Hana Watersports

Hana-Maui Sea Sports highlights the best of above and below

By: Jamie Wetherbe

On a trip to Maui a few years back, I came to the island with a singular underwater goal to spot a sea turtle. I figured that a Molokini snorkel trip with a stop in Turtle Town would assure a sighting. But unfortunately, the flock of people and boats in the popular spot had apparently scared the turtles away.

While recently in Hana I signed up for the Kayak and Snorkel Cruise with Hana-Maui Sea Sports and hoped for the best. I met my guide Kevin Coates along with two other participants to gear up in Hana Bay and to my delight, we had the bay almost to ourselves.

During the 75-minute trip clients first kayak to a small cove while Coates tells local legends of the bay, like how Mowee (Maui), who was the Apollo of the Polynesians, snared the sun to make the days longer.

Before snorkeling, Coates supplies clients with high-quality masks the best on the market, he said for the utmost clarity. Once underwater, clients will see blue and purple rice coral, an amazing diversity of fish and during my trip two sea turtles swimming just below. After about a half-hour in the water, we paddled back to shore as Coates told us about how Hana-Maui Sea Sport came to be.

A SoCal native, Coates spent a chunk of his career working as a screenwriter, and while he uses his expertise as an underwater and wedding photographer, he said escorting clients around the island has become his calling.

The 12-year-old company has a perfect safety record, and Coates said he accommodates clients from ages 3-88, as well as those new to kayaking and snorkeling.

“I like to take people out who wouldn’t normally do this kind of thing,” he said.

Over the years, Hana-Maui Sea Sports has accumulated a list of accolades, including recently receiving a Best of Maui edition award from Honolulu magazine. Even with the endorsements, Coates prefers to keep his business small, saying he’s “usually a one-man band.”

While other guides will come along for larger, chartered trips, Coates limits his group size to eight participants and typically guides solo.

“I’m selling a quality experience I’m not looking for big numbers,” he said.

Keeping groups small also helps preserve the environment one of Coates’ priorities.

“A State of Hawaii marine biologist who was surveying all the reefs in the islands said that the reef where we snorkel is one of the healthiest reefs anywhere in inhabited Hawaii,” he said, adding that he wants to keep it that way.

Along with teaching clients about the vulnerability of the reef, Coates works with locals to ensure his tours don’t disrupt the environment and the turtles stay in town.


Hana-Maui Sea Sports

Reservations can also be made at the Hotel Hana-Maui social desk. Clients going on the Kayak and Snorkel Cruise meet at Hana Bay. The kayak/snorkel trips is limited to eight people and costs $80 per person; children 5 and under are free. The trip is offered at 9 and 11: 30 a.m. and 2 p.m. tell clients 11:30 is the best time of day. Coates photographs the trips, above and below the water, and will burn a CD of the images for a fee.

Along with the Kayak and Snorkel Cruise, Hana-Maui Sea Sports offers surfing lessons and free-diving excursions. Travel agent commission is negotiable.

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