23. Gear Up for Undersea Exploration 24. Catch a Wave 25. Explore Molokini’s Waters 26. Soar in a Parasail, Roar on a Jetski 27. Drift Along the Ocean by Moonlight 28. Sail the Ocean Blue 29. Best of Both (Undersea) Worlds 30. Discover Your Favorite Beach 31. Get High on Kiteboarding 32. Surf the Wind 33. Dive Maui 34. Enter the World of Wild Dolphins 35. Paddle a Kayak 36. Try Deep-Sea Fishing 37. Ride the Swells in an Ocean Raft 38. Walk on Water 39. Help Protect Maui’s Magnificent Marine Animals
23. Gear Up for Undersea Exploration
Snorkeling is an inexpensive pastime that is easier to learn than surfing or scuba diving and can be done either by booking a cruise or finding a good spot on a beach.
If you go with the pros, like Maui Snorkel Charters or South Pacific Kayaks and Outfitters, expect gear, lunch and other amenities to be provided. For the more independent type, snorkel gear can be rented or purchased. In either case, all you’ll need is a mask, a snorkel and fins.
Gear comes in many sizes and shapes, but a good fit is key to making the underwater experience an enjoyable one. For help buying or renting gear, try experts like Boss
Frog’s or Snorkel Bob’s. Snorkel Bob’s designs and manufactures snorkel gear, including a special kids’ line. Packages are available by the day, the week or for keeps. All packages include mask, fins, Bubba dry snorkel, no-fog goop, fish ID, maps and tips. If you’re traveling interisland, Snorkel Bob’s offers 24-hour interisland gear return.
Here are some snorkeling tips: 1. Never snorkel alone. Go with a buddy. 2. Never turn your back to the ocean. 3. Whenever possible, snorkel in the morning. Afternoon
winds reduce water clarity. 4. Marine life tends to congregate around structures, so
stick to reefs. 5. Don’t feed the fish. 6. Even on the cloudiest of days, use waterproof sunscreen. 7. Take a small cooler with bottled water, snacks and food.
Most beaches don’t have concession stands. 8. Be respectful of the ocean. Avoid standing on coral, which is the foundation of Hawai`i’s reef environment. All sea creatures rely on the reef for homes, protection and food. Broken coral takes many years to grow back. Plus, it’s sharp! 9. Don’t combine snorkeling with alcohol or drugs.
• Maui Snorkel Charters (808) 270-8776 • Boss Frog’s (808) 661-3333 ext. 8 or (888) 700-3764 ext. 3 • Snorkel Bob’s (808) 661-4421 Lahaina; (808) 874-0011 Wailea; (808) 875-6188 North Kihei; (808) 667-9999 Honokowai; (808) 669-9603 Napili; or toll free (800) 262-7725 • South Pacific Kayaks and Outfitters (808) 875-4848 or (800) 776-2326
24. Catch a Wave
Legends about surfing are found in the earliest stories of ancient Hawai`i. In about A.D. 400, a form of belly boarding on small wooden planks was introduced to the islands. Later, Tahitian explorers brought their tradition of riding waves with canoes. The ingenious Hawaiians merged the two techniques to create the sport of surfing.
Today, the fascination with this “sport of kings” is as alive as ever, and Maui, with its array of beaches, clear waters and year-round surf, attracts an endless stream of surfers.
Ho‘okipa Beach Park (known as a choice windsurfing spot), Pa‘ia Bay and Hamoa Beach in Hana all offer worldclass surfing, while Honolua Bay offers spectators a spectacular vantage point of the breaks from the cliff above the water.
Maui also plays host to Jaws, home to some of the biggest rideable waves mother ocean has to offer. Local surfers also call Jaws by the native name of the bay where it is located—
Pe‘ahi. Big waves at Jaws are hard to predict and should be attempted only by world-class surfers. Learning how to surf is a rewarding adventure. There are
lessons, camps and clinics for those who want to give it a try. Students generally begin their training riding soft long boards and are introduced to the necessary surfing fundamentals, safety and ocean awareness in a land lesson before entering the small surf. Lessons are fully supervised, and most schools offer beginner, intermediate and advanced lessons. • Maui Bill’s (808) 205-5763 • Maui Waveriders (808) 875-4761 • South Pacific Kayaks and Outfitters (808) 875-4848
or (800) 776-2326
25. Explore Molokini’s Waters
Set your gaze to the ocean horizon on Maui’s south shore and there, about 3 miles off in the distance, you’ll spot the halfsunken cinder cone Molokini, a world-class snorkel and dive location that can be reached only by boat.
