Maui's Best Snorkeling Snorkeling in Maui at Molokini or Coral Gardens with Maui Classic Charters

June 23, 2014

Hawaiian Sea Turtles

Filed under: Creature Feature,On Board the Maui Magic — Tags: , — Maui Classic Charters @ 2:00 pm

For those who may be wondering, sea turtles are reptiles. We see these curious creatures along our route on the Four Winds as well as on our daily Maui Magic “Beyond Molokini”. While we rarely have the opportunity to swim with these beauties on the Four Winds, we keep our groups small on our power catamaran so we are easily able to not only visit the world-famous Molokini Crater but hit a second stop with the goal of swimming and snorkeling with them in their natural habitats!


There are basically three native Hawaiian sea turtles. The “Honu”, or Green Sea Turtle, being the most common. There are rare sightings of Hawksbill and Leatherback found around the islands of Molokai and Hawaii, with the Leatherback being the rarest.

When you have the opportunity to snorkel with turtles, remember the following for the best experience:

o Never attempt to touch or grab onto a turtle. They are a protected species here in Hawaii and it is against the law to handle or harass them in any way.

o When snorkeling around turtles, never rapidly approach them (I know it is very exciting!). Relax, swim calmly and very slowly. They will be more encouraged to let you come in for a better look.

o Turtles seem to enjoy gazing at their reflections from the glass of a snorkel mask. Be sure to look at turtles with your mask facing them.

o Keep your hands to your side and do not make wide arm movements. Turtles are often scared when they see big leg or arm movements.

June 3, 2014

The Humuhumunukunukuapua’a of Hawai’i

When I first came to Maui, I never thought I’d get this one but soon found it to be quite easy when sounded out. Before we get into further discussion of this beauty, let’s learn how to pronounce the name properly … “who-moo-who-moo-noo-koo-noo-koo-ah-poo-ah-ah”.

The Humuhumunukunukuapua`a , also called also called the rectangular or Hawaiian triggerfish, was officially designated the state fish of Hawaii on trial basis in 1985 for a period of five years. The trial period and this status quietly ended in 1990. In 2006 it was realized that Hawaii was without a State Fish, and the Humuhumunukunukuapua`awas reinstated on a permanent basis.

The reef triggerfish is distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region and is especially prominent in the coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands.

Four Winds II Maui Molokini Crater and Coral Gardens Snorkel tours Humunukunukuapuaa

The Humuhumu (a common nickname, “who-moo-who-moo”) has teeth and top lip are blue and its teeth are set close together. A small second spine, which can be used to lock its main spine into an upright position, gives it the ability to wedge itself into small crevices making it extremely difficult for predators (humans included) to get to.

One of the many interesting aspects of the Humuhumu’s behavior is the ability to blow jets of water from its mouth. They can often be seen spitting sand from their mouths in order to sift through the material in search of edible detritus or organisms.

Reef triggers are fairly aggressive and will usually not tolerate other species in their general vicinity, thus the fish is often found solitary. In addition, when fleeing from predators, the triggerfish will sometimes make grunting noises, possibly a call to warn other nearby triggerfish of danger.

Should you be lucky enough to see these colorful beauties while snorkeling in Hawaii, observe but always give them their space.

May 19, 2014

Hawaii’s Trumpet Fish

Whether we realize it or not, the fishes in Hawaii (and elsewhere, world-wide) are quite remarkable. The Trumpet fish definitely not an exception …. It is actually quite an amazing species when you know the facts.

The Trumpet fish is known locally as thenunu” and can be spotted in caves, lying under ledges, and in both shallow and deep waters (up to about 100 meters or 328 feet). Sometimes it was bright yellow, other times it had a dark coloration. It is generally long and thin (much like the Needle fish or Cornet fish, both in the same family) but easily distinguished by the complex shape of its head.

Four Winds II Trumpet Fish

Four Winds II Trumpet Fish

They’ve adopted a few pretty ingenious hunting strategies to get what they want; their prey is usually reef fish or shrimp. They might hang motionless in the water, in sync with the wave action, and then lunge forward, inflating their trumpet-like mouth and vacuuming up their meal. It’s not surprising to see one sneak alongside a school of grazing Surgeon fishes to get within striking distance. Another tactic is to hover vertically against the backdrop of branching coral.

They can also change their coloration from grayish to yellow, or an orange-brown. The dorsal and anal fins are set back towards the tail, and small movements of these fins can propel it forward and back. Distinguishing features of the trumpet fish include a fan-shaped tail (called a “caudal”) fin and a chin (called a barbell).

May 15, 2014

The Unicorn Fish

Unicorn Fish are Herbivores and are primarily active during daytime hours, swimming in groups, feeding on algae.

