snorkeling honolua bay on ocean spirit: pacific whale foundation’s adventure

PWF_honoluaRecently on a mid-week school holiday, I had the chance to grab my daughter Maile and “play hooky” aboard the Ocean Spirit, Pacific Whale Foundation’s newest custom designed 65’ luxury sailing catamaran to experience their adventure along the coast to Honolua Bay.

We arrived to check in about 6:15am at the Pacific Whale Foundation store at 612 Front Street right in the heart of Lahaina Town. We strolled through Banyan Tree park and at this early hour, Lahaina was such a calm, cool, quiet place. The heat had not started to rear it’s head quite yet!

We were invited aboard Ocean Spirit by the friendly Captain and crew and a yummy breakfast spread was ready and available with fresh bagels, croissants, fresh tropical fruits and hot coffee, tea and fruit juice. While we are noshing, the Captain gives a quick and thorough briefing about the boat and soon we are off, heading up the coast towards Ka‘anapali Resort.

Ocean Spirit is a beauty, she has loads of amenities like an onboard barbecue, small water slide, three swim ladders for easy water entry, a full bar complete with beer and soft drinks on tap, a beautiful teak dining table, teak interior decking, his and her air-conditioned bathrooms, padded seating and a nice sound system.

As we cruise along West Maui’s amazing coastline I take a minute to just soak it up and remember why we live here! The West Maui mountains look so serene and the sun is peeking over to start to warm up our day.

After a short motor up the coast, we arrive at the breathtaking waters of Honolua Bay. The crew was quick to suit us up in premium snorkel gear and fins. All of the gear seemed to be nearly brand new and they were very helpful fitting everyone including offering flotation devices for those interested. For guests who had never snorkeled or who wanted a refresher course, the crew held an informative “learn to snorkel” class.

There are also wet suit tops for rent and underwater camera rentals for those who want to get some water shots.

Once we suited up we hopped on the short waterslide at the back of the boat and plunged into the clear blue water. Maile and I were lucky to swim with many schools of fish, and two large honu and a keiki were spotted nearby relaxing on the bottom of the reef.

After a nice snorkel at Honolua we climbed aboard using the very easy step ladder at the stern and headed to another reef just adjacent to Honolua where a six-man Outrigger canoe was anchored, we had another chance to snorkel there and play in the clear blue Pacific.

After a fresh water rinse, we warmed up and helped ourselves to a tasty all-you-can-eat barbeque lunch spread with choices of: kalua pork sandwiches, hot dogs, veggie burgers, potato macaroni salad, cole slaw, cucumber salad, and some sweet treats for dessert.

After snorkeling there were tropical cocktails, champagne, wine and draft beer available for guests over 21 years of age.

At that point the kids were gathered with a Pacific Whale Foundation marine naturalist to play a game of trivia and learn about marine wildlife and Maui’s environment. They each received a “Junior Naturalist” program certificate and took home a nice booklet. The scavenger hunt was a big hit for Maile and her new friends! These extra touches make this trip a great family adventure, and the parents (including me!) really appreciated the time to sit back and relax with a cold drink on the return trip.

As soon as we hit the wind line, the sails were up and Maui’s tradewinds helped us back for a wet and exciting sail back to Lahaina.

–allyson mattox



Pacific Whale Foundation’s Honolua Bay Snorkel, a wonderful day aboard Ocean Spirit, a 65’ custom designed luxury sailing catamaran. Includes breakfast, barbecue lunch, soft drinks. Cocktails, champagne, beer and wine are available for guests over 21 years.


Lahaina Harbor to Honolua Bay.


Offered daily from 7am to 1pm.


Call 249-8811 or visit the website at

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