Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Maui Day 2: Scuba, brunch, napping

Scuba day!  We packed our gear the night before, then woke at 5am to eat a bagel and make it to the nearby Kihei boat ramp by 6am.

Two boat dives today, one at the famous Molokini crater a few miles offshore:

...and one at the “Red Hill” dive spot near Little Beach on Maui.

Molokini crater is half-submerged, allowing boats to drive into the shallow center (where snorkelers tend to congregate).  On the boat ride from Maui, we saw two whales playing right around the crater.  This was a great thing to see, but an even better thing to HEAR underwater.  Whalesong was the background music for both our dives.  (It carries for miles). A first for me and a really great accent for the dives.

Molokini diving was spectacular.  We dropped down to the sandy bottom within the crater, where a small forest of sand eels poke their heads out of the sand to catch drifting plankton.  We swam around the edge of the submerged crater, and then spent 30 minutes or so drifting and kicking around the west outer edge.  We saw plenty of coral, nice colorful fish, an eel, and a  good-sized, sleeping reef shark.  Lauren’s deepest dive ever, at a max depth of 98 feet.  Visibility was around 100 feet.  When conditions are like this, I really get the “flying underwater” feeling that drew me to diving in the first place.

For her part, Lauren described the dive as a “cathedral of fish.”  Looking upslope, downslope, above us, and straight ahead, fish were everywhere.

Red Hills was fairly close to the boat ramp, just south of Wailea.  A shallow dive with average visibility.  Not much in the way of coral, and far fewer fish than at Molokini.  However, the draw here was the larger sea life.  We saw:
  • A manta ray (very good luck!)
  • An octopus with a LOT of ink.
  • Two eagle rays following it around.
  • Two eels.
  • Two sea turtles.
  • Another small white-tipped reef shark.
A highlight was the cleaning station, where fish swim in between some rocks and small shrimp clean their back and mouth.  Our divemaster popped his regulator out of his mouth, opened it near the shrimp, and got a cleaning himself.  Whoa!

Throughout the experience, I was reminded once again of just how much easier diving is if you’re not freezing your butt off under 40 pounds of lead (thanks for being a good training ground, Monterey!).

Final note on diving: on the advice of Maui Revealed, we went with the Prodiver Maui dive boat.

We really liked this company and the staff we had aboard (Matt and Gary). Admittedly, we lucked out and had only one other diver on the boat with us, perfect conditions, etc.  However even when “full,” Prodiver’s boat only takes out 6 divers plus the divemaster, so it seems like a pretty good outfit overall.  Would use them again.

After the second dive, Lauren went through her customary 10 minutes of being cold and quiet.  And as usual, after drying off and sipping some hot tea, she was smiling almost as widely as me.

We said goodbye to the Prodiver guys and drove down the road to the Kihei Caffe for some delicious brunch. (Corned beef hash for Lauren, delicious cheesy-veggie scramble for me).

Finally, we returned to the hotel around 11:30am, and Lauren decided on a shower and a “short  nap,” which was long enough for me to write this blog post AND all other posts starting with 2008-12-29.  It’s 2:00pm now, and I think I hear her stirring…