one of the strangest but coolest creatures you will find off the coast of Kona and throughout the warm waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. Don’t let their size fool you. Manta rays are gentle creatures that feed only on plankton. In fact, you can even jump in the water and swim with the manta rays. It is an experience that you will never forget!

Learning More About Manta Rays

Manta rays belong to the taxonomic Mobulidae family. They are closely related to sharks, but they don’t have any sharp teeth or a taste for toes and fingers. There are actually two species of manta rays – manta birostris and manta alfredi. Manta B. is an oceanic manta that is much bigger than the manta A. and tends to travel much farther out into the open water. They can weigh as much as 4,400 pounds and reach 23 feet across! Manta A. is a reef dweller and tends to stay closer to shore.

Both types of mantas must constantly move to keep oxygen-rich water flowing through their gills. They also like to stop by coral reefs for a quick cleanup. Here in Hawaii, a small species of fish called a wrasses will eat away destructive organisms that attach themselves to mantas. Such is the beauty and the symbiotic nature of the ocean ecosystem.

Want to Swim with Manta Rays?

There’s nothing cooler than meeting a manta ray in person, which is why we offer bucket list trips like the Sunset Manta Ray Swim and the Moonlight Manta Ray Swim two of our most popular tours! Hop on board where we take you out to a popular manta ray gathering spot. With our well-trained guides on hand, we share an experience of a lifetime where you these gentle giants perform a ballet all around you. It is truly a magical and transformative experience!

Learn more about our manta ray tours and see why these creatures are so amazing for yourself!

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The Fish Are Biting in Kona

The warm, deep waters off the coast of Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island are home to a menagerie of sea life that you can see, touch, and even catch. If you follow the call of the fisherman, than there’s no better place in the world to drop your line. Beneath the surface of the Kona waters swim Pacific Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Striped Marlin, Ahi Tuna, and Mahi Mahi among other species.

Hop Aboard the Ahi Lani

Though Splasher’s Ocean Adventures doesn’t offer fishing tours, we work in close partnership with Kona Sea Adventures, a deep sea sport fishing charter operated by brothers Cyrus and Ty Widhalm, who are both able captains, dive instructors, and first aid instructors. Cyrus and Ty operate the 34-foot yacht, the Ahi Lani, which can bring out a group as big as six (not including crew) for a half day or full day fishing trip. (more…)