Maui Adventure Cruises: Lana’i Dolphin Snorkel Adventure

Why do spinner dolphins spin?
A – It’s a learned behavior to remove a parasitic fish
B – It’s fun and they enjoy doing it.
C – To dry off
D – All of the above

According to Rob (and Rob is his real name) our guide on Maui Adventure Cruises: Lanai Dolphin Adventure, the answer is: D – All of the above. I asked him if he was serious about option C and he gave me an answer that really made me think.


Maui Adventure Cruises: Crew Members

Maui Adventure Cruises: Crew Members

Before we get to Rob’s answer, let me just say that Maui Adventure Cruises’ Lanai Dolphin Adventure is a lot of fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and laughed more than I can remember laughing on any other snorkel trip. Everyone associated with the trip was friendly and fun to be around.

We arrived at Lahaina Harbor a little after 7:00 am and checked in at the booth at slip #11. After letting them know who we were and offering them a copy of our email confirmation, we were given boarding passes for the trip. Morning beverages were available from a nearby table; I helped myself to a cup of Kona coffee. Boarding wasn’t scheduled until 7:15, so we walked over to the beach to watch the early morning surfers. I looked for my friend Bully, of Bully’s Ohana Surf School, but didn’t see him. He was probably still teaching the part of the surf lesson that takes place on the sand at the beach at 508 Front Street.

A few more minutes of watching the surfers in the water and we decided to head back towards the Maui Adventure Cruises booth and see if they were ready to board.

They were. We were number 21 and 22. We watched as our fellow passengers had their pictures taken before getting on the raft. When they called our number, we posed for the pictures, and boarded the raft.

It was a big raft with a “marine head” instead of a bathroom. If that sounds like a complaint, it isn’t: Lanai Dolphin Adventure Cruises’ raft is the only raft in the harbor with a marine head. This is a five hour trip; a marine head could come in handy.

There were plenty of seats on the raft and we opted to sit in the back of the raft so we could get a view of everything that was going on. It was a great decision for us. Although I have to say, every seat on the raft was a good one. The next time, I plan on sitting near the front of the raft and see what that would be like.

We stowed our gear under our seats and sat down while the raft exited the harbor and headed out to the open waters and the Island of Lanai. Remember they call this trip The Lanai Dolphin Watch, Snorkel, and Adventure. This information is important. You’ll find out why in a few minutes.

We had just started out and we hadn’t even left the harbor when we saw our first marine animal: an eagle ray with its fins popping out of the water. I must admit it was pretty cool. I’ve seen them before at the Aquarium and from the window view tables from Mala Restaurant. Still, there was something about seeing the ray out in the ocean that was pretty special. We took this as a positive sign of more great things to come.

After the required Coast Guard Safety Briefing, Rob (and yes, that’s his real name) passed out snorkel gear consisting of fins and masks with snorkel to all the passengers on the raft. We were then asked to sit down and hang on. Our captain, Jill, was going to see is we could find some dolphins. She headed out towards Lanai and, I’ll tell you what, the raft is fast.

It felt like a ride at Disneyland, only this was real life, real fast, and real fun. Ok, so it was nothing like a ride at Disneyland; this was much better.

It took us just a few minutes before we spotted some Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins off the coast of Lanai. No matter how many times you’ve seen dolphin on TV or at an aquarium, nothing prepares you for the experience of seeing dolphins in the wild, in their natural habitat.

Rob (and yes that’s his real name) explained that people have tried to capture Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins and breed them in captivity, but it never works out. He shared a few stories about certain theme parks that tried to bring Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins to their establishments for the benefit of paying customers. In every single case, the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins were unable to survive in captivity. These dolphins have to be free. That’s an excellent lesson about wildlife (or all life). No creatures should be kept in cages. No matter how nice the cage is.

Anyway, we followed the pod of dolphins for a while, until Jill announced that we still had couple of scheduled snorkel spot waiting for us. She turned the raft away from the dolphins and headed back towards the Island of Lanai.

Maui Adventure Cruises: Captain and Guest

Maui Adventure Cruises: Captain and Guest

In a few minutes, we arrived at the first snorkel spot. The water was a little rougher than Jill liked and she thought another snorkel spot might be better. After letting us know that a better option was just a few minutes up the coast, Jill piloted the raft to the other snorkel spot. That’s the thing about Lanai Dolphin Adventure Cruises: they know all the snorkel spots.

