My First Time Snorkelling

My First Time Snorkelling

Of all my wonderful, #active experiences in #Maui, #snorkeling ended up being my absolute favourite. I came across hidden caves, swam with sea turtles and simply admired the colorful beauty before my eyes. As someone who usually avoids the ocean, I can say I'm now a convert.


Shocking, right? Every person I have talked to about this has pretty much knocked me over with their sudden shrieks of,

“OH MY GOD, YOU’VE NEVER BEEN SNORKELLING?!”

Thanks to Kyle Ellison for the photo.  Edited by me.
Thanks to Kyle Ellison for the photo. Edited by me.

Well, no… no I had not. I’m not a fish and I have a strong aversion to all things ocean. In fact, I am quite terrified of any body of water, and if you add a few sharks into the mix, I’d much prefer to avoid the sly swimmers up on dry land.

That being said, you can imagine my initial hesitation on the day of my Hawaiian outrigger canoe and snorkelling experience at Makena Beach & Golf Resort. I might have started out a little nervous, but I can tell you right now—it ended up being my absolute favourite experience on Maui.

We started out on the beach at Makena, which I could see from my bed and was literally a two minute walk from my room. I brought nothing down with me but my flip flops, so I kicked them off into the sand and met up with my instructors for a quick briefing about working the boat.

Before I knew it, we had pushed the canoe into the incoming surf and were floating into open waters. The instructor shouted out and we began paddling in unison toward the horizon.

Thanks to Kyle Ellison for the photo. Edited by me.
Thanks to Kyle Ellison for the photo. Edited by me.

We steered out of the bay, along the shore and into the next one. It was a small area closed in by black volcanic ridges, creating a natural fishing pool. The water here was clear and calm, and ideal for snorkelling. But, we wouldn’t be stopping just yet.

We explored a little from above the water and then continued back out into the water. We steered along the shore again, admiring the large houses and villas along the cliffs.

As we started to angle away from the shore, I began to get that nervous feeling again. Were we just going to dive into the deep, dark water? Why couldn’t we stay near the shore?

We paddled for a while longer, when finally our instructors stopped the boat. We were here.

Thanks to Kyle Ellison for the photo. Edited by me.
Thanks to Kyle Ellison for the photo. Edited by me.

There were six of us in the canoe in total, which included four girls and two guides. Not only was I the youngest person in the canoe, but I was surrounded by experienced snorkelers that immediately dove into the water once we reached our anchoring destination.

So, there I was. Sitting all alone in a large canoe as everyone started to swim away from me. One of the instructors was waiting for me in the water, assuring me that it was perfectly safe.

“Well, here goes nothing” I thought to myself as I jumped off the side.

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Morning Snorkel to Molokini or Coral Gardens

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 Ma'alaea Harbor, Maalaea, HI, United States
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Ignoring every alarm going off in my head, I paddled away from the boat and into the open water. I pulled my mask over my head and made the first attempt to submerge it under the water.

It took me a few tries to get a steady breathing pace, but eventually I was able to stay under. At this point I couldn’t see much beneath me, so I followed my instructor over to the others.

As I approached I began to see the reef and dozens of little fish swimming around beneath me. I was in awe.

Thanks to Makena Beach for the photo
Thanks to Makena Beach for the photo

The reef had formed over volcanic tubes that were created thousands of years ago (I’ll spare you the geology lesson for once), and they rose and feel along the sea floor. There were hidden caves and dark ridges, as well as colorful growths and beautiful sea creatures.

There were hidden caves and dark ridges, as well as colorful growths and beautiful sea creatures

Just as I was admiring the ones below, one of our instructors popped a weird little red urchin into my hand. I had always seen the black pointy urchins before, but never one like this. It had far less “spikes”, and they weren’t exactly spikey, but more rounded and smooth and flat (like a popcicle stick!).

I held it in my hand above the water and I could feel it moving on my palm. I was wrapped up in watching my little urchin when suddenly I saw everyone heading in the other direction. I poked my head under water to see them all swimming toward a large sea turtle.

WOW. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The female turtle floated along so gracefully for its large size and seemed unfazed by our presence. I swam a little closer, but not enough to alarm it or get in its way.

With a quick flip of its back legs (fins?) it darted toward one of the dark ridges below the lava tubes.

Before I could feel the disappointment of its departure, I turned around to see another sea turtle. This time it was a larger male that was covered in sea barnacles. This one stuck around even longer and seemed to swim with us in our little pack.

Thanks to Makena Beach for the Photo
Thanks to Makena Beach for the Photo

As the others decide to head back to the canoe, I didn’t want to leave. I hadn’t even thought once about any of the creatures that normally would have scared me, and didn’t feel an ounce of fear. I floated around the surface just staring at all the beautifully coloured little fish below me and occasionally reached out toward them as they fluttered around in the current. I now realized what I had been missing out on all this time, and felt frustrated with myself for wasting so many years being afraid of the ocean.

I now realized what I had been missing out on all this time

I did eventually go back to the boat, and we made our way back to shore. However, I spent the rest of the day, and even the rest of the trip, thinking about my time in the water.

I had suddenly developed a new addiction. I laid in bed dreaming about floating in the sea and tried desperately to fit a little free time into my schedule to get back in the water (unfortunately I didn’t have quite enough time).

In the end, my opinion may be totally geared this way as it was my first time, but snorkelling turned out to be my most absolute favourite experience on Maui. I realize this new found addiction will take me to many new underwater locations that are waiting for me to discover, but I will always remember Maui as my favourite.

I will snorkel on Maui again, one day.

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