Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Snorkeling in Maui

Shawn and I really enjoyed snorkeling when we were on our honeymoon in Jamaica, so we knew that it was something we wanted to do in Maui. Truth be told, Shawn probably would've preferred to go scuba diving (he's PADI certified), but I'm kind of afraid of the ocean. That's not true...I'm afraid of the large creatures with sharp teeth that swim in the ocean. I've finally learned over the last couple years that I do okay in the water as long as there are other people around and the water is super clear.

So on Thursday of our vacation week, we got up before sunrise and went to the Maui Dive Shop to check in for our 3-hour snorkel trip. (And yes, there was at least one joke cracked about it being a 3-hour boat tour.) We were fitted for flippers and snorkel masks, and then we headed to the boat ramp. We first headed out to the Molokini Crater. It's the place to snorkel in Maui because it's actually a marine-life reserve. We could see it from our condo, and we took this picture from the boat that morning.
I took my time getting into the water because, frankly, I was nervous. There were quite a few other boats there at the same time, but that actually made me feel much safer. If I weren't nervous about the water, I probably would've been annoyed by the number of people was not uncommon to bump into people while swimming. Here's proof that I was snorkeling!
There were some amazing things to see at the crater! There was lots of coral, of course, and things like urchins and sponges. But the fish were so cool! Many of them were types of fish that we've seen at the Seattle Aquarium, and I wasn't really expecting to see them in Hawaii. (Not sure why I was surprised.) We saw unicorn fish, box fish, puffer fish...and all sorts of fish whose names I don't know. I thought this one below was an Angel fish, but I think it's technically a type of trigger fish. Are they the same thing?
Like I said above, Shawn's a certified scuba diver, so unlike me, he's perfectly comfortable in the deep waters. So a number of times, he chose to dive down to get a closer look at the creatures. Don't worry...he remembered to hold his breath below water and blow the water out of his snorkel when he got back to the surface. :)
I think that the absolute coolest thing we saw at the crater was a Moray Eel! We actually both saw it when it was swimming from one hiding spot to the next, and I think that was the first time I'd ever seen an eel actually swimming. So cool. He blends in really well to his surroundings, but he is in the picture below. He's almost in the middle of the picture, to the right of the skinny black fish. He was hanging out under the coral with his mouth open. I'll admit...his mouth open made him look pretty scary to me, and I thought he was taking a defensive stance (and I was happy to swim away). I found out later that a Moray Eel has to have its mouth open to breathe.
After spending an hour at the Molokini Crater, we got back on the boat and headed over to another dive site closer to the shore of Maui. It's an area that's commonly referred to (around Maui) as Turtle Town. So I'm sure you can guess that this is an area where it's pretty easy to find sea turtles. I'll be the time we got here, I wasn't feeling well. Combination of being on a boat, bobbing around in the ocean, and swallowing my fair share of sea water was not making my tummy happy, so I had a hard time concentrating on my snorkeling. But I did see a Spotted Eagle Ray (really cool, especially since it was skimming the bottom and I was floating on the top). And we saw a turtle pretty close up! Shawn was actually trying to take a picture of a box fish when this guy came out of the cave in the coral to go get air. Such a beautiful creature!
It was such an awesome experience, and I'm really glad that we decided to spend the money on it. And honestly, it wasn't all that expensive. We could've spent more money for a longer trip, but really, our 3 hour trip was perfect for us. If you find yourselves in Maui, go snorkeling at Molokini! And we loved going with the Maui Dive Shop. :)

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