Mauilicious Vacation Part 2: Side Effect, Snorkeling Addiction

My first trip to Maui struck me in a way I never expected and snorkeling became one of my many new addictions. I often wonder why I waited so long to try it. To feed this addiction, I had to return to Maui where I’d first learned to love this sport.

On this recent trip to Maui, with my friend Cassie and our Moms, I made an effort to find the best ocean view condo we could afford with a view of our very own private beach and access to a snorkel spot known as Turtle Town, located less than 300 yards away from our lanai.

You can almost count on catching a glimpse of these graceful creatures while snorkeling along the coast in this area and there are several tour boats who will take you here. So, you can guess why I couldn’t wait to get to the condo and into that salty water.

We rented the best gear Snorkel Bob’s had, and the staff made sure it fit us perfectly. Once outfitted, we went straight back to the condo. We made plans to go to a Luau that evening, so I only had about 35 minutes to get into the water!

I didn’t see any turtles that day, but I eventually caught up to them a day or two after we arrived. Right outside in our backyard, so to speak. My Mom and I snorkeled around together for a while that day. We even spotted a very long trumpetfish, maybe 4-6 feet long.

After that, my Mom signaled that she was going back to the beach and I made my way to the area known as Turtle Town. I made it just over 2/3 of the way there when suddenly a shadow appeared in front of me. There he was, gliding down below me as I snapped some photos of the giant sea turtle with my new underwater camera [see review below] and I quickly turned around to follow him. These giant sea turtles swim fast, but I was able to keep up with him for a little while. I remained about 20 to 30 feet away the entire way back to our private beach area.

During our vacation, we snorkeled in several different areas and went on one boat adventure known as the Molokini Crater and Kanio Coast tour (five-hour tour) with the Blue Water Rafting Company. This was the one thing I did in 2009 that I wanted to relive again on this trip.

I learned a very valuable lesson on this second time around. I realized that you can not recreate a truly amazing and authentic experience. When you try, you will always be disappointed. I had an incredible experience on the first trip, but on this trip the bad weather forced us to break hundreds of 20-foot swells with the hull of the boat throwing us around brutally.

The ride was hard on our necks, knees and backs. The surf was so bad that many passengers were cold and seasick, including my friends. Not to mention, the canvas and rope security lines were very harsh on the hands and feet. I walked away with deep skin abrasions that left scars on my knuckles. We were only able to snorkel in three of the ten snorkel zone options they usually have, so It wasn’t great for spotting sea creatures like manta rays and dolphins. We were all ready to be back on land after the 6-hour ocean adventure.

Thankfully, I have great memories from my first experience, a strong stomach, and good sea legs from my years living on the east coast in a little boating town. For me, some of the highlights of the boating adventure were the spinner and bottlenose dolphin sightings, humpback whales breaching, and using my new underwater camera to capture the brightly-colored fish I saw. My favorite spot to snorkel was along the side of Molokini Crater, a volcanic air vent for Mt Haleakala when it was still active. It has long been dormant, so there are many things living there now. Thanks to the preservation of this reef, visitors can see this special place for themselves by signing up for a boat tour. A special treat for snorkelers in the crater is heard when you dive a few feet under the surface. There you can listen to whales singing: it’s like an amphitheater.

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The Blue Water Rafting Company has never canceled a trip or refunded your money, not even in bad weather, so make sure you double-check the reports before the cancellation deadline (24 hrs). I do recommend this trip, but only in the best weather conditions and for those who have a good pair of sea legs.

I would say the best way to snorkel on Maui is to explore its southwestern beaches. Cassie and I slipped out on our own one afternoon in search of snorkeling along the coast. Rumor had it that even though almost all areas were “not good for snorkeling that day”, there was one spot that was awesome! Olowalu, at about one mile past mile marker 14, heading northwest on Hwy 30 away from Makena/Kihei, toward Lahaina. Not only could you wade into the water here and dunk your head under to see fish swimming around your ankles, but if you snorkel out a few hundred yards it becomes really diverse and absolutely magical. There are strange coral and rock formations everywhere. I even spotted a couple of divers.

The best thing about this spot was that there were so many different species of fish: Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (Hawaii’s State Fish), tangs, wrasses, butterflyfish, parrotfish, trunkfish, and toby too. The reef  here was maze-like and relatively shallow. There are dead ends all over; be prepared to back out instead of standing on the reef. You never know when your foot will find an urchin on the coral, and their spines will hurt you.

After a few hours of swimming around, we were back on the beach and ready for lunch. We cruised back into Kihei to do a little souvenir shopping. We had a nice lunch at the Kihei Cafe, yum burgers, and wandered around shopping for a while longer before returning to the condo. We ended our fun day by watching the sunset outside on our Lanai.

All my photos were shot with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3

Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3

This camera is outstanding! Using the auto setting in the dark is not good, but it’s not hard to play with the settings to figure it out. It’s great underwater and above. The quality of the pictures is just what you want it to be for either printing or the web. I purchased the camera, a case, three batteries, a wrist float, two charging units, a 32 GB card, and all the screen protection accessories for under $360. If you want to learn more, go to and search for the name of the camera.

Read more about this trip to Maui in my next post, Mauilicious Vacation Part 3: Side Effect, Garden Envy.

One thought on “Mauilicious Vacation Part 2: Side Effect, Snorkeling Addiction

  1. Pingback: Mauilicious Vacation Part 5: Side Effect, Lava Lust « laura anne burke

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