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Travel Blog #164 - The whales, dolphins and turtles on Lanai!

Everyone dreams of experiencing a perfect day out on the water. Smooth seas, warm air, whales spouting off all around you, dolphins coming up to the boat, snorkeling with Sea Turtles...... All with an experienced Captain & Crew taking care of all the serious tasks so you can just kick back and relax. Today we went on a trip like that. It was called the Half Day Lanai Snorkel with Hawaii Ocean Rafting.

My camera assistant for the day (whose name is also Jake) and I checked in for the boat at the Hawaii Ocean Rafting slip in Lahaina Harbor. We arrived just as the sun was beginning to peek out from behind the West Maui Mountains, illuminating the water on the channel. From everything we could see so far, today looked like it was going to have great weather. We filled out the liability waivers and got our boarding passes, then took the last couple minutes while everyone was boarding to ready our camera gear. Both Jake and I had DSLR's and Gopro Hero 3's with some pole mounts that we had made using some aluminum tubing that we attached the cameras to using the factory roll bar mounts. We've been bringing these with us all season in case a pod of whales got close enough to try to get an underwater shot. Today we did not get that lucky but we did get some amazing clips of some dolphins that swam up to our boat.

Dolphins, Whales and Turtles

Within about 20 minutes from when we checked in we were beginning to board the boat and shortly after that we were making our way our of the Lahaina Harbor and onto the channel. The large motors on the 30' Hard Bottom Inflatable powered it with ease through the smooth waters of the channel. The inflatable surround seemed to act like a shock absorber and smoothed out the bumps as we got up to high speeds. Within minutes we had crossed the channel and encountered our first of many pods of Humpback Whales that we saw during the day. The competition pods were the most active. The biggest one we saw had at least eight whales in it, all of which were floating about on the surface slapping their tails, pectoral fins and even their heads onto each other as they competed for mating rights. It was quite a sight to see.

Once we made it to Lanai we jumped off to snorkel at two different locations. The spots our captain choose today were "Armchairs" & "Sweetheart Rock". Both of these locations had an abundance of fish. While I was diving I also encountered a large Green Sea Turtle that seemed to be curious of the mirrored reflective lenses on my mask because it seemed like he would turn towards me every time I looked directly at him (which made for some great pictures). Also, at the second snorkel location when I was getting in the water the Captain told me about some underwater caves that I could swim through. I followed her direction and I found a hole with a small opening on the other side that I swam through. I remember thinking that it seemed pretty tight, but with my free diving fins that have 33" long blades it is easy to feel confined in even large enclosed areas. I continued to snorkel around the pinnacle of coral when the Captain (whose name was Lydia) swam up to me and asked if I had found the cave. I described the one that I swam through and she looked at me with a confused expression and said "You went through that hole? The cave I was talking about is over here!" She motioned for me to follow her as she swam over to a much opening in the rock that was actually a legitimate cave. We took a couple of breaths to get ready and then dove down to make the swim through in one side of the cave and out the other. As we popped out the other side Lydia told me that it was time for lunch so we began to swim back towards the boat. Once we got there they served up some platters of fruit and as well as vegetables and dip that were more then enough to tide us over until we made it back to Lahaina.

My Overall Impression: From the way the weather looked as we initially got to the harbor my expectations for this trip were pretty high. However, once the trip started the Captain and Crew definitely met, if not outright exceeded my expectations for the day. I though they did a great job making sure everyone was having fun and feeling well taken care of. Of course the help of the whales, dolphins and turtles really did a good job of making them look good too....but their attentiveness to the passengers throughout the day really was first class. I would recommend this trip for a group that wants to go to Lanai that can handle the bumpy riding nature of a raft, but does not want to commit to an entire day of being out on the water.

Whale Tale

Travel Blog - Articles #160 to #169

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