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Going Coastal: Rafting Maui's Kanaio Coast and Molokini Islet

Instead, Prince takes a hard turn toward Molokini’s open-ocean-facing back wall, cutting the boat’s engine just five yards from its towering rust-colored cliff face. The ocean gently rises and falls against the wall, and our boat along with it. Rising 150 feet above sea level, the wall plunges twice that length, below surface, creating the effect of a water elevator for snorkelers and divers. This makes it one of the best dive spots in the world, says Prince. And we’re going in.

As lava met ocean, it hardened into the angular shapes seen here, resembling bent steel bars.

Colorful fish surround me the moment I jump in. The water is the clearest, most crystalline I’ve experienced in my life. A multitude of reef fish—puffer fish, angelfish and yellow tangs, among them—feed on the wall, which indeed plunges so deep I’m unable to make out the ocean bottom. I am in awe so complete, I’m saddened when Prince calls us out of the water after a half-hour.

Back in the boat, Prince pilots us completely around the backside of Molokini and into its calm, crescent bay. The charter boats back on Maui for lunch, the bay is devoid of activity and we have its waters all to ourselves. Still, though fabulously fish-filled, the bay is a bit underwhelming after the marine life abbondanza of Molokini’s back wall. Nonetheless, I enjoy my solitude here immensely.

Molokini islet, with Kahoolawe in the background.

Back across the Alalakeiki and near the Maui coastline an hour later, lunch is served after yet another round of snorkeling, this time, in a favorite feeding area of Hawaiian green sea turtles. Soon, we’re heading back to our Kihei starting point, with Prince cranking up the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” on the speakers, throttling the sturdy raft up to full speed and pulling 360 degree turns just for fun.

Mick and Keith might not be sated, but I am.

Blue Water Rafting
808-879-7238 • www.bluewaterrafting.com

(This feature was originally published in the May/June 2012 issue of HAWAII Magazine.)

Photos by Derek Paiva


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