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Snorkeling Alone

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Jun 22nd, 2011, 06:47 AM
  #1
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Snorkeling Alone

Taking my first trip to Maui early Sept and can't wait to swim with the fishes!

I have snorkeled many times in the Caribbean but never in Hawaii so I'm not sure how the water conditions will be different.

Here's my dilemma: I am traveling alone and like to snorkel several times a day. Budgetary constraints do not permit me to go on guided snorkel trips that frequently.

I would be totally comfortable snorkeling alone but don't want to do so at beaches known to have funky currents or conditions that would make that a foolish thing to do.

I know, snorkeling alone is never ideal but I don't feel I have many other options.

1. Does anyone know of any beaches that I should for sure avoid snorkeling alone?
2. I do plan to splurge on 1 snorkel trip to Molokini - any operators to avoid? Any that are highly recommended?

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Jun 22nd, 2011, 09:27 AM
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We went out to Molokini with Maui Classic Charters on the Four Winds II out of Maalaea Harbor, and had no complaints.

http://goo.mauicharters.com/4winds_trip01.html

The ride out there was leisurely enough that they set out some deep sea fishing lines and if anything hit, the nearest passenger who noticed could reel it in. Their designated mooring spot at the crater was virtually right in the middle, while other tour operators fanned out on either side of us. The Four Winds II stayed later too. We ate lunch there when other tour boats had already left.

I can only speak to the beaches north of Lahaina.

Hanaka'o'o/Canoe Beach is at the south end of Ka'anapali Beach, and although there really is no snorkeling there, it's a great beach to boogie board or body surf.

Black Rock is at the north end of Ka'anapali Beach and has outstanding snorkeling and enough people around to notice if you get in trouble. We even swam with some turtles there. A gentle current carried us out along the edges of the "rock" and wasn't too tough to fight getting back. We were told though that if the current was too strong for us coming back, just swim south, parallel to the beach about 25 yards and the current will weaken.

Kahekili Beach Park (off Kai Ala Dr. just north of mile marker 25) was a pleasant surprise. Plenty of parking, wide, gentle beach and some very nice snorkeling about 75 feet offshore right in front of the pavilion. Even has restrooms and showers.

I'd avoid Honokowai Beach Park, Pohaku Park (aka S-Turns), Kahana Beach, Ka'opala Beach, and Keonenui Beach (all off of Lower Honoapiilani Rd.) as the swimming can be somewhat nasty &/or the snorkeling just not very good.

Napili Bay, just a bit further north on Lower Honoapiilani Rd, is a very sandy beach that is well protected from wind and current, but the gradient is steep, the snorkeling not all that good and it can be very crowded.

Even further north on this road is Kapalua Beach - another nice surprise. This beach is very well protected by a reef from the strong currents outside the bay. Lots of reef fish. Easy access. Gentle gradient. Showers and restrooms. Despite what I thought was some pretty good snorkeling, there were very few people that were actually doing it.

Further north is Oneloa Beach (aka Ironwoods Beach). The swimming and snorkeling (at the southern third of the beach) can be good when the water is calm (like in the early morning), but can have some nasty rip tides when it's rough.

D.T. Fleming Beach Park (just past mile marker 31) has good swimming when calm, but rip tides when rough. Snorkrling is just so-so, but there are lifeguards, shade, picnic tables showers and restrooms.

Honolua Bay (between Mile markers 32 & 33 I believe) offers outstanding snorkeling. Snorkel boat tour operators from Lahaina and Ka'anapali Beach go there. The beach is all moderately-sized rocks, which can make it a little tricky getting in and out of the water if accessed from the beach, but once in, the snorkeling is unsurpassed. The right side of the bay is a little better for underwater sights. A heavy rain can muck up the water for 24 hours after.
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Jun 22nd, 2011, 11:12 AM
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furledleader - THANK YOU! Your input will be invaluable as I am planning my snorkling each day. Your post will be printed out and packed for reference while I'm in Hawaii.

I REALLY appreciate you taking the time to give me some great info.

Belinda
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Jun 22nd, 2011, 11:44 AM
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The south Maui beaches, especially in front of the Makena Resort are always full of snorkelers and I'v snorkeled there by myself many times.
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Jun 22nd, 2011, 12:33 PM
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Placename - thanks for the info (and especially for the reassurce that other people have snorkeled alone and lived to tell about it).
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Jun 22nd, 2011, 12:42 PM
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Each day you can check the general snorkel conditions at Hawaiiweathertoday.com. And for daily specifics on the snorkeling conditions at various spots you can ask the friendly staff at any Maui Dive Shop either in person or by phone. The conditions will vary from poor to excellent depending on daily weather conditions. Water temps will not be as warm as the caribbean but still very comfortable. My favs are Black Rock, Kapalua Bay, Honolua Bay(only when surf is down in summer).
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Jun 22nd, 2011, 02:47 PM
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montereybob - THANKS! I hope I have room in my suitcase for all the printouts I need to take from those in the know! I will have my laptop with me (for downloading pictures off the digital camera - NOT for working!) and the hotel where I'm staying has free wireless internet so I can check the web site daily as I'm planning my snorkeling adventures for that day. What an awesome resource to know about - THANKS!

