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