By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 1/27/2020
Occurred: 6/10/2019
Topics/Keywords: #Travel #Hawaii #Maui #Molokini Page Views: 320
Snorkeling the reef off Molokini

Keith has never been snorkeling. That is a state that ended, today, as we boarded the Four Winds at Maalaea and headed for a couple of hours of snorkeling in the reef of the small island Molokini.

Activity Day 5
Starting Point Papalaua Beach Park
Via Snorkeling, Maalaea
Ending Point Olowalu Campground
Miles Covered (by car) 13.9
Miles Covered (by boat) 14

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Today's excursion was awesome but there was also an awesome mixup. I had prepurchased the tickets online, and gotten an email confirmation. However, when we got to the boat, we were not on the list. They let us board anyway. But partway there, the captain told me that our reservation had actually been for a different boat the day before. So he had to charge me again. (When I got home I discovered the mistake had indeed been mine, although I still can't figure out how I made it. Beginnings of Oldtimers' Disease?)

Maalaea Harbor is moderately busy. Of course, it isn't the only harbor on Maui. But most if not all the snorkeling trips seem to leave from here.

My handsome husband waiting for the engines to start.

We set out early. About 7:30 AM, the cloud veil that normally hides the top of Haleakala hadn't yet fully formed.

But it did so as we watched!

Molokini is tiny. It is, however, next door to Koho'olawe. We aren't allowed to land on that island, but I was fascinated to see as much of it as our passage revealed.

With little water or vegetation on it (it is in Haleakala's rain shadow), Koho'olawe was used in the 1700s as a men's penal colony. Life there was so difficult, more than one prisoner swam the seven miles between there and Maui.

Molokini is what's left of an ancient volcano. Most of it lies below water. Before stopping to anchor, the captain circumnavigated the islet (possibly so we wouldn't be tempted to swim there on our own, out of curiosity).

Finally we anchored and they began to let us put on our gear and enter the water.

I bought an inexpensive, waterproof digital camera. It's cheapness showed up; the latch that's supposed to keep the battery anchored wouldn't stay in place so I kept having to open it to re-anchor the battery. (Above water, obviously!) But the pictures it took weren't too bad.

Looking up at one point, I saw that the surface of Molokini is covered in some kind of moss or grass, along with a lot of sea birds.

Hang loose, Maui! (This hand signal, used by surfers everywhere, originated on Maui.)

A sea urchin! On my last trip to Maui, I got stung by one of these. So I gave this one a wide berth.

Keith Snorkeling

Keith Snorkeling

Paul Snorkeling

Paul Snorkeling

So, finally, the snorkeling ended and they served us a BBQ lunch as we turned around and headed back to Maalaea.

What makes Maalaea a harbor is its effective sea wall.

I asked the captain about the wind turbines. He explained that Maui's electricity is still generated by a coal-and-diesel plant. It's a monopoly. So the company that built the turbines, sells power to the plant, which then passes it on to consumers.

My original plan had us staying another night at Papalaua. But Keith really wanted a hot shower. And we were supposed to stay at Camp Olowalu (oh low VAH loo), which advertised hot showers, tomorrow night anyway. So we decided to just go there a night ahead.

Most of the bird species in Hawaii are endemic, descendents of probably one, single (but pregnant) finch. They are called honeycreepers, and there are many of them, as is common when a species enters a new environment that allows them to evolve specialties.

We found ourselves an almost private stretch of beach and settled in.

Very cool driftwood sticking out the sand. Would be less fun at high tide if one were swimming near it, I imagine.

And so, as the sun set, Keith and I went to enjoy our hot showers. Keith got one. I used a different shower stall and I had only cold water. However, it was hot enough anyway that I didn't mind. Then it was dinner, and bed!