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“Terrible Time of Day, Snorkeling Locale and Water Conditions”
Review of Blue Water Rafting

Blue Water Rafting
Ranked #4 of 85 Tours in Kihei
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Explore the sea caves and lava arches of Maui's remote and rugged Kanaio Coast on the most invigorating snorkeling adventure that Maui has to offer.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed August 8, 2013

Due to a change in travel dates, we didn't have many options for a Molikini Crater snorkeling excursion. The first ones the Fairmont's concierge recommended were sold out, but they learned Blue Water still had spots left for their Express Molikini package (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) Their brochure boasted that (a) this tour headed out after the other tour companies were gone and (b) they are the only tour company that snorkels on the outside of the crater, too. With no real alternatives, we paid the $50/person price and headed out the next day.

The first worrisome factor was the less-than-pristine public boat ramp the company uses. There were a few other "tour companies" launching there, too, some with hand-painted signs on the side of coolers and some with pretty banged-up looking gear. Blue Water's boat looked to be in good shape, which was more important than those other variables.

To avoid back-injury, I highly recommend you ride toward the back. The ocean was very choppy, but the ride wasn't too unpleasant on the way out. We saw a few dolphin pods on the way out, which they slowed for us to view.

But, once we got out to the back of Molikini, we quickly learned why the other tour companies were already back at dock and why they didn't snorkel on the back-side of the crater. I think the time of day was a huge variable in how choppy the ride was and how unpleasant the waves were when we were snorkeling.

Despite Dramamine, I quickly became motion sick in the water, which has never happened over my countless boat excursions, cruises and the like. We also learned just before we got out of the boat that they couldn't anchor because the water was 200' deep . . . which even in clear water makes for completely worthless snorkeling. There were a few colorless fish in the area and the wall of the crater did have what appeared to be a few coral formations, but all in all it was not the Molikini experience we had read about or hoped for. All the children on board were too scared to stay in the water more than a couple minutes even with flotation devices and/or were suffering motion sickness on the boat. The parents felt helpless and appeared equally disappointed.

We fairly quickly loaded everyone back on the boat and headed to Turtle Bay. I think a single turtle was spotted . . . 1 less than we saw as we were originally leaving the dock. I spent the 15 to 20 minutes there puking over the side of the boat, joined on-board by about half of the passengers . . . all of whom had clearly had enough.

The ride back to the dock from there was painfully slow due to the wind and the rough seas. We frequently had to motor down to ease ourselves over the numerous swells that would have otherwise made us completely airborne. Those of us sitting on the left side of the boat were not only being buffeted by the waves like everyone else, but also suffered a constant spray of salt water into our faces. That would have been completely bearable if the overall experience was better and if the seas weren't so dangerously choppy for a relatively small water craft.

So, in summary:
* Time of day (11 a.m.) resulted in extra choppy waters, I think.
* The outside of the crater might be good for scuba (can one scuba to 200'?), but it was terrible for snorkeling.
* Bumpy boat ride likely experienced in any scenario due to the boat's size, although that would have been a welcome aspect of the adventure if there were any more redeeming qualities to speak of.
* I'm not risk-averse, but definitely felt snorkeling on the outside of the crater in such choppy seas and in 200' of water next to the raft's dual running outboards was a bit unsafe and, as a result, I spent more time trying to look over the wave for my adult kids than I spent looking down into the abyss.
* Worst of all, perhaps our one and only opportunity to snorkel inside the reportedly picturesque Molikini Crater was wasted. Once out at the crater, they told us the conditions inside the crater would be "really ugly" as a result of the wind/waves, which was hard to fathom since that's exactly how I'd describe the conditions outside the crater, too.

* Our 2 young tour guides seemed sincerely nice and tried to keep the energy/excitement/enthusiasm level high despite the puking participants, crying kids and rocky seas.
* My adult children and I enjoyed their music selection.
* The "free" water allowed me to rinse my mouth out after every bought of motion sickness.

I wish these young entrepreneurs the best, but I think they need to land on some alternative ways to differentiate themselves from the larger, perhaps more-established tour companies already out there. Their cool, fast raft is actually one good way of doing so . . . as long as they don't combine it's already rough ride with times/conditions that make snorkeling unpleasant and arguably unsafe or the outside-the-crater stop, which made for worthless snorkeling.

