Snorkeling on Maui: Our Last Day in Hawaii

Teralani 2
Teralani 2

Teralani 2

On our fourth and final day on the gorgeous island of Maui in Hawaii we decided to book a snorkeling excursion. Susan, our friendly island expert redeemed herself from the Road Less Travelled to Hana by suggesting Teralani Charters for our day trip to snorkel. If you are in Hawaii I highly recommend them for snorkeling excursions or whale watching. The entire day was simply delightful and the crew of the Teralani 2 was instrumental in making the experience amazing.

IMG_4816I confess I was a little anxious about snorkeling. Despite being a fairly accomplished swimmer, I have a fear of drowning and I also worried about getting caught in a current and getting swept out to sea. But I was also excited to push myself outside of my comfort zone and try something new. I didn’t want to get home and regret missed opportunities.

The Teralani cruise we chartered included a continental breakfast and bar-b-q lunch (with the ever present Mai Tais among other drinks). So it was a good deal for the money. It started at 9:30 and went until 2:30 and included whale watching on the way out to the reef and back from the reef.

Sea Turtles

Sea Turtles

The crew of the Teralani 2, which was our particular catamaran, was extremely knowledgeable and friendly. They even had prescription goggles for those of us who need prescription lenses to see. They went over a quick tutorial on how to use the equipment and how to snorkel and they wisely didn’t serve any alcohol until after our snorkeling was over and we were on the way back.

Once kitted out I got into the water and after a few moments of anxiety, learning to trust the equipment and breath with my face fully submerged using the mouth piece, I was able to become fully immersed in the wonders of the reef.

The water was crystal clear to the bottom, which was as far down as 50 feet in some places. I saw two kinds of sea turtles, including one humongous green sea turtle. There were parrotfish and triggerfish and schools of fish I couldn’t identify. I wish I knew the names of some of the gorgeous fish I saw. There were corals too. I even saw fire coral. With my ears in the water I could still hear the sacred melody of whale song too.

whales

whales

Then after I followed behind a turtle I saw, circling far below me over the white sand bottom, two white tipped sharks. I couldn’t believe it. I watched them in awe for a few minutes and then, because I am slow and potentially shaped like food in the eyes of a shark, I swam away. Our spotter, Eric, also saw them and he spoke with a couple of divers from another boat who said that the big one was 5 foot and the smaller one around 3 foot in length.

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I went on that snorkeling excursion. I’m glad that I didn’t give in to my fears and I’m glad that I pushed myself to do something I had never considered doing until it was suggested to me. I swam with sharks and turtles; there were eels and even a puffer fish.

More Whales

More Whales

On the way back the captain went out of his way to give us plenty of opportunities to see whales and even some ocean going turtles swimming along. In spite of slathering up with sunscreen and reapplying it, I got righteous sunburn on the cruise but it was worth it. In the end I’m glad to say that I regret nothing about this trip. K

Mama and baby whales

Mama and baby whales

Whale Tale

Whale Tale

At Long Last, Our Hawaiian Honeymoon

Luau Sunset
Mai Tai with little Umbrella

Mai Tai with little Umbrella

Breaching Whale

Breaching Whale

When we got married, my love and I chose not to start our lives in debt by going on an expensive honeymoon. Instead we made a promise that someday we would go to Hawaii. That day came and we chose Maui to spend four wonderful days with each other.

I had never been to a warm water beach before. My love, wisely, decided not to book us up for the first day there. Instead he thought we would want to just enjoy the beach and recover from the long flight. This allowed us to spend our entire first day playing in the surf and swimming in the ocean waters.

Whales

Whales

There were many whales playing in the distance that we could easily see. That first day a large sea turtle swam right past me and we discovered that if we held our ears underwater we could hear the whales singing and chattering to one another. I cannot do justice to conveying how magical and even sacred these things were. I am constrained by language and words cannot fully express the majesty of seeing whales and hearing the humpbacks sing to one another. Mothers and babies, their voices distinct, filling the water with sound and wonder.

Playing in the gentle surf was fun too, although I will say that I now understand the allure of the bikini. In the ocean, near the beach, every inch of fabric you wear becomes a giant sand trap, catching suspended sand particles and plastering them to your skin. You want as little of that as possible. We got sand in places it’s best not to speak of.

Sunset Maui

Sunset Maui

We wandered into Lahaina in search of lunch and discovered the Aloha Mixed Plate where I had Kalua Pork for the very first time. It was so delicious it became my favorite food for the week. Also I’m not sure but if the Mai Tai isn’t the state drink of Hawaii, it should be. They were plentiful and offered everywhere we went. I only got one with the little umbrella but they were all delicious. Every place seems to have their own recipe for the iconic drink so expect some variance in them from place to place.

On our second day we played in the ocean all day again. A curious octopus came and swam underneath us for a while. At first I thought it was seaweed but it was the only piece I’d seen in two days and it was moving weirdly. Then she swam and I saw all of her tentacles and her head. She was amazing.

Mai Tai

Mai Tai

That evening we went to the Old Lahaina Luau. Choosing this luau took some research but it was so worth it. It’s an all you can eat and drink buffet of traditional kalua pork, where the pig is roasted whole in the sand on the beach and so many other delicious foods as well as an unending supply of Mai Tais and other drinks, including fruit juices for those who don’t want to over imbibe.

The Luau takes place on the beach, conveniently next door to the Aloha Mixed Plate and the sun setting through the palm trees is spectacular. Then the show started and it was amazing.

Luau Sunset

Luau Sunset

I knew that Hula is a dance that is also a language. What I did not know was that the islanders preserve their history through this dance. Through Hula they preserved history that otherwise would have been forgotten.

The dancers were graceful and the dance flowed like the ocean behind them. They made calls that echoed those of some local bird while they danced certain Hulas. They did not do any fire dance, which I had hoped to see but didn’t really miss because the show was so gorgeous.

Hula

Hula

Filled full of delicious, varied and plentiful food plus all the drinks we wanted, we enjoyed the show and chatted with our tablemates. We got leis and a lovely program that outlined the different hulas and included a menu. We also heard from some of our friends who had been before that this one was the best one to attend. I must confess it was truly a wonderful experience.

This concluded our first two days in Maui. I already published my tale of what happened on the third day in The Road Less Travelled to Hana. There is still one more day and I will write about that here soon. For now enjoy these bonus pictures. Please note that my cell phone isn’t the best device for low light photography but it is all I had with me. K

Another Hula

Another Hula

Hula about Pele

Hula about Pele

IMG_4569

More Hula from the Luau

More Hula from the Luau

Maui sunset

Maui sunset

The Road Less Travelled to Hana

Black Sand Beach, Maui

Black Sand Beach, Maui

Black Sand Beach, Maui

Random Flora, Maui

Random Flora, Maui

Our first time to Hawaii we visited Maui. Four days of adventure lay ahead of us and we excitedly poured over books and maps trying to decide what we could see, what we wanted to see, in the time allotted. We also chatted with a lovely lady at the Resort about some of the things we had read about that we wanted to see.

We discovered that she was from the Pacific Northwest and, perhaps (mistakenly) sensing kindred spirits she told us about the back way to see the Seven Sacred Pools that are on the Road to Hana. This road, she assured us, was less frequented and more direct. The scenery was just as spectacular as going the more traditional route.

Waterfall and pool in Haleakala National Park, Maui

Waterfall and pool in Haleakala National Park, Maui

She gave us a resort map of the island for free and even highlighted our particular route. As an aside: If the resort map has a section of road which bears a note that states rental agencies will not insure the car if it is driven over that particular section of road, you might want to think twice about taking that road. Just sayin’. Susan was so helpful, friendly and made it sound like it would be such a pleasant drive that we ignored the, in hindsight, blazingly obvious red flag and decided to take the road less travelled. Two roads diverged in a woods…and all that.

It might be prudent, at this point in the narrative, to mention a tiny habit we seem to have fallen into when it comes to vacations. Whenever we go on vacation for more than 3 days, we seem to encounter mild peril. Given the previous red flag I thought I’d just bring that up.

Now this trip, we are told, is 2 hours 1 way and 4 hours for the round trip. Also there are all kinds of sights to see and places to stop on the main road to Hana which is how we intend to return, just do a loop. So we did not pack for a week of trekking through the wildlands of Patagonia.

Note: If a friendly local who is trying to help you see the sights less seen tells you the drive is 4 hours round trip; pack enough food and water for a week of trekking through the wilds of Patagonia.

