Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Maui - part 3 - snorkeling trip

This is Part 3 of 4 about our trip to Maui. Click on the links here to visit Part 1, Part 2 (Iao Needle & drive around the island), and Part 4 (Trip to Lahaina). Also, for a comparison of Maui versus the Big Island, see this post.

We got up at the crack of dawn this morning, put the boys in their bathing suits, grabbed our snorkel gear, towels, and sun screen, and got in the car to drive 30 minutes to the marina for our snorkel trip. A few friends of ours recommended taking a snorkeling trip to Molokini. In the Maui Revealed book, we read good things about the Four Winds II charter out of Maalaea.

When I checked out their website, I noted their afternoon snorkel trip was considerably cheaper than the morning trip. When I called, I tried signing up for the afternoon trip, and the lady on the phone explained to me the difference. The Trade Winds generally pick up here early in the afternoon. She said if we went on the afternoon trip, we had about a 50/50 chance of making it to Molokini because conditions are frequently too rough. If we went on the morning trip though, she said we had about a 98% chance of making it to Molokini because it's generally calm in the morning. So I signed us up for the morning trip.

It was very windy when we boarded the boat at 7:15, but the guide book said Maalaea was the windiest spot on the island, and the Captain didn't seem concerned. We got underway and headed out toward the Molokini Crater. About half way there, the Captain noticed all the other charter boats were LEAVING Molokini and heading back toward Maui. He got on the radio with them and found out the winds were bad and the conditions too rough. Big bummer :-(.

Since it was too rough for Molokini, we went and anchored in the lee of the western end of Maui and still had a great time.

This is where we ended up anchoring.
(View looking east toward Maalaea)

Customary Blunoz Self Portrait.

YB initially went in the water with me like this. He wore his swimming goggles and enjoyed sticking his face in the water periodically to see the fish. Eventually he opted for one of the really cool plastic things that kids could ride on and look down through the window to see the fish. ES snorkeled for a little while and then decided to join YB on a white board, too. (You'll see pictures of these in a minute).

There is a professional photographer on board who goes in the water in scuba gear and takes pictures of everyone. On the way back to the harbor, he sells the pictures on CD for you to take home.

This is the picture he took of ES and LW.

This is the picture he took of YB and me. This is that white board with the window I mentioned earlier.

ES really impressed me with how calmly he handled that hungry shark that tried to devour him. Oh, wait, that was just one of the goofy things the professional photographer did with his toy shark.

We did see a LOT of tropical fish (too many to name them all). I figure you can look up pictures of tropical fish on the internet and don't need them here. They'll be on shutterfly later.

Here's LW, ES, and YB watching the fish, while Daddy swims ahead pulling the boys along.

Periodically I would dive down to check something out and pull the boys along to watch me.

LW took this photo of me looking back up to her and the boys.

I took this photo looking back up at the boys.

There was a cool glass-bottom section of the hull where the kids could sit and watch the snorkelers and fish. ES went back up on the boat first because he wanted to watch YB and me out in the water.

Later, when we went back on board for lunch, I took this photo of the boys watching the fish.

Daddy keeping YB warm on the boat while everyone else is looking for whale spouts.

On our way out and on our way back, we saw several whales and a couple of sea turtles. That was pretty cool to see.

ES took this picture of LW, YB, and me during the ride back to the harbor.

In spite of our disappointment over not going to Molokini, I give Four Winds II two thumbs-up. Captain John and his crew were all very professional and friendly. Captain John was really funny and provided a nearly-continuous commentary on the PA system that kept us laughing most of the trip. The food was decent and plentiful. The boat and the trip were all very kid-friendly.

The boat got back to Maalaea about 12:30. We took a drive through the business area in Kihei, stopped to get some Lappert's ice cream and look at some souvenir t-shirts. When we got back to the hotel it was still early enough that we were able to spend a substantial portion of the afternoon at the pool. I didn't bother taking any pictures since it was just more of the same, but we had a blast playing in the kids' pool and rode the water slide what seemed like a hundred times. YB got so used to the water slide that he stopped waiting for LW or me to go with him. He just started heading up the steps and coming down on the water slide on his own.

For our last dinner in Maui, we decided to splurge on the hotel restaurant again and enjoyed a delicious meal with fantastic service and another spectacular sunset.

Tomorrow we hope to do a little bit more exploring around the island before we fly home.

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