Friday, April 20, 2012

Kihei Deep Water Aerobics with Sara Zfit is Alive and Well

It has been four years since I first attended Sara Zfit's deep water aerobics at the Kihei Aquatic Center in Maui.  Since then the class has grown considerably and Sara has added music to the workout which makes it even more fun than before.  She also now has a mic system so noone has any problems hearing the instructions for each exercise. Classes are every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30 to 11:30. Everyone is welcome from locals, to visitors to snowbirds so it is interesting to meet people from all over the world.
Sara Zfit and her Deep Water Aerobics Class
  For people who want a more intense workout, with fewer people, Sara now offers an advanced class every Wednesday from 11:45 to 12:20, right after the regular class.

A sampling of regulars at the Advanced Class
Sara with Sunny (her substitute instructor)
Read about Five Good Reasons to attend Sara Zfit's Deep Water Aerobics Classes.

The Kihei Aquatic Center is located at the top of Lipoa street in Central Kihei.  Fee for the classes are by donation, as Sara does not get paid for this by the county.  Suggested donation is $5.00 per class.

Sara Zfit is also a certified personal trainer and a certified group fitness instructor.  She gives personal training sessions at her home based gym, and instructs belly dancing, a Chi Stretch Class and a Silver Chi Fit class at the new Exergy35 Fitness Studio in the Island Sands Building on South Kihei Road.

For more information visit Sara Zfit's Blog.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Pride of Maui Morning Snorkeling Excursion to Molokini and Turtle Town

Last week I was back on the Pride of Maui for the morning Molokini Snorkeling Excursion.  My sister Syl was visiting from Canada and we were longing for a special adventure together during her stay. It was a no- brainer to choose the Pride of Maui because I had already experienced two great trips with them.  It is Maui's largest most stable maxi power catamaran which is a good quality when you are out on the wide ocean with sometimes unpredictable conditions.
We were up bright and early to arrive for the 7:30 check in at Maalaea Harbor and received the usual hearty welcome from the crew.

After finding a seat on the upper deck we made our way below for a wonderful continental breakfast of coffee, juice, fruit, homemade muffins and fresh croissants with jam. Yum!

On the way out to Molokini Captain Scott told us that the crescent shaped island is actually a volcanic crater which is partly submerged in the water. It is an underwater sanctuary for marine life and the island itself is an uninhabited seabird sanctuary. We started to get excited when he told us that the visibility can be to 150 feet and there are 250 species of fish to be seen.
The Pride of Maui crew was very busy getting us ready for our Molokini snorkel adventure and made sure that our masks and fins fit just right. We had an option to rent wetsuit tops for $10 and Syl and I decided that it would be a good idea to make sure we kept warm.
The trip also included an option to try snuba and crew member Kiwini, who is also a captain, gave a presentation telling us all about it. Snuba is a hybrid between scuba and snorkeling and anyone can try it as long as they are eight years old or older. Instead of carrying a heavy tank on your back, you breathe through a device on a hose which is attached to an air tank on a raft that floats on the surface.  Dive master James was also on board for anyone who wanted to scuba dive.  Of course you have to be a certified diver for that.

Dive Master James

Kiwini telling us all about snuba
Ryan was the official photographer for the trip and was in charge of renting out underwater digital cameras which you can use in the water or out.  He offered a package which allowed you to be part of a video of the experience and also to receive your very own CD of photographs which he takes throughout the day, both underwater and on deck. Syl and I thought it would be fun to rent the camera and capture our own shots.
Finally we arrived at Molokini and Captain Scott gave a snorkeling lesson to anyone who wanted it, while the boat was being secured.

Captain Scott gives a snorkeling lesson
When we were given the okay to enter the water, crew members Amy and Carlos were right there to help us defog our masks and to lend a helping hand if needed.

After Syl and I splashed in and got our bearings we were amazed at how crystal clear the water was.   We saw lots of different and colourful fish (well maybe not quite 250 species) and the coral was so pretty.  We managed to get quite a few good pics with our rented camera.
While the rafts floated on the surface, Ryan was busy taking photos of the people who had chosen to do snuba. It looked like a lot of fun.

