The day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday in the U.S. we were up at 2am but it wasn’t to hit the big sales! It was to get picked up to go see the sunrise at the top of Mt. Haleakala!! We had about 4 hours of sleep and I questioned this event/activity when the alarm went off!! We bundled up and were met outside of our hotel by the Maui Downhill driver/guide. We then picked up another couple and headed to their headquarters to sign waivers, have a very small snack and coffee and get our helmets and windbreakers. Another van with two other couples and a family of four joined us as well.
We then loaded up into one van and hit the road. When going up the mountain the road is extremely winding and the guides mentioned people get car sick sometimes and they can pull over if we felt queezy. We made it to the top of the mountain around 4am. We then had to wait for the sunrise to creep over the mountain peek and the clouds. There is a small visitors center at the top that didn’t open that morning till about 5-5:15am.
It is very important to know-ITS COLD AT THE TOP! Make sure you pack a sweatshirt or something very warm! I can’t believe how cold and windy it was up there. I am from Wisconsin and it felt like a winter day at home. Honestly I would guess it was about 35 degrees with 30-50 mph wind gusts! We took a few photos but sadly it was not a clear day and the clouds really started to whipping up at sunrise so we didn’t get the perfect sunrise we hoped for.
Everyone got back in the van and they drive you down just a few minutes to an unload spot on the side of the road to get the bikes off the van and go over the rules (maintain a certain distance to the rider in front of you, stay in your lane, try to keep up and what not). The van stayed behind us all the way down to block traffic from speeding too close to us as they pass. They line us up by gender and then by height. So ladies in the front and men in the back. I was the biggest/tallest male so I had the last spot in the line.
The last time I rode a bike was about a year ago and so here we are on these unfamiliar bikes and its all down hill and twisty roads. I have never rode so fast on a bike in my life! Haha! It took some getting used to going about 25-30MPH and it felt too fast at first especially going into the corners! About ten minutes later they stopped to check on us all and the leader told me to try to keep up!!! wow! I guess I was the laggard of the group. I understand now why they give you full on motorcycle helmets as opposed to just normal bike helmets because you are going fast and if you hit the pavement head first the motorcycle helmet could be a life saver!
Half way down we stopped to take some pictures and take a quick rest. There is really no pedaling as its all downhill so don’t expect to get a workout on this trip. After that we stopped at a small restaurant and some of the folks on the tour got breakfast (that they had to pay for). There is no full breakfast provided or paid for by Downhill Maui aside from small snacks before you leave and when you get back. The whole bike ride was maybe only about 90 minutes if I remember correctly and about 45 of that actually riding on the bike. All in all it was a great way to see Maui and get some terrific views of the island. I was happy we did it but its one of those things I probably wouldn’t need to do again but if your into bike riding and don’t mind getting up at 2am then I would tell you to go for it!!
Here are some pictures below however it was hard to get good shots with the lighting.
The following day we took a boat ride to Molokini to snorkel! It is somewhat rare for us to snorkel off shore and be in deeper waters so this was exciting! I was somewhat nervous as just a few days prior there was a shark attack right by our hotel when we were laying by the beach!!
We woke up early again to be at the boat landing before 7am. We took the RedlineRafting company per recommendation from our concierge. Since the boat is so small they can only take about 16-20 people max and they are the only company to be able to snorkel behind or on the backside of Molokini. On arrival we checked in and signed our waivers and were sized up for wetsuits (I was the only one not to wear a wetsuit of the group). I asked the captain of the raft if he has seen any sharks and he said no and maybe on a rare occasion a whitetip and they are harmless. The other redline employee on our boat was a girl and she was actually a diver that went in the water with us for help or questions. Both employees were great and the girl was a fellow Wisconsinite! We loaded up and took a nice ride from the shore to Molokini with some Hawaiian music playing on the boat.
My wife got her wetsuit on and we popped on our googles and snorkel and in we jumped! However I was one of the last ones to jump in to make sure there were no screams for help! 🙂 Anyhow, the water was very warm and it felt great (no wet suite needed)!! The scenery and coral was really amazing! I started to kind of float around with my wife enjoying the ocean life. Out of the corner of my eye I see something fairly large, grey, and somewhat circular. To me it looked like a shark coming straight ahead about 150 feet away. I immediately scream (it is possible to scream underwater and be heard) and without hesitation freestyle back to the boat AS FAST AS I COULD!! I actually kicked out of my flippers!!! The captain of the raft asked what happened and why I came back so fast. I told him I saw something underwater in between trying to catch my breath!!! I said it was big! The whole time my wife is like “WTH” is going on?! The captain tried to assure me nothing big comes around or inside the Molokini crescent. Whats funny is there was an Indian couple that still had not gone in the water yet and I think I really freaked them out!!! Anyhow I looked around and realized everyone else was still peacefully swimming! I told the captain I am going to jump back in and stick my head under to confirm what I saw. When I came back up I confirmed to the captain what I actually saw was the circular anchor and felt really dumb!!! My wife loves telling this story now and one of my brother-in-laws says I have to watch out for those anchor sharks LOL!! I did eventually get back in for 20-30 minutes.
We snorkeled the inside of Molokini for maybe 30 minutes and everyone was back on the boat. We then circled around to the back side of Molokini to snorkel. I decided to sit this one out and my wife and the others jumped in. There was a woman who got sea sick and vomited off the side of raft as everyone was snorkeling on the other side! We spent about 20-30 minutes on this side before heading in closer to shore.
We stopped at our 3rd snorkel spot for about 15 minutes and I was able to have the captain take some pictures of us out on the water.
Our 4th and final snorkel spot again closer to shore was an area where we could swim with the turtles. I was looking forward to floating around with them and getting a close up look!! About half of the passengers jumped in to start the snorkel and I was just about to jump in when we heard something over the boat radio. It was the coastguard and I heard “confirmed fatal shark attack close to little beach!” Immediately the 2 Redline staff calmly told the people that just jumped in to come back onto the boat. I said to my wife they’re moving damn slow and if they heard what we heard they would be on the boat by now!!! Anyhow the captain confirmed about 15 minutes prior and about 100 yards away from where we were a person was attacked. It turns out sadly that a gentleman was fishing on his kayak with his legs hanging over the kayak and apparently a tiger shark bit his leg off and he died of blood loss.
Well that was the end of snorkeling!!! Since we had time left on our trip they were nice enough to take the boat back out to deeper water to go whale watching! They saw the first whale of the season just a day or two prior they stated. Sure enough we did get to see several wales! However we didn’t get very close to them and we had to stay 100 yards away per regulations. We saw them come up for air and saw some of their tails as they went back down for a deep dive! It’s hard to get a good picture of the whales because you don’t know exactly where they will surface.
After about 20 minutes of chasing whales we headed back to shore. There were several police cars and uniformed officers as we were told the ambulance had just removed the shark attack victim from that location earlier (very sad). I will say overall this was a great excursion and I would actually look forward to trying this again. We had a lot of fun and my wife was very impressed by the colors and the ocean out at Molokini!!! Plenty of photos below!
We had a great time! Hope you enjoyed! Let me know if you have any questions about the snorkel excursion .