What can I say?? this excursion not only exceeded all expectations but fell nothing short of excellence from beginning to end.
This particular trip with Pacific Whale Foundation was recommended to us by the concierge in our hotel at the Sugar Beach Resort, mainly because they have a ‘kids go free’ policy which made this more cost effective than other excursions. What I subsequently found out on our trip though is that the money raised from adult visitor tickets enables the PWF not only to continue its extensive research into dolphins and whales but enables them to take 1000’s of school children out on trips each year and to educate them about the ocean and the life within.
This is an organisation which very genuinely cares about marine life and the protecting our oceans. This was clearly exhibited through every member of staff.
Before we even boarded the boat we were given a safety briefing and instructions by a crew member. There was also the opportunity to rent go-pro cameras for $40 if you so wished.
Then we were all welcomed aboard and a photographer took pictures of everyone as they boarded. I must admit having travelled so much I have got a little bit sick of everyone trying to sell photos on every trip or attraction we ever go to, so I didn’t purchase ours. however I understand that it provides another valuable revenue stream for the PWF.
As we got onboard the boat at around 7.45am everyone was issued snorkels, masks and fins. All the equipment seemed to be clean and in excellent condition. A little later a crew member also came round to check everyone’s equipment fitted properly. Wetsuit jackets were also available for hire at $10 each, I took advance of this for both Cameron and I as it a) assists buoyancy in the water b) keeps you warmer in the ocean.
As we pulled out of the harbour at 8am a light breakfast was served consisting of fruit, banana bread and a pastry. Water was also served at breakfast in recycled paper cups, this is where all visitors were given their first challenge for the day – try and keep the same cup for the whole day, do not throw them away in between beverages as it cuts down on waste. We were also given a reminder about not using plastic straws, something I have become a little OCD about since we started travelling!! (I am also now the proud owner of a metal straw which comes in a bamboo container…also purchased at the PWF shop!)
The sail out to the island of Lanai took around 1.45 hrs and the scenery of the rugged shoreline was truly spectacular. The greatest delight was seeing several pods of dolphins surrounding the boat, and as we gazed and gasped at these magnificent spinner dolphins a crew member gave a very informative commentary about them. The dolphins are monitored and recorded every time they are seen as part of PWF’s ongoing research and apparently it was estimated that we saw around 150 of them yesterday in various pods. They literally surrounded the boat which was absolutely incredible.
Sadly we had to later sail away and leave the dolphins as we made our way towards the west coast of Lanai for our snorkel. On route one of the marine scientists also gave a very interesting talk about what we were likely to see beneath the ocean and told us a little about the coral and the fish inhabiting these waters.
Once we reached the west coast of Lanai, the captain gave everyone an in-depth briefing about snorkelling (it wasn’t compulsory but I think virtually everyone onboard stayed to listen to him). I have been snorkelling for over 20 years in many places around the world and I have never heard such a great briefing, even as a reasonably experienced snorkeler I learnt things I never knew before.
I have found that virtually every other snorkel trip I have ever been on it has been a case of “there’s your mask and snorkel, there’s the ocean – now off you go”. PWF was different and really went out of their was to ensure that everyone got the most beneficial time out of their snorkelling.
Whilst in the water the crew also acted as lifeguards and were on hand sitting on surfboards to offer any help or advice which was needed.
We saw an abundance of coral and coloured fish in the water although sadly no turtles, others apparently also saw eels and lobsters although we personally missed those too.
After well over an hours snorkelling it was back on the boat for lunch where we served either chicken, hotdogs or veggie burgers, served with accompaniments of salads and bread. The first drink from the bar was also included.
On our sail back towards Maui we encountered the spinner dolphins for a second time, it was just magnificent and a day we will never forget. Further informative commentary was given about the surrounding islands and also a short trivia quiz to ensure the information we had been given during the day actually sunk in!
We arrived back in Lahaina harbour around 1pm, making the entire excursion around 5hrs.
Not only was the trip very enjoyable, it was also extremely educational too and led by a crew who are obviously passionate about the work they do and go out of their way to educate you as well as entertain you. As a world schooling mum this had the big ‘thumbs up’ from me.
To see our short video of our dolphins watching experience then click here.
To book an excursion with PACIFIC WHALE FOUNDATION or to find out more about their work, visit their website: www.pacificwhale.org
or facebook page: Pacific Whale Foundation
Now if there was just one negative point about the day it was that I got hideous sunburnt (I am adding this solely for advice and not a complaint). I have just spent 4 months in tropical climates and have been out on various boat trips but this was the first time I have got burnt. The only difference being that this is the also the first time I have used ‘reef friendly’ sunscreen. I was really keen to use it having learnt to damage that chemicals from regular sunscreens are doing to the corals. I am sure not everyone had the same reaction that I did, but the picture below speaks for itself 🦞! My advice if you have sensitive skin – use reef friendly sunscreen before getting in the water and cover up if you need to, once out of the water then reapply a regular sunscreen which would appear to give a lot more protection. Thankfully Cameron was wearing his regular factor 100 and didn’t burn at all.