Maui: Day 3 ~ Molikini Crater, Eskimo Candy, Coconut's Fish Cafe

This was our one early morning of our vacay.

We love snorkeling and were planning to snorkel the Molikini Crater this morning. We had researched (as usual) and decided on going with Redline Rafting.

We chose them for a few reasons. First off, they left pretty early. This was not because we were early birds, but because we were going to be snorkeling in one of the most popular snorkeling spots in the world. And because we were leaving our dock before 7 am, we were guaranteed to get there before other groups. Another great reason we chose Redline was that this company had small groups without any time limits at snorkel spots. And, they promised to visit at least three spots, with a possible fourth.

We had to be in Kihei at 6:15 am. Which meant we had to leave our hotel at around 5:20 am. We found the spot we were to be in and signed in with our boat captain, Tim. They had coffee for everyone, which was nice.

There were about 20 people on our boat, and they all arrived on time. Some of us talked a bit - there were people from the Midwest and two couples from Australia.

At around 6:45 am it was time to board.

 We were on the southern part of Maui so the ride to Molikini took about 20 minutes.

As we got further from the island we got a great glimpse of Haleakala. The summit was clear of clouds so the people that had gotten up there for the sunrise must have had a great view.

On the way out, they served us fresh cinnamon rolls and fruit. I only ate half of mine but should have eaten the whole thing - we were going to be snorkeling all morning and by lunch I was so starved I was feeling light headed.

Molikini Crater.

Redline Rafting did provide snorkeling gear, but we had our own gear which was totally fine with them. They also did provide wet suits, which we took advantage of later in our day.  The view was beautiful as we arrived at the crater.

We were the second boat in at the crater, and immediately got into the water.

Pink snorkel equipment for me, and blue for him.

The color underwater was amazing.

Within a few minutes of getting into the water we saw one of these:

And if you can't see what it is, it is a white tipped shark. Holy moly. Just seeing these guys was incredible and we did keep our distance.

Another view of a shark, down below:

Our guides, Tim and Alex, both said that this was pretty amazing. As you could see in the first photos we saw two sharks. Later we saw a third one behind them for a total of three sharks in one day.

My Sweetie diving down.

The water was amazingly clear here. We have snorkeled in parts of the Caribbean and Mexico and this was one of the best spots we have snorkeled in.

Alex got into the water with us, and this whole time was giving us a running commentary of the things we were seeing. At one point, he offered to dive down with our GoPro and video for us.

Here is what he saw, at 30 feet deep.

And seeing us, looking up.

We loved swimming right up near the coral. There was so much life!

We were the second boat out at Molikini this morning. When I looked up after we had been in the water for about 45 minutes, I could see another boat coming.

Alex was swimming around, pointing things out and explaining what we were seeing. He had some fun and created this cool bubble:

Really, we loved this snorkeling spot, and the vast marine life we saw here.

The great thing  about Redline Rafting was that they also took you to the backside of the crater. As we were leaving there were three of these huge catamaran type boats just arriving at the front and Tim said there were at least 100 people on each one. So glad we were in a small group and were able to get to the crater so early!

So think about a crater for a minute. A crater has a bowl-like shape in the center area, but the outside is pretty steep down, even steeper than a mountain.

This is exactly how the Molikini Crater was like. The backside dropped almost straight down 300 feet.

When we got in, this is what we saw:

You had coral all along the backside, but it dropped off sharply.

What was amazing about the backside was the color of the water. The blue was an amazing shade and  I really, really cannot describe how it looked.

So on one side we had amazing coral.....

And on the other side was an abyss, with a 300+ foot drop.

Which meant I was not holding our GoPro at all.  No way. Drop that thing and it is gone forever.

Me, in the provided wet suit, because it was a bit colder out here.

This was incredible.

On the backside.

The wall of the crater was amazing too.

Tim and Alex told us about this area on the backside, called the Elevator. It was between two visible cracks and was about twelve feet long.

At the Elevator, you can go to within a foot of the backside. And since it was straight down you were guaranteed, that you could go up and down with the waves, and you wouldn't be pushed into the walls of the crater.

I could have seriously floated here, looking up at the view of the crater, for hours. It was amazing, to be lifted up and down, six to nine feet by the waves, and know the power of the ocean and tides. It was really surreal.

Out to the depths of the sea.

Moliniki was definitely worth the boat ride out here!

Finally we got back on the boat and headed away from Molikini.

Our next destination was Le Perouse, in southern Maui.

This spot has a couple of lava flows coming from it. There is lots of debate, told to us by our Captain Tim, as to the date of this last lava flow. Some feel it was as recent as the late 1700's, and others think it is 400 years earlier.

That looks like normal land on the photo below, but you would not want to be walking on that land. Seriously sharp lava out there.

We had planned to snorkel here, but it was much too rough and it would have been too murky.

We headed slightly north.

On the way to the next spot, we saw something amazing:


Not just a couple of them, but a really big pod of them.

