I have a friend who lives on Maui, and she told us what our ‘must do’s’ were and what beach to snorkel on.
A ‘must do’ is the Four Winds 2 Catamaran out to Molokini. Be sure to do the morning ride, that is the one that takes you out to Molokini. (The afternoon trip goes somewhere else, because the Trade Winds kick up and it gets too rough out in the crater) You see, Molokini is an old blown out volcano that is partially submerged under the water. It’s crater makes for ideal snorkeling and the trip out there is breathtakingly beautiful. If you go in late December thru late February, you are guaranteed to see a whale or two. We saw quite a few, including a mother and her calf along with her ‘escort’ (A male who hangs out with them providing protection for baby and hoping for an opportunity to ‘score’ with mom), and a couple of junior whale breaches. We stopped at ‘Turtle Town’ on the way back, where turtles stop to get their shells cleaned of by the fish.
I need to tell you why this is the tour group to go with, and that starts with a flashback to another trip of mine.
When I was a senior in college, my mother and I went on a mother-daughter trip through France together. We started in the South of France and ended up in Paris where my father met up with us and we took one of those barge trips through the champagne country. (If you are keeping a bucket list, this should be on it!) The group was a large one, so they split us on to two barges, about 8-10 of us went on this little tiny barge that was tethered on the outter side of the massive barge. Climbing over the bigger barge, I’ll confess we started to feel a bit downhearted that we got the little boat. Then we met our crew. They LOVED their little barge, and I mean…LOVED it. They kept it sparkling clean, were happy, friendly, and proud of their ‘home’. (The crew lives on the boats) The best part for us? We had a French Cordon Bleu chef who shopped at all the local ports and made 5 star meals every night. The other barge had a British chef, and well, this was well before the chefs like Jamie Oliver appeared on the scene. Needless to say, fairly quickly we learned not to mention how happy we were on our little boat, because the passengers on the bigger barge were most definitely not wanting to hear about how wonderful our experience was by comparison.
I guess the point I’m coming to is that your experience is not always what you think it might be at first blush. Never pre-judge, have a great attitude and listen to what the locals say about what to do. The catamaran we came to was big enough but not overly impressive. It also looked crowded and I was a little concerned about feeling cramped. I need not have worried, there was plenty of room we discovered, and the ship was spotless and well run. The crew is amazing and the captain, while running a safe and tight ship, was enjoyable, funny, personable, and extremely knowledgable. He talked without rambling. He regaled us with great stories, lots of information and things to see or watch for. For me, it sounded like this was his first time out explaining things, not his thousanth. These people LOVED what they did, you could tell.
For those who are gluten free, or have dietary issues, just talk to the steward when you board, or be sure to mention it to the agent who books it for you if you are going through an agent. We used the Expedia agent at our condo complex to book, but I completely forgot to mention gluten free. That would have been helpful for breakfast, since it was bagels and fruit. We ALWAYS pack some emergency snacks, where ever we go, so my daughter munched on glutino bagel chips and drank POG. (pineapple, orange, guava) I talked to one of the hands immediately upon boarding, asking what might be available for her to eat. They were making kalua pork (see my ‘Kalua Pork’ post) and he said he would set aside some pork before they added BBQ sauce. They also had marinated grilled chicken burgers (every day they rotate who creates the marinade, ask and I bet they would accommodate no soy, that day it was a soy marinade), hot dogs and hamburgers, along with veggie burgers. I didn’t know if the veggie burgers had any wheat, so we stuck with the pork for my daughter. Maui chips (YUMMMMMMY) are served along with veggies.
Couple of tips that might help you enjoy it as much as we did:
1.Take a dramamine if you are not totally seaworthy. My husband and daughters did, and still got a little sea sick, they should have taken 2 pills, not just one. (my youngest has inner ear damage which makes it worse) Always watch the horizon if you tend to get sea sick, don’t text or spend all your time looking through the viewfinder on your camera! I have sea legs (inherited from both my parents, who were navy men through and through) and so didn’t have a problem. Some will, so be proactive.
2. Keep your eyes open. I was the one who spotted all the whales, but I grew up on the west coast and know what to look for. If you are there during whale season, there is nothing more thrilling than see a whale blow, or better yet, breach!
3. Pack a suit fit for snorkeling. This is not a fashion show. You are going to snorkel in Molokini, so wear a suit that is practical and comfortable. There is no room for sunbathing, and you will want to cover up after snorkeling, because going back was going in to the wind. (for us at least)
4. Rent the wetsuit. Yes, it’s $5 extra but you will thank me. The water isn’t ‘cold’, but it’s not as warm as the beaches. Having that wetsuit top will insulate you just enough that you will be cozy comfy and able to stay out as long as you wish.
5. SNUMA. If you don’t have an inner ear problem (like my daughter who was going to go with me) then for goodness sake do it. It’s like snorkeling, but better! No pool certification, looking at nasty lost bandaids, but a quick 20 min lesson and then you are in the water. I did this when I was younger and in the islands with my family, but this go round I chose to forgo because my daughter could not go (the only one who was brave enough to do it with me) with her recently damaged her inner ear. They have an on-board underwater photographer who will take your photo. They were awesome, I recommend getting his CD.
No, I’m not a sales agent for this tour. I just really, REALLY enjoyed myself. I made friends with the crew members, who were sweet and remembered my name right off the bat. I met a charming young college freshman, who was transferring from UofW (washington) to WSU, my fathers alma mater. We chatted for most of the way back to dock. At the dock, my husband tipped the crew, who then rings the bell. They earned it. They kept us safe, took great care of us, and made the trip feel like we were traveling with family, not just a tourist.
Molokini. When you do it, do it with the crew of the Four Winds 2.