First Impressions

Synopsis of Maui diving with ERDA

by Marc Weiss

A letter to Ed Robinson after the author redeemed his photo contest accommodations and dive package prize.

Marc Weiss Dear Ed,

I wanted to thank you for your sponsorship of Underwater Images where I won the 2006 Underwater Images Photo/Video Conservation category.  I was so excited when I found out my prize would be a dive trip in Maui, Hawaii with Ed Robinson’s Dive Adventures.   

My first time in Maui was December 1994 when I did my first “snuba” dive at Molokini.   When I surfaced I immediately decided I was going to get certified as a scuba diver as soon as I returned to where I live in Cincinnati, OH.    Jetlagged from the flight home from Maui I went straight to my local dive shop and signed up for scuba classes.  My first underwater experience in Maui had changed my life; I just had no idea how much.

When I landed in Maui and arrived at Koki Hale, I couldn’t have felt more at home.   I travel extensively in my work life so I stay in hotels more often than I care to.  Koki Hale felt like home to me.  It’s a beautiful place in a real neighborhood.   So different from my first stay at Kaanapali Beach, but so much better!  I was so excited about being in Maui I couldn’t sleep,  I went upstairs to the deck area that overlooks the ocean and watched the stars while I enjoyed the ocean breeze.  I relaxed up there and then headed for bed. 

Marc and a TrumpetfishThe next morning my dive buddy and I headed over to the Kihei ramp to begin our week of diving.  We were greeted by your friendly staff, which offered us some Hawaiian coffee and fresh juices every morning.  The staff knew our names along with all the other divers after just one introduction.  The staff took our gear and video cameras then setup our dive equipment and stowed the video cameras safely.  

As a USCG Master Captain, I was impressed with the boats and the way the Captain and crew worked so well together.  They gave a very good safety briefing on the vessel as we headed away from the dock on our way to Molokini.   Minutes later as we idled up to our mooring at Molokini I realized this was the EXACT spot that I had been to for my first underwater experience in Maui.  Ironically I was returning there to dive again, but this time would be different. 

I’m a PADI IDC Staff Instructor now, with over 1500 open ocean dive experiences from all around the world.   I’m also an award winning underwater videographer with 4 first place awards in major international underwater photo/video competitions.   My experience at this same site 13 years ago had profoundly changed my life in ways I could never have imagined at that time. 

Leaf ScorpionfishAfter mooring your crew briefed us on our upcoming dive.  They gave best dive briefing I’ve ever heard, but they did that on every dive that followed also.  They told us about the types of underwater life we would be looking for, their behaviors and where to look for them.  The crew really knew what they were talking about and made the briefings very interesting and informative.   They also focused on conservation, a subject I’m passionate about.

We entered the water and began our dive adventure.  The divemasters were AWESOME underwater as well as above.  They watched over the divers while finding things for the divers at the same time.  During my week of diving the divemasters found many great things for us to see and for my buddy and I to shoot video.

Manta RayWe saw big things, like manta rays (I got some incredible footage of one coming right into my lens and then swimming around in front of me during a safety stop at Molokini), HUGE turtles and sharks.   We also saw some great small things like leaf scorpionfish, dwarf scorpionfish, harlequin shrimp, turkeyfish and nudibranchs.  The eels and schools of fish various fish we saw kept us busy at night looking up the many endemic species we were seeing every day.

Marc and Black CoralThe highlight of our trip was the premier of the Adventure-X dives with you as our trip leader.   Doing dives on some of your favorite “secret” locations was a real treat.  Not to mention you bringing your digital camera and taking some of the best shots I’ve ever had taken of me underwater.

I can’t thank you enough for the hospitality you and your staff showed my dive buddy and me, and for my wonderful Maui experience.   I look forward to returning to Maui and diving with Ed Robinson’s Dive Adventures again.

...... Marc Weiss