I’ve been on my fair share of snorkeling tours, but when I found out I was going on the Forbidden Coast & Molokini tour with Redline Rafting, I was instantly excited. The Redline raft is a smaller, bumpier, and much more intimate way to tour the ocean, putting you only a couple feet above the passing waves and taking you to more sites than any other boat on the island.
The morning starts early with Redline, leaving promptly at 7:00am from the Kihei Boat Ramp, an especially convenient spot for those of you living or vacationing on the South side of the island. We arrived at 6:30 and met Kiki and Sean, our guides for the day, who greeted us with smiles, kindly pointed us toward the coffee and geared us up with shortie wetsuits.
The best thing about leaving early, and especially on a boat that gets you to Molokini Crater in almost no time at all, is that you arrive pretty much before everyone else and can enjoy the site to yourself. Fresh fruit and yummy cinnamon rolls were served for breakfast, which we happily enjoyed in the early morning daylight while admiring views of Maui, Lana’i, Kahoolawe, and Molokai in the distance.
Then we jumped in. If you’ve never been to Molokini, you’re in for a real treat. The visibility is 180 feet, creating picture perfect opportunities for snorkelers to see hundreds of tropical fish and the beautiful coral reef below. When we were ready to move on, Kiki steered us to the backside of Molokini and shared a little about the historical significance of the crater, which was used as target practice in WWII by the U.S. Navy. The backside, also a great spot for scuba diving, drops off to over 200 feet pretty instantly and is a great place to see some larger fish and ride the “elevator,” a spot where the waves lift you up right next to the crater without ever crashing you directly into it. So fun!
We then went for the bumpiest (and most fun) part of the ride to the South side of the island, ending in the shallow La Perouse Bay, where the most recent lava flow in Maui occurred in 1790.
After giving us some cool historical information about this part of the island, we were instructed to keep a look out for the famous Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, which come to La Perouse to rest in its shallow bay during the day before going out in deeper water to hunt at night. A couple minutes later, we were treated to a show of us at least ten spinner dolphins, slowly swimming around and coming up for air directly next to the raft. Wow!
Kiki and Sean drove us around the coast, pointing out the different kinds of lava and grottos it has formed over the last several hundred years, and then gave us a beautiful ride to the next spot, Turtle Town, popular for watching sea turtles up close and personal. Kiki, the alleged “turtle whisperer,” dove down into some caves, getting some photos of the larger sea turtles and even a reef shark for one of the guests who rented an underwater camera.
Once we got back on the raft, everyone was treated to a nice deli lunch with sandwiches, fresh pasta salad, fruit, juice, water and soda. Sean spotted a humpback whale from far off, so once we had all finished lunch, he was nice enough to drive us in that direction so that everyone could get a closer look. Sure enough, about five minutes later, we saw a ginormous humpback whale come up for air and watched as it dove back down. Since this was my first time to ever see a humpback whale, it was the absolute perfect note to end the trip on.
I would definitely recommend Redline Rafting to anyone looking for a smaller, more exciting, more interesting tour during their stay on Maui. It was truly a beautiful morning, and I will definitely be back for more time on the raft!
To book a tour or see more information, visit them online at RedlineRafting.com or call them directly at 808.757.9211.
All photos taken by Peter Rimkus. To see more, visit him online at Two Tank Photo.