Maui, Hawaii, 2011

Our main objective in Maui was to do a spot of whale-watching, dolphin spotting and some snorkelling. Whale sightings are guaranteed between December and April when the humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the warm, shallow and sheltered waters around the Hawaiian islands. If you're a humpback whale, this is the perfect place to birth and mate.

We went out on a boat with the Pacific Whale Foundation on the first available trip. We heard some beautiful whalesong live. We did spot a whale, but it was quite far off so B and I decided to join the afternoon session on a raft, hoping we could get closer. Our patience was rewarded with sightings of several blows, peduncle arches and fluke up dives by a pair of juveniles, sometimes simultaneously. We came away satisfied.

Shopping and shaved ice

Our dolphin spotting/snorkelling trip the next day had to be cancelled due to bad weather, so we ended up window shopping along the main street. There were some fine galleries as well.

We had eaten some mediocre shaved ice the day before, but once I tried Ululani's Shave Ice, I was hooked on it. Shaved ice is Hawaiian snow cone. Ululani's ice was finely shaven to perfection, and the servers would throw out the ice and make you a new one if they felt that what was coming out of the machine wasn't soft or fine enough. The next part was what made it so good: before pouring on the flavoured syrup, the server would poke tiny holes all around the ice with a skewer. This was to allow the flavours to seep through evenly into the ice, rather than going straight to the bottom of the cone. The best thing is that you can go back for 'more flavour'. We later tried what was supposed to be the best shaved ice on Oahu, but it was nowhere near as good as Ululani's.

Polynesian feast

In the evening, we went to the Feast at Lele, a traditional Hawaiian meal with entertainment known as luau. This was supposed to be B's birthday meal. The Feast at Lele comprised a four-course meal, with each course accompanied by a performance representing one of four Polynesian cultures: Hawaiian, Maori, Tahitian and Samoan.

The atmosphere was lively, the food was interesting and the cultural show quite enjoyable. You could also have as many mai tais as you wanted. It was all very wonderful, except during a bout of rain, when the waiters had to hand out waterproofs to the guests. Everything turned a bit comic-surreal during that brief spell, as diners consumed their meals glowing under their multi-coloured ponchos.

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