One of our favorite things to do here is to snorkle from a boat. First we gave a sailboat a try. There's nothing nicer than sailing when the only sound you hear is the wind riffling through the fabric and the keel cutting through the water. We cruised along Maui's shoreline, admiring the green hills and occasional lavish home perched on the water's edge. The highlight of that sail was the turtle encounter. The turtles are large, about two feet in diameter, and can hold their breaths for twenty minutes at a time. They move powerfully through the water and Ken had to swim top speed to keep up and photograph them. However, they were not afraid of him; they were simply going about their business.
Then we gave a powerful motorized craft a try, because we wanted to try snorkling near Lanai, a neighboring island about 45 minutes from Lahaina our home port. Lanai doesn't have much going on, because until recently it was owned by Dole and used primarily for growing pineapples. Today about 3,000 people live there and it only has about thirty miles of paved roads. It is being developed as an exclusive spot with two world class hotels and golf courses in operation thus far. The coastline was very dramatic. In most other spots in Hawaii we can imagine the volcano exploding and the lava running down the sides, but on this coast it looked like a giant had cut throught the volcanic slopes with a huge bread knife. Our guide explained that scientists believe the an earthquake gave Lanai such a shake that a major chunk of it fell off.
The snorkling off the Lanai coast was the best we've had since coming to Hawaii. There are many factors involved in a prime snorkling experience. We like to see a variety of fish interacting with one another in crystal clear water. The water shouldn't be too deep since snorkling keeps you on the surface and we want to be near the fish. While waves are fun to swim in, they can certainly stir up the sand and make the water appear murky. The sun should be shining to help illuminate the bright colors of the fish and coral. All our criteria were met today. The spot where we put in was a fish food court. Swarms of rainbow colored critters grazed on plentiful coral looking very healthy beneath the clear water. One colorful grazer was shadowed by a drab looking constant companion who was eating critters off his skin. Two orange and blue fish chased each other in circles the way a dog might chase its tail. The water was so warm it would be easy to stay in for hours. There are so many different varities of fish here. I try very hard to remember their markings so I can learn their names from the fish book, but as soon as I page through it I see so many others and just give up. I give them much better names in my own head than the fish book does anyway....
The speed boat also docked near Sweetheart Rock, on Hulopoe Beach (named the best beach in the US in 1997) where the Four Seasons Hotel is located. We had a hard time deciding how to spend our time there. I zipped up the hill to see the hotel (only $870/night for the cheapest room) and drooled over the pool. The ten minute hike to Sweetheart Rock took us 45 - it was so picturesque Ken stopped to click about every ten feet. Then it was back in the water to snorkle one more time. We could have taken the shuttle to Lanai City and seen those 3,000 people in action. Maybe next time.