Sitting on the boat off Makena Beach at 6:30 AM, I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d been thinking when I booked this trip with Kai Kanani Sailing. Be at the beach at 6:15? No problem. But after an excellent dinner at Sansei and a little too much sake the night before, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to be squinting into the early morning light on a rocking boat.
My hesitation completely subsided once we’d arrived at the beautiful and luxurious Makena Beach & Golf Resort, and as soon as we were underway I knew I’d made a good decision. The steady forward motion of the boat eased the rumblings of my stomach, and getting up early meant I’d beat the trade winds that start to blow almost every day at 10 AM. The ocean was calm and crystal clear. The only breeze was the one we made as we cruised south toward Molokini. Behind us Maui glowed red as the sun made its way up and over Haleakala.
Our boat was the first to the Molokini Crater. Within a few minutes the captain found the mooring closest to land. The crew went over a few safety instructions, and then the ocean was ours. I saw Yellow tang, snappers, and butterfly fish. The corals were vivid white, pink, and tan, and parrot fish picked away at them, eating algae and grinding the coral into sand. Sea cucumbers, slate pencil urchins, shrimp, and snowflake eels hugged the cracks and crevices. Life was everywhere.
The crew called us up and we were off to Turtle Town, a spot near Makena Landing where the lava rocks meet the ocean and provide ample safe resting places for turtles. In our time there I counted 12 turtles, some resting along the bottom, some cruising along just below the surface. The wind had not yet picked up and the calm surface allowed me to just float, watching the turtles without worrying about drifting toward the rocks.
Two hours later, my feet were back on land and all signs of sushi and sake were gone. I’d seen several days’ worth of undersea life in a mere two hours, and I felt accomplished. I headed to breakfast with the rest of the day stretching out before me, more than happy I was standing on a boat at 6:30 in the morning.