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Exploring the North Shore | Maui.Net - All Things Maui
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Michael Elam's Maui Snorkel & Dive Guide

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Jan. 12, 2008 by Michael Elam

Exploring the North Shore

GO BOLDLY! That's the slogan of Maui's newest dive boat operator...North Shore Explorers. Have you ever wondered what reef life was like on Maui's south and west shores decades ago? Go dive with these guys...it's all still there on Maui's more remote and rugged north shore.

The only spot I have ever dived on the north shore is at Maliko Gulch which I have done many times and I have written about in a previous posting. I always wished that there was some way to visit spots further east towards Hana and north towards Kahakuloa without the need to be a Billy Goat and climb up and down the steep cliffs.

NSE can get you to these spots and more in style and in a hurry!! NSE uses the 30' Rigid-hull Inflatable Boat Pailolo (see photo), built in a special project for the Navy's Combatant Craft Department and used by the elite Special Boat Units to insert, support and extract SEALs and other Special Operations teams in "over the horizon" missions in extreme conditions. This is the boat that the Seals attach a parachute to and throw it out of airplanes!!! The Seals can't just say: "Oh, too bad the conditions aren't ideal today. We can't complete our mission." So it's the ideal vehicle for NSE to tackle Maui's often rough wind and sea conditions.

The Pailolo allows NSE to visit some famous Maui surf spots with some equally amazing diving. Paia, Ho'okipa, Pauwela and of course Peahi (aka Jaws) to name a few are easily within reach. Then there is the Po'i, Puka Maui, and some incredible caves along the way to Honamanu bay. Depending on the weather, sites around the Keanae peninsula and beyond aren't out of the question!

NSE can also take you diving to the Island of Molokai including its famous sea cliffs and the infamous Mokuho'oniki, or Elephant Rock and its bevy of dive sites are well within striking distance. Other known Maui northwest treats include Nakalele Blowhole, Kahakuloa with its amazing underwater pinnacle, and outside Waihe'e.

We departed from the Kahului boat ramp on the Pailolo and a screaming, bouncy 40 knots per hour, 40 minutes, and a whale breach later we arrived at our first dive site—Puka Maui, out past Huelo but not quite to the Keanae Peninsula. This is a spot that NSE visits regularly and it's nothing short of spectacular featuring a bevy of caves and a HUGE dramatic underwater archway!

And the quantity and variety of fish life here was outstanding... what you would expect to see at Molokini Crater! Schools of surgeonfish, Sergeant Majors, several varieties of butterflyfish swarming together with parrotfish, wrasse, and on and on—a true fishbowl! We saw a HUGE turtle sleeping in one of the caves that must have been close to 80 year old (yes, they can and do live that long). At the end of the dive a trio of large Kahala (Amberjack) swam by.

North Shore Explorers means precisely that. These guys are out to explore Maui's North Shore. Most of the Maui's northern coastline is completely inaccessible for scuba diving other than by boat. So for the second dive, NSE scouted the coastline to select a spot that looked promising. As is the case with most of Maui's North Shore, NSE had never dived at this particular spot before. We were exploring a brand new dive site!!

So we dropped in to crystal clear water at this new location somewhere along the northeast shore. I thought the fish life was great on our first dive, but it was even better here. We spotted a VERY rare Whiskered Boarfish (see photo), a HUGE Titan Scorpionfish (see photo), a couple of Bandit Angelfish (see photo), a HUGE Triton's Trumpet (see photo), eels, as well as a menagerie of other critters. I found evidence of abandoned fishing nets and line and weights, so someone is aware of the bounty available here.

Dive stats:

Dive 1
Location: Puka Maui
Maximum Depth: 65 feet
Bottom Time: 45 minutes
Visibility: 80-100 feet
Water Temp: 73°

Dive 2
Location: Who knows???
Maximum Depth: 53 feet
Bottom Time: 60 minutes
Visibility: 80-100 feet
Water Temp: 73°


"We dove with NSE for two days last week and all I can say is INCREDIBLE! The boat ride alone is worth the price of admission. These guys are top-notch and perfectly equipped to dive the rugged north shore - GO BOLDLY!! EW"

Posted by EWEB on Jan. 29, 2008

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