Today we had to be up at 5-45 for an exciting pre-booked trip. This was our day to go snorkelling in the Molokini Crater. The remains of this extinct volcano have been flooded by the sea and the crater wall has formed a protected reef. The water here is about 100 feet deep and absolutely crystal clear.
I’d been really excited about this trip and as lots of different companies offer it, I’d spent hours making sure I chose the right trip for us. Should we go on a smart yacht with just a few other people or should we chose a smaller vessel [rib?] which was able to get there faster and visit both sides of the crater wall? Or should I opt for a trip which also promised to spend time in Turtle Town? In the end I opted for a company called Four Winds which got very good write ups on trip advisor and which seemed to offer a family friendly catamaran trip for about 100 people. This trip seemed to offer the maximum time snorkelling at Molokini itself and stayed away from places where there could be strong currents.
We arrived at Maalaea Harbour at 7am and were soon boarding the tidy boat. The trip did not disappoint and yes- there were some very loud people on board but it was not overly crowded and the captain gave an informative commentary as we cruised along. the staff were also very friendly.
When we arrived at the crater there were already about 10 other boats there. As Jane and I had all our own gear we were straight in the water off the back of the boat- easy access down some steps. As soon as I put my head in the water it took my breath away- it was SO deep and blue and clear. Man- was it deep! Jane the ‘not very confident swimmer’ was also in and off- which never fails to amaze me. Brave girl!
We swam over closer to the wall where the reef was nearer the surface and its here that the greatest variety of fish were hanging out. The boat trip catered for everyone – there were boards with windows for the kids to use, there was something called ‘snuba’ which you could try and which allows you to go underwater and breath attached to a tube without all the gas tanks associated with scuba. There was also a slide off the boat and others which looked fun -but not for ladies of a certain age methinks! They also provided a good lunch and once you’d finished snorkelling, you could enjoy the free bar!
Jane and I did two snorkel sessions- one one each side of the boat. The after lunch session was on the right hand side the coral was beautiful and the variety of fish even better. In total we had about two hours here, which was much more than any of the other boats, and Jane and I made the most of it. We then enjoyed the sunshine, beer and reggae music on the return journey. They even arranged to amuse us with two dolphins swimming alongside us at the bow of the boat.
By the time we got back to our place it was only about 1-30 still and didn’t want to just waste the afternoon lazing about! So we got back in the car and drove up to a beach called Kahekili in the middle of the resort metropolis of Kanapaali. Again this is an area right in amongst the big hotels- specifically here the Westin but this being Hawaii- they have to offer beach access- hurrah! My guide book gave this beach 3 stars and said it had ‘everything’.
By now Jane and I were feeling like pro-snorkelers so we cooly walked down the beach put on our flippers and masks and got ready to dive in. What we hadn’t noticed was quite how forceful the pull and push of the wave break here is. I immediately got dragged out and then knocked off my feet. This was fine but then the next wave pushed me right up the sand sideways and I couldn’t move my legs (and flippers) fast enough to stop them hitting Jane and totally wiping her out too. It must have looked hilarious but it was highly embarrassing to be tossed about in the shallows in this way (not to mention a tiny bit scary) and so we got out asap and walked coyly back to the grassy area and hid in our deck chairs.
Jane read her book and I did a sketch of what we had now nicknamed ‘Wipeout Beach’ with some dark threatening clouds heading our way. But it wasn’t long before I heard a little boy shout ‘At last, I’ve seen a turtle’ very excitedly and a little girl going back down the beach telling her Mom she was ‘going to see the turtles again’. What?! Oh—right now I decided to brave it again. This time I chose my entry point more carefully- it was amazing – as soon as I got over the wave break I was then pulled about 10 metres out- along with all the fish. It does then push you back in again so you just need to get used to the flow. However, because of the swell the water here was a bit murky and I didn’t see anything new and certainly not any turtles. Boo.
Now all I needed to do was get out again. This involved picking a sandy channel through the reef and then just waiting for the swell to spit me out onto the beach whilst trying to look vaguely dignified. I was able to tell Jane she hadn’t missed anything.
Despite this experience at ‘Wipeout beach’ it had been a fabulous day and we celebrated with cocktails and brownies at the Air BNB before going out to dinner at the Aloha Mixed Plate. The added bonus of this restaurant is that you get to listen to the music from the Lu’au next door. Think Hula Girls and beating drums. Lovely.