It was only just light when we set off for the marina at Maalaea. Ahead of us lay six hours of snorkelling and scuba diving off the Maui coast. We arrived to find a larger than expected group being kitted out for the trip.
Some were qualified divers, others were completing their open water diving certification and others were trying diving for the first time. The organisation we chose for our diving trip was Maui Dreams Dive Company and we were glad we did; this was a really friendly and efficient team that put safety at the heart of everything it did on the day. There was even a PADI dive director there to inspect and supervise. We were in good hands.
We sailed out to the little island of Molokini, which took about 30 minutes. By now the sun was already hot with clear blue skies. As we bounced along on the waves we were given a safety briefing and a review of the basic skills we needed to complete the dive. It felt great to be out on the open water on such a beautiful morning.
Molokini is good for snorkelling and diving due to its crescent shaped coastline, which shields divers from the strong currents found around the islands.
As long as you keep within the curving embrace of the island you’ll be fine – stray outside and you’re in trouble and so our dive area was marked by a couple of red vessels either side. Would there be sharks? Yes, possibly, but of the friendly kind, which was a bit of a relief.
We started by snorkelling for an hour. This was the first time we had had to jump into the sea from a boat but it all went extremely well and soon we were enjoying the beautiful coral and colourful fish. We even saw an octopus sitting on the sea bed.
After some time, I realised that I hadn’t seen Rachel for a while. I searched but ended up having to ask one of the guides.
“Your wife is on the boat – she was feeling unwell.”
And there she was, vomiting over the side of the boat and causing a fish feeding frenzy. It’s official – fish love regurgitated pepperoni pizza! I must admit that she did look a peculiar shade of green. She’s got a history of vomiting in beautiful places – the last time was while whale watching in Cape Cod. That time she redecorated the side of a beautiful white ship in full view of the other passengers.
We didn’t dive off Molokini, but headed back to the Maui coast where, we had been told, there was a good chance of seeing turtles. We checked our diving kit and prepared for the dive and Rachel was feeling a little better. It’s not the end of the world if you vomit underwater as the diving regulator’s second stage (the bit you breath through) is designed to expel it into the water safely. Thankfully, she managed to hold down what was left in her stomach for the duration of the dive.
Diving in a place like this is the stuff fantasies are made of. The visibility underwater is so good and the colours of the fish and coral is breathtaking. Our dive trainer was so easy-going and skilled that any thought of the dangers involved evaporated immediately. We were about 40 to 50 feet (12 to 15 meters) below the surface and she led the dive, pointing out the different fish and coral and writing their names on her underwater slate. I asked for the slate and wrote ‘show me turtles!’ and just as I did this, she pointed up towards the surface and there was a giant green turtle swimming over us. Wow, it was an amazing sight and we followed it for a while before it disappeared into the distance. We dived for about 30 minutes before our dive computer told us that we must return to the surface as our air was running low.
Back on the surface, it felt exhilarating to be here in such a life affirming environment, with nature at its most beautiful and our six hour trip went by in a flash.
We couldn’t come to Hawaii without attending a Luau. This is a traditional Hawaiian feast or party, with music, entertainment and great food. So, later in the day, we got dressed up and headed out for the beach resort where the Luau would take place. Large circular tables were set out on a large lawn in front of a stage right on the edge of the sea. Torches surrounding the lawn were lit and the band played traditional Hawaiian music.
There was a full pig being cooked in a pit in the ground and, when it was ready, it was reverently lifted from the ashes and paraded through the crowd before being chopped and shredded ready for the meal.
The food was really good. We had all sorts of salad, vegetables, chicken, local fish, beef and, of course, the pig straight from the fire pit.
We tried Poi, which is made from the underground plant stem of the Taro plant. It had been prepared as a purple-coloured paste, which had the faint taste of pineapple.
The evening continued with the entertainment – singers, dancers and the finale saw fire dancers exciting the crowd.
We even had a little dance. Today was the perfect Hawaiian day – a day that, for us, encapsulates what being in Hawaii is all about and a day we will never forget.