Tours depart daily from Lahaina, Kihei and Ma`alaea harbors for the short trip to this resource-laden wonderland. Molokini’s crescent shape acts as a fortress that provides protection from waves and powerful currents. And its status as a marine life and bird conservation district gives shelter to 250 species of fish, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth.
Most days the water is crystal clear, with more than 100 feet of visibility. Expect to see humpback whales in the winter months, as well as green sea turtles, monk seals, eagle rays, sharks, rainbow-colored fish and fascinating lava formations any other day of the year.
The island itself is off limits to humans, and no fishing is allowed in the immediate area. Guides will insist that you do not feed the marine life or approach endangered sea turtles or seals.
HOT TIP: The backside of the crater, where the crowds tend to thin out and the back wall drops sharply to depths of 300 feet, is a great spot to bond with nature. At the center is a
lush reef with excellent viewing. Another favorite destination is Turtle Town, which is (you guessed it) home to a large colony of green sea turtles.
Most boat companies make a party out of a trip to Molokini. They carry snorkeling and diving gear, provide instruction and offer breakfast or lunch, and sometimes a bar. You can cruise aboard a catamaran, a powered raft or a sailboat. • Ali‘i Nui Sailing Charters (808) 875-0333 or
(800) 542-3483 ext. 1 • Blue Water Rafting (808) 879-7238 • Boss Frog’s (808) 661-3333 ext. 8 or
(888) 700-3764 ext. 3 • Friendly Charters (808) 244-1979 or (888) 983-8080 • Maui Adventure Cruises (808) 661-5550 • Maui Bill’s (808) 205-5763 • Maui Classic Charters (808) 879-8188 • Maui Snorkel Charters (808) 270-8776 • Pacific Whale Foundation (808) 856-8375 • Pride Of Maui (808) 242-0955 or (877) 867-7433 • Snorkel Bob’s (808) 661-4421 Lahaina; (808) 874-0011 Wailea; (808) 875-6188 North Kihei; (808) 667-9999 Honokowai; (808) 669-9603 Napili; or toll free (800) 262-7725 • Trilogy Excursions (808) 874-5649 or
26. Soar in a Parasail, Roar on a Jet Ski
Whether you’re harnessed to a parasail high above the ocean or steering a Jet Ski across the water’s surface, you’ll probably be wearing a grin. These water sports are
fun for everyone.
If you’ve never piloted a Jet Ski, instructors will help you get the hang of it. Propelled by a jet of water, Jet Skiing is a fun activity for the entire family. Pacific Jet Sports in Lahaina offers three types of Jet Ski vehicles, from one-person Super Jet 650 to the three-passenger Wave Runner XL-700. Life vests and instruction are provided.
For a quick and quiet thrill, try parasailing. Once you’re up there, it’s easy to forget you’re being towed by a boat and floating somewhere between 300 and 800 feet above the ocean. High-tech winch boats provide dry takeoffs and landings. UFO Parasail, located on Ka`anapali Beach in front of Leilani’s Restaurant at Whalers Village, uses harnesses, which are comfortable, flexible and allow for better views. The ride is designed for just about everyone, and most operators can take two people up at the same time. Note: Jet Ski and parasail operations are closed mid
December through mid-May on Maui for whale season. Both
ocean pastimes return May 16. • Pacific Jet Sports (808) 667-2001 • UFO Parasail (800) 359-4836 • Maui Bill’s (808) 205-5763
27. Drift Along the Ocean by Moonlight
You’d be surprised by what comes out to play in Maui’s
tide pools when the moon is up. This is the kingdom of Brittle stars, urchins, octopi, shrimp, snails and juvenile fish— nocturnal species that have developed unique characteristics, like stalked eyes for night vision.
