The scientific name for the green sea turtle is Chelonia mydas, but the Hawaiian name is simply: “Honu.” For many snorkelers, these fascinating marine reptiles become the highlight of a good outing. Despite their status as an endangered species, there are relatively common sightings around the coral reefs in Hawaii waters. Whether you join us aboard a Molokini snorkel tour or a Lanai snorkel tour, your odds of spotting one are good. Here are our favorite fun facts about Hawaii’s beloved green sea turtles, which we will refer to as Honu.

1. Sea turtles can’t retract their head into their shell like their smaller freshwater counterparts.

2. The Honu doesn’t get its name from the color of its shell, which is often brown, grey, black or dark olive colored. It gets its name from the color of its skin, or more accurately, subdermal (beneath the skin) body fat.

3. While adult Honu are herbivores with serrated jaws for eating seagrasses and algae, juveniles are omnivores, and dine on insects, crustaceans, worms, sea grasses and many other food sources that are available.

4. Honu grow to around 3-4 feet, but weigh up to 300-350 lbs or more!

5. This species of turtle won’t reach sexual maturity until they are between 20 and 50 years old. They’ve been documented at ages of 80 to 100 years and over. Scientists are still learning about their maturity and age range.

6. A sea turtle’s shell is called the carapace, and the underside of the shell is called the plastron.

7. Honu are found around the world in warm subtropical and tropical ocean waters. They’ve been documented nesting in over 80 different countries. In the U.S., you will find them nesting in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the east coast of Florida.

8. Honu habitats are split between the land and the ocean. The land is where they nest, lay eggs, and therefor hatch, while their ocean habitat is where they spend the vast majority of their lives. Since hatchlings rarely survive to reproductive age, most of them only touch land once in their lives, as they make their mad dash from their nest to the ocean.

9. Honu are known to travel long distances to return to their preferred breeding site. Sometimes across whole oceans. When the females are ready to lay their eggs, they climb out onto the beach, so it’s important to give them plenty of space if you do see them emerge from the water.

10. The main predators of the Honu are large sharks, especially tiger sharks. But human involvement is a close second, including entanglement in fishing gear, poaching, plastic ingestion, ocean pollution and coastal development. Respect and awareness can go a long way in preventing these dangers for the remarkable Honu.

We hope to see you aboard one of our snorkeling tours soon, and that you’ll get some amazing Honu sightings on your outing with us. Mahalo!

From the cheapest dives to five-star restaurants, most places on Maui have a nice selection of vegetarian dishes. In fact, over the years, we’ve found Maui to be one of the more vegetarian-friendly islands in Hawaii. To be sure, we can eat unhealthy here on Maui (hello loco moco!,) but our active lifestyles often call for lighter, cleaner fare. Upcountry, especially, has many vegetarian and vegan options. For this article, we’re focusing on cafes that, while they may offer meat-based dishes, really specialize in vegetarian foods. Here is our list of favorite cafes that cater to vegetarians, listed alphabetically.

Choice Health Bar (Lahaina)
The most popular little health food joint in Lahaina, Choice Health Bar makes smoothies, juices, salads, sandwiches and has kombucha on tap. We appreciate the way Choice sells their cold-pressed juices in fancy bottles with a $2 deposit fee. If you want to keep the bottle as a souvenir, no sweat. But, if you return it, you’ll get your $2 back. This is so environmentally friendly, we recommend all places do this. The Buddha Bowl, which combines a kale salad with a vegan soup and coconut garlic quinoa is our go-to meal at Choice. (Choice Health Bar)

Farmacy (Wailuku and Pukulani)
Pouring a full menu of juices and smoothies, Farmacy also makes killer acai bowls, sandwiches and salads. You may go for the juice, but the excellent sandwiches are available on four different types of bread, including gluten-free, or as a lettuce wrap. Try the Roaster, a punchy little sandwich with spiced eggplant and zucchini. The employees of Farmacy are friendly and create a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. (Farmacy Wailuku, Farmacy Pukulani)

Jini’s Curry (Wailuku)
Located in the Wailuku Promenade Food Court on Main St. in Wailuku, Jini’s dishes up fast, delicious Indian curry’s, both of the vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties, available as plates and bowls. The plates also include a salad and naan and are slightly more expensive. For non-meat eaters, we highly recommend the pumpkin curry. Besides the shop, you are also likely to find Jini’s at the Friday night town parties serving up a limited menu. (Jini’s Curry)

Joy’s Place (Kihei)
Tucked away under a condo across the street from Kalama Park, Joy’s Place is popular by vegetarians in the know. Because it’s not actually facing South Kihei Road, people don’t seem to know it’s there. But once they find it, they keep coming back for both breakfast and lunch. Joy’s Place makes vegetarian and non-vegetarian sandwiches, so everyone in your party will be happy. They also serve live raw and vegan foods. (Joy’s Place)

