Friday 15 February 2013

A Rare and Unexpected Opportunity

Just 3 miles off the west coast of Maui is a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater that formed over 150,000 years ago. It rises over 300 feet from below the ocean's surface, is about half a mile wide and peaks at about 160 feet above sea level. Molokini crater houses a thriving reef with excellent visibility as deep as 150 feet on the front side and 360 feet on the back side, along with over 250 species of fish, 38 species of coral, and 100 species of algae. 

My boyfriend and I got a late night invite to this spectacular natural phenomenon and decided we couldn't turn down a free 5 hour boat tour to the crater, along with snorkeling, breakfast, lunch, and the opportunity to meet some super down-to-earth locals and help promote their new business. Let me start by informing you that we actually had already planned to take a trip to Molokini through a well established boat tour company. With the help of our trusty booth boy we pretended to be tourists for a day and participate in a 2 hour TimeShare presentation, which got us the exact same thing we did for free for $11 instead of the original who-knows-what-horrendous-over-priced-tourist-trap-of-a-cost. But who wants to be jam-packed with a bunch of trying tourists, when you can have the boat to yourself with 4 other people! Ok, I know what you're thinking, cheap bastards, but I look at it as being economically sound, plus we get to use our nifty little TimeShare for something even better! Like a helicopter ride through waterfalls or a trip to another island. Come on! If you were in our place, you know you'd do the exact same thing! Time is money people!!! The only time you run out of chances is when you stop taking them! 

So... We woke up at the crack of dawn the next morning, booked it to the bus stop, and prepared ourselves for our next Maui adventure. This boat biz is run by the most gracious and courageous family I think I have ever met. I was welcomed as their daughter, who is still living back in Seattle, happened to have the name Brittany, and apparently looks exactly like me. After consuming our muffins, pastries, coffee, tea and hot cocoa, we went on our way just as 8:00 AM emerged. Because we're smack dab in the middle of whale season out here, our already on-the-house snorkel trip also came along with complimentary whale sightings right off the side of our boat. We watching them from shore everyday but this was a whole different ball game! 

Snorkeling is an everyday excursion for us out here in Maui, and we've visited a lot of different under water worlds, but there is definitely a reason why Molokini surpasses them all. When I jumped off this boat and submerged myself under that water, I was flabbergasted by the depth and the clarity. The water is amazingly clear and allows excellent sunlight penetration. This enhanced sunlight feeds the algae living inside the coral. Offshore currents bring food and wash away the little sediment that exists. And the result is this healthy, unique, and brightly colored coral reef that provides the best snorkeling I've ever experienced. And because the reef is surrounded by the crater called "Molokini" it's protected from waves and surge. But wait it gets better...

After an hour of snorkeling the front side of the crater, I jump back on the boat throwing off my snorkel gear, having to put it right back on. Unexpected and pleasantly surprised to find that we are now being taken to the back side of the crater, which is a dramatic drop of 360 feet down to the ocean's bottom. Once again, I take a daring plunge into the deep blue. The first thing I thought was, all I see is bright blue water, but instead of looking straight down, you must look straight ahead. All of a sudden there is a massive, colossal wall covered in coral and surrounded by marine life. And these fish are not shy. Prepare yourself to get hit in the face! Not literally, but it damn near seems like it. It is seriously the most out of this world experience. It's erie and unbelievable, but in a cool audacious way. All I can say is you MUST experience it for yourself! It feels like the edge of the world, but under water. And having the ability to see so clearly... I'm speechless and nostalgic. 

Our next and final destination was a turtle cleaning station, where we stopped to eat lunch, jump, dive, flip and cannon ball off the boat, strictly for promoting purposes only... NOT! And just as we were pulling in, a friendly sea turtle popped his head out of the water to greet us! What better way to spend a day off in Maui??? It's gonna be hard to top. And such a rare opportunity it was to do such things we did in 5 hours. All of which I will cherish forever! 

A special thanks to Maui Snorkel Charters! It seriously was "The Best Day EVER!"

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