Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Maui Trip, Day 7 (Wednesday, January 13)

For Day 1, click here.
For Day 2, click here.
For Day 3, click here.
For Day 4, click here
For Day 5, click here
For Day 6, click here.


Wednesday was a day I had been especially looking forward to, as we were scheduled to go snorkeling at Molokini crater that day. In planning activities for this vacation, snorkeling there was my #1 top priority of things I wanted to experience, even if we didn't get to do anything else.



There are many snorkeling charters going out to the crater every day, as it is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations in the world. Typically, the cheaper charters have larger boats with bigger crowds that don't necessarily have the best atmosphere (an open bar can do that), and they also get out there later than the smaller, faster vessels that charge more for being somewhat "exclusive". After much research, I decided to book our tour with Friendly Charters, which turned out to be perfect. Not only was their price about as low as they are offered anywhere, but the boat was small, fast, out to the crater early, and the crew was true to their name and super friendly and helpful. Because the weather and waves are unpredictable, and the currents outside the protective half-moon of the crater are dangerously strong, there are never any guarantees that a snorkeling trip booked to Molokini will actually end up there, or might have to be moved to a different location along the shore where waters are calmer. While these sites are still very cool, they are accessible from shore, whereas there was no way for us to get to Molokini except through a chartered boat tour out there.


 

Having slept in a bit later than intended (6 a.m. - ish - HA!), we barely made it to the pier by boarding time at 6:45 that morning. Continental breakfast was offered on board, though my husband was not overly impressed with it because he doesn't care for bagels or cream cheese. He ended up having some peanut butter on purple rolls with some fresh fruit and juice. I think he's a bit spoiled from bacon and eggs being a staple at home. :)


You can see the whale in the background

On the way out to the crater, we spotted several humpback whales, which migrate to Hawaii during the winter months. The boat would stop the engine anytime they got very close to us, which gave us an opportunity to see many of them up close.

With the sun still not fully up, and the air cool, the vast majority of passengers (including myself) opted for wetsuits, which in hind sigh were totally not necessary once we actually got out in the water (which was a comfortable 74 degrees). One thing I had been wanting to try was SNUBA - like scuba diving, but no certification is necessary because the oxygen tanks are floated on little rafts up at the surface. Being pregnant, I was not allowed to sign up for this, something I was really bummed about. As it turned out, I was glad it didn't work out, because not only would it have cost more, but I also don't think it would have been as cool as having the freedom to snorkel about and explore by myself. There was no benefit to being able to go deeper than my snorkel would let me, because everything was right there, and the visibility under water was awesome.

Molokini crater is visible in the back of the picture




We snorkeled at the crater for a full hour. The sights far exceeded our expectations! My husband and I snorkeled side by side, and would nudge each other anytime we spotted a cool new creature. Besides tons of beautiful tropical fish, we also saw an eel, and a trumpet fish. We got a little farther from the boat than we were supposed to, but unlike other charters we saw there that day, our crew never tried to stop us, nor did they have one of their people out in the water to stop snorkelers from going outside a limited zone right near the boat.


 Not my photo, but this was taken on location. We forgot the GoPro at home, and took no underwater pics. (Source)

After Molokini crater, we cruised to another popular snorkeling destination, where sea turtles can often be spotted. Again, my husband and I ventured out beyond the group, and unlike anyone else on board with us that day, we got to see a huge sea turtle swim out right in front of us. They live in underground caves in the water, and come up briefly for air every half hour to an hour. We could have reached out and touched it, but of course we didn't because we knew we weren't supposed to. The one we saw was very large - at least as big as my husband. I also spotted an octopus.


Back on board, there was a buffet lunch of sandwiches provided, which my husband liked much better (they say hunger makes the best chef), especially the cookies. We also saw many more whales.

In all, this trip took five hours. We got back to the guest house around 1 p.m., and took a long nap until about 3 p.m. Both of us felt groggy, and like we were still bobbing in the ocean the whole time.

Since it was Wednesday, we were planning on going back to church that evening, but taking a detour along the northern shore of West Maui after not being able to drive that road earlier in the week when it was shut down by an accident. First, though, we stopped for some Hawaiian shave ice from Ululani Shave Ice, an island staple. It was delicious! I ordered a small one, which was still almost too big. My husband ordered the largest size, and added a bunch of extras, which turned out to be way too much even for him.



Along the remote northern route, which again was covered in lush rain forests, we pulled over to take pictures with a crazy cat/chicken lady. And when I say "crazy", I mean it in the nicest way possible. She was in the process of dumping tons of cat and chicken feed out for stray animals. I asked her if she lived nearby, but she didn't - in fact, she was about a half hour from home. This is just what she does every evening on her way home from work. And sure enough, the back of her truck was full of feed sacks to prove the point.



We got to Lahaina a little early for church, and stopped along Front Street to listen to a street musician playing Latin guitar. Church was once again great, and the people super nice.

After the church service, we had dinner at Roy's Hawaiian restaurant, which is also in Lahaina. Unlike the branches on the mainland, the ones in Hawaii are owned by the real "Roy" Yamaguchi. A family in our church who knew about our trip had gifted us with a very generous gift card to the place. We shared the "Canoe for Two" appetizer, then I had a filet mignon and my husband ordered the Seafood Collection. My meal was simply superb!! I love a good steak, but this one was out-of-this-world good. For dessert, we split a macadamia nut tart.





By this time, I was very tired, and slept the entire 45-minutes it took to drive back to the guest house. We arrived there around 11 p.m., and both crashed.

4 comments:

  1. When the children are up and gone, your next calling is travel writer. Great stuff.

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  2. The crater looks like a beautiful, amazing place to explore! Maui truly is paradise.

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  3. Are you okay? You haven't posted in a while.

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    1. Yes, but thank you for checking. Life has been super busy with two kids' birthdays, lots of stuff going on at church, and two of our kids battling their seasonal asthma (= lots of lost sleep). I am hoping to blog again by the end of this week now that things are slowing down a bit.

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