Sunday, April 3, 2011

The most amazing snorkel trip ever!!!

I had to give this day it's own post, because it was a really amazing, totally awesome, wonderful day!

We've let KT pick the direction of our activities, and she really wanted to snorkel at Molokini. So I checked pricing for various tours and decided on the Pacific Whale Foundation mostly because I have a soft spot for whales, and conservation societies, and it seemed like a good fit. I could argue in it's favor with D because the Molokini/Lanai'i trip was a really good price to boot, and left from Ma'aleia at 8:30 a.m. (as opposed to Lahaina or 7:30 a.m.)

The trip itself was wonderful - a nice, well maintained vessel, friendly and professional staff, decent food (muffins or bagel and fruit for breakfast, bbq for lunch, drinks after snorkeling). The crew kept tabs on the snorkeling from kayaks in the ocean, rather than from on deck. Floatation devices like life jackets and noodles were included. Wet suit tops were available for $10 each. Bring your own towels, and plenty of sunscreen as well as gravol because the trip across to Lana'i is pretty rough even on a perfectly calm day like yesterday.

Our first wild life encounter was a school of bottle nose dolphins on the way to Molokini. A brief stop to watch them swim, before heading on to Molokini "before the winds pick up".

My preference for a boat trip would have been a whale watching tour. I had never 'successfully' snorkeled. I don't swim, and I am not super comfortable in the water. KT felt very strongly that I should try snorkeling again, so I did. I listened to the captains instructions on what to do if you got water in your mask, etc., put on a floatation belt AND a noodle, and headed into the ocean. My first several attempts to put my face into the water were met with a desire to hyperventilate. I could see fish just below the surface, and could feel them swim past my legs, but I just could not get my face into the water and still breath. Shortly thereafter I found Daryl and KT, and she was able to convince me to get my face submersed. She promised to hold the breathy dealy up so that I didn't have to worry about the water, and I managed to have a look. I found humming to myself helpful, for what ever strange reason.

The reef itself, and the fish, and the beautiful clear water at Molokini, were the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. Many, many different species, colorful, flourescent fish, interesting shapes and colors of coral. Being able to relax completely, float on the surface and just watch the activity on the bottom of the ocean was a zen like moment.

After an hour in the water we were off again, across the 'washing machine channel' to Lanai'i. Not too far along, we spotted a 'competition pod' of humpbacks. As the captain slowed down, the pod actually mobbed the boat, swimming in front, behind and under us! It was amazing. There were 6 or 7 individuals in the pod, and they stuck really close to us for many minutes! I couldn't have been happier! I was able to get some really cool photos.

Once the whales moved off to a safe distance, we were on route again, and at Lanai'i after lunch. The captain found a beautiful spot for us. The water was much deeper, meaning the creatures much farther away. But the diversity was just as good, and the water almost as clear. Katie led me around to see all of the cool things she had discovered. Sadly, D had technical difficulty with his mask, and got out early. Right before the call to get back on board, KT found a sea turtle, and was able to swim after it for some photos.

What's not to love about a beautiful, hot day on the ocean, complete with awesome snorkeling, dolphins, sea turtles and the most impressive Humpback display ever???

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