Tropical Trilogy

Snorkeling aboard the Trilogy Excursion

By: Deborah Dimond

With tired eyes I ventured out in the early morning darkness. I was told the 6 a.m. call time is essential for a good day of snorkeling. By the time I arrived at Maalaea Harbor a soft pink sunrise was making its way over the horizon.

My Maui itinerary for the day would include an afternoon of snorkeling aboard the Trilogy Excursion. Shoes flew as I boarded the bare-foot-only ship, and my first priority was breakfast. Soon I was in the ship’s hull and helping myself to fresh, warm cinnamon rolls and coffee. The Trilogy provides a convenient complimentary breakfast; this was my saving grace having found most restaurants were still closed in the early morning hours. Happy with my meal in hand, I took a seat on the deck of the 54-foot catamaran and enjoyed the activity taking place in the busy harbor.

Crew introductions were made once guests had gathered on deck. The ship was staffed with a comical and safety conscious four-person crew: Capt. Freddy, Dave, the dive instructor, and marine naturalists Luke and Pat.

As the ship motored out of the docks, the guests ready to scuba were summoned for instruction. For an additional cost, clients can chose to upgrade their snorkel to a scuba tank. Introductory and certified dives are available; participants must be at least 12 years of age and in good health. Introductory dives consist of 20- to 30-minute dives with depths ranging from 20 to 40 feet, while certified dives last about 30 minutes and have a wide range of depths.

As I prepared to snorkel, I gradually acquired my sea legs as the catamaran slid out into the open water. I held tight to the railings as I moved about the ship to ensure no spontaneous introductions were made by way of falling into another guest’s lap. Soon the engine turned off and the crew sprung into action.

As the white sails ascended the mass and the wind took the lead, we were off to our first stop the Molokini crater. Molokini sits 2½ miles off of Maui’s southern coast. The inactive volcano is now a highly protected State Marine Life and Bird conservation. The small crescent shaped island provides protection from powerful waves and strong currents, making its inner reefs an excellent place to snorkel and dive. Our ship weighed anchor, and we began to adorn ourselves with flotation devises or bright yellow non-inflated safety jackets for identification purposes. (The crew joked that losing a customer is always bad for business.)

Once in the water my body and equipment became unencumbered. The calm waves let me easily navigate over an underwater hillside of coral that plays buffet for a dazzling array of brightly colored fish. I was most taken with the strange looking unicorn fish whose brow extends into a cone and the leopard blowfish whose name denotes its amazing spotted body.

After an hour of snorkeling Molokini crater we were back on the ship and off to our next destination, Kaanapali (also called Makena Beach) to swim with Hawaiian Green Turtles. Also unique to this beach are the two large lava tubes visible just off shore, which help create an underwater metropolis. These coral reefs stretch from the sandy beach far out into sea. Skimming along the top of the water I have the strange sensation of flying as I slowly float over the peaks and valleys of the ocean floor.

Being on one of the first ships to this area was important. As I snorkeled I caught sight of a dozen turtles, but as the afternoon lingered on I noticed turtle sightings became more infrequent until suddenly I saw one dart to the ocean floor and cover himself with sand. When I poked my head out of the water, I noticed the number of ships in the bay had tripled and more were quickly approaching. Taking my cue from the turtle, I decided to retire my fins and go back onboard.

A morning of snorkeling created quite the appetite. Capt. Freddy insists that buffets are passe, so guests make themselves comfortable as the crew serves an amazing barbequed chicken lunch. As we devoured our meal the captain entertained his guests with a brief lecture and stories of Hawaiian history and geography. No one aboard the ship was left hungry: The abundance of food made for ample seconds or thirds even dessert.

After lunch at about 1 p.m., we bid the turtles goodbye and set sail back to Maui, but the excitement wasn’t over. On the way back to port the crew spotted a humpback whale spouting and slapping the water with its magnificent tale. It was a wonderful way to end a great day of ocean exploring.