First and foremost I want to thank are captain, Dante, who is delightfully funny, charming and knowledgable. He has the laid back cadence of a Hawaiian but he's from the mainlands.
My goal was two things - take pictures of whales, snorkel in clear water and swim with sea turtles. (i brought an underwater camera, my 5D and 7D with 14mm lens and 70-200mm lens. You need a powerful lens to get good pics of the whales as the law states no boat can come closer then 100 yards BUT the whales can and do swim closer on their own) Neither the whales or turtles are guaranteed but Dante seemed to be confident.
I took the 5 hour tour to Kanaio/Molokini and was very happy I did. We were a packed boat but everyone on board was cool so it made it more fun. Just know this isn't a trip for people who don't want to get a little wet or expect a comfy, leg stretching seat. It's a quick, high powered raft/boat that let's you go farther and quicker then the rest. You really shouldn't miss Molokini as it's the coolest snorkel spot in Hawaii. Plus, as others have pointed out, this raft-boat can safely drift the back side of Molokini while you snorkel staring down a blue abyss. (It's like floating 20 stories above the ground - amazing)
Just the same, because the water was so calm the day we went (march 8 2013) we were able to head farther around the island then normal with ease. Dante took us to his 'secret spot' were we were the only ones in the water. So peaceful.
Just the same, along the way we saw about 15-20 whales frolicking around. Dante mentioned he hadn't seen a breach up close in a couple weeks so he was due and BAM this one whale put on a show for us. Probably jumped out about 5 times before we had to move on. It was quite amazing as you can see by the pic I attached. Ironically, I don't need to do a separate whale watch tour because this one satisfied my eyes beyond what I had hoped for when I signed up.
Finally, we arrived at a spot to 'hopefully' see/swim with sea turtles and as I put my flippers on I literally saw a turtle sleeping on the ocean floor under the boat. We all jumped in and ended up seeing about 5 or 6 turtles. Everyone got back on the boat to eat the deli-style lunch except me and a few others. Just then a turtle surfaced and 3 or 4 of us were able to literally swim with the turtle for about 5 minutes.
So how can you beat this trip? You can't. We ended up getting in the water at 4 different spots which is more then anyone else offers and we saw everything we'd want to see including lava formations, caves, crabs, hundreds of fish, and even the ashcrack of molokini. ;)
The other tours basically go to one or maybe two spots and drop anchor. Sounds boring to me. Also, I wasn't looking for a 'party' boat ala one where you drink your face off and shove burgers down your gullet. You can do that on land - this trip is to explore the southern coast of Maui.
The downside - the trip is over.
My advice is to take this trip and bring your water proof camera.
Sidenote: Dont' forget to charge all your batteries!!
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