SNUBA and Burgers and Slides, Oh My!

The Pride of Maui CatamaranFor us, the adventure began a few weeks before the actual snorkel trip. It began when I told the kids, “We’re going on the Pride of Maui, two weeks from Sunday.”
“Which boat is that, Daddy?” my youngest son asked.

“It’s one out of Maalaea Harbor that goes to Molokini and Turtle Town,” I replied. “They have snorkeling and SNUBA diving,” I told him, “and a water slide.”

“That sounds awesome,” he said. “Don’t you mean scuba diving?”

“Nope. It’s SNUBA diving.”

“What’s SNUBA diving?”

“SNUBA diving is like a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving. You breathe the same way you do when you scuba dive, but you don’t have to carry the tanks. They float on the surface in a special flotation device.”

“What about food,” asks my oldest son, “will they have muffins for breakfast?” He’s fourteen, growing and hungry all the time.

“Yes, they’ll have muffins for breakfast. And burgers, hot dogs, and chicken for lunch.”

“All you can eat?”

“I suppose so, but I don’t think you should eat that much before you go snorkeling. And I don’t think you’re going to want to eat another one pound hamburger like you did at Teddy’s. You shouldn’t eat too much if there’s going to be swimming and stuff.”

“Hmm. So I can just have one?”

“Something like that.”

“What if I don’t go in the water?”

“Then what’s the purpose of a snorkel trip?”

“Good point.”

And so went the initial conversation for our next 808 Reviews adventure aboard The Pride of Maui.

Anticipating the Trip

For the next two weeks, we made sure we all had everything we needed for the trip. For me, that meant a notebook and pen, a well-charged iPhone (for taking pictures, recording video, and recording voice memos), plenty of beach towels for everyone, a pair of board shorts, and a hat.

For the kids, that meant a lot of “Daddy, where’s my this?” and “Daddy, I need a new that.” And of course the ever popular, “Mom, he took my whatever it was and I’m not going if he’s still going.”

All in all, the whole family was looking forward to going on The Pride of Maui. It had been a long time since we went on a snorkel trip out to Molokini and Turtle Town. Sometimes when you live on Maui, you don’t take advantage of many of the benefits of living in a such a beautiful place. And going snorkeling on a premier boat like The Pride of Maui definitely turned out to be one of them.

The Morning of the Trip

The night before the snorkel trip aboard The Pride of Maui, we all went to sleep early so we could get a good night’s sleep. The kids were very excited about going snorkeling and SNUBA diving, and nervous about sleeping through their alarms. As a result, they didn’t sleep very much or very well. It’s a good thing the excitement of the trip kicked in the morning of the trip, because when the alarm on my iPhone went off, the kids were still a little bit groggy

Dragging themselves out of bed and getting dressed in board shorts (boys), swim suits (girls) , t-shirts, and slippers was an unusually quick experience. The kids were ready within minutes and all set to get going. I encouraged everyone to bring a light jacket just in case. They all gave me a few things to add to my towel-filled backpack and we were off.

We only live about a half hour from Maalaea Harbor and we were not worried about being on time. (Side note: If you are concerned about transportation to Maalaea Harbor, The Pride of Maui does provide transportation for an additional charge. Check their web site for more information. (http://www.prideofmaui.com/transportation/) We put the backpack and a few other things in the back of the truck and headed out. It’s a nice drive from Lahaina to Maalaea, especially in the early morning when there’s not very much traffic. There’s a special parking area near Carl’s Jr. that is designated for guests of The Pride of Maui. We found the last spot and parked, ready to begin our adventure.

As we were getting the kids out of the truck and unloading the backpack full of towels, an extra bag with sunscreen, and other important items, my phone rang. I looked at the unfamiliar number and answered the phone. It was one of the crew members of The Pride of Maui making sure we were on our way. I assured them that we had just parked up near Carl’s Jr and were headed down as quickly as we could.

A few minutes later (it’s a pretty quick walk) we were greeted by crew members of The Pride of Maui and were asked to fill out a release form. We filled out the requested information and were directed to pose for a family picture. Once we completed both, we were able to board the boat. As we boarded, we were giving a snorkel and mask set and an information card.

