Who gets up at 4:30 a.m. when they’re on vacation? Well, if it means getting to do some scuba diving, it’s us. It also helps that there is a three-hour time difference from L.A. to Maui, so it was really like getting up at 7:30 a.m.—much more civilized. When it comes to tropical locations, we have limited interests—it’s all about looking for critters in the water. Our first week on Maui gave us lots of opportunities to find critters large and small. Here are a few:
Boat Dive to Lanai (Lighthouse and Shark Fin dive sites):
We saw all the usual Hawaiian suspects, including butterflyfish, Moorish idols, yellow tangs, moray eels, surgeonfish, triggerfish, and sea urchins. Some of our pictures aren’t great because we’re usually grabbing screen shots from video—hopefully they still give you an idea of what we saw during our first week.
Highlights at Lanai included: a pincushion seastar, a spotted eagle ray, a ghost shrimp, and bandit angelfish. All were new or rare sightings for us.
Snorkel at Mokapu/Ulua (South Maui):
We still love snorkeling and saw a zebra moray and a snowflake moray at this site near all the fancy Wailea hotels. A note to fellow snorkelers: When we got there at 7:00 a.m., we easily got parking and were the second and third people in the water. When we got out at 8:30 a.m., the beach and water were packed!
Makena Shore Dive
Boat dive trips were really booked up, so we supplemented our boat dives with a guided shore dive to Makena (South Maui). Though the visibility was not great, we enjoyed viewing several sleeping turtles (in Shark Cave), an undulated moray eel, and an octopus! We also appreciated the relatively-short walk with 35-pound aluminum tanks plus gear to get into the water. Shore dives in Southern California have been so difficult that we rarely do them, but this site was pretty easy! And of course, on almost every dive and snorkel, we saw Hawaii’s state fish, the humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua’a (or just call it a wedgetail or reef triggerfish and that will work).
Okay, we did a few other things besides dive and snorkel. An obligatory trip to Costco helped us stock up on meals, we sampled shave ice from Surfing Monkey, and we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Duke’s Beach House Maui in Ka’anapali (thanks to Amy and Hugh for this wonderful treat). All the restaurants in Hawaii are experiencing heavy demand, so dinner reservations are impossible to get, but you can usually walk in for breakfast and lunch—problem solved!
Snorkel in Honolua Bay (Northwest Maui)
This was a perfect morning in this bay north of Ka’anapali. Ideal snorkeling conditions gave us the opportunity to stay in the water for well over an hour. Giant bluefin trevally hunted along the reef, while trumpetfish, cornetfish, and tons of butterflyfish and triggerfish entertained us. But the highlight was a Great Barracuda that was by far the biggest barracuda we have ever seen (it had to be 6 feet long). It was a little scary looking at its menacing teeth as it swam around schools of Hawaiian flagtails and convict tangs looking for a meal.
Boat Dive to Molokini Crater (two dives on the back wall):
Molokini Crater is about 10 miles off the coast of Maui and was created when an undersea eruption blew lava and ash into the air, creating a tuff cone. Over time, the northern half of the cone has been eroded by waves, so this crescent-shaped reef provides shelter for lots of coral and critters. We snorkeled the inside of the crescent many years ago, but today we got to dive the back wall!
This was a long-anticipated trip, and it did not disappoint. A Hawaiian spiny lobster was an early sighting, along with a Blue Dragon nudibranch, and a Crown of Thorns seastar.
This was our first sighting of a Gilded Triggerfish (stunning color), but the highlights were the spotted eagle ray and the gray reef sharks. Though the pictures aren’t great (you’ll have to wait for Hank’s video to see better footage), watching these giants right near us was an amazing thrill.
Our thanks to Maui Dreams Dive Shop and Maui Diamond Boat crews for their excellent guided dives. We promise that in Week 2, we will do something else besides dive, snorkel, and watch Dodger games, but it was so great to get back in the water after 1½ years of COVID exile!