Category Archives: Ocean

Rising of the Night


SD2_ (961 of 1361)A corollary to Setting of the Sun

It was the time when night would rise from the gray waters of the [Saint-Lawrence] river.
“C’était l’heure où la nuit sortait des eaux grises du fleuve.” Jacques Poulin, Chat Sauvage

We are, well at least I am, creatures of habit. Often, if not always, we see things in the exact same way, and it would take quite a shock for us to think they could be otherwise. Such is the case with sunsets.

We have come to know and describe sunsets as an end—the end of day—likely because of the events that the term conjures, as that time of day when the sun reaches for the horizon, its light dimming, the colours of the sky changing, the night approaching. That time of day could also be know as “night rise;” we could describe dusk with reference to what the night is doing, instead of what the sun is doing…

Night Rises
Colours slowly dissolve, giving way to darkness
Creatures of the night shift about, mostly undetected
Movements become more deliberate, almost tentative
Sounds travel long distances to reach attentive ears
Stars brighten, twinkle, night visions
The black shroud wraps itself around our world
Signalling a time for sleep… Sweet dreams.

Splashing Around

Giant of the sea
Mighty elegance in flight
Just splashing around

Privileged to see
Humbled by the spectacle

This is a sequence of a humpback whale breaching by a fishing boat, with the slopes of Kaho’olawe Island in the background. I caught these from the beach at Kamaole II in Kihei, Maui HI, and I would estimate the distance to be at least 2 miles from the beach, but maybe as much as 5 miles (not sure). Shot with Nikon D7100 with Nikkor 55-300mm lens.

Makena (Big) Beach; A Ka nāpo’o ‘ana o ka lā (sunset) story, Part 3

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The few white puffy clouds provided little respite from the mid-afternoon sun. When I started to sizzle, literally, I ventured out into the salty Pacific water to brave the strong shore-break waves of Big Beach at Makena State Park, on Maui’s southwest tip. I was surprised at how warm the water felt. I swam, I floated, I let the powerful waves carry me back to the shore, again and again. The turquoise water so clear, I could see my feet.

A little later, the young lady sitting on the beach a few feet from us went for a swim wearing her wide-brim straw hat, never losing it, not even once. Her long, powerful, even strokes propelled her down the beach; she swam gracefully, gliding across the water, all the while keeping that large hat on her head. She smiled at us on her way back to her spot in the hot sand. A connection. Kindred spirits for a short while, enjoying the hot sand, the refreshing water, the beat of the surf, and later the sunset.

I set up my tripod on the dune at the edge of the brush, getting ready for daylight to give way to dusk. I returned to my beach chair.

— Getting some good shots? the young lady asked, shielding her eyes from the bright sun.

Caught by surprise, a little, I snapped a couple more of the beach, and of my wife sitting on her beach chair.

— I did, thanks! How about you? She waved her smartphone with a thumbs up.

It seemed people left the beach too soon, like fans flocking from the arena when the outcome of the game is already decided; the home team won’t come back. Maybe that’s how beachgoers felt as the clouds moved swiftly across the sun, convinced the game was out of reach. I could count on the fingers of both hands the remaining faithful bystanders who weren’t keeping score. The bright red ball appeared to slide down the Kaho’olawe Island slopes, into the jagged edges of the darkening ocean.

— Good luck with those beach chairs! she said, as we walked away with the chairs still open (I had fussed with them a few minutes—the bad news bears—and capitulated, afraid to break them), the connection about to be broken.

A few hundred feet up the beach, I managed to “unlock” the chairs and fold them, letting out a scream of victory, pointing my fist to the sky. A wave. Goodbye.

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Catching the Wave

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Along Maui’s eastern coast, on the Hana Highway, the curves become a little sharper and more frequent. On our left, the deep blue of the water disrupted rhythmically by large waves, first darkening the water, then churning it with white foam, smashing on the hot sand and retreating out to sea, taking some of the beach away, a few grains of sand at a time. On our right, a layer of puffy clouds rings the Haleakalā crater like beads of a necklace, halfway up (or down, depending on perspective) the mountain.

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From the lookout point high above Ho’okipa Beach, we see surfers floating about like a flock of seagulls, waiting to catch the next big wave and their chance for the ride of a lifetime. I can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon.

The waves crash with a deep thud on the north side of the point, onto a lava rock formation, showering the glistening jagged stones on their way to the shore. The main element stands like a cat sitting on its hind legs; the dripping surf from its chin looks like whiskers.

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A Ka nāpo’o ‘ana o ka lā (sunset) story, Part 2

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Three whale spouts (on the left) highlighted against Kaho’olawe Island while another whale breaches on the far right edge of the shot.

Maui (153 of 2119)An earlier post, and a cropped picture (provided above un-cropped), alluded to spotting whale spouts on the horizon while watching the sunset. Unfortunately, I hadn’t come prepared for shooting whale spouts two kilometres out from the beach. Nevertheless, I pushed my 18-75mm lens to its limit and focused on the spouts. I planned on coming equipped just for whale watching the next evening, with my 300mm zoom and tripod. I was in for quite a surprise…

So captivated by the spouts (and whales) on the left of the viewfinder, while composing with the background sloping island and clouds, I never saw what was happening just inside the right edge of my shot. Yes, pure coincidence! I only noticed this breaching humpback a few  hours later, while processing that evening’s photos on my laptop.

Could this be a case of missing the forest for the trees? Or not seeing the big picture? Maybe a little bit of tunnel vision? I’d rather call it pure luck, a series of photographs and an experience to be treasured for a lifetime.


