01 December 2011

Maui 2011 - Molokini Back Wall

I was back to Maui for more diving a year later.  I enjoyed Lahaina Divers in 2010 so I booked with them again.  This year I only did one day of diving and I chose two locations I did not dive last time.

The first two dives were at Molokini Crater but not quite the normal routine of diving inside the shallow crater like so many beginning divers and snorkelers do.  We cruised around to the backwall, outside the crater.  Here's the description from Lahaina Divers website.  "An advanced dive, the Molokini Wall is a World Class Wall and Drift dive for certified divers only. The Wall is approximately 360ft in depth, however divers will level off at 80ft or less. You may see white tip, black tip, and/or gray reef sharks; manta rays, dolphins, and schooling fish. This is a very exciting dive for the sheer, vertical wall and blue water. Divers should have recent diving experience, good buoyancy control, and be good on air consumption. This dive site is not suitable for snorkelers. This dive requires each diver to carry a dive computer and a safety marker sausage."  The boat was not crowded.  We had two groups of about 5 to 6 people each with 1 dive instructor/guide for each.  The boat does not anchor for this dive site.  They drop you off, stay close, and pick you up, hence the necessity for the safety surface marker sausage although we didn't need to use it this day.  The seas were calm.

The first dive was called backwall/lighthouse due to the lighthouse (not really a house, just a beacon on a pole) on the rock.  We entered off the back, as a group, and dropped to about 80 feet for most of the dive.  Here there is not as much life as there is at around the 40 foot depth but some interesting lava formations.  Molokini Crater is an old cindercone.  There was little to no current on this first dive.  The current flows from North to South and we were at the Southern most point.  Keep your eyes on the open blue water as well as the wall.  I saw at least one white tip reef shark out there.  We dropped down to about 80 feet, swam along the wall and ascended back through the 40 foot "fish" zone to our safety stop.  During the safety stop we were instructed to kick away from the wall, out into open water for the boat to pick us up.  There are times when the boat cannot pull in to close to the rock due to surge/wind and the fact that the captain has to turn the props off while divers are climbing aboard.  Even with 60 plus feet of visibility you lose sight of the rock quick and feel as though you've kicked dangerously far out to sea, blue in all directions, only to find upon surfacing that you've just made it half way to the boat, barely 100 feet from the wall.

They repositioned the boat and moored at "Reef's End" just inside the crater for our surface interval.  We sat, peacefully gazing at Maui and the crater while the crew treated us to a vegetable crudite, fruit and sandwiches.

For Dive 2 we all hopped off at Reef's End and swam to the outside of the crater where the current picked us up and pulled us back towards the Back Side/Lighthouse.  This was a true drift dive, maybe even a little faster then drifts I did in Cozumel.  Highlighting the dive were least two more whitetip reef sharks, one of which was resting in the reef, and a stone crab.  Exit procedures were the same as for dive one.