They are closely related to tangs and surgeonfish and can grow to about 20-24 inches in length, though their skin is smooth and less susceptible to skin diseases than that of other tangs. They prefer water temperatures of degrees 75-79 fahrenheit.

Unicorn Fish from the Four Winds Maui

Unicorn Fish from the Four Winds Maui

The horn-like appendage between their eyes begins growing when a young fish reaches about 5 inches in length and tends to be a little bigger on males. Unicorn fish are generally not aggressive to each other, but when they do fight they use sharp scalpels by their tails as weapons, not their horns.

Unicorn Fish from the Four Winds Maui

Unicorn Fish from the Four Winds Maui

May 3, 2014

Keeled Heart Urchins

Filed under: Creature Feature,Maui Life,On Board the Four Winds II — Tags: , , — Maui Classic Charters @ 10:45 am

Keeled Heart Urchin

Keeled Heart Urchin

The Keeled Heart Urchin is part of the Irregular Urchin family (which also includes Sea Biscuits and Sand Dollars) and is the only Heart Urchin found in inter-tidal areas. They can be found under the surface, in the sandy areas in depths ranging from 6 inches to 150 feet and are seldom seen by humans.

Thanks to Trey Akin of Maui Marine Images, one of the talented photographers on the Four Winds, we have this image of the empty Test (or shell that encloses the Urchins internal organs) spotted on a recent snorkel trip.

April 23, 2014

The Hawaiian Octopus

Filed under: Creature Feature,Maui Life,On Board the Four Winds II — Tags: , — Maui Classic Charters @ 9:00 am

Unless you know what to look for, it may be easy to miss an octopus while snorkeling.   With an amazing ability to mimic, even changing their texture, from a smooth soft skinned animal to one that is rough, bumpy, and spiky allows them to take on the appearance of their surroundings and even look like other animals.

The “beak” is the only hard part of an octopus, so that allows them access into some pretty small spaces.  We’ve seen the octopus pictured here slip into a hole with an opening no bigger than a human fist.  It is quite something to see an octopus cycle through and flash their colors rapidly.

Should you find yourself lucky enough to see an octopus, keep your “eyes on the prize”, so to speak … very likely, only for a moment will you see what you envision when you think of the octopus (in Hawaiian, He’e “Day Octopus” or very commonly referred to as Tako).

April 21, 2014

Spotted Eagle Rays

Filed under: Creature Feature,Maui Life — Tags: , — Maui Classic Charters @ 7:00 am

Spotted eagle rays are found globally in tropical regions from the Indo-Pacific area to parts of the Pacific Ocean and the Western Atlantic.

These beautiful creatures are generally found in shallow coastal water by coral reefs and bays, in depths down to about 250-260 feet,  in warm, temperate, waters worldwide, including the West-Atlantic Ocean, in the Gulf Stream off the coast of North Carolina and down to Florida, in the Caribbean, and down past the southern part of Brazil. In the West-Pacific Ocean, they are usually sighted from the Red Sea to South Africa and also in Northern Japan and Australia. They can also be found in the Eastern-Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California down through Puerto Pizarro, an area that includes the Galapagos Islands.

They spend much of their time swimming freely in open waters, generally in schools close to the surface, and can travel long distances in a day. We were lucky enough to spot these two on one of our daily snorkel excursions and to get great photos!

April 4, 2014

What a Shot!

Filed under: Creature Feature,Maui Life,On Board the Four Winds II,On Board the Maui Magic — Maui Classic Charters @ 11:53 am

See the Humpbacks While You Can!

Filed under: Creature Feature,Maui Life,On Board the Four Winds II,On Board the Maui Magic — Maui Classic Charters @ 11:50 am

As Humpback Whale season nears an end, we are all excited to see these majestic marine mammals! Just yesterday, Maui Magic crew members caught an epic shot of a Humpback in front of her sister boat, the Four Winds II … talk about being in the right place at the right time! Now is the time to join us for a whale watch and snorkel before they head back to Alaska for the summer.

March 21, 2014

Maui’s Humpback Whale Watching Season

Filed under: Creature Feature,Maui Life,On Board the Four Winds II,On Board the Maui Magic — Maui Classic Charters @ 3:26 pm

Maui’s Humpback Whale Watching Season is nearing an end … don’t miss the fun!

During Maui’s whale watch season both our trips offer the unique combination of a Snorkeling Trip and Whale Watching Tour all in one. Why just do one ocean activity when you can experience both? You can watch the fantastic displays of the Humpback Whales in action and also get the chance to snorkel and explore the amazing underwater sights of Molokini or Coral Gardens too.  It is like getting two different tours at one great price!

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