A great way to get acquainted with these absorbing sea critters is to sign up for the Pacific Whale Foundation’s popular full-moon tide pool exploration program, recommended for explorers 6 years old and older. Advance reservations are required.
You don’t need any special equipment to explore a tide pool. Because tide pools serve as nurseries for young reef fish, it’s ecologically unwise to collect these fish for the fun of it. It’s smart, however, to wear reef shoes or some sort of foot protection, because the exposed lava rock is often slippery and sharp. Don’t walk in tide pools or touch their inhabitants, because you may harm or frighten away the creatures that live there. A flashlight will come in handy.
• Pacific Whale Foundation (808) 856-8375
28. Sail the Ocean Blue
Maui is one of the world’s premier sailing destinations. Whatever your sailing preference, you’ll find it here. Single-hull, double-hulled and tri-hulled yachts and catamarans of all sizes offer great sailing adventures.
Sailboats leave daily from Ma‘alaea Harbor in South Maui, Lahaina Harbor in West Maui and from the beach at Ka‘anapali, carrying anywhere from six to 100-plus passengers. Although winds are usually light in the morning, by mid-afternoon the trades pick up, giving sailors a faster trip back to port. By evening, it’s gentle again—calm enough to enjoy cocktails as you watch the sunset.
Some sailboats offer snorkeling, as well as food and other refreshments. If you’re lucky, you might spot a pod of dolphins,
Hawaiian monk seals or honu (sea turtles) swimming by. Whether you skim over the water at more than 15 knots or take the helm on a vessel that competed in the 1987 World Cup, sailing on Maui is always an adventure. • Ali‘i Nui Sailing Charters (808) 875-0333 or (800) 542-3483 ext. 1 • America II (808) 667-2195 • Maui Bill’s (808) 205-5763
29. Best of Both (Undersea) Worlds
Snorkeling is great, you say to yourself as you float lazily in the water as schools of fish come up to greet you. But what if a person could move further below the surface to get a better view? Thankfully, somebody invented snuba diving.
Snuba is a shallow-water dive system that bridges the gap between snorkeling and scuba diving. It’s not as rigorous and time-consuming as learning to scuba dive, but is more
adventurous than snorkeling. Air is supplied by a scuba tank that is attached to a float on the surface of the water, allowing divers to go at their own pace. Experienced divers lead tours, and most people can learn in 90 minutes.
• Pride of Maui (808) 242-0955 or (877) 867-7433
30. Discover Your Favorite Beach
Maui has a myriad of prized beaches. Picking your favorite isn’t just about beauty and utility—it’s also about safety. Lifeguards protect just nine of Maui’s 81 beaches.
D.T. Flemming Beach Park is situated on sand dunes at mile marker 31 on Highway 3, east of Kapalua. The park actually begins on the 16th hole of Kapalua’s golf course.
H.A. Baldwin Park is located on the Hana Highway between Spreckelsville and Lower Pa`ia, where bodyboarders and bodysurfers are drawn to the consistent wave action. Hana Beach Park is a favorite with local families.
Hanakao‘o Beach Park (or Canoe Beach), located at the south end of Ka`anapali Beach, is a launching site for many of the island’s outrigger canoe teams, and swimmers, snorkelers and picnickers make heavy use of this beach.
Ho‘okipa Beach Park on Hana Highway, 2 miles past Pa`ia, is known as a world-class windsurfing destination, though its rocky beach and strong ocean currents make it better for board sailing and sunbathing than swimming.
Kama‘ole Beach Parks (I, II, III) in Kihei are good for swimming, snorkeling, bodyboarding and sunbathing.
Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului stretches about a mile along the shoreline and provides good swimming for children, windsurfers, kiteboarders and outrigger paddlers.
31. Get High on Kiteboarding
From the technological advances of windsurfing, paragliding and wakeboarding comes a challenging water sport that some people call kiteboarding and others call kitesurfing. No matter what you call it, this is an extreme sport that takes wind, guts, the right equipment and a bit of trial and error.
Here’s how it works: The kiteboarder stands on a kiteboard, which looks like a small surfboard or wakeboard with straps, and is pulled across the water by a big kite. Sounds easy enough, but it’ll take a little practice to coordinate the moves. Kiteboarding schools on the island are happy to provide instruction.
Long known as a premier site for windsurfing, Maui’s nearly year-round trade winds, warm waters and gorgeous beaches are an equal draw for kitesurfers. Popular kitesurfing sites include the west end of Kanaha Beach Park, near the Kahului Airport,
Kihei beaches and west side areas above Lahaina.
32. Surf the Wind
Windsurfing, the inventive marriage of sailing and surfing, has found the perfect honeymoon spot on Maui. With its ideal combination of strong trade winds and consistent surf, the island is one of the world’s best windsurfing destinations.
While here, you can visit the most-photographed windsurfing site on the planet, Ho‘okipa Beach Park in Pa`ia, where top pros sail almost every day. However, Ho`okipa Beach Park’s rip currents, exposed reefs and jagged lava rock are not for the novice windsurfer. Instead, recreational sailors can head to Kanaha Beach
Park behind the Kahului Airport. Here, windsurfers of all levels and ages come to enjoy the sport. Other windsurf locations include Spreckelsville,
Kahana, Kihei and even the awesome Jaws wave at Pe‘ahi— but don’t try this one unless you’re experienced. There are several great windsurf schools at Kanaha Beach and a bunch of local windsurfing stores in Kahului that’ll help you gear up for a day on the waves.
33. Dive Maui
At its greatest height, Haleakala towers 30,000 feet from its base on the floor of the Pacific to its summit 10,023 feet above sea level. That means about two-thirds of the great
slumbering volcano is submerged beneath the sea, its rich store of secrets shared only with folks who find ways to travel below the ocean’s surface. The view from below is breathtaking—living coral reefs, sea caves, exotic varieties of friendly (and not-so-friendly)
fish, sea turtles and eels. Water temperature ranges from 72 degrees Fahrenheit in winter to the low 80s in the summer, and on calm days, water visibility can exceed 100 feet.
Maui’s vast underworld and its teeming marine environment is a natural draw for scuba divers. You can set out on your own or book a trip with one of the island’s many scuba diving operators. Most offer small-group tours, and some provide an array of auxiliary services. The premier dive site on the island has to be Molokini
Marine Life Conservation District. This sunken volcanic cinder cone 3 miles off the coast of Maui is host to spectacular marine life and coral formations with high-visibility underwater views that have been measured at 160 feet. Just as bike riders queue up at dawn to coast down Haleakala, divers and snorkelers line up at Ma`alaea and Lahaina harbors each day to make the trip to Molokini.
Other well-known sites include an artificial reef off Mokapu Beach in Wailea called St. Anthony; a pre-contact
Hawaiian fishing site called the “85-foot pinnacle” in the Makena area, south of Wailea; La Perouse Bay; and—when the weather is favorable—the Kanaio Coast.
You can travel to Molokini, Lana‘i and many other dive sites aboard custom dive boats, ridged-hull inflatables or glassbottom boats. Most charters include transport, gear, equipment, instruction and lunch.
• Maui Bill’s (808) 205-5763
34. Enter the World of Wild Dolphins
There’s something spellbinding about squinting into a Pacific morning sun and spying a pod of wild dolphins spinning out of a sun-polished sea. Seemingly carefree, these marine mammals can appear out of the blue and put on a show just for you.
Spinner dolphins, the most frequently observed species, are gregarious by nature. They were named for their habit of leaping above the surface of the water and swirling like glistening, silver-clad Olympians. Scientists can’t explain why spinners spin. It may be a method of communication or a way to get rid of parasites. Or maybe these friendly creatures that appear to wear perpetual smiles just like the thrill.
Just off Maui’s south side, along the Kanaio Coast, adventurers can catch spinner, bottlenose and spotted dolphins in action. Blue Water Rafting notes that the resident pod in this area varies between 60 to 100 dolphins, with some groupings reaching 200.
