Every couple of years, our lovely Four Winds II goes in for routine maintenance (or Dry Dock) and receives the royal treatment! Our Captains, Crew and even company owners all pitch in to give her the very best make-over possible! While she is out of the water, we wanted to take the opportunity to show you a view of this majestic vessel that few will generally ever see. Looks a bit different out of the water, doesn’t she?
Coral Gardens is renowned for the incredibly beautiful and massive coral heads of several different varieties. Coastal Living Magazine called it one of the world’s top ten snorkel sites.
This unique, beautiful reef formation that is located in a naturally protected bay, which provides a canopy of hard coral that is loaded with a multitude of nooks and crannies. These make the perfect dwelling place for a spectacular array of marine life. It’s an ideal, medium to shallow depth snorkeling location because the seabed slopes gently away from the shoreline along the West Maui Mountains, making it an ideal spot for the beginner and intermediate snorkeler.
Coral Gardens is teeming with hundreds of tropical fish, including colorful Parrot Fish, Angel Fish, Trigger Fish and Butterfly Fish. Crabs, Octopus and a variety of Eels are also full time residents. Occasionally, we are lucky enough to see an endangered Hawaiian Monk seal, basking in the sun on the rock.
Maui Classic Charters was one of the original boat companies to first explore this treasured habitat and because of this, we were able to secure one of the premium mooring spots.
You are able to snorkel right on top of the most spectacular reef formations that is bustling with marine life!
Snuba with Turtles aboard the Four Winds II!
Molokini Crater is the tiny island located about 6 miles off the coast between Maui and the island of Kahoolawe. Since 1977 it has become both an Underwater Marine Reserve and a Marine Bird Sanctuary and enjoys the governmental protections that are provided by each. In geological terms it is referred to as an underwater caldera and is one of three such formations on the planet. Essentially, it is a volcanic cinder cone that manages to peak above water. It’s cone provides a shallow protected area in the middle of the ocean that is reminiscent of a fish bowl. The center of the bowl is about 80’ in depth however the areas closer to the surface that are ideal for snorkeling are at the 20 to 25’ levels. The highest points of the island above sea level are about 160’ and the entire island covers about 18 acres, but you are not permitted to go onshore because of the extremely fragile ecosystem on the island. The back side of the island is quite sheer and descends straight down to depths of about 350’ and this area is only accessible and recommended for experienced divers. Marine life here is prevalent and it is estimated that this is the home of over 250 species of fish. Off Maui’s coast, Molokini is a tiny sunken volcano island with some of Hawaii’s best diving and snorkeling. The best spots are in the channel and in the caved in section of the volcano which creates a protected area for marine life. Best snorkeling is around the shoreline which is also where the best feeding is. You’ll encounter jacks, eels, snapper, goatfish, emperor fish, wrasse, tang, butterfly fish, parrot fish, scad, hawk fish and manta rays, humpbacks and seals.
Check out this whale breach from Thursday’s trip on the Maui Magic!
There are also some great whale photos from our Wed. & Thurs. trips on our Maui Magic Dolphin Discovery Facebook Page and more fun things on our Four Winds II Maui Snorkel Snorkeling at Molokini Facebook Pages.
We are having so much fun in Maui!
Located just a few miles off Maui’s rugged Makena coast, lies the alluring, sunken volcanic crater of Molokini. Her crystal-clear tropical waters teem with an array of fish that are seemingly painted in every color of the rainbow and the island itself is home to two distinct species of seabirds.
Recent archeological evidence shows that the ancient Hawaiians actually ventured out to Molokini, hundreds of years ago, to fish. And it is also believed that they may have additionally harvested seabirds, eggs and feathers here too. But today, Molokini Crater is a carefully protected Marine Life Conservation District and the island has been declared a Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary.
Because of Molokini’s unique crescent shape, it provides a natural barrier against the waves and currents. This is why the water is typically clear, blue and calm inside the crater. It is a safe-haven for all kinds of smaller fish and is particularly suitable for beginner to intermediate snorkelers.
Ironically, during World War II, the United States Navy decided to use Molokini for target practice because of this unique shape as the profile also unfortunately resembled a battleship. Thankfully this only done temporarily during the war and the U.S. Navy stopped this practice. Fortunately, because of nature’s amazing ability to recover, and with the help of careful protection, conservation methods and laws, Molokini is once again alive with marine-life and a pristine and beautiful underwater treasure!
And even before that, Molokini had an even more tumultuous past! Thousands of years ago, although calm and pristine today, Molokini was quite different. It began as a violent underwater, volcanic eruption! What you see today, is actually what remains of a giant cinder cone that rose above the surface and erupted approximately 230,000 years ago. Hundreds of ancient cinder cones can be found all around Maui, but Molokini is unique, in the fact that it is one of the few that rose from the deep ocean floor to reach above the water. Many of these cones never break the surface of the water and only erupt below the surface.
So, what causes these cones to occur? Well, when our islands were young, molten lava flowed beneath the surface of the ocean through porous tubes. These tubes would also trap water within their rocky structure. When the flowing lava heated this water to temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Celsius, the water turned to steam and caused the earth to bulge and form a cone-like shape. Some of these cones would actually explode. Rock and cinder would spew into the sky and part of the cone’s walls would collapse. Along with water-erosion, from ocean waves, this is what created the familiar crescent shape we know today as Molokini Crater.
However, the Hawaiian people have a very different story of how the shape of Molokini was formed. Ancient legend tells of a tale that goes something along the lines of this story…
“Many sunsets ago, the powerful fire goddess Pele fell in love with a handsome Maui prince. Unfortunately, a lovely female mo’o, or gecko, also had eyes for the prince. Angered and jealous, the powerful goddess Pele took care of her competition by cutting this mo’o in two and turning her into stone. The head of Pele’s rival is said to be a cinder cone near Makena Beach (known as Pu’u Ho’olai) and the gecko’s tail forms what we know today as Molokini.”
Whichever explanation you choose to embrace, Molokini remains at the top of the list of “must see” attractions when on Maui. The snorkeling is some of the best in all of Hawaii. But what makes this truly special is to be far off the coast of Maui, within the shelter and protection of Molokini’s unique shape, seeing species of fish that normally you would never see when you snorkel along Maui’s shoreline.
The Four Winds II is proud to assist in conservation and protection of this special area and we strive to also help educate everyone we take snorkeling here. Molokini is certainly a special place and we maintain one of the best mooring positions within the crater (as dropping anchor is strictly prohibited to protect the fragile coral).
Olowalu has a very extensive reef bed, ribboned with sand channels running through it and the fish life her is quite extensive. There are also two turtle cleaning stations in this area , which particularly assures turtle sightings.
Turtle cleaning stations are areas where the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles congregate to let “cleaning fish” remove the algae from their shells and bodies. Since turtles are air breathing creatures, they have to surface often to breathe, and this makes for great turtle watching!
For a humpback, the purpose for this exciting display of power is not completely understood, but there are some interesting suggestions. Young whales likely breach as a form of play or to develop their muscles. The whales actions are a learned behavior, which would make sense when you see the mother breach with the calf following many times over. Adults likely breach in certain circumstances to transmit a message to members of their group. In fact, as breaching requires a significant amount of energy, a whale may breach to demonstrate its physical abilities; a very convincing signal. Less often, it seems that there are other explanations for breaching. It could be a technique to help cetaceans feed by stunning or scaring prey. It could be a good way of getting rid of external parasites. It could also be a method for inhaling water-free air in rough weather. Who knows? What is certain is that this behaviour is spectacular for those observing it from the surface.