Another waterfall and pool on Maui

Another waterfall and pool on Maui

All unaware of what lay in store for us, we loaded up and set merrily off on our way. The first part of the trip wasn’t so bad, and by first part I mean the short stretch of freeway before we turned off onto the “road.”

This road winds up around crater Haleakala. There is a turn off to go visit the actual volcanic crater. We did not take that since we were on our way to see the Seven Sacred Pools. The road, and I’m using the term very loosely, clings to the side of the volcano, twisting and turning back on itself like a snake with a bad stomachache.

My soul mate has mad in city driving skills. Normally he does the driving when we are in new places and I navigate. We compliment each other perfectly in almost every way.

I learned to drive in the Ozark Mountains. There used to be a group of stuntmen who did shows and their only claim to fame was that they learned to drive in the Ozark Mountains. You may have heard of them: The Ozark Mountain Daredevils. About 45 minutes in, I took over driving.

Black Sand Beach, Maui

Black Sand Beach, Maui

On one side of the car was volcanic rock, on the other was air and far below the ocean. Sometimes there were rocks below and then the ocean. Oftentimes the road narrowed down to one lane and there were countless one lane bridges where whoever gets there second has to wait for the first person to clear the bridge before crossing themselves. Turnouts were moderately plentiful and that’s good because if there is oncoming traffic it’s best to pull over and let them by, since there is only room for one car anyway.

Now I was working the gas and the brake constantly and doing the speed limit (or better) whenever possible. There were places where it just wasn’t safe to even do the speed limit, and to be honest the speed limit was 15 mph for large stretches of the drive. I’m sure the scenery was beautiful but it took absolute focus to keep the car on the road. There were places where the road wasn’t paved.

Then it started to rain. I had a real fear that if I didn’t keep the car moving (uphill at a pretty steep incline too) we would get stuck in the mud. Just to keep things interesting there were places where the pavement was worse than the unpaved parts.

My beloved had to take over navigation, which is normally my duty but then we don’t normally drive on roads that would make the Ice Road Truckers South America, question their sanity.

Wind Turbines on the road to Haleakala National Park

Wind Turbines on the road to Haleakala National Park

There is no sign that indicates the turn off for the Seven Sacred Pools. Just thought I’d throw that out there. My love was expecting some kind of sign since it’s really the major destination for the area. We sailed right past them. We did see some of them as we drove by but I had hoped to get out and take a dip in one of the pools.

We realized our mistake straight away, less than a mile (which is longer than you think when you are creeping along at 10 to 15mph) and I refused to turn around. Let that sink in for a moment–I learned to drive in the Ozark Mountains and I refused to turn around on that road and go back.

Just to make the trip that much more difficult, the rental car we got was a Chrysler 200. This is a fine car if you are short, like really short because I hit my head getting into the thing every time and I’m short. It’s also a fine car if you intend to only drive in the city, preferably in straight lines. Seriously, the car is a pig when it comes to steering and the windshield supports on the sides are just about wide enough to block your vision for 1 lane of traffic if you are, oh I don’t know, trying to look ahead at an angle to see what kind of oncoming traffic there might be on a narrow road. Basically if you are trying to make a tight turn (say around a hairpin curve) you cannot see the other lane. That’s assuming you can get the car to turn that tight, because it doesn’t want to. Also when you hit the gas, the engine revvs up but the car does not accelerate, so you keep pressing the gas hoping the car will go, but not shoot forward (in the event you are trying to climb the side of a mountain while facing the 180 degree turn of a hairpin curve, of which you cannot see the oncoming lane because of the windshield supports, but that’s ok because it’s a 1 lane road anyway which is why you are honking as you go). If this car is any example to go by, I would never buy a Chrysler unless I intended to do no more than drive it to the corner grocery.

The same Wind Turbines on the way back from Haleakala National Park

The same Wind Turbines on the way back from Haleakala National Park

Our 2 hour one way, 4 hour round trip, took 7 hours to complete and we did not stop for more than 20 minutes. That was at the black sand beach, which was lovely but not worth a 7 hour drive over some of the roughest terrain I’ve ever driven over. There are tour busses that go up there (and let me tell you, passing one of those on that road was a hair raising experience), take one of those if you really want to see the pools. K.