We scheduled yet another early-morning activity for today. Having previously done a snorkeling trip here (with disastrous, motion-sickness results), I was not overly thrilled about doing another snorkeling trip. However, we found a completely different kind of activity that combines snorkeling at multiple sites with a high-speed rafting adventure. So I put on a motion-sickness patch and decided to give it a try.
We arrived at Kihei boat ramp at 6:30 this morning (which meant another early 5:00 a.m. wake-up-call) to meet our group, Blue Water Rafting. We loaded about 20 people onto a high-speed inflatable raft and headed out of the harbor. Captain Brad and Kapelli told us that weather wasn't being very cooperative and that we were going to be fighting a big south swell, which may ruin our visibility or decrease the sites we can visit. Right outside of the harbor, we encountered a few green sea turtles, right next to the boat. Five minutes on this tour, and we were already spotting wildlife!! We then embarked on the craziest wild boat ride I have ever been on. Captain Brad cranked up some rock music and drove us straight into 15-30 foot waves! Our boat was flew up and down like a Disney roller coaster and the waves would crash over the sides soaking everyone in the back. (Thank the Lord for motion-sickness patches, or this could have been miserable) Everyone had a death grip on the ropes in the boat to keep us onboard. We were headed to the far south end of the island where we are supposed to tour the lava caves hidden in one of the 600-year-old lava flow formations. Halfway to the lava caves, we spotted a huge pod of spinner dolphins. The captain estimated that there were probably 100-150 dolphins in the pod. They played in the waves and our bow and came RIGHT up to the boat. It was incredible!!! We stayed with the pod for about 10 minutes. Then we saw a small group (4-6) of bottle-nosed dolphins, which jumped right off of our bow! The staff was really excited because it is rare to find bottle-nosed dolphins in these waters, especially so near a pod of spinner dolphins! All-in-all, we spent about 20 minutes with the dolphins. It was so cool. I tried to take pictures, but all we had was a waterproof disposable camera, so we'll have to wait until the film is developed before we find out if we got any good photos. We continued our crazy ride to the lava caves where Captain Brad actually maneuvered our boat INTO a cave. The lava formations were crazy and beautiful.
After another crazy boat ride, we stopped at our first snorkel site in La Perouse Bay. They considered it a "warm up" dive. I had forgotten how awesome the coral, fish, and sea urchins are. Our next snorkel spot was on the backside of the Molokini crater. This was a crazy snorkel site because the crater just drops straight down into the sea -- apparently a very popular scuba wall dive. There were huge fish all over the place and some super colorful angelfish. Then we went to the inside of the Molokini crater to do a drift snorkel. The coral was awesome and one of our party even saw an octopus! Unfortunately, the big waves were too much for me. I started to head back to the boat and finally threw up. Oh well, it could have been worse! Our final snorkel site was at "Turtle Bay". I felt too sick to get into the water, which was a real disappointment. Emily and Josh dove right in though and snorkeled WITH wild green sea turtles. So cool. The rest of us watched from the boat. On the way back into the boat ramp, we stopped to watch two spotted Eagle Rays that were mating near the surface. It was super cool that we managed to see them at all!
Overall, we all got more sunburned than intended and we are all going to have semi-sore backs from the crazy jarring ride. Dad was being the tough guy by riding in the front of the boat and his knuckles are scraped bare from rubbing them on the canvas pontoons. I'm not a huge fan of snorkeling, and would have been happy with this trip just doing the wild ride and seeing all of the amazing sea-life. The dolphins were, by far, the highlight of the trip. I would definitely do this adventure again, as long as my motion-sickness patch was in place!! :)