7  Thank Bill B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 3, 2013

Be very careful of Blue Water Rafting or similar services, particularly if you sit in the front of one of their boats. My girlfriend wound up in a back brace with a fractured vertebrae, and another woman also suffered a painful back injury. I think you can see that I have written a lot for tripadvisor.com, and usually post pretty favorable reviews. This is the least favorable I have posted in my 50-plus reviews. On our trip with Blue Water Rafting on the morning of 31 July, my girlfriend and another woman, both early-/mid-50s, suffered simultaneous back injuries while crossing surf at speed. My lady will take 4-6 weeks to heal, according to doctors at Maui Medical. My girlfriend has no history of back injury and, to my knowledge, neither did the other lady. My girlfriend was taken via ambulance to the hospital. She suffered a painful fracture to one of her vertebrae (T12), and endured incredible pain until medicated on the ambulance. The other lady also went to hospital, transported by her family. Fortunately, her injuries were less severe. Both ladies were seated near the front of the boat. We understood that the ride is rougher up front, but had no idea that, in jumping swells estimated at 4-5 feet high, one could be pounded so severely. (The swells seemed larger to me, but BWR said the Coast Guard reported that range. I have no independent verification.) Landing between swells felt to us like hitting concrete. BOTH LADIES basically fell to the deck in extreme pain after one such drop. (That was the last swell the boat broached.) The crew called base for ambulance, etc., and returned us to Kihei boat launch. Just a heads up that a healthy back is no guarantee you will return safely from one of these trips. That was our experience, anyway. BTW, everyone received a refund, or so I was told. We and the other injured family received refunds.

15  Thank Travelinpalladin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 1, 2013

My best friend and I went on the Kanaio Coast tour and Molokini snorkeling trip in January. It was the highlight of our trip. Even my friend, who lives on the Big Island, said it was the best snorkeling she's ever seen. Brad and TJ were so welcoming, fun and knowledgeable. I really enjoyed learning about the history of the island with regards to Haleakala's various flows. Brad knew a lot about the various lava formations, like how temperature and other conditions during cooling determine the type of rock which is formed. And, he knew what almost every rock/cliff looked like ie: Fred Flintstone, Shrek! Brad said day we went was exceptionally calm, so we got to go at least a mile farther down the coast than they usually get to go. It was really fun.

Molokini was just the most amazing thing. The crater was outstanding snorkeling and fish-seeing. There are so many, in fact, that they don't bother to get out of your way when you swim up! The crater itself is beautiful, too. The backside, however, is where it's at! The water is so deep I was nervous to get in being that deep water is one of my few big fears. But, it's such a beautiful blue water with rolling swells...it's too good to miss. In fact, I ended up being the last one back on the boat...I didn't even know we were leaving! The fish on that side are much bigger, too! It is just an other-worldly experience. It was so very special to be able to go to these places, but, especially with my best friend of 16 years, on an already special trip and with an incredibly knowledgeable and truly fun crew as Brad and TJ. The photo of my friend and I as the boat was leaving to head back to Kihei is probably my favorite pic of us ever. I think I've told everyone I know about this day since I've come home.

As far as I understand, Blue Water is one of the only companies that takes snorkelers to the backside. They also go farther down the Kanaio Coast than most. So, when you go with them, you are seeing a rare and special side of a place that's already extremely rare and special. It's a very unique and transformative experience. To make it even better, it was the height of whale season. We must have stopped 6-7 times en route in order to watch whales and or spinner dolphins come right up to the boat. I stuck my underwater camera over the edge of the boat and got some really cool close-up shots of dolphins swimming along side of us and a Humpback whale surfacing then diving back down. It was just a magical day. Next time I'm on Maui, I will be going out with Blue Water again. Definitely take some dramamine. I don't usually get sick very easily, but, we were out for a long time. The floating in one spot parts started to make me a little queasy.

1  Thank Pammyfresh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 29, 2013

If no one in your party has a tendency to get sea-sick or motion sickness, this may very well be the best Maui event you can spend money on! Big horsepower engines on a 20 or 30 foot raft and hold on to the rope alongside of your pontoon seat. Let the crazy kids sit up front where the wind and the spray say "Aloha!" -- and you and the Mrs. sit comfortably (sort of) right next to the captain. The trip is wonderful, exciting and beauteous as you stop to get a history of the South Maui rocks and cliffs and later to snorkel with turtles (sometimes dolphins )and in the wintertime maybe a humpback whale or two. This will be the topic of conversation foremost on your "Maui memories" to share with friends and family on the mainland! (ask for Captain Joe Neubauer and reserve early ).

Thank Xradiowave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 29, 2013

We’ve lived in Maui for 10 years and Blue Water Rafting is always a winner and a treat. Eli & Seth took great care of us. Cool, funny guys, and Captain Seth knows his stuff. We've done most all excursions offered by Blue Water Rafting and have never been disappointed.

If you're staying is South Maui (Wailea, Makena, Kihei) this is the excursion to take as it leaves from the convenient Kihei Boat Ramp. Our captain had to navigate some difficult waters on our last visit, and his knowledge of the areas and concern for our safety was apparent. Don’t get me wrong... when conditions allowed he took us on a wet & wild “Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride!” And as always, the snorkel locations were great. If exciting is on your Maui “things to do list”, you can't miss with these folks.

Thank mauisundude66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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