I had booked to do some diving while we were on the Island. Kate is not a diver and opted to spend the morning at the condo catching a bit of sun. I normally dive with Lahaina Divers as they are a very organized operator that dive some of the more interesting locations in Maui County. Today’s trip would be over to the Island of Lanai to sample some of the excellent dive sites available.
Some people may be less interested in a Blog solely about diving so sorry about that but not a lot happened today, as you will see so I may as well talk about the dive experience. More normal service will resume tomorrow.
Lahaina Divers are our go-to dive company on Maui. They are a modern organized Dive center that has really good kit and well-appointed large boats that can reach places other Dive companies can’t or won’t go. They are certainly not cheap, but not much on Maui is. They are fairly comparable with other centers on the island though. They offer a FULL valet dive service. You don’t need to do anything just turn up, put your gear on and enjoy the diving. They offer Muffins and coffee for breakfast, A really nice sandwich plus fruit and Chips for lunch, and even Fresh baked cookies after the second Dive. It really is a pleasant way to dive. They even provide Reef Safe sunscreen free of charge.
I kind of like being a bit more responsible for my own gear and things but that’s just not the way it’s done here and you need to relinquish control and let the guys and girls do their jobs. Which they are very good at. The whole trip runs like clockwork. It is pretty military-esque in its efficiency only a lot more friendly.
Some people criticize them for being a bit of a Cattle boat, and it is true they can cram a lot of people on board. They split them up into groups and I never really feel too crowded. It can be a squeeze when gearing up but once in the water, it’s just really you, your group and your divemaster/guide.
One thing of note is the Rental gear. I have dived with companies that really scrape the edge of what is safe. Old kit held together with sticky tape and zip ties. Crusty old tanks that must scrape through the pressure testing and BCD’s that leak and vent the air faster than you can breathe it! Lahaina divers couldn’t be more different.
Everything is practically brand new. Top-quality aqualung BCDs that couldn’t be more than a few months old. Shiney new Regulator sets, wetsuits with absolutely zero wear and tear. Even the Writing on them which is the first thing to wear was completely intact. It gives you total faith in the operation and is great to see. Even the Masks were of good quality and nearly new. (I normally have my own mask but it failed while snorkeling earlier this week)
Despite Lahaina offering some pretty adventurous dive sites, today I was just doing one of their Lanai trips. I hadn’t been diving in around 11-12 months so wanted a gentle re-introduction before tackling something juicier. Not that lanai is a bad Dive location. Clear Water, Healthy reefs rammed with fish and life. It is an incredible location to dive, just not as exciting as some of the other locations.
The Trip requires crossing the Channel over to Lanai that can take a good 45 Mins. It can also be a wild ride, and today was no exception. One of the reasons the big boats of Lahaina divers are an advantage as they cut through the chop pretty well. During the crossing, we were split up into groups and given the dive Briefings. I was assigned to Joe’s group and we seemed a pretty experienced bunch, and Joe was an incredibly experienced divemaster. Every group gets a divemaster/guide so there is someone experienced in the water with you all the time. I didn’t realize until recently not all operations do this in the US (although they do in Hawaii).
After the Briefing it’s just relaxation time until the 10min call when we need to all get geared up.
The first dive site was the First Cathedral. This is the quintessential Lanai dive site. Most people were very excited to be diving here as it is quite the spectacle. I, however, have dived it before, it’s still pretty epic though.
The general topography is pretty good there are a number of reefs walls and swim-throughs and life is very rich. It tends to be generic Maui/Hawaii reef fare and this dive presented nothing out of the ordinary. That’s not to play it down though it’s a very rich and diverse ecosystem and a lot of the fish are endemic to Hawaii, it’s just they are found all over Maui and I was only seeing things I can see from the reef outside the condo.
he Highlight of this site is the Cathedral itself. This is a huge underwater cavern that resembles a gothic-style cathedral. Complete with Stain Glass windows and even an Alter. It really is pretty incredible. The light pours in through holes in the ceiling flooding the cave with beautiful bright rays of Hawaiian sun that contrast the Blackness of the cave perfectly. There are a number of crevasses (bring a torch) where sharks can congregate (not today) and there are large schools of Bigeye brick soldierfish up near the ceiling.
After exploring for a while we head out via the Shotgun! This exit is tidal powered and water rushes in as you cling to the sides of the hole. Finally, as the waves change direction the water rushes out taking you with it. Quite a thrill. As you torpedo out of the darkness the reef takes on an incredible brightness as your eyes readjust to the light.
We spend the remainder of the time exploring near the boat as we use up the air with our Buddies before surfacing via our safety stop. a great dive. After being plucked from the water lunch is waiting for us. a fantastic ham or chicken salad sandwich. While the crew switch over the gear for our next dive. This always tastes so good after a dive.
The Next dive was called Fish Rock and again it’s a dive I have done before, but it is a really nice relaxed dive with a ton of sea life. The guides seem to offer a lot on this dive as the edge is exposed to deep water so there is a chance of big pelagics. I have never seen anything though but I have only dived here a few times so I trust them it’s a possibility and I am just unlucky. Fish rick gets its name from the incredible amount of fish life that surrounds the underwater feature. Basically, a large rock sticking up in the water completely surrounded but coral and fish, one huge living reef.
While anything big and pelagic failed to show up just about every imaginable Hawaiian reef fish was present. there were literally millions of fish. Taking a steady pace we circumnavigated around the rocky islet and enjoyed the richness of marine life and the striking topography the cracks and gulleys make for a very diverse and interesting dive site. it’s not the most exciting dive but the beauty and extensive marine life make it a very relaxing and enjoyable dive.
Near the end, we were joined by a Sea turtle that pleased many of the group, and finally, we headed back to the boat. Here there is no need for a safety stop as the extraction point is around 4 meters so you can just explore the reef and run down your air before exiting.
Back on top and it’s fresh baked cookies while you enjoy the ride home. The ride back was particularly bumpy as the swells get up during the day. As we got closer to the harbor it was time to sit up top and chat with the exceptionally mixed bag of divers and enjoy the boat ride in the sun!
After the coolness of being out on the ocean, it felt like a Furness heading into Lahaina harbor.
Back to the Condo
I then headed back to the condo to meet Kate who had spent the morning relaxing. The sun had been on and off all morning and by now the afternoon rain was threatening to ruin things. So we headed back to Lahaina as it was very warm thereafter the diving.
We spent some more time strolling around and looking in the shops and galleries before grabbing a Shave Ice at Ululani’s. Shave Ice is probably one of our favorite Hawaiian treats and Ululani’s is in our opinion the best!
After an hour or so the cloud was beginning to build and we figured we would head to Kahului to do some gift shopping at Walmart. We had intended to go and we thought we may as well make use of the less than perfect weather (More Weather talk tomorrow). So we headed off towards the town.
On the Way out the traffic was pretty terrible, however, it was even worse in the opposite direction. The queue was solid all the way from Lahaina right back past the Ocean Centre. We made a mental note not to rush! Even so, after taking our time in Walmart buying gifts and things to take back with us when we headed back to fire up our condo BBQ the traffic had not subsided at all! It was a 1:30hr drive back to Napili. We know the traffic gets bad on the 30 but wow this was something else.
Another lazy evening followed with BBQ and drinks out on the Lanai as the evening had broken into a very pleasant one indeed! We also headed down to the Hot tub for a bottle of Fizz and to make some new acquaintances, A great way to spend the evening.