Aloha! So one of the happiest things happened to us this month. After our drone wigged out and fell into the ocean during our Big Island vacation, we decided to send our data to DJI to see what happened and if it was our fault or a malfunction. They reviewed the data and then honored our warranty – and sent us a replacement DJI Mavic Pro! That meant one of my big drone bucket list items was back on the table: filming the beautiful humpback whales!
Humpback whales come to the warm waters of Hawaii between the months of December-April with the heaviest activity in February and March. We got our drone right at the peak of the season, and so we spent a considerable amount of time this past holiday weekend trying to get overhead footage. No luck. We’d see their spouts and some of their fins, but whenever we tried to find them with the drone, we couldn’t.
But…yesterday was a different story – and a miracle! I felt determined to get footage, even if that meant I’d have to fly the drone solo. I’ve never flown the drone without Zach around, and even then it’s only been short flights under his guidance. I used to feel so intimidated by it, but I think having the first one crash and getting a second chance has made me feel (strangely) more confident to fly it. So I buckled the boys up in the car, packed snacks, and headed up the Waianae coast to Kaena Point. I only saw one whale spout while I was driving, but I was encouraged. When we got to the point and parked, I opened up the back of the van and sat watching the ocean, waiting…waiting…waiting. Nothing! Not even a spout! The boys were running around the van, throwing rocks in the mud, and I was trying my best to be patient. I pulled out the drone and decided I’d just practice flying.
As soon as I launched the drone, a local fisherman came up and started chatting with me all about the drone, his fishing routine, life on the island, etc. I brought the drone back down because I couldn’t multi-task flying and conversing – haha – and let him take a look at it. I’m actually super glad he stopped me to talk story, because I might’ve called it quits and gone home early if he hadn’t! After about 20-25 minutes of chatting, I noticed a small tour boat out in the water and then – BAM – a big whale spout close to it! Then – BAM – a second one!!! I excitedly set off to launch the drone again and I sent that bad boy straight out to sea. I kept the view on the horizon so I could see the boat, the spouts, and aim for them. I think that helped a TON to get in the right position. Thankfully the whales kept spouting until I was able to reach them and point the camera down. That’s when the magic happened…
The end footage of the video was seriously the end of the experience. Once they dove deep, that was it – they were out of sight. I was left reeling with incredible joy after having watched them from above. It truly felt like a gift – the way everything worked out just right – and I am so grateful to have had such an experience.