Molokini Morning

July 29, 2010

Hats off again to local friend Chris who referred us to his friends over at the Kai Kanani for our snorkel outing the other morning.  To start, I have to say, the Kai Kanani team and experience was awesome.  AJ, Max and I went on this first run.  We’re going back next week, all five of us are headed out!

We did have to drive a bit to get to the Makena Beach & Golf Resort in Wailea but it was worth it.  The boat ride out to Molokini is only about 15 minutes each way, so you maximize your time in the water.  The Kai Kanani II is an awesome 65 foot katamaran – it cuts through the water like nothing else – as smooth a ride as you could imagine out in the Pacific.

Also, this tour takes two stops, one at the crater itself, which is where you view the fantastic tropical fish, and the other is a spot on the way back to Maui called “Turtle Town”.  This is where large sea turtles hang out.  They come up for air every so often, so if you find one, you just watch them and wait.  You have to stay at least 3 meters away at all times, but it is amazing to see them up so close!

Our day started early – we left our hotel before 6 AM, as our early AM tour launched at 6:30!  Benefits to this though are avoiding the crowd.  There were about 50 our so in our group (the boat holds 85).  Upon arrival to the crater, we were told that at times there could be dozens of boats and several hundred snorkelers.  Our luck was that we were the only boat there the whole time!

The crater is amazing.  I yield to Wikipedia here on describing Molokini:

Molokini is a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater which forms a small islet located in Alalakeiki Channel between the islands of Maui and Kahoʻolawe, part of Maui County in Hawaiʻi. It has a diameter of about 0.4 miles (0.6 km), and is located about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) west of Makena State Park and south of Maʻalaea Bay. It is a popular tourist destination for scuba diving, snuba and snorkeling.The islet is a Hawaiʻi State Seabird Sanctuary.

Molokini is one of the top 10 dive spots in the world. Snorkeling, scuba, and snuba tours depart from Maʻalaea Harbor and Kihei Boat Ramp.[1]

Molokini’s crescent shape protects divers from waves and the channel’s powerful currents. However, experienced scuba divers will also drift dive of the 300 feet (91 m) sheer outer wall, using the channel currents to carry them along.

The crater houses a lush reef with excellent visibility as deep as 150 feet (46 m). Molokini is home to about 250 species of fish, many endemic (see Ecology below). The best conditions occur in early morning.[1]

Hopefully the pictures below help tell the story.  A great ride there and back.  At the crater, we saw many amazing fish.  Max saw a ray and I saw an octopus.  The water is anywhere from 5 to 10 feet deep right up at the crater (though you are supposed to stay away from that close to it) to over 100 feet.  The water is extremely clear – the photos below have a few at the crater that were taken just looking over the boat.  It looks shallow but it is deep!

At turtle town, you are off shore, not in a cove like at the crater, but the water is calm.  We saw three turtles surface and dive up close in our short time at turtle town.

We all enjoyed this a bunch and as I said, we’ll all be back out there next week!

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