Maui Day Two: Four Winds II Molokini Snorkeling, Dinner in Lahaina

maui-2

(May 3, 2011) That three-hour time difference that I mentioned in the day one recap also meant that we were up crazy-early each day. Cari was usually awake between 5-6 am and I was awake by 6 or 6:15 every day. We wondered how people from the East Coast adapt to the six-hour time difference….

Snorkeling and Snuba at Molokini

Today, waking up early was a necessity: We had a 7:00 am check-in down in Maalaea for a snorkeling cruise on the Four Winds II boat out to Molokini.

Four Winds II boat at Maalaea Harbor

We chose this boat and trip after reading about the various options in the book, Maui Revealed. And pretty much everything the book said was true: Super friendly crew and a stable ride, but a wee bit heavy on the sales/promotion stuff. At least we knew that going in, so not a big deal.

In addition to the snorkeling, I had signed up to do a Snuba dive. Snuba is a cross between scuba and snorkeling. You go below the water’s surface like scuba divers do, but, rather than carrying the air tank on your back, it floats up above on the water and you’re connected via an air tube. The air tank follows along as you swim down 15-20 feet below the surface.

They do a little on-board training before you get in the water. That was both scary and helpful at the same time. They warn you about how strange it will feel to breathe through your mouth while underwater, they put weights around your waist to help make sure you get below the surface — heck, even some of the legal paperwork you have to sign comes across as scary.

I was a bit hesitant at the last minute, but decided to follow through and let me tell you … it was the most incredible thing ever. I had purchased a couple cheap, underwater film cameras. Here are some of my pics!

Molokini Snuba 1

Molokini Snuba 2

Molokini Snuba 3

Pretty good for a $10 camera, I think! I really didn’t know what to expect and was hoping that maybe 1-2 of my pictures would be acceptable, but almost the entire roll came out pretty well.

The Four Winds boat sends a photographer down with some hi-level gear, but he also happily borrows the guests’ cameras and takes pictures of each person below the water. Here’s the shot he took of me giving the “all is fine” sign.

Matt Does Snuba at Molokini

The instructor’s words were true. It was tough for the first few minutes, then it got really easy. We were down there for probably 25-30 minutes and I didn’t want to come out of the water. There were so many amazing fish down there and the coral and everything else you see below the surface … wow. I’ll never forget it. I told Cari that, if she wanted to cancel some of our plans later in the week, I’d gladly pay again to do this same trip and sign up for more snuba time. (While I was snuba-ing, Cari was up on the surface snorkeling for the first time and she also loved it.)

After it was over, we had a hot BBQ lunch right on the boat. Options were grilled chicken sandwich, hot dogs or pulled pork. Plus there were chips and drinks. Pretty good stuff. After lunch, we still had 45 minutes out at Molokini, so Cari and I went back in the water and snorkeled together, which was really cool. There were several other boats anchored there with us, but it was never so crowded that you couldn’t go wherever you wanted to in the water.

My good camera was up on the boat the whole time, so I only used it when we were leaving Molokini. Here’s a quick video — and seriously, check out how freaking gorgeous and BLUE this water is! (Make sure you click to watch the HD/720p version.)

Sadly, we didn’t see any sea turtles out at Molokini.

You may not know this about me: Turtles are my favorite animal. Really love them and had my heart set on seeing one underwater, but no such luck. On the way back from Molokini to the docks, though, our boat drove through an area that’s known for housing lots of sea turtles, and so it was pretty awesome to at least see a couple in the water. Here’s one that I snapped while s/he popped up for some air.

Sea Turtle

When the trip was over, Cari and I were both in agreement that we wanted to do a lot more snorkeling, so back at the Sheraton we paid through the nose to rent some snorkeling gear for the remainder of the week. (There was a cheaper option further down the beach — Maui Dive & Surf — but the girl there was snotty and unhelpful and I didn’t feel like giving her our business.)

Dinner in Lahaina

We hung out for a bit in the afternoon, then drove down to Lahaina for dinner. Cute little town. It wasn’t busy at all on a Tuesday evening. We walked around a bit and took a couple photos.

Lahaina, Hawaii

Lahaina Sailboat

We decided to have dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. I know, I know — it’s forbidden to eat at a chain restaurant when you’re on vacation in a place like Maui! But, in our defense:

  • We don’t have a Ruth’s Chris in the Tri-Cities.
  • I had never eaten at a Ruth’s Chris.
  • We were both in the mood for steak (which is rare for me).

And, chain or not, how can you argue with a view like this?

View from Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Lahaina

The food was just as good as the view — amazing! One of the best steaks I’ve ever had, so I’ll gladly go to another Ruth’s Chris next time the chance presents itself.

We hoped to get back to the hotel in time to head down and watch the famous torch lighting ceremony on Black Rock, but it was happening as we got back to our room so we kinda saw it from the balcony and decided to try again later in the week.

We did catch one of the best sunsets of the week from the balcony:

Maui Sunset

No Photoshop on that, by the way. Straight off the camera.

Big day tomorrow so we crashed early again.

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