Veg-Out (Haiku)
Heading up to Haiku and walking into the fully meat-free Veg-Out is kind of like going to a food court, but instead of having to choose from different shops, all the options are available at one place. Veg-Out serves sandwiches, Mexican, Italian, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern cuisines. They also offer gluten-free pizza crusts and pastas. There’s even a keiki menu with kids’ faves like quesadillas, pizza, nuggets and spaghetti.(Veg-Out)

Did we leave anything out? What is your favorite vegetarian cafe on Maui? Tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Turtles are the rare creature you can see both underwater and on shore. While you’re more likely to spot turtles, on Maui at least, in the water, if you know where to look, you can see the largest of them, green sea turtles, resting on the beach. Hawai’i is home to three native sea turtle species, and has a total of five sea turtle species in its waters. Here are the types of sea turtles you may find while wandering and snorkeling around Maui, listed by the likelihood of you spotting one.

Green Sea Turtles (very common)
Native to Hawai’i, the Green Sea Turtle is the most common turtle you will find here. The only herbivore amongst sea turtles, it feeds on marine plants near the shore. They can grow to a length of four feet, and over 400 pounds. Rarely nesting on the populated Hawaiian islands, every 2-to-5 years adult Green Sea Turtles will migrate hundreds of miles to the isolated northwest Hawaiian Islands to mate and nest. On Maui, a popular place to see them onshore is near sunset, resting below the viewing platform at Ho’okipa Beach Park in Paia.

Hawksbill Turtles (somewhat common)
The second sea turtle native to Hawai’i, Hawksbill Turtles, named for their bird-like snout, can be seen around Maui, Molokai, Oahu and the Big Island. They use their long, narrow beaks to feed on sea sponges and other invertebrates. Hawksbill turtles can grow to around three feet long, and up to 200 pounds. They normally nest under vegetation, high up on rocky beaches.

Olive Ridley Turtles (rare)
Though the Olive Ridley is the most abundant of all sea turtles in the world, they are not that common in Hawai’i. A smaller turtle, the Olive Ridley rarely grows longer than two feet, and 100 pounds. They feed mainly on fish and invertebrates. The nesting pattern of Olive Ridleys is unusual. Hundreds, or, even thousands will gather off-shore, then all approach the beach together, laying their eggs at once.

Leatherback Turtles (rare)
The third turtle native to Hawai’i, the Leatherback is the largest sea turtle in the world. They can grow to eight feet long, and 2,000 pounds. It is the only sea turtle without a hard shell and it feeds on jellyfish and other invertebrates. Because Leatherbacks do not (normally) nest on Hawai’ian shores, and are usually spotted in Hawai’i’s deep, off-shore waters, they are rarely seen by casual turtle watchers. Incredibly, they can dive to 4,200 feet, and can stay underwater for up to 85 minutes.

Loggerhead (extremely rare)
Named for their relatively large heads, Loggerhead Turtles are the most abundant turtle in the United States coastal shores, but they are extremely rare in the Hawai’ian Islands. Adults can grow to about three feet long, and 150 pounds. Their big heads support powerful jaws which are used to crack the shells of even the largest mollusks, like conch.

Remember, touching sea turtles is against the law in Hawai’i! Please remain a respectful distance from turtles when you come across them. Mahalo!

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Is that why people are willing to stand in line for hours to have it? It’s a phenomenon we truly don’t don’t understand. But if you like to stand in line for breakfast, we have some great recommendations for you! If there’s one thing most Maui breakfasts have in common, it’s humongous portions. You’ll never leave the table feeling hungry after trying any of the five breakfast joints we recommend.

