Maui Dinner Cruises + VIDEO

A decade ago, dining on Maui’s tour boats meant chowing down on some pretty plain eats: processed ham and turkey sandwiches with American cheese; a side platter of lettuce, tomatoes and pasta salad, and a bag of chips. It quelled the hunger, but it lacked culinary creativity. Today’s catering chefs have upped the ante, offering signature plated and buffet fare. Add the occasional sighting of a whale’s tail or two during whale season, and you’ve got an unforgettable dinner show.

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Teralani Sailing Adventures | Pacific Whale Foundation | Kai Kanani Sailing Tours | Four Winds II

 

Four Winds II Maui

It’s seven in the morning in Mā‘alaea, and Mieko and I are on the snorkel cruise to Molokini. The ocean is flat, the breeze light and gentle, and we are happy to spend another calm day on the water. Muffins and fruit-filled trays await on the galley’s counter as sleep-eyed kids and wide-eyed parents fill their plates and order cups of coffee and cocoa from the cheery staff. The fruity aroma of POG (passionfruit, orange and guava juice) fills the cabin, mingled with the homey smell of steamy, hot coffee. Mieko and I make our way to the counter as Captain Dan Minkler’s voice booms over the speakers, rousing the group with promises of lots of whale action. We motor to the tiny islet with drinks in hand and plates of food on our laps. Whales are everywhere: breaching, waving pectoral fins, swimming in two- and threesomes. We stop along the way to watch the giant creatures of the sea as speakers share whale information. An hour after launch, we reach our snorkel destination. The galley mates jump into action, setting up Bayside Catering’s buffet lunch goodies: a platter stacked high with grilled chicken breasts, mounds of pulled pork with barbecue sauce on the side, and veggie hot dogs with a mountain of soft sesame buns. I build a grilled chicken sandwich; it is moist and tender, and a little mustard and mayo are all it needs. The barbecue sauce, drizzled over the shredded pork, is a perfect blend of smoky and sweet.

After a short respite, I dip into the ocean for a swim, while Mieko goes snorkeling to listen to underwater whale songs. When we get back, it’s time to lift anchor. The bar opens for beer and wine, and it’s only ten thirty, but hey, why not? A smiling crewmember passes out homemade chocolate chip cookies chock-full of chips (just how I like it). As we motor back to the harbor, jovial smiles, happy bellies, good cheer and more whales surround us. Adults & children 12 & over $105, children 3–12 $75, plus tax & gratuity. 879-8188, 800-736-3750, FourWindsMaui.com

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