Tim explained that they were in their sleep cycle, and so they swam in patterns together, up and down.

They were so close!

It was amazing that we saw these guys.

Our last stop was Turtle Town. This area, is known to be a turtle cleaning station. This is an spot where other fish are waiting for the turtles to come and then they clean them.

This was so much fun, swimming with the turtles.

They were so close, and unlike the turtles we swam with on St. Thomas in the Caribbean, these guys were definitely not scared of us.

We got back on the boat to a huge spread that Alex and Tim had gotten out while we were snorkeling. It was now almost noon and we had been in the water for 3+ hours and I was truly starved.

Redline Rafting was a great choice and we would totally do a trip with them again.

When we had been on the boat we had asked Alex what his favorite beach was and he said Makena Beach or Big Beach. This was very near to where we were, so we decided to head down that way.

We had a great view of Molikini.

We sat for a bit and relaxed. We also walked down the beach for a bit.

There were lifeguards on the beach and they would periodically make announcements about the beach. Makena Beach is unique in that it has a steep wave shelf. It has been nicknamed 'breakneck beach' because body surfers will get pounded by the waves and hit the sand so hard they can break their neck, or other things. There is definitely more danger if you are trying to surf here, since you are going headfirst into the shore. But even swimming can be a bit crazy.

Obviously a calm moment in that photo above.

There were people in the water and a family right near us were standing chest deep and swimming in the waves. We do like to swim but wanted to be cautious, so went in carefully. Being short, I got out past the wave shelf and was swimming. The waves weren't huge but fun to float in, After a while we decided to go sit some more and I started swimming in to where I could stand.

I got stuck. My Sweetie was able to swim fast enough between the waves to get to where it was shallow enough to walk in, but I would almost get a toe hold on the sand, look behind me and see a wave starting to curl, and not wanting to get tossed in the wave, go back under it and wait and try again. I was seriously not tall enough to get my feet on the sand, and not a fast enough swimmer to get to that point where I could stand. And because of the warnings, there was no way I was going to try to swim in with the wave.

My faithful Sweetie stayed with me and kept trying to get me in. I was starting to freak out, when finally there was enough of a break that I was able to get on my feet and walk in.

I needed to sit for a while after that. As we sat and watched others we realized that where we had chosen to go in, the wave shelf was particularly high. The family near us? They kept walking in and out and never really swam. What I should have done was swim back out and then down to where they were and try to get in there.

It was getting later so we headed to Kihei for dinner. This was the only day we were planning to be in southern Maui so we had narrowed it down to two choices. And since we only wanted to try the poke at one place, we decided to head there first for our appetizer.

Eskimo Candy.

This deli-like place was very casual. They  had different kinds of poke and also had a sampler dish. We decided to get that one.

Waiting for our poke. That smile on my face is saying yeah, I'm glad to be alive today.

It only took a few minutes and our poke bowl was ready. All four kinds were very unique. They also served it with seaweed salad and a pickled cucumber.

This was the best poke I have ever had. We did have poke on another day and this place was still the best. Underneath all that goodness was rice, which soaked up some of the flavors from the poke. And the tuna was very fresh and not streaked with any fat at all.

So amazing.

We headed to dinner, just down the street at Coconut's Fish Cafe. This place, as is many of the restaurants in Maui, was in a strip mall.

At the recommendation of the server, we split an order of fish tacos. And let me tell you, it was a good thing we split. These things were huge.

There are actually something like eight different layers in the taco. Sadly I had to take off the mango salsa - I am allergic to mangoes and forgot to ask them to take them off. These tacos were incredible. Fish tacos are really popular here (duh) and these were actually the best we had the whole trip.

And a very cool thing is that the owner is from our area and we have a Coconut's Fish Cafe in the big city near us.

So Kihei was the bomb for not only snorkeling but eating too.

We drove back to our hotel. Pretty much all the roads here are two lanes.

On the road to Ka'anapali there is a tunnel - the only one on Maui.

The reason I got to snap this photo was because we were in a bit of traffic. We did find that from about 5-7pm there was congestion on the roads.

But hey, we had an awesome view to look at.

We stopped about 20 minutes south of Ka'anapali at Leoda's.

This place was very cool inside and looked like it would have been a great stop for lunch for a sandwich. We were here for the pies.

We got a chocolate macadamia mini pie to take back for dessert.

We also had to stop in right next door at the Olowalu General Store. This store was just that, a general store for this area, and we spent a few minutes exploring it. They had bento boxes, spam musubi, and shaved ice too.

Back at our hotel, we walked out to the beach and watched the sun set.

The end to another beautiful day.

Maui Trip:

Day 1 ~ Arrival, Geste Shrimp Truck, Leilani's
Day 2 ~ Snorkeling, Mama's Fish House
Day 3 ~ Molikini Crater, Eskimo Candy, Coconut's Fish Cafe
Day 4 ~ Snorkeling, Nakaleke Blowhole, Haleakala, Da Kitchen 
Day 7~ Morning Snorkel, Last Day


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