I will admit most of the time I like the warm Caribbean - although in some of the shallower areas I thought it was a bit too warm at times.

I have a shorty wetsuit I will take just in case... thanks for the heads up!
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Jun 22nd, 2011, 03:32 PM
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I like south Maui ( Makena Resort) far more than Honolua. The don't call south Maui Turtle Town for nothing.

Honolua has a somewhat unattractive and difficult entry that isn't on a sandy beach.
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Jun 22nd, 2011, 04:19 PM
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I'll agree with Placename about the beach at Honolua - there really is no beach, just all rocks about 1-2 feet in diameter everywhere underfoot. I've never been to the southern beaches, so I've nothing to compare. Really want to do those though someday, especially the Fishbowl, La Perouse Bay, and Keawanaku Beach way down south.
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Jun 22nd, 2011, 07:46 PM
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For experienced snorkelers, entry at Honolua Bay is no problem. In the summer the water clarity and variety of fish can be some of the best on the island. I believe the authorities have closed off entry to Fishbowl due to liability issues. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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Jun 23rd, 2011, 05:48 AM
  #11
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Thanks SO much to you all for the input - I will truly be utilizing your advice in my upcoming trip.

Rocky entrances don't bother me at all - nearly all the entrances on Bonaire are rocky so I have experience with them.

The only entrance that has ever bothered me was the entry for the drift snorkel from LaDania's Leap to Karpata on Bonaire - as you can imagine from the name you actually leap off a rock at LaDania's Leap and the waves crashing into the rock before you leap can be a bit scary.

Once again, thanks for all the input - I'm feeling much more confident about my first ever solo vacation!
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Jun 23rd, 2011, 06:05 AM
  #12
 
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Am a NAUI PADI Red Cross Instructor

None of thos organizations sanctions solo aquatic activity

The buddy system is the cornerstone of safety in the water.

pick up travle buds to do this with on our wah to be safe.

Consult with a knowledgeable PADI certified dive shop when u get there

For best local places.
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Jun 24th, 2011, 09:18 AM
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And I should wear my seatbelt.

And I should wear a helmet when horseback riding.

And I should wear protective gear when spraying pesticides and herbicides.

And yet I don't...
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Jun 24th, 2011, 10:01 AM
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qwovadis - I should have also said that I really do appreciate your input - I was not meaning to belittle your concerns just let you know a bit about me - that I don't always do the most prudent, cautious things.

I have read all the warnings about snorkeling alone but I'm fairly certain that I won't truly be "alone" on any beach in Maui so hopefully someone would heed my cries for help if I get into trouble.

Please accept my apology for the previous post if you took it as criticism of you - it truly was not intended to be.
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Jun 24th, 2011, 10:39 AM
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I was going to respond to that one; we can't all have a companion everywhere we go, everything we do. Perhaps hiking in remote places without telling people, then having to cut your arm off to get out, is an extreme example, but IMHO, popping into the water to do close-in snorkeling is not as big an issue for sensible people who are prepared and not soloing in a deserted locale. (Several times I have looked back to the beach and seen my "buddy" snoring with a magazine on his face; if I waited for him to go with me every time I wanted to swim or snorkel, I'd never get to do it!)
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Jun 24th, 2011, 11:12 AM
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sylvia3 - thanks for your very sensible input! I had hoped I would get some reassurance from others that they had done some solo snorkeling and that not everyone who does something so "foolish" is bound to die.

I appreciate you taking time to respond - I am feeling SO much more confident that I will survive my first solo vacation!

Belinda
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Jun 24th, 2011, 11:48 AM
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If I can piggy-back on your thread, mofarmerchick... Anyone know about snorkeling at Tunnels beach on Kauai? I'm the only avid snorkeler in our group, so would expect I'll not often have a buddy. Anticipate that I'll also be going fairly early in the morning, when water conditions are best.
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Jun 24th, 2011, 02:34 PM
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For your situation, I highly recommend Olowalu (Highway 30 at mile marker 14). There are lots of other snorkelers, it is visible from the main highway, lots of parking, and has easy access from the shoreline. Depending on the tide, the water can get very shallow, but otherwise it is a safe area protected by reef unlike some other areas where waters can get rough.
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Jun 24th, 2011, 09:45 PM
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Islandaze--- tunnels has good snorkeling conditions in the summer months. In winter the surf is too rough.
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Jun 27th, 2011, 01:03 AM
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Snorkelling in Hawaii is quite different to the Caribbean, the water is much colder, generally not as calm and some of the snorkel locations such as Molokini and Turtle Town are quite deep. Ahihi Bay/La Perouse Bay & Honolua were very good for snorkelling, the latter was sometimes a bit muddy by the edges.
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