I’m not a fan of boats. The truth is that I get darned sick on them. So you can imagine the look on my face when Peter excitedly announced that he had booked us a snorkeling cruise with tour company Trilogy to Molokini Crater.
“Don’t worry, Vic, we won’t go if the waters are rough. Plus they have all sorts of remedies on board if you get seasick.”
Small consolation, I thought. Still, there was no better way to experience the beauty of Maui’s pristine waters than out on a sailing catamaran. I reluctantly gave in.
“How long is the cruise,” I asked with some trepidation, to which Peter responded, “I think only 4 hours.” The good news was that the cruise was in the morning, when the waters would be calmer. The bad news was that A) we would have to leave our hotel by 6 am, which meant a 5 am wake up call, and B) the cruise duration was 5.5 hours, not 4, as Peter led me to believe. I began to sweat bullets....
Managing to get ourselves organised at that ungodly hour, we promptly left our hotel on time and made it to Ma'alaea Harbor by the requested arrival time of 6:45. While Lahaina Harbor was closer to where we were staying at the Sheraton Maui, Ma'alaea Harbor was the better launching site for boats going to and from Molokini. The shorter distance meant that we avoided the rougher ride back to Lahaina after the snorkel due to the trade winds that came in the afternoons.
In time for orientation, our names were checked against a printed passenger list. Depositing our shoes in a bin so that we avoided slipping on deck, we boarded the Trilogy V catamaran with 18 other passengers. As we set off, Captain Martin gave us a few instructions on boat safety, which included toilet etiquette and which direction to hurl should seasickness take over (out to sea, in case you were wondering). Noting my slightly anxious expression as he spoke about motion sickness, he advised the best way to avoid it was to stay on the deck in the fresh air, never below in the cabin, to remain distracted, and keep your eyes on the horizon. I immediately took his advice on board and practiced it diligently. With plenty of room on our vessel, we were chatting with our fellow sailors in no time. Breakfast was served once we were on our way. Consisting of Mom Coon's 4th generation recipe cinnamon rolls, fresh seasonal fruit and beverages, I went easy on the cinnamon rolls in case they had to come up again.
The journey from Ma'alaea Harbor to Molokini gave us plenty of opportunity to see humpback whales breaching. One of the crew members brought out a hydrophone, so that we could hear the whales’ song underwater. Never having seen whales breach or listened to their song before, it was an amazingly moving experience.
Humpback whales are the biggest animals to be seen in Hawaii, with females being larger than males and measuring over 60 feet in length. Weighing up to a ton per foot, they can live up to 70 years. The last couple of weeks in February and the whole month of March are the best times to see whales in Hawaiian waters, which are their mating and calving grounds. After that, the sightings taper off until the last ones leave in June.
Back to Trilogy V, we arrived at Molokini Crater roughly an hour after we left the Ma'alaea Harbor. I congratulated myself on not getting queasy once. Marveling at the crystal clear waters, we couldn’t wait to get in. After some important safety instructions from a crew member, the equipment was handed out. Donning on a flotation vest, snorkel and flippers, Peter and I jumped into the warm waters with abandon. Time stood still as we gazed at the multi-coloured reef bed and jewel toned fish swimming lazily about.
After an hour, anchors were lifted, a head count was conducted, and lunch was served as we headed to our next snorkeling site. The Teriyaki chicken with rice, Caesar’s salad and fresh rolls was either surprisingly good or I was just incredibly hungry. Feeling confident that I had finally developed my sea legs, I had seconds, although passed on the ice cream.
By this stage of our journey, friendships were forged amongst our group as life stories were exchanged. The crew hammed it up a tad by playing the theme to the Titanic on their sound system and took photos of us as we channeled our inner Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio on the bow of our catamaran. Dropping anchor at our next stop, the remarkably shallow waters of the Maui coast line, we jumped off in our snorkeling gear in the hope of seeing some Hawaiian honu (sea turtle). As a storm was due, the temperature had dropped and the winds were up, Captain Martin decided to cut the stop short and head back to Ma'alaea Harbor.
Giving the cruise a 9 out of 10, I would have given it a perfect score if the weather hadn’t turned. As for the catamaran, its crew, facilities on board, refreshments and meals, they exceeded my expectations. Little wonder why Trilogy has been rated the #1 sailing company on Maui for over 42 years and #5 Tour in America by TripAdvisor 2015. Mahalo, guys!