6 Places to Get Your Feet Wet
1. Waimoku Falls: This is a 400-foot waterfall off the road to Hana just past mile marker 42. Follow the thunder of wai (fresh water) and walk through a bamboo forest to reach it.
2. Molokini Crater: This crater is three miles off Maui’s southwest coast. Depart from Lahaina or Maalaea for a 45- to 60-minute boat ride to the crater. You might spot humpback whales within moments of leaving shore. Descend beneath the surface to hear the whales’ songs pinging off the crater’s walls.
3. Black Rock: This headland juts out into the sea and divides the beaches of Kahekili and Kaanapali on the west coast. Snorkel here in the morning or late afternoon when the water is calm and the light is good.
4. Maui Ocean Center: Located at Maalaea Harbor in Wailuku, this aquarium and marine science center houses Hawaii’s largest and most varied collection of marine life – everything you see is found in Hawaiian waters.
5. Lahaina, Olowalu and Kihei beaches: Surf on Maui’s south and west coasts; these places are typically better for beginners, and lessons are offered at Cove Park in Kihei and Launiopoko Park in Lahaina.
6. Hookipa, Honolua Bay and Paia. Watch expert surfers here.
Every year between December and April several thousand Northern Pacific humpback whales journey to Maui to mate, give birth and care for their young. (Their congregational peak is in mid- to late-February.) Take a whale-watching cruise from Lahaina or Maalaea or watch the whales from shore at Kapalua, Kaanapali, Olowalu or Kihei. www.mvprince.com
Maui’s waters brim with life-forms you won’t see anywhere else: About one-fourth of Hawaii’s inshore fish are endemic, the highest percentage of warm-water, marine-fish endemism on the planet. Snorkel Ulua Beach in Wailea on the island’s south shore to see the variety of species. You might find sea turtles, morays, spotted eagle rays, endemic Hawaiian sergeant fish and the vowel-heavy triggerfish (humuhumunukunukuapuaa). The Pacific Whale Foundation has a naturalist on-site at Ulua from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday, to explain what left your mouth agape.
Enjoy a cocktail straight from the sea. The water distilled in Maui’s Ocean Vodka comes from 3,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, off Hawaii’s coast. Try it at island restaurants or bring a bottle home (from $15). Kahului-based Hawaii Sea Spirits, which bottles the vodka, donates a portion of sales to ocean-friendly organizations. www.oceanvodka.com
The Hawaiian word wai (fresh water) is actually the root of the word waiwai, meaning prosperity. In Hawaii’s ancient agricultural society, fresh water was the most precious resource.
Remote and removed, Koki Beach and Hamoa Beach, two lovely strands preferred by the locals, are located off Haneoo Road just outside of Hana.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication