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It was a picture-perfect day off the shores of Maui’s Make- green sea turtles, spotted eagle rays and spinner dolphins. na Beach as our group of six paddled an outrigger canoe Below are some of my favorite spots. through the calm waters. It had been about 10 minutes or so 1. Molokini Crater since we left shore, but already we had arrived at the perfect snorkeling spot. This small, crescent moon-shaped island is a Maui must- Iwas still putting on my mask and fins as everyone plopped do. It’s about 3 miles off the island’s southwestern coast into the water to search for the marine life du jour. and spans more than 18 acres. I took the Kai Kanani Morning Express, a large catamaran which got me there “Carrie, what do you see?” I yelled. right around 6:45 a.m. It launches off of Makena Beach, so it only takes about 15 minutes to reach the crater. Early “Turtles!” she shrieked through her snorkel. morning is a great time to visit this underwater volcano, and if you’re lucky (and there during the winter months) Andwith that, I hopped out and swam Ryan Lochtke-style you might spot whales in the distance. Keep your eyes to catch up with the group. peeled for a kaleidoscope of coral, manta rays and sharks, too. Apair of adorable, buggy eyes immediately caught my at- 2. Turtle Town tention as I slowed down. Through the sun-dappled, tur- quoise waters, I could easily see the 2-foot-long creature. I smiled as it let me swim alongside as it gradually propelled Turtle Town is a unique series of underwater lava formations itself through the water. And for the next half hour, I came developed long ago by the eruptions of submarine vol- across turtle after turtle after turtle among the abundant reef canoes. Just off the southern coastline, between Nahuna below. Point and Black Sand Beach, is an area that sea turtles flock to. And there’s nothing like swimming alongside them (don’t This, no doubt, is why I can’t get enough of snorkeling. get too close, though, it’s illegal to pet, chase or ride them). When I’m flipper-kicking my way through the water, I’m in I snorkeled here on the last day of my trip. While I did spot my element, completely immersed in every facet that sur- several turtles here, I did not see much beyond that. rounds me. And, the best part is, you never know what you’re going to discover next. One day it might be the polka 3. Ahihi Keanau Reserve dots of a moray eels and the next it might be a massive manta ray. The best part is, it’s blissfully peacefully below the surface. South of Wailea, this bay is excellent for beginners. It’s lo- cated on the southern coast of Maui, just past Makena. Just Inother words, if you’re serious about getting away from it keep in mind, there are no facilities here and the beach is all, a vacation spent snorkeling should do the trick. More a bit rocky. What many love about this area is the lava rock specifically, try snorkeling your way around Maui among that is mixed in with coral. And it’s easy to spot marine life march/april 2013 85


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