Spent the last 10 days in Maui (Pictures), with no internet connection. This a a computer-free post.  

6/25 Blue Water Rafting

This morning, we went on a charter boat operated by Blue Water Rafting. This was a trip in a small, 7-person Zodiac-like craft. The boat left from Kihei Boat Ramp (definitely an advantage if you're staying in Kihei), and we journeyed south to the most recent lava flows (circa 1790). We spent a lot of time very close to the lava or inside some caves at the side.

The trip included 5 stops for snorkling, including 4 sites on the west shore and the obligatory trip to Molokini. Molokini is the top of a cinder cone with a reef on the inside, and part of the cinder cone under water. It is the #1 snorkling destination on Maui. This mostly because it's fairly big and can support a lot of boats, but there are better places to journey to. It does have the advantage of being fairly sheltered, and the reef is pretty.

Advantages:
1) You rent the boat, you choose where it goes.
2) Spend time where you want.
3) Nobody else goes close to the lava flow.
4) Snorkel with Dolphins (if you're lucky), or off the backside of Molokini.
5) Captains know where the fish and the turtles are.

Disadvantages
1) Ride is very rough (the rafting moniker is deserved)
2) Breakfast and lunch are limited (muffins/fruit, sandwiches)
3) Expen$ive. For the 6 person boat for 5 1/2 hours, you will pay $800. That's helicopter tour territory.

6/25 Canon Waterproof Camera Housing

I got my wife a waterproof housing housing for her Canon A20 camera (about $150). You put the camera in it, seal it up, and it has controls on the outside. The display might as well be off, and it's hard to look through the viewfinder, so I had my best luck pointing and shooting. It helps immensely if you can surface dive, as the fish are often 15 or 20 feet down. A nice option, especially since waterproof housings for my G3 cost around $800.

6/26 Snorkling at the Fishbowl. Or, perhaps the aquarium. We're not sure.

On the advice of our captain, Kim and I and my sister and brother in law decide to snorkel at the "fishbowl". It's near Ahihi marine preserve (also a great place to snorkel), but to get there you have to a) find the trailhead and b) hike for 30 minutes across the lava field. Not as bad as it sounds.

Once we get there, we find out that this is now a destination for sea kayak tours. 3 boats when we get in there, which isn't bad, but another 20 arrive when we're snorkling, which means avoiding them and the 40 people who don't really know how to snorkel. The four of us go outside the bay, and Kim and I see a turtle, but that's about it. We come back in, dry off, and hike back another 30 minutes to the car. Not really better than Ahahi.

6/26 Canon Waterproof Camera Housing (redux)

Used the waterproof housing again today. My wife and I conspired together, which is never a good thing. If I had prepared the camera, it would have been fine, and if she had done it the way she wanted, it would have been fine, but unfortunately, she did what I had said, and left the carry strap on, but didn't get it tucked in sufficiently. The housing worked fine for about 10 minutes, but then I got it down about 3 feet, and it quickly filled with water.  I did all the the right things (kept it wet, soaked in in fresh water for a long time to get all the salt out), but the camera is DOA right now. I may try cleaning it more once I get home, but it's probably a goner. Sigh. Off to EBay...

6/26 Kinston Technology 128MB Compact Flash Card

Despite the warning on the back that says, "do not bend this card or expose it to strong physical or electrical shocks, water, solvents", the compact flash card from the camera survived immersion in salt water fine, and I was able to pull 12 pictures off of it. It's a bit like looking at the images of the Challenger before it exploded and knowing that something bad is going to happen, as you can see a bit of fog on some pictures, and then the last picture has droplets inside the lens.

6/29 Maui Thoughts

Maui is certainly a wonderful place. The weather in Kihei (and presumably, also in Kanapali) is perfect - not too hot, not too cool.

Unfortunately, it appears that everybody in the Western Hemisphere feels the same way. Despite the lack of Japanese money for the past few years, prices in Maui make San Francisco prices look cheap. We're in a 900 sq. ft. one bedroom condo a block from the beach, with what is technically known in real estate circles as a water view (ie the water can be seen if you lean out over the railing). A similar unit in this building with no view is going for $200K. The place where we stayed last time (Hale Hui Kai), a condo on the water, one of the units is selling for $750K. Or, you can buy a large house 3 blocks from the beach for $800K. Oh, and if you have a condo, you also have a maintenance fee of $300 a month.