Spinner dolphins can be seen almost daily along the south shore of Lana‘i. They commonly travel in pods of 50 to 150 individuals and feed at night, foraging in deep ocean channels and resting during the day in sheltered bays along the coast. Resting pods are often visible during daylight hours and should not be disturbed. • Blue Water Rafting (808) 769-6780 • Captain Steve’s Rafting (808) 667-5565 • Maui Adventure Cruises (808) 661-5550 • Maui Snorkel Charters (808) 270-8776 • Pacific Whale Foundation (808) 856-8375 • Redline Rafting Co. (808) 757-9211 • South Pacific Kayaks and Outfitters (808) 875-4848
or (800) 776-2326
35. Paddle a Kayak
Ocean kayaking is a great way to slip away from the crowds and get lost in the rhythm of the paddle and the irresistible tug of nature. If you need any more incentive, here it is—paddling is a good workout.
Open-ocean paddling can be a strenuous challenge better left to the experienced, physically fit kayaker. But there are plenty of opportunities for novice paddlers to take a trip in Maui’s waters as well. Kayak operators conduct easy to moderate
tours through some of the island’s most inviting seascapes in environments well known for plentiful marine life.
Many tours depart from West Maui beaches and move through marine reserves in the Kapalua/Ka`anapali area. Located in South Maui, South Pacific Kayaks and
Outfitters provides fully equipped kayak rentals and tours that explore stunning coastlines, colorful coral reefs and secluded beaches that green sea turtles, dolphins and majestic humpback whales (when in season) all call their natural environment. • Maui Bill’s (808) 205-5763 • South Pacific Kayaks and Outfitters (808) 875-4848
or (800) 776-2326
36. Try Deep-Sea Fishing
Hawai`i’s corner of the vast Pacific Ocean is a hands-down winner when it comes to catching trophy fish like Pacific blue or striped marlin. No matter what you snag on a trip out to sea with a charter fishing company, expect to learn plenty about Hawaiian-style fishing.
Jim Rizzuto, author of Modern Hawaiian Gamefishing, puts it this way: “The more you know about big-game fishing in the rest of the world, the more you will be surprised by the methods Hawai`i’s anglers use to establish more billfish and tuna records than any other band of fishermen in any other marine locale.”
Charter fishing boats set out from Lahaina, Ma`alaea Harbor and Mala Wharf daily in pursuit of mahimahi (dolphin fish), ono (wahoo), ‘ahi (yellowfin tuna), ulua (jack crevalle),
kawa kawa (bonito) and the sportfisher’s dream, Pacific blue marlin. (Many companies participate in tag-and-release
programs for marlin.) Many sportfishing boats troll for fish. In other words, they drag a food-chain array of lures or live bait behind the boat. When a fish takes a nibble, everyone springs into action. The crew gets the angler set up, the extra lines are reeled in to get them out of the way, and everyone waits to see what is at the end.
Some companies offer shallow-water bottom fishing, which is done by drifting in 60- to 180-foot depths with either spinning or small open-face reels. The catch is usually smaller varieties of reef fish—unless, of course, you get lucky.
Although fish can be caught between the islands, many captains prefer to work the deep shelves located beyond Lana‘i and Kaho‘olawe. If a captain has a charter with experienced rough-water boaters, he may elect to fish the waters on the northern and eastern coast of Maui or off Moloka‘i.
Typically, boats are chartered on a private or share basis. Most companies require at least four people to share a trip. Charters can be arranged for bottom fishing and light
line tackle fishing. • Maui Bill’s (808) 205-5763 • Start Me Up Sport Fishing (808) 667-2774 • Strike Zone (808) 879-4485 • Xian Private Charters (808) 891-2628
37. Ride the Swells in an Ocean Raft
Climb aboard one of Maui’s ocean rafts for a thrilling cruise above the whitewater and a different take on the ocean-voyaging experience.
Rafting is an adventure at sea, one where you’re sure to get wet during an adrenaline-fueled jaunt in an
aerodynamic craft that the U.S. Coast Guard uses as its rescue vehicle of choice.
While out on the open ocean on one of these 30-foot rigidhulled inflatable crafts, climbing swells, bouncing off crests, windswept, wet and happy, you’re likely to see pods of spinner
dolphins. Known for their aquatic antics, these friendly marine mammals are sure to put on a show.
Ocean rafts offer a more intimate tour than larger catamarans. They’re fast, safe and cause minimal disturbance. Many companies limit their load to no more than 20 passengers, and first-time snorkelers receive personal attention.
Centuries ago, fiery eruptions poured molten lava into the sea, forming enchanting arches, grottos and sea caves on a coast once home to ancient Hawaiian settlers. Fortified by the towering slopes of Haleakala and inaccessible by car, the
Kanaio Coast remained virtually unknown to visitors for years. Now, this coastline can be explored with Blue Water Rafting, Maui’s first rafting company. Tours take people to view the rugged beauty of this otherwise-hidden volcanic shoreline.
Some rafting tours include snorkeling options in nearby bays that are havens for a vast variety of aquatic creatures. Others offer the opportunity to snorkel or dive Lana‘i’s reefs and caves, which are teeming with tropical fish, 200-pound green sea turtles, whales, manta rays, underwater caverns and ancient Hawaiian burial caves. Most rafts have sun canopies and easy-access boarding ladders to make getting into and out of the boat easy. • Blue Water Rafting (808) 769-6780 • Captain Steve’s Rafting (808) 667-5565 • Maui Adventure Cruises (808) 661-5550 • Redline Rafting Co. (808) 757-9211
38. Walk on Water
You’ve no doubt seen stand-up paddle surfing, or SUP— it looks like a hybrid of outrigger paddling and surfing, and everybody’s doing it. Requiring a lightweight paddle, an extrawide, aerodynamic surfboard and just a bit of balance, this sport makes for a good workout, and plenty of fun.
The concept isn’t new— beach boy surfing, as it was first known, originated in Waikiki about 60 years ago as a way to get around on the occasional flat-water day. Today, the SUP trend has been revived in the islands, and some of Hawai`i’s surfing greats have latched onto the sport, taking the idea to a new, more-rigorous level worldwide.
Once you get the hang of SUP, remember to watch where you’re going. Keep an eye out for sea turtles, fish and the occasional monk seal. Equipment and lessons are available at outlets throughout Maui.
39. Help Protect Maui’s Magnificent Marine Animals
The gentle waters that lap upon Maui’s shores are alive with wildlife. Some of these animals, like humpback whales, Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles, are considered endangered species and are protected by federal laws. Dolphins and other whales—though not endangered—also are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Hawai`i’s marine animals are fascinating and easily observed creatures. During the winter humpback season, it’s common to see 40-ton whales with 15-foot pectoral fins breaching offshore, and resident spinner dolphins can be spotted flashing through the surf any day. Giant green sea turtles make a habit of feeding near shore, and occasionally, an
endangered Hawaiian monk seal, sometimes with a pup, will lounge on the beach, basking in the sun much like you.
Please observe these rules and guidelines when viewing marine wildlife: 1. View from a distance. Consider binoculars. 2. Stay at least 100 yards from humpback whales, 50 yards
from dolphins and monk seals. 3. It is legal for an animal to approach you, but it is against the law for you to approach, chase, surround, touch or swim with marine mammals. 4. Do not harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal. 5. Limit observation time to 30 minutes. 6. Feeding marine mammals is prohibited under federal law. Laws are enforced, illegal activities are prosecuted, and fines are administered.
To report suspected violations, call the NOAA Enforcement Hotline (800-853-1964). For more information, check with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in Kihei (808-292-2372), the NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service in Honolulu (808-9442200) or the Department of Land and Natural Resources in Honolulu (808-587-0100).
Local author and proprietor Robert Wintner, also known as Snorkel Bob, has several books available that dive deeper into the topic of Hawai`i’s protected reefs and the marine animals that call them home. Every Fish Tells a Story records the tales of fish and their underwater communities through stunning photos taken by Snorkel Bob himself, while the tome Neptune Speaks and the novel Flame Angels both explore the values of wilderness and the need to protect our natural resources.
All books are available at Snorkel Bob outfitters on all islands, and 100 percent of proceeds from book sales accrue to the campaign to stop the aquarium trade. • Snorkel Bob’s (808) 661-4421 Lahaina; (808) 874-0011 Wailea; (808) 875-6188 North Kihei; (808) 667-9999 Honokowai; (808) 669-9603 Napili; or toll free (800) 262-7725