Having lived on Maui for nearly two years, I am no stranger to ocean activities. Snorkeling, whale watching, surfing, outrigger canoeing, kayaking, sunset sailing, submarine adventures, you name it. I’ve done it all (minus others like scuba diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing, free diving, bottom fishing and spearfishing), and am always ready for more.
So when I got the chance to hop aboard the Redline raft for a second time, my answer was a resounding ‘yes please.’
First off, 6:30am is early. If my alarm clock wakes me up before the sound of my upstairs neighbors’ incessant morning stomping, I know something has gone terribly wrong. That being said, earlier is always better on Maui, especially when it comes to enjoying a day on the ocean, mostly due to strong afternoon tradewinds that can make for rough ocean conditions later in the day. And, as an extra special bonus for even the most grumpy of non morning-time folks, Redline has coffee ready and waiting at their South Kihei Boat Ramp meeting point. Hooray!
Sean, our Captain for the day and co-owner of Redline Rafting, greeting us with a friendly hello before having us fill out a brief safety waiver and pointing us to Chase, our second guide, to get fitted for a shorty wetsuit. While certainly not attractive, they are functional and will make for a warmer and more comfortable ocean experience. Own it.
We boarded the second of two Redline rafts, which hold a maximum of 24 combined guests, and set out for our first stop at Molokini Crater, a volcanic atoll located only a couple miles from Maui’s south shore. After arriving in less than 15 minutes, Sean told us a bit about the history of the crater, including its use as bombing practice during WWII up to its current state as part of a Marine Life Conservation District and Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary.
We were served an assortment of fresh local fruit and cinnamon rolls for breakfast – mmm! – and given a brief rundown of the best snorkeling practices, including how to properly clear your mask and remain as calm as possible so as not to scare away the surrounding marine life.
Molokini Crater is by far the most popular snorkeling location on Maui (and high on the list in the entire state), but what makes the Redline Rafting tour stand out is the fact that you arrive before almost any other boat, allowing you to spread out once in the water, an amazing perk if you’ve ever attempted snorkeling with up to 1,000 other people in the same area. Treated to gorgeous water visibility and ample marine life, we hopped back aboard to hit our next snorkel spot, the stunning back wall of Molokini Crater.
This is my favorite snorkel spot on the entire island, and after my second visit here (both times with Redline), I’m happy to say that it’s still true. The steep drop-off of deep blue water, ‘elevator’ ride near the crater wall and interesting marine life and coral formations make this a truly memorable area for snorkeling, and one that only a couple of other boats are able to visit. During our tour, we were the only guests there, other than the scuba divers swimming well below us. Amazing!
The Forbidden Coast
For our third snorkel spot, we headed to South Maui’s area of La Perouse, the site of the last lava flow on Maui, where we hopped in to enjoy views of the underwater pinnacle.
While we didn’t happen to see any Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins this time, we had plenty of time to explore Maui’s Forbidden Coast, an area just a little further south that showcases dramatically-shaped a’a (sharp lava rock), grottos, caves, and beautiful turquoise water.
The rolling clouds of Haleakala Volcano in the background only make the area that much more spectacular in person.
After more fascinating historical and geological facts from Captain Sean, we headed to our final snorkeling spot for the day, Makena’s Turtle Town, to enjoy a fun snorkel with several Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. While we snorkeled, Sean and Chase prepared a nice lunch, including sandwiches, pasta salad, and an assortment of juices and sodas, and we were free to snorkel for as long as we wanted without fear of being rushed or left behind.
It’s clear that everyone who works for Redline Rafting takes pride in their job and enjoy making the most of your day out on the ocean. You aren’t left with the all-too-familiar cattle call snorkeling approach, and it’s nice to be able to relax, ask questions and talk story with your guides. The intimate guest count only makes the experience that much more enjoyable and personable, and allows even the most wary of passengers to remain at ease.
Big mahalo to Sean and Chase for a wonderful experience and day on the ocean (yet again)!
For more information or to book a tour, please contact Redline Rafting or call (808) 757-9211.