Ocean Riders Maui are a special outfit. They:
- are the only snorkel tour to circumnavigate Lanai
- leave from Lahaina, Maui
- operate a small boat with a limited number of guests
- pack a great lunch
- really, really know what they’re doing
We just simply rave about Ocean Riders when we talk about snorkeling tours in Hawaii. Put it like this, if you’re staying on Maui, and want the ultimate snorkel day-trip, we’ll always point you to Ocean Riders. Oh, and you get to go to another island too. Win.
If you’re the adventurous type, looking to find crystal-clear waters where no one else is snorkelling, for the whole day, then here’s why we think Ocean Riders are going to the top of your options list …
Lanai is where we’re headed for the day. The sixth largest Hawaiian island, formerly home to millions of pineapples, she is a quiet retreat from the bustle of the some of the busier spots in Hawaii.
It’s an early start. Like, crack of dawn early. We were treated to a glorious sunrise as we rolled in to Mala ramp, Lahaina.
If you’re not the early-morning sort, but you’re visiting Maui from the mainland US or Canada, or further east, then why not book this for the beginning of your vacation? You’ll most likely be up early with the jet lag anyway, what not make the most of it?
Here’s our vessel for the day. She’s small, agile, and very, very fast. The coast guard use these. There’s enough room for us and a few bits of kit, but don’t bring much with you. You’ll need sunscreen and hats and sunglasses. Leave most of the rest of it behind.
Snorkel gear is provided, and we brought our own with us.
With hot coffee in hand the cool early-mornings in Hawaii are a very special time. As the boat launches behind us we soak in the views.
That’s Molokai in the distance, catching the early morning rays.
Speaking of sunshine, when the sun climbs it burst dramatically through the tops of the West Maui Mountains. The early purples of the dawn now give way to warm oranges and yellows as the day gets under way.
And we’re getting ready to go too. Chad, our captain for the day (and Ocean Riders head man) tells us all about holding on at high speeds.
This would not be a good time for you to become distracted by dropping your sunglasses into the water [note to self]. Yes it’s smooth now, but when the boat gets up to speed you will want to hold on.
Really, really hold on!
Wil is excited to spend the day on the ocean. He knows what’s in store and has plenty to smile about.
After leaving Maui and crossing the straight to Lanai we come upon the old Liberty Ship, shipwrecked off the coast.
We pass her at speed, getting up close and staring at a vessel that although battered, has lasted through the elements for quite some time.
Correctly identified as YOGN 42, this was actually a barge, built like the Liberty Ships. She was being towed when the line between her and her tug snapped during rough weather. She beached off Lanai and has been sitting there ever since.
We continue down the coast of Lanai, past Shipwreck Beach. There are a number of shipwrecks here, which unlike the ‘Liberty Ship’ are decomposing at a rapid rate.
Right, now it’s time to swim! Our first foray off the boat, and we’ll get the chance to snorkel and then head for land to see what we can find …
There is no one else within sight of the boat, either at sea or on land. It seems that all of a sudden the hustle and bustle of life has been replaced by calm and solitude. Excellent.
The visibility here is good, like 100-feet-plus-good. No sunscreen build up in the water (we’re thinking of Black Rock, Ka’anapali right now) and the waves have been quiet, leaving the seabed undisturbed.
After splashing around we soon head for land. The prospect of swimming on to Lanai is vastly appealing and as we clamber up on the beach we confirm we are completely alone.
We’re in Hawaii, on a majestic beach, with no one else. We let that soak in for a while …
Those footsteps are our own. Those specs in the distance are our fellow snorkelers. The beach really is ours!
We swim back to the boat and get on board and soon we’re under way again, heading around the island and soon discovering sea cliffs, blow holes, and caves.
Thanks to the speed of the boat, we can get the whole way around the island in one day, plus stop multiple times to snorkel.
This boat is fast. If you’d forgotten the briefing telling you to hold on before the departure, you quickly learn the fact for yourself. The sea is calm, but the bumps are felt as we skim over it at serious pace.
Top tip – if you think you may suffer from seasickness, then take some dramamine (or similar) before you leave. When at speed the boat is pretty comfortable, but when it slows down and comes to a stop, even a little swell will make this smaller boat bob a little bit.
After another snorkel spot we pull in to Shark Fin cove, next to Shark Fin Rock. So called because the rock looks like an, erm, shark fin.
We’re promised excellent visibility here, 200 feet place. So we jump in and had straight for the rock.
The underwater visibility is remarkable The big rock towers up from the seabed and is home to many coral of different shapes and colors, which in turn attracts a lot of other marine life.
We swim around to the west side of the rock and I’m suddenly stopped in my tracks. All of a sudden it’s as if I’ve been thrown in to an aquarium. The sea is teeming with fish, they’re everywhere! It felt as if I was in the 90’s computer screensaver.
I pause underwater, memorised by what I sea. I’ve snorkelled a fair amount around Maui and neighbouring islands, but that view was a new high for me.
It’s easy to lose track of time – in fact all normal concerns really – when in this sort of environment. It is a truly majestic experience.
The fish swim slowly, paying me no attention, this way and that, just doing their thing. When I close my eyes now I can see that sight, and I smile as I recall what I was feeling at the time.
Well, at last we must return to the boat, and we head back to Maui. What a day that was. We proceed at pace, around the Lanai coastline, hugging the shore closely before swinging for Maui and making the dash across the channel back to Lahaina.
Everyone on board thoroughly enjoyed their time. Captain Chad took great care of us, with excellent snorkelling advice, Hawaiian history, an amazing deli lunch, and an easy manner which matched the stress-eliminating activities of our adventure. We landed tired, happy, relaxed and went and celebrated with a cold beer. It really was a perfect day.
Book your Lanai snorkel adventure with Ocean Riders. You won’t be disappointed!
Our Ocean Riders Snorkel Adventure in Video
We took our GoPro with us and as well as grabbing some of the photos above, we got some excellent video footage too. Enjoy!