Scuba Diving (128k GIF)
Snorkeling (15k JPG)
Snorkeling at Molokini Crater is a must. Molokini is an underwater wildlife preserve. Only so many boats are allow to moor within the crater. It is located 9.9 miles from the Maalaea harbor where most boats sail out of. Molikini is really not a semi-submerge volcano as much as a volcanic steam vent. The interior of the crater is very well protected from the open ocean making it very easy to enjoy your snorkeling experience. The colorful tropical fish are plentiful and truly enjoy the daily encounters with their visitors to their domain.
On my last visit I took one of the single hull vessels as compared to the multitude of catamarans (double hull) that also go there. The water was warm and the fish plentiful. After spending an 1 1/2 hours at the crater, we went to a second snorkel spot just off of the southern coast of Maui. There we spent the next 1 1/2 hours exploring more coral. In addition we were able to swim among 5 sea turtles. In fact, one of them is so used to seeing this particular boat in the area that I am told that each time they anchor there, this particular turtle, fondly named "Tuttie", rubs its back against the boat's anchor line. It is Incredible to be so close to one of nature's wonderous animals of the sea. The entire snorkel trip lasted from 7:00am till 1:00pm.
It should be noted that not all boats go to 2 snorkel spots. Most of them remain at Molokini for the entire time before returning to port. Each vessel serves a continental breakfast and some sort of lunch. Some are definitely better than others when it comes to the type of food they serve and also how it is served. Some vessels have only soft drinks while others have also beer that can be served after the snorkeling is over. Some boats just motor over and back to Molokini, while others raise their sails and sail as much as they can depending on the wind conditions. All vessels supply snorkel gear, flotation devices and give full instructions on how to use the equipment and make the most of your time in the water.
All the trips to Molokini leave very early in the morning. The reason is that around 11:00am the trade winds come up and the ocean conditions get choppy within the crater.
Whale Watching (Dec 15th thru May 14th)
I really enjoy this time of the year. I never seem to tire watching the whales frolicing in our warm waters. They come only to play and mate. You can see them 'Breach', 'Tail Slap', 'Fluke Slap', and 'Spy Hop' (see FAQ's - Humpback Whales). I went out last weekend to snorkel at Molokini. On the way there and back I saw 4 pods of whales. Some were just cruising around so all you could see were their backs and the spray from their blows. One pod of a female and her calf were 'breaching'. Another pod of at least 2 males were showing off by 'tail slapping' and 'fluke slapping' (see FAQ's - Humpback Whales). What a great show. In addition, when we went snorkeling, you could hear the whales singing. Always a thrill.
There are boat trips that are for whale watching only. They sail out of 3 main areas of Maui. Most of them guarantee you will see a whale. That means that if you are on their boat and a whale blow is spotted way in the distance, they state you have seen a whale. Do not expect them to go right up to a whale. There are laws protecting the whales (see FAQ's - Humpback Whales). However, if a whale pops up within that safe distance, the captain is required to shut down his engines until the whale leaves the area. This means that there is always the possiblity that a whale might come up right next to your boat. The only problem I have experienced with that is if the whale blows close to your boat and the spray falls onto you, you will have wished it hadn't. The smell is the worst you will ever encounter.
If you plan on taking pictures of the whales there is something you should consider. The whales will almost always be far off in the distance. If you have a camera without a powerful zoom lens and you take a picture of the distant whale, when you get the pictures back from developing you will be disappointed. All you will see is a small black dot hidden within a vast ocean. It is better to save your film for more exciting things and buy whale postcards. But do take a camera with you on the trip and take photos of others on the boat with Maui in the background. The view of the island from the ocean is beautiful.
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