COURTESY TRILOGY EXCURSIONS
Trilogy Excursions' Discover Lanai Sunrise Sail includes the opportunity to immerse yourself into the ocean, taking in the undersea sights via snorkeling.
Sunrise sail to Lanai offers magic of serenity and beauty
Mornings are magical. There's an aura of serenity, innocence and freshness in the hours just after sunrise; it's as though in the dark of night, when most of us were sleeping, breezes swept away all impurities, rewarding us with a clean tableau.
This feeling of renewal seems more pronounced when you're sailing. Old salts will tell you the farther you are from shore, the more aware you are of the miracle that is nature.
Last month, my boyfriend Rick and I joined three dozen other guests aboard the 55-foot sailing catamaran Trilogy VI for Trilogy Excursions' Discover Lanai Sunrise Sail.
Daylight had just broken when we headed from Maui's Lahaina Harbor across the Auau Channel to Manele Bay on the southern coast of Lanai. The wind and sea appeared to be dozing; their movements were barely perceptible.
"I hope we see whales," I mumbled to Rick between bites of a warm cinnamon roll. Seated on the bow, we had an unobstructed view of the channel and Lanai, lying dead ahead.
Rick, an avid sailor, had crossed the channel numerous times before. "This is one of the best places in Hawaii for whale watching," he said. "We should be able to see some today."
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a woman standing on the starboard side shouted excitedly, "There's a whale out there!"
We turned just in time to see a spout of mist and part of a humpback's dark blue-gray body rising out of the water. Another blue-gray form appeared beside it. Even though they were off in the distance, we were pretty sure they were a mother and her baby.
COURTESY TRILOGY EXCURSIONS
During our leisurely 90-minute trip to Manele, we spotted a few other whales; unfortunately, they were too far away for us to get decent photos, but it was thrilling just the same. One even lifted a fin as if to wave at us.
We arrived at Manele, anticipating a full day of fun. First, we took an hour-long van tour of Lanai City, the ambitiously named center of Hawaii's smallest inhabited island.
No hustle. No bustle. As we drove through the heart of town past rows and rows of modest but tidy plantation houses, most dating back to the 1930s, it was clear life here moved at its own easygoing pace.
"This has got to be the only city in the U.S. without a single Starbucks," Rick said.
From there it was on to Hulopoe Bay Beach Park, part of the 309-acre Manele-Hulopoe Marine Life Conservation District. Trilogy has exclusive commercial access to this picturesque site, where our group swam, sunned and snorkeled for three hours.
Next came a barbecue lunch at Trilogy Excursions' private pavilion at Manele Bay, followed by the return trip to Lahaina. As Trilogy VI cruised out of Manele, dozens of spinner dolphins leaped and twirled beside the boat as if to say, "Thanks for visiting! Please come again!"
LiAnne Coon, Trilogy Excursions' director of public relations, has seen some equally amazing sights at sea. Her dad, Jim, is the company's chief executive officer, and growing up she spent much of her free time on the ocean.
Sailing off West Maui with her family to celebrate her 15th birthday, Coon recalled seeing a mother humpback and her calf breaching 100 yards away.
"At one point I thought they had swam off," she said. "Then I saw the water getting darker and darker, and I realized the whales were swimming right under our catamaran! It was breathtaking; I'll never forget that day!"
Describing the allure of sailing, Coon said, "It's as green of an activity as you can get. You become part of nature, experiencing how the ancient Polynesians traveled across the Pacific centuries ago. The sea spray, the wind, the sound of the catamaran's hulls slicing through the water -- it's a lullaby to me."
COURTESY TRILOGY EXCURSIONS
The serenity of the ocean in the morning is one of the rewards of Trilogy Excursions' Discover Lanai Sunrise Sail.
FOR TWO YEARS in the early 1970s, her grandparents Eldon and Jeannette Coon and their children Jim, Rand and Pattie sailed the original Trilogy, a 50-foot trimaran, from their home in Alaska to Mexico, Central and South America, the Galapagos Islands and the Marquesas before settling on Maui and founding Trilogy Excursions 35 years ago.
On July 5, 1973, the company launched its first all-day tour to Lanai with six guests. Since then its Discover Lanai sunrise and sunset sails, carrying an average load of 30 to 45 guests, have become the most popular of its nine tours.
Unpredictable weather makes each Discover Lanai trip unique.
"Going over to Lanai, the water usually is calm," said Coon. "Coming back, the trip can be restful and relaxing or wet and wild. Either way, it's always safe and lots of fun! It's a great introduction to the adventure of sailing!"
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If You Go ...
DISCOVER LANAI SUNRISE SAIL
6:15 a.m. at the loading dock near the lighthouse at Lahaina Harbor, Maui
» Offered: Mondays through Fridays
» Cost: $189 for adults, $94.50 for children 3 through 15, including breakfast, lunch, snorkeling lessons and equipment, and guided tour of Lanai City. Kamaaina receive a 25 percent discount. An optional Blue Water Adventure raft excursion costs an additional $45 for adults and $22.50 for kids. Breakfast: cinnamon rolls (the recipe has been handed down through four generations of the Coon family), fresh fruit, Kona coffee, tea, cocoa and pineapple juice. Lunch: barbecue chicken, stir-fried noodles, hot vegetables, salad, rolls and pineapple. A vegetarian meal can be ordered when booking. Nonalcoholic beverages are available throughout the day.
» Call: (808) TRILOGY or (888) 225-MAUI
» E-mail: email@example.com
» Web site: www.sailtrilogy.com
» Notes: Wear casual, comfortable clothing. Bring your swimsuit, sunscreen, towel, a hat or visor, and a light jacket or sweatshirt. Wear deck shoes or rubber-soled shoes. Ask about Trilogy's other tours: Ultimate Seafari, Discover Molokini, Molokini Scuba Diving, Discover Lanai Sunset Sail, Kaanapali Sunset Sail, Discover Kaanapali Snorkel Sail and, through April, Kaanapali Whale Watch and Maalaea Whale Watch. Trilogy also can arrange private charters and wedding ceremonies at sea.
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based free-lance writer and Society of American Travel Writers award winner.