The Breakfast Buffet

Once on board The Pride of Maui, we entered into the lower deck and walked directly into the room with the buffet breakfast. There was plenty to eat and my 14 year old finally got his muffins. . . and croissants, strawberries and pineapple, and more muffins. There was coffee, tea, and soft drinks, too. We found a nice bench along one of the walls and left our bags and slippers there. We helped ourselves to breakfast and listened to the safety announcements.

By now, I was beginning to relax and have some fun. Even though we live on Maui, we seldom take time to relax. But this really felt like a vacation. Maybe it was being on the water. Maybe it was the anticipation of going to Molokini. Maybe it was simply taking a day off to spend with the family. Whatever it was, I was grateful for the experience.

SNUBA Diving on The Pride of Maui

SNUBA diving at Molokini with The Pride of MauiAfter the safety announcements were completed, it was time for passengers interested in SNUBA diving to assemble on the lower deck (we were already there) to attend a briefing given by The Pride of Maui’s SNUBA instructor Julie Norton. Julie, originally from California, has been living on Maui for the past five years and has been the SNUBA instructor for The Pride of Maui for three.

Julie explained that The Pride of Maui would have two opportunities for SNUBA diving. The first would be at Molokini and the second at Turtle Town. There’s an extra charge for SNUBA diving, but if you purchase both dives, there’s a discount on the second one. You can also rent wet suits for an additional charge.

Julie went over the proper way to breath. Use your mouth only and keep your lips around the mouth piece. She also taught us how to clear our masks if they get filled with water: you hold the top to your forehead and breathe out your nose. This forces the air in and the water out. We learned the proper way to clear our ears when the air pressure gets out of balance and that you don’t have to go all the way to the end of the hose if you don’t want to. The most important things to remember when SNUBA diving are: breath, clear ears, and kick your feet.

SNUBA diving on The Pride of MauiMy wife and two younger kids (ages 11 and 9) were going to be the ones to experience SNUBA diving at Molokini. I was going to stay on the boat with our 14 year old son who had no plans to get in the water and was hoping to stay inside and avoid a sun burn. He found a comfortable spot inside and I went outside to the bow of the boat to relax.

The Trip to Molokini

The day was windy and the water was very choppy as we crossed the Alalakeiki Channel on the way to Molokini. The trip was more than a little rough and I was not sure if we were going to be able to actually get in the water. I found a comfortable spot on a bench and watched Molokini grow bigger and bigger as we approached.

With the southern end of Maui on the left, Molokini straight ahead, and Kaho’olawe just to the right, the view from the boat was incredible. I felt great. It was very peaceful with the hum of the engine and the splash of the waves as the boat pushed ahead. A great way to relax before we get in the water.

After a while (and after the SNUBA briefing was completed) my two sons joined me at the bow and brought a plate of strawberries with them. The three of us shared the snack as we talked about how much fun the boat ride was so far. The time went by quickly and before we realized it, we were slowing down while the captain looked for a place to park.

In the Water at Molokini

Once we arrived at Molokini, a member of the crew dove into the water to secure the mooring. Swim fins were distributed and wetsuits were rented to those who wanted them. The snorkelers entered the water from the stern of the boat, while the SNUBA divers entered the water from the bow of the boat. Since I was already relaxing on the bench, it made it easy for me to watch the wife and kids go in the water.

Unfortunately and at the last minute, the kids changed their minds and decided they didn’t want to go SNUBA diving after all. The water was too cold. The wet suits were uncomfortable. Any excuse to not go in the water. Julie was very nice about the last minute cancelation and gave us the option to try again at Turtle Town if the kids wanted. I thought the trip would be a bust. And then, I remembered the water slide.

The Water Slide

The water slide on The Pride of MauiI asked the kids if they wanted to try the water slide. They shook their heads. I said, “Fine, then I’m going.” They all looked surprised as I climbed the ladder and slid into the water. Well, that was all it took for them to realize the slide was going to be fun.

For the next hour or so, we all took turns going down the water slide. Even my fourteen year old son, who planned to stay dry and inside ventured onto the water slide. He had more fun than most fourteen year olds will admit on a family trip.

My daughter, pictured here, went down the slide a record setting sixteen times.