Snuba Rafts with Oxygen

Snuba at Molokini Crater
We snorkeled at Molokini for around an hour and then it was back on the ship for everyone.  Scotty, our chef for the day was busy barbequing burgers, hotdogs and chicken for lunch. We were ravenous after snorkeling so we both chose the cheese burger. We also had a delicious pasta salad and raw veggies with ranch dip. Many mahalos to Scotty for the great lunch.  Carlos was his side kick helping dole out the food.

Over lunch I enjoyed chatting to the Sander family from Chicago. Nine year old Eric said he thought Molokini was awesome and that it was pretty cool to see a real reef and all the colourful fish. He said that he dove down to look at the sea urchins more closely. He and his brother William were looking forward to trying snuba at our next stop. Six year old Katie said she loved snorkeling and saw black, yellow and blue fish.

Julie and Reinhard Sander with William, Eric and Katie

Now we were on our way to Turtle Town off Makena beach for our second snorkeling location.  On the way we spotted quite a few whales doing their thing, an extra bonus on our trip. Unfortunately we weren't quick enough to get any whale photos.

Turtle Town - looking towards Makena Beach
Julie Sander tries snuba with her son Eric
When we got to Turtle Town, Captain Scott showed us where the reefs and caves were so we would swim to the best spots to find turtles.  I swam over a very pretty reef, but had no luck seeing any turtles. Syl said she saw the biggest one she has ever seen in her life, and many other people were lucky. Crew member Takako was out sitting on a raft to help point out the turtles to us.
Green Sea Turtle - compliments of Ryan

The reef was so pretty
After a while it got a bit rough and wavy so we headed back to the ship.  Life guards Scotty (also chef and bar tender) and Takako were making sure that everyone was safe. The Pride of Maui has warm showers and it felt good to wash off the salt water once we were back on the boat.
As we got underway again to head back to Maalaea Harbour the bar opened and Takako came around offering us all some cookies, a welcome treat after all that swimming. There was an open bar and you could choose from juice, soft drinks, wine, beer on tap or Mai -Tais.  Syl and I toasted this wonderful day with a nice glass of white wine.

Takako offers us cookies

Captain Scott
 I had a chat with Captain Scott and he told me that he started as a crew member on the Pride of Maui 25 years ago and now he is not only a captain but the general manager for the business. Syl and I were really impressed at how fun, friendly and helpful the crew were during the whole excursion.

Crew members Amy and Carlos

Carlos with First Mate Reed

On the trip back we chatted with the Owen family, also from Chicago.  They had two children under the age of seven so I asked them how The Pride of Maui snokeling tour was for people with a young family. Matthew said that they were happy with the trip and they really liked the fact that the boat was so roomy and stable. They said that the staff were very helpful with the kids, and they appreciated that flotation devices were available for anyone who needed them. His wife Nancy commented that they were both able to enjoy the snorkeling locations by taking turns being with their children Clara and Ellis.  Matthew mentioned that you needed to be a fairly competent swimmer to do this trip, espcially at turtle town where it can get a little rough.

Matthew and Julie Owen with kids Clara and Ellis
Ryan showed us the video he had taken throughout the day starring everyone on board who had paid for the video option.

 Sylvia and I can't say enough good things about our Pride of Maui Snorkel Trip and we took home many memories of the special time we had together. The boat is always a treat to be on, and the ultra friendly staff made it so enjoyable. Not to mention the great food, warm showers and all the options they offer you to upgrade your experience. We were both very happy that we rented the wet suit because the water was a bit chilly. Also I really feel the cold so it was perfect for me. Oh, I forgot to mention that part of the ship has a glass bottom so if you didn't want to go in the water, you could still see the marine life that was under the boat.

As we approached Maalaea Harbor we felt a little sad that our adventure was over, but we knew our memories of The Pride of Maui Molokini Excursion would last forever.  It's a hui hou for me because I know I'll be back on the Pride of Maui sometime in the future.

For more information and to book an excursion visit the Pride of Maui website. You get a discount if you book online.