She was absolutely right. The second snorkel spot was really calm and the water was very clear. We could sea the bottom and all the fish in between. We had about half an hour or forty-five minutes to swim, snorkel, or relax on the boat. For inexperienced snorkelers, Rob held a quick and informative class on the proper techniques for wearing the mask, breathing through the snorkel, and using the fins so as not to become to tired.

I put on my mask and climbed down the ladder on the back of the boat. There, I sat down and put on my swim fins. It’s easier to put on and take off the fins here rather than try to climb up or down the ladder wearing them.

Once in the water, I had plenty of time to swim around. The visibility was very clear and there was a lot to see. I saw dozens of fish of many sizes and colors. The water was so clear I could see the bottom and the shells, rocks, and sand. After about twenty minutes or so, I started to get a little tired and headed back to the boat.

I climbed up the ladder and took my fins off when I got to the top. I had already taken off my mask. I returned to my seat and stowed all the gear back on the boat. I toweled off, found my glasses, and sat down to relax.

Snacks and drinks were available for any of us who were hungry or thirsty. I wasn’t, so I decided to wait to eat until lunch. I took the time to talk with some of the other guests. Most of the time, all the people on trips like these turn out to be very friendly and fun to talk with. I enjoy hearing stories about what brings people to Maui and how many times they visit. For many of the guests this wasn’t their first trip to Maui and many of them have been on Maui Adventure Cruises before. Definitely a good sign that they have so many return visitors.

After everyone was back on the raft and snacks and drinks had been had, Jill took us to our next destination: snorkel spot #2. This was really snorkel spot #3, because snorkel spot #1 had been the new and improved snorkel spot.

(Since both snorkel spots were similar, let’s fast forward through this second snorkel spot and get started on lunch.)

After we were finished snorkeling at our second spot, we returned to the raft and found lunch waiting for us. Lunch consisted of turkey wraps (or veggie by request), chips, pineapple, and cookies. Unlimited soft drinks and water were also available.

The turkey wraps were very good with a nice balance of turkey, cheese, and veggies. I really liked them and had two. I heard several people commenting about the dressing: mixed reviews. The chips were Maui Style Maui Onion Chips or Maui Style Potato Chips; the pineapple was fresh and cut into bite-sized pieces; and the cookies were chocolate chip and tasted homemade. A very nice spread considering the limited amount of space available on the raft. True confession: I ate two cookies. I thought they were very good.

After we finished eating and drinking, the crew asked us to settle back into our seats and get ready to head back. Our captain, Jill made a few announcements ending with, “Remember that this is an Adventure.” And we took off after some big waves on the way back to Maui. We didn’t head directly towards Maui, it was more in the direction of Kahoolawe, in search of waves, dolphins, and adventure. Did I mention waves?

Jill piloted the boat right into some rough water with lots of waves and lots of fun. I imagine if anyone on board was sensitive or subject to motion sickness that this would not be very pleasant. Everyone on board seemed to really enjoy it. I, myself, thought it was fantastic!

The part of the trip definitely lived up to the name: Maui Adventure Cruises.

After about half an hour or so we turned towards Maui and began our voyage home.
Just before we reached Lahaina Harbor, Jill stopped the raft and let us know that this was going to be our last chance to swim before we docked. Keep in mind that we had already returned our snorkel gear. The water was incredibly blue and clear. When Rob (and yes, that’s his real name) asked if I was joining in. My response came in the form of me jumping into the water. It was a spur of the moment decision and I am 100% sure I made the right choice.

We swam around for a bit before returning back to the boat and the end of our adventure.

As we headed back to Lahaina Harbor, I asked Rob if he was serious about the answers he gave earlier, especially the one about dolphins spinning in the air to dry off. He smiled at me and began explaining more about how dolphins (and humpback whales that visit Maui from December to May) have demonstrated behavior in the wild that is studied by scientists all over the world. He continued expounding about the many reasons scientists have speculated to explain this behavior.

I listened quietly waiting for the answer. Rob finally offered the answer I was waiting for when he explained that dolphins do indeed spin in order to dry off. He further explained that the dolphins don’t stay dry for very long.

We cruised back to slip #11 at Lahaina Harbor and prepared to disembark.

We offered the crew a token of our appreciation (a generous tip) and thanked them for showing us such a great time. I can’t wait to go again.

Maui Adventure Cruises
94 Kupuohi Street
Emerald Plaza, Unit A-6
Lahaina, Hawaii 96761

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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