Lunch Aboard The Pride of Maui

While we were sliding down the slide and playing in the water, the crew of The Pride of Maui was busy preparing our barbeque lunch. Nothing overly fancy, but in this case, simple really is better. When we entered the lower deck, lunch was ready. On the bar were set the condiments, buns, lettuce, tomato, and onions. Towards the front of the boat was the barbeque where burgers, hot dogs, and chicken were cooking. There was also bacon for those who wanted to add a little more zing to their lunch.

There was plenty of food for everyone. The crew asked that we wait to have seconds (or thirds) until everyone had a chance to have their first plate.

Note: If you’re not hungry or don’t like to eat on boats, the crew is more than happy to pack your lunch to go.

About The Pride of Maui

During lunch, we had a chance to meet the captain of The Pride of Maui for the past fifteen years: Captain Patrick Grady. He’s been a captain for twenty years, after graduating from Lahainaluna High School here on Maui. He knows most of the other captains on the island, including the late Captain Skillet from Start Me Up. I had the opportunity to fish with Skillet a few years ago, but that’s another story.

Captain Patrick shared with us a little bit of information about The Pride of Maui, it’s a power catamaran that measures 65 feet from bow to stern. It’s 29 to 30 feet across the beam. (I’m not a boat expert, but I do know how to ask questions and Captain Patrick Grady knows a great deal about The Pride of Maui). A few more interesting facts: The Pride of Maui runs 7 days a week, burns 16 gallons of fuel every hour, can do 10 knots, and can carry 149 passengers. There is no smoking allowed on board.

Captain Patrick also doubles as the boat’s bartender specializing in Mai Tais and drinks made with Trader Vic’s rum. In addition to those, Captain Patrick blends ginger drinks for seasickness. Minced ginger with sprite works wonders. MythBusters proved ginger is great for treating the symptoms of sea sickness.

Turtle Town

After lunch, we arrived at Turtle Town and our next opportunity to try SNUBA diving. My daughter only wanted to go down the slide some more, but my son decided he would give SNUBA diving a second try. With Julie’s help, he put his mask and fins on and entered the water. Conquering his fear, he enjoyed his first SNUBA diving experience in the ocean. After meeting Julie, I was 100% confident that he would be safe and build a memory that he could carry with him for the rest of his life.

While he was diving with Julie, the rest of the family enjoyed the water slide. One thing about The Pride of Maui is that there is a lot to do on the boat for those who don’t want to snorkel or SNUBA. While the primary purpose of a snorkel trip is to go snorkeling, for me the most important part of the trip is to spend quality family time with the wife and kids.

By the time my son and the rest of the SNUBA divers were coming out of the water, the rest of us were finishing up our playtime on the slide. My son took off his mask, fins, and rented wet suit, toweled off, and put his t-shirt on. Julie took care of putting away all his gear. We prepared for our return trip back to Maui.

The Trip Back to Maalaea

We sat at the bow of the boat on the lower deck for the beginning of the trip back to Maalaea. The wind was blowing pretty strong and we were enjoying the feeling after a wonderful trip. As we sat there relaxing, Julie, the SNUBA instructor, came out and pointed to the current line and told us that we were welcome to stay where we were, but in about ten minutes, we would be soaking wet.

We went inside just in time. As the boat crossed the current line, the wind increased and the water began splashing everywhere. The kids were delighted. We ran upstairs to get a better view and laughed every time the water came over the bow of the boat. The rest of the trip was spent getting wet and hiding from the water when the splashes were too big. By the time we were approaching Maalaea, we were soaking wet and grinning from ear to ear.

Captain Patrick brought us safely home and expertly brought The Pride of Maui to her slip at the harbor. We gathered our belongings and prepared to disembark The Pride of Maui. My younger son pulled me aside and whispered in my ear, “That was great Dad. Can we get the picture?”

Pride of MauiThe Pride of Maui
101 Maalaea Boat Harbor Rd
Main Loading Dock
Wailuku, HI 96793
Toll Free: (877) TO-PRIDE
Local: (808) 242-0955
www.prideofmaui.com

Tiny Bubbles Scuba
About Maury Hoffman |Things to Do on Maui | Restaurant and Activity Reviews

Senior Editor of 808 Reviews and freelance travel writer, Maury Hoffman lives on Maui with his familiy, iPad, iPhone, and other gadgets. His writing proficiency is directly related to the quality of his morning coffee. He prefers Peet's Coffee, but also enjoys Living Java.

Tiny Bubbles Scuba