(As always, you can click on the pictures to make them bigger. I highly recommend doing so for the Hawai’i posts.)
The nice thing about taking a trip to Hawai’i is that no matter what goes wrong, you can still have a good time. Our plan was to go snorkeling on Sunday, attend a luau that evening, go on a submarine tour on Monday, and then head out for more snorkeling near Lahaina before getting back on the ship for our next destination. That didn’t exactly happen.
We were docked in Kahului (kah-who-LOO-ee) (see the map above if you would like to have the reference), but we intended to rent a cab to get to Lahaina (lu-HINE-uh) for our luau. Our assistant waiter from dinner on the first night pointed out that the cab would be so expensive that we were really better off renting a car. Plus, we would have the freedom to get away from the port whenever we wanted. The only drawback was that we were going to need a designated driver who would not be able to partake of the open bar at the luau.
In the morning we caught a shuttle to a rental car company (smart cookies those rental car companies, sending a shuttle to a cruise ship) and picked up a jeep to haul us and our stuff to the beach. Our first stop was Paia (pa-EE-uh).
Gorgeous beach, isn’t it? We laid out our beach towels and got out the sunscreen, totally ready for the scenery and the ocean water. As I squeezed out the sunscreen, a breeze blew across the beach. As I applied the sunscreen, the wind seemed to pick up, and before long there was sand stuck to every inch of my body that I had managed to protect from the sun. I tried to apply more sunscreen to the rest of my body, but sand mixed with sunblock is uncomfortable to say the least. I tried to rinse it off in the ocean, only to discover that the water was freezing! This was not how the water felt in Waikiki the day before.
Eventually, we all had enough of the sandblasting and decided to go to another beach on another shore of the island. We realized that we were getting hungry, so we stopped to collect some food and some bottled water to carry around. After that, we picked up sarongs at Hilo Hattie’s (at the time I wrote this, the site was taking too long to respond, but the link should be good – it may have something to do with their bankruptcy and recent sale, which apparently occurred while we were in Hawai’i) and rented snorkel gear for Robert and Alicia (Michael and I own snorkel gear) from Snorkel Bob’s. I highly recommend renting gear from Snorkel Bob’s if you ever go to Hawai’i. You can keep it as long as you like and return it on any island. The staff is really helpful, and they will tell you where the best snorkeling locations are.
Next we went to Kihei (KEY-hey) for snorkeling. The waves were pretty rough that day, and we were trying to teach Alicia how to snorkel. I told her if she could do it under those conditions, she could do it anywhere. The first beach didn’t turn up anything worth seeing, but the second beach had plenty of fish! Robert and Alicia are going to send me a copy of the pictures they took underwater, and I’ll display them when I get them. We got so carried away looking at the fish that we had to rush back to the ship to make it out in time for the luau. We made it back to the ship with about 20 or so minutes to shower and change our clothes.
I expected to have finished Clapotis by the time we went to the luau, but I really didn’t have a lot of knitting time after we actually arrived on the islands. I furiously knit in the car between stops, and in the few minutes we had to shower and change clothes, but it was a futile effort. I failed.
Clapotis, however, was only the beginning. Both Robert and Alicia’s key cards didn’t work in their door, so we had to get the cards changed and eventually security had to come up and fix the lock. Meanwhile my brother and his wife had to rinse off in our shower and dart back to their room in a towel when it was finally accessible. Because of all the hassle and waiting, we were going to be late to the luau. We called, and they said that the show actually started an hour later than the time we were expected to arrive, so no big deal, right? Well, as we tried to leave the ship, the staff said that we may want to check and see if our luau was still going to happen. It turns out that a brush fire that afternoon caused the road to Lahaina to be closed off. Not the main road, the road. The folks who hosted the luau said that they were still going to have it, so they said we should sit in traffic until 6:15 – if the road was still not open by then, they would let us cancel without penalty. The road did not open, and sadly, we went back to the ship and ate in the dining room.
The next day the road was reopened, so we joined a tour group for a trip on the Atlantis submarine. On the way to Lahaina, the tour guide informed us that the first shuttle back to the ship would be at 3:00. “You mean the last one, right?” No, they were not bringing us back to the ship until 3:00. At 5:30 we were supposed to be aboard the ship for our overnight trip to Hilo (HE-low). The trip from Kahului to Lahaina takes 45 minutes. We were not going to be able to go snorkeling. Crap.
We made the best of it.
The Atlantis submarine’s top speed is about 2.5 knots, so instead of taking the submarine back and forth to the pier, the tour company sent a tender boat from the pier to the vessel. This is Maui from the tender boat:
The weather was pretty overcast that day, unlike what we had previously experienced. The weather did not affect our tour in any way. As a matter of fact, there were other people parasailing not far from where we were to meet the sub.
We watched the submarine surface (I took this video from the tender, so it’s going to be a little wobbly):
And climbed aboard.
Something to note: As you sink deeper under the water, light waves get filtered out, starting with the shortest. Red is the first to go, followed by all the other colors of the rainbow. I am telling you this because we were taking these pictures through 3.25 inches of acrylic, and I could not use a flash (it would just bounce right back to my camera), so all of my photographs look rather blue. The portholes are this thick out of necessity – the tour guide explained that the pressure the water exerted on them was roughly equal to the pressure a bull elephant would exert if he were standing on them.
We saw a lot of things under the water. There were all sorts of fish, sea urchins, and even a reef shark that I couldn’t make my camera focus on to save my life. (Don’t forget to click on the pictures!)
Another interesting thing we saw underwater was a shipwreck. The people who ran the submarine tour are trying to start an artificial reef. This is apparently very hard to do; otherwise, coral reefs would not be quite as endangered as they are now. The ship they sunk is called the Carthaginian. Before the ship was sunk, it had to be made environmentally safe, so all the fuel parts, etc. were removed. The boat was purchased for $1. The work to clean it up took a lot more money.
The submarine brought us 128 feet under the water and back up again.
We walked and shopped a bit in Lahaina before catching the first tour bus back. We would have just taken a later bus since we had time to kill, but we had to return the rental car we picked up the day before and didn’t get to use on the second day. So much for that plan.
One of the last things we saw in Lahaina that would be of interest to anyone else is this banyan tree:
No, it’s not a grove of trees, it’s just 1. One of the largest in the world, in fact, if the tour guides have been telling the truth. I got a good look at the banyan trees and realized that every now and then the tree sends out thick roots from its branches – wild. The center of the tree is on the right side of my picture. This is only about ½ of the whole thing.
So, even though our plans were thwarted a bit, we still had fun. Next stop: Hilo