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Maui Hawaii, 2008

This trip was all about trading the usual gloomy Seattle weather for something cheerful and warm. So Holly and I, and my daughter Shelley and husband Pete converged on Maui for some fun in the sun.

There are more interesting places in the world, often with much better diving, but not many as easy or affordable. And you can drink the water! But wow! Maui has become crowded. Driving anywhere was pretty much a slow speed conga line, even all the way to Hana and back. Sigh. I sure hope local sentiment gets its way and the pressures to develop Honolua Bay can be averted. Big resorts have popped up just about everywhere they can, with more currently under construction. Beaches are public, but development has a way diminishing the experience. The irony is that the great walrus haul-out of corpulent tourist bodies basking with their phones, papers, and books choose to do so, not on the beach, but a few feet away on the immaculately groomed lawn next to the hotels. Might get mussed I suppose. It just looks odd, but I'm happy to have the space. Well, except at Black Rock. The choppy murky water was so crowded with life jacket wearing snorkelers as to be laughable. Imagine what it might be like in calm conditions.

We arrived at the tail end of several days of high swell, ranging from 12 to 20 feet. Surfing was in full swing, from first light to last light of the day. Honolua Bay had a real nice pipe running and lots of great surfers showing their stuff. Conditions for body surfing were poor and finding good snorkeling was a challenge, but we worked it out. At famous milepost 14 we found good conditions after a long swim from shore weaving through the murky channels in the reef, something like 100 yards or more,. The farther out we went the better it got. There were plenty of fish and several turtles. In fact, we ran into turtles everywhere we went. We dove somewhere along here in 1990 and were the only car pulled off to the side. Now it's crowded every day for the several miles stretching all the way to Lahaina.

We took a trip south on East Maui all the way to the roads end. Along the way we stopped near Makena at Maluaka Beach but the conditions were murky with a nasty surge running. The dumping waves on the beach were sand blasting and abusing the unwary. We watched two guys get geared up and then have it all ripped off by the first wave. Brand new gear, first dive, and now masks and fins are lost. Bummer! We made a short swim and decided it was not worth staying, so on south we headed. I did find a mask quite a ways out from shore though. Could it have moved that far from the two guys, or did someone else loose it?

At roads end we hiked out through the Cape Kina'u lava flow to a protected cove. It was just what we needed, something protected from the swell and without a sand bottom to get stirred up and cloud the visibility. The hike threatened minor injury with every step through the craggy, shifting lava rocks, but it was a great hike. The lava is extremely jagged and sharp, something like fused shards of glass in big clumps. Our shoes took a beating. The cove had a nice assortment of the usual reef fish, and at least one turtle.

By far the nicest reef we found was at Honolua Bay, but somewhat murky due to the 12 foot surf at the point. Having no beach, an awkward entrance to the water, and a ways to swim to the reef meant we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We came back for a morning dive after the waves had diminished and found a couple large groupers, bigger fish, and good visibility. Again all by ourselves.

The trip was as not all fun and games though. At 4 am one morning I took a ride to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. It felt like a blackberry vine being pulled through my body, slowly. OK, so it was a kidney stone Kidney Stone that stopped part way down. Two days later and another run to the hospital for IV and drugs, that damn stone completed its journey. Whew! There are quite a few things I would rather do. At least it did it's thing at night so we could continue on with our activities during the day.

After our morning dive at Honolua we spent the afternoon at the inactive volcano Haleakala. It's a pretty interesting place, a great drive, and looks like it has some good hikes. Some of the upland towns look worthy of some time as well, but they were closed up by the time we got off the mountain. Our last day we checked out of the condo and had pretty much all day to kill until our red-eye flight. Not wanting to get all salty, we skipped the ocean stuff and drove to Hana. Whew, I would not do that again. It was way too crowded, pretty much bumper-to-bumper all the way. We could have put our time to better use, but who knew.

Camera Gear

This is the first trip where I have not lugged around the big camera and associated bag of accessories. It all stayed home. All the shots shown here were taken with a tiny Canon G9, coupled with a waterproof housing for the underwater photos. For diving it worked great. Otherwise, it worked well enough most of the time. I could not always get the shot I wanted, but it was easy to carry around and helped simplify the vacation.