Editor’s Note: Today we have another shore excursion from Louise Mullen from her recent visit to Disney’s Aulani. Thanks again Louise for a fantastic review!
We met in the lobby of Aulani for our van ride to the marina where we were to meet up with the catamaran. There was a little bit of a holdup over, of all things, towels…A bit of confusion over who wanted to sit where in the vans. These were no big deal, small hiccups. This excursion was run by a private tour company in conjunction with Adventures by Disney. The van drive was less than a half hour drive to get to the marina. We were greeted and our shoes were stored in a bin on the dock. So it was a “barefoot cruise”. Once on board the crew did introductions and the mandatory safety check. We were told the dos and don’ts of the restrooms, and where the life vests were stored etc.
After leaving the marina, they raised the sail and we sailed north for about an hour. During this time drinks were served. They had an assortment of beers, wines, soft drinks, and something they called a “Catatonic”. It was a tasty rum, coconut and pineapple juice concoction that if you drank too many, well, thus the name. We enjoyed the beautiful shoreline scenery along the way to the snorkel site. There was a ukulele player that sang and some of us sang along. He apparently was well known for this and played at hotels and clubs. The crew told us they could “almost guarantee” for us to see green sea turtles. I was getting excited!
When we got to the snorkel site, the crew had us gear up and gave us more instructions regarding not touching, grabbing, or riding the turtles and to stay at least five feet away from them. We gathered and swam to the particular area that is known as a cleaning station for the turtles. It took a bit of time, because the water was murky and the turtles were rather deep in the water before we saw them. But we did see three large ones and one smaller one. There were several fish swimming closely to, and with the turtles, as they were eating parasites and algae off the turtles. About every twenty minutes or so, the turtles have to come up to the surface for air, so this was when the fun began. We were all very excited to see these creatures up close, so it was all elbows and fins until the turtle swam back down to continue its cleaning.
After the snorkel and the gear was piled in the proper areas, we were served a hearty lunch while we returned to the marina. They had Hawaiian Pulled Pork, Tuna Salad, and a cold cut assortment. There were also salad fixings, a Penne Pasta Salad and Hawaiian bread for “dessert”. More drinks were passed around. It was quite satisfying after the swim.
On the return sail, the sun had moved across the sky. It shed its light differently than the sail out. There were gorgeous views of the sun shine and shadows playing against the hills, mountains and valleys. Some of the arid mountains were void of vegetation, while many others inland had lush rainforest vegetation. This difference made spectacular views and photo opportunities on the way back.
We felt like the value of this excursion was a good value. The cost of food is quite expensive in Hawaii. We could have all we wanted to eat or drink, but there was only so much time… The only thing I felt a bit cheated on was the turtles. And that may sound odd because we did see them and they came up very close to us. I felt we may just happen upon the turtles while looking at the fish and the coral. In reality, we were snorkeling in such a deep and somewhat murky area, that we could not discern coral from rocks, saw no coral up close and not too many fish, either. I realize I may be the only person on this excursion that feels this way, but that is my personal opinion. I came across a turtle while I was snorkeling by myself and that seemed like a much cooler experience for me. All of that being said, we enjoyed ourselves immensely, but we would probably want to try a different snorkel sail, or a sunset dinner cruise next time.