Base Camp Hawaii
|A Hawaiian green sea turtle shows the way (Photo © Bob Abraham)|
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The coral reefs of Maui, Lanai, and Molokini
Diving until the air gauge reads in the single digits. Seeing as many caverns, arches, pinnacles, tunnels, lava chambers, Crayola-hued reef fish, spinner dolphins, and 200-pound leatherback turtles as time and tides permit. Swimming through a lava tube. Doing it again. Swimming above a hammerhead on a boat dive off Molokai. Sinking down into darkness on at least one night dive. The island of Lanai alone has enough world-class dive spots to fill a logbook. After exploring Lanai's Cathedral Caverns, seasoned divers will want to head to the island's south side, a submerged diorama of arches, caves, pinnacles, and tunnels, with marine life packed into holes in the reef like stuffing in a turkey. Then of course there's Molokini; ask locals about The Wall.
Windsurfing in Maalaea Bay. Read: clear, sunny skies, wind steady at 18 knots. The snorkeling, along a fringing reef that goes for miles, isn't half bad either.
Disappointingly, Maui's legal camping spots have dwindled to nothing in recent years. But Maalaea Yacht Marina Condominiums (www.yacht-marina.com; 866-626-6367) offers one- and two-bedroom units on Sugar Beach in Maalaea, a popular windsurfing playa and the starting point for many of the boat dives. One-bedroom units are $75 out of season, $85 otherwise; two-bedroom oceanfront ranges from $150 to $165.
Dive Maui (www.divemaui.com; 866-821-7450) offers three-day certification classes on the beach for $159 including gear. (It is possible to dive without being certified, as some kick-ass terrain is at 40 feet, the max depth for novices). A moped may be necessary to get to class on time, as well as to some shore dives. Expect to pay less than $100 for most boat dives; many are just $59.
Prepare by reading The Diver's Guide to Maui by Chuck Thorne (self-published; $9.95). Pick up a sailboard at Extreme Sports Maui (360 Papa Place, Kahului; 877-376-6284) on the way to Maalaea from Kahului Airport; those who prefer to do their swimming on the surface of the water will find snorkel, mask, and fins for $10 a week at Dive Maui.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication