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Must-Visit Maui’s #1 Snorkeling Attraction

by tr on June 19, 2012

It’s been awhile since we were on a snorkel tour to Molokini, and this was our first time with Four Winds. It was a clear, beautiful June morning with calm seas and only a slight breeze as we checked in at the Ma’alaea dock.

We boarded and when we found seats at the stern, we were heartened to see we were across from the food bar where coffee, bagels, cream cheese, jelly, fruit drinks and fresh fruit were already being served.

Captain John Takes the Mike and Wheel
Captain John over the PA filled us in on Coast Guard safety rules and the procedures and itinerary for the day. Turns out he is quite a hoot of a coot – a Chicago Bears fanatic with a very wry sense of humor – who has been living on Maui and steering snorkel tour boats for many years.Quickly, the crew unfastened us from the dock and 100-plus of us “guests” in all manner of swim wear were dieseling out of the harbor. Once we were out, the bar opened for beer and wine – complimentary for the entire day!

It really was a family affair with lots of kids and people of all ages eager to arrive at the partially submerged cinder cone between Maui and Ka’aholawe – Molokini, the most famous snorkel spot around the island of Maui and probably te Hawaiian Islands.

This was the Four Winds’ 5-hour Molokini Morning Snorkel tour that we were on and a 55 -foot glass bottom catamaran, Maui Classic Charters refers to as fondly referred to as “the boat for fun-lovers,” really does have some nice features.

Four Winds Amenities
Four Winds includes roomy deck space (upper and lower decks), two marine heads (toilets), a full galley and wet bar, twin BBQ grills (where cooking began as soon as we left the harbor), and 3 boarding ladders. Free snorkel equipment (quite excellent and well fittting), free use of optical masks for the myopic, a fresh water shower, a waterslide, sportfishing (from 3 rod & reels off the stern), and sound system (playing a selection of relaxing island music).

Optional Activities
The tour also offers optional snuba, a marine naturalist and videographer, onboard filming a movie (filmed that day – starring you, your fellow passengers, and all the beautiful marine life), plus photo services and underwater camera rentals, wetsuit rentals.

By the time we were half way to the submerged crater those who had signed up for snuba were dressing and getting instructions from the leader. The crew began handing out masks and snokels, and those who had rented underwater cameras were lining up for for some instruction.

Molokini Crater
We came upon Molokini and saw off the port bow that 8-10 vessels already disgorging their snorkelers. We cruised around the backside, which I had never seen (and which drops off precipitously deep), as Captain John recited the coast Guard’s and his own list of rules while in this marine sanctuary. He included the peanlties for breaking these rules and lamented the fact that a catamaran has no keel, so that the punishment had to be abandoned.

We then came round on the Maui side and slid slowly between two other craft into a spot for our mooring. One of the crew dove down to fasten us tight stern and aft. Once the engines were turned off, we got a briefing from another crew member on the best way to wear the snorkel gear and use it.

Great Maui Snorkeling …And Grinds
Then we were off the back ladder, the slide or the bow and into the clear, warm, tropical  waters of the crater. We were floating in about 20 feet of water,and as we swam away from the stern of the boat, the water grew shallower and the reef closer as we approached the ede of the cinder cone.

We snorkeled for maybe 2 hours, many of us breaking early for lunch served at the bar. Captain Jon dished up the sandwiches and buns: chicken breasts, pulled pork hot dogs, and veggie burgers (all cooked on the stern grill) with lots of trimmings, chips, cookies and drinks. The sodas, beer, and wine kept flowing, and those of us who weren’t too full, or wobbly, dove back into the crater for another quick snorkel before we departed.

After a head count we headed back to Ma’alaea Harbor, while the video crew showed footage just shot, and still images just taken over a large flat screen TV. Those who rented cameras had the memory cazrd removed and images copied to a DVD.

About halfway back we stopped at what Captain John called Turtle Universe, a location some distance from shore where endangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles appeared as if by  magic in great numbers. Then we underway again, back to Ma’alaea Harbor for the docking and de-boating.

Four Winds Tours
The Four Winds II offers 3 snorkel tours. The first, and certainly the most popular, is our 5 -hour “AM Molokini Snorkel.” The second trip (perfect for the late-riser who like to sleep-in) is the Afternoon Snorkel to Molokini (weather permitting) or Coral Gardens.

The last daily tour, is the “Seasonal Afternoon Whalewatch and Snorkel Adventure.” This “double-fun adventure” is offered between the end of December to April 23rd. Many boats just take you Whalewatching… Four Winds gives you whalewatching and snorkeling in one tour.

Four Winds Crew
The Four Winds crew of 6 really were dedicated to our needs and to providing us with fun. One even gave us some emergency sun screen, since we somehow misplaced ours and it ended up back at home.

TIP: Double-check your sunsecvreen to make sure you have brought it along. With the tropical sun directly overhead, reflecting of the white deck, the water, you’re going to want some real bad-boy protection.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Linda Dancer July 25, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I also tried SNUBA on my last snorkel trip to Molikini , not my favorite activity , but loved swimming with the green sea turtles – marine life at Molikini is beautiful

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