A Ka nāpo’o ‘ana o ka lā (sunset) story, Part 1

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The warm sand  cradles our feet and fills the space between out toes…

The sun’s dip toward the Pacific Ocean attracts many spectators on Kamaole Beaches, and on the low brick wall separating the beach from the road. Chairs, beach mats, tripods, cameras: ready for the show.

We spot a column of white spray on the horizon—a spout—and soon a second, indicating the presence of whales; turns out they like sunsets too. Mores spouts, fin slaps, a big splash and a fluke bring a certain sense of elation at spotting these giants of the sea, right there in front of us.

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They disappeared from sight, maybe watching the sunset while floating and swaying to the rhythm of the waves.

The sun dove straight for the Pacific without a splash or a fizzle and left everyone who’d been watching in a good mood. Sunsets have that magical effect on people…

I told you I loved sunsets…

At the end of the day…

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Sunset on Kamaole Beach I in Kihei, Maui

What is it about sunsets that we find so captivating, calming, inspiring, moving even? Maybe it’s the enchantment of the infinite hues of red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, gray. Or the pure awe of watching that immense ball of fire disappear below the horizon, into the earth, or swallowed by the ocean, knowing that it will rise again tomorrow. How cheated we feel when clouds float by, stealing the show, yet clouds can add to the beauty of the spectacle, in their own way.

Sunsets are a time of peace, quiet, reflection, sharing. They are moments that we love to stretch for as long as we can, always over too soon. I love sunsets (I also love sunrises) for their colours and for the feeling of peacefulness—I get that peaceful, easy feeling—that accompanies them.

As you can imagine, I built quite a collection of sunsets from a recent visit to Maui. I’ll be posting a few here and there over the next weeks. Enjoy!

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Sunset on Kamaole Beach II in Kihei, Maui, HI

Gliding the Road to Hana


Driving, not gliding, is the term most used when referring to the 617 curves and 59 one-lane bridges of the Hana Highway between Kahului and Hana, a little jewel of Hawaiian history nestled on the easter coast of Maui. But gliding we did, aboard the Hana Ho 12-passenger luxury van, thanks to our master tour guide and driver, Walter, of Valley Isle Excursions. For the 12-hour loop around the base of Haleakala, Walter made us laugh, taught us about Maui history and geology, pointed out botanical facts, served us lunch, gave us plenty of time (you can’t take that much time if you want to get back before dark) to see and experience Maui’s unique beauty, and returned all twelve of us back in time for dinner and another magnificent sunset.

The way to Hana takes us through the town Pai’a with its numerous little art shops and eateries. According to Walter, Willie Nelson—Uncle Willie they call him here—fell in love with Pai’a; “he may just be sitting on the barstool next to you at Charley’s, if you stop in…” This first section of the drive winds through valleys and meadows (yes, there are cows, chickens, and roosters on Maui!) and offers expansive views of the rugged lava coastline dotted with sandy beaches. We soon encounter the first of many curves and climbs; the landscape changes to a lush tropical rainforest, with dense bamboo, koa (only grows in Hawaii), rainbow-bark eucalyptus, papaya, plumeria (with its bare branches, but beautiful and heavenly-scented flowers), towering Cook pines—solitary or in small clumps, skinny, they resemble green fishbone skeletons—and banyan trees. According to Walter, “Our parents couldn’t tell us to go play in traffic (no roads, no traffic back then), instead they sent us to play in the banyan tree. If you grew up with a banyan tree in the backyard, life was good.

Hidden in the midst of the forest are a number of beautiful falls: roadside stops provide ready access to some of them, others require hiking to reach them, and a few we only saw quickly as Walter pointed them out as we drove by. Carved in the rocks by thousands of years of erosion, nested among deep greens and colourful flowers, their beauty provides a sense of calm and serenity… The road moves a little further inland as we approach Hana, the landscape transforms into a more ordered collection where human influence is evident: sugar cane and macadamia nut plantations (Jim Nabors, a.k.a. Gomer Pyle, still operates a MacNut farm here), and ranches. But a surprise left turn takes us to Waianapanapa State Park. There, we walk on a black sand beach, which felt like nothing my toes had ever experienced. The coarse grains of graphite-like sand don’t stick to your feet and instead provide a dreamy pedicure as you walk in and out of the surf; almost like walking in a tub of tiny steel shot (I imagine). I would later find out from Walter that black sand is created when 2,500C lava supercools almost instantly from the outside in, as it hits the (relatively) cold Pacific waters, forming lava glass, which quickly shatters into millions of tiny black particles that become black sand.


We leave Hana in our rearview mirror after a typical Hawaiian lunch and a stroll in colourful botanical gardens. Lush tropical rainforest gives way to a more arid steppe-like terrain; greens have been replaced by yellows and browns. Trees that had been so thick and tall now give way to shorter and drier ones along with shrubs. We stop by Charles Lindbergh’s grave on Kipahulu Point where one can read the following inscription: “…If I take the wings in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea…” We eventually reach what Walter had warned us about, a few miles stretch of the Hana Highway he referred to as “the full body massage,” a stark contrast from the first-class blacktop we’ve been following most of the way, a bumpy ride reminiscent of home, hui! We eventually head east again through Maui’s up-country with towns named Keokea, Kula (and drive by Oprah’s ranch) and Pukalani. I make a mental note to later visit close-by Makawao, just because I love the name.

What a day, immersed in beauty, awe, and history. Life is good.