  1. 808 Grinz Cafe (Lahaina, Kihei)
    Inexpensive with large portions, 808 Grinz Cafe serves up a wide variety of breakfast dishes, from pancakes to loco moco to benedicts of all varieties. Only open for breakfast and lunch, the wait can be a little long, but it’s worth it. Let’s start with the mocos. They serve 10… TEN!… different mocos, including everything from Spam to short rib to pulled pork. We’ve only tried about five of them, but they were all great. They also have eight different benedicts, plus a wide assortment of pancakes (including gluten-free) and “standard” breakfast dishes. (808 Grinz Cafe)
  2. Kihei Caffe (Kihei)
    Yes, there be lines. Long lines. But you can avoid them if you arrive before 7:30 and after 11. What are people lining up for? Delicious breakfast dishes and smoothies. We grab a cinnamon roll when we order and take it back to the table to munch on while waiting for our main dishes. After standing in line for 30 minutes, we deserve it! We highly recommend the omelettes and the kalua pork loco moco over fried rice. So ono! (Kihei Caffe)
  3. Oyako Tei (Kahului)
    We’re going off the grid for this one. Oyako Tei is a tiny breakfast joint in a tiny strip mall in Kahului. Most people order takeout, but you can sit at one of the small, plastic tables if you prefer to eat in. If you eat here, don’t expect to be wowed by the decor. Look up hole-in-the-wall and its picture will come up. But, dang, the food is so good. For us, the one thing we order every time we visit is the Bobby Sausage. It’s a thick, meaty Portuguese sausage that melts the mouth. It’s near the aiport, so if you have an early flight, we recommend Oyako Tei as your last breakfast on Maui. (Oyako Tei)
  4. Bamboo Grille (Wailuku)
    A longtime favorite amongst locals, Bamboo Grill is kind of hidden, but if you find it, you’ll love it. The banana-macadamia nut pancakes are bigger than your head and really good. A wide selection of mocos will fill your belly with gravy goodness. Plus they serve a variety of “standard” breakfast. The fried rice here is excellent, so we recommend substituting it in, where possible. (Bamboo Grille)
  5. The Gazebo Restaurant (Lahaina)
    This final pick comes with caveats. There are better breakfasts on Maui, but the Gazebo has built up such a big reputation, we thought we’d include it so you know what you’re in for. First, expect to wait. It seems like no matter how early (or late) you get there, there’s a minimum 45 minute wait. As for the food, they are famous for the pancakes, and they are good. The mac nut pancakes are our favorite, but these aren’t the best pancakes on Maui. Instead, we recommend the massively portioned Fried Rice Plate. They mix in three different meats (ham, Portuguese sausage and bacon,) plus a variety of vegetables. Pro tip: You can order your breakfast to go and get your food in about 10 minutes. If you’re wanting to get your day moving, we highly recommend doing this. (Gazebo Restaurant)

Where do you like to go for breakfast on Maui? Hit us up on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

Maui has many excellent fish and chips spots. This is a statement of fact. Whether at high-end restaurants or small shacks, you’re bound to find fresh fish, fried perfectly. When putting this list together, we came to the realization that Kihei may be one of the best towns in the world for fish and chips. Four of the five spots we chose have Kihei locations. Though, if you’re in Lahaina, you’re also in for a treat. Here is our list of favorite fish and chips locations on Maui.

  1. Maui Fish and Chips (Kihei)
    Sprung from the ashes of the once popular Maui fish and chips hot spot Alexander’s, Maui Fish and Chips gives you three options for the type of fish to fry and pretty decent fries. They will also grill ahi (along with ono and pacific cod) if you’d prefer your fish a little healthier. In case you’re with a non-seafood eater, they combined their fish and chips restaurant with their teriyaki restaurant, giving you a full menu of food options. (Maui Fish and Chips)
  2. Paia Fish Market (Paia, Kihei, Lahaina)
    With three prime locations, Paia Fish Market is an island favorite for fish and chips and seafood. Though slightly more expensive than most casual fish and chips places, the payoff is in the quality of the food. For something different try the fish and chips with the cajun rice instead of fries. (Paia Fish Market)
  3. Eskimo Candy (Kihei)
    The little fish market that could, Eskimo Candy has been a favorite seafood location since 2003. The fish here comes right off the boat. The fish and chips are crisp and fresh. Add a bowl of the chowder for a real treat. Eskimo Candy is not open on weekends and closes at 7:00, so we recommend lunch or early dinner here. (Eskimo Candy)
  4. Down the Hatch (Lahaina)
    We recently named their Lobster and Crab Stuffed Grilled Cheese the best sandwich on Maui, so when we returned for the fish and chips, we weren’t surprised to find that they, too, are excellent. These folks really know their way around the kitchen. We absolutely love their french fries. Using only locally caught fish dipped in a beer batter, this is one fine fish and chips experience. (Down the Hatch)
  5. Coconuts Fish Cafe (Kihei)
    Known more for their fish tacos, Coconuts Fish Cafe, now with two Kihei locations, also serves up a nice plate of fish and chips. The fries are thin and crisp, while the fish fillets taste fresh and are perfectly fried. Coconuts’ cole slaw is also really good. Even in their large, new location, the lines can be pretty intense. We recommend arriving before 6:00. (Coconuts Fish Cafe)

Where do you like to go for fish and chips? Hit us up on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

If you love exploring tide pools and coral reefs to discover the many fascinating inhabitants, Maui is a great place to be. Whether you join us aboard a Molokini Snorkel Boat Tour, or you opt to stick to Maui’s coastlines, the reefs and tide pools won’t disappoint. But before you go exploring, it’s a good idea to know what’s what in terms of certain creatures. Particularly the pricklier ones. By that we mean sea urchins. Some are harmless, some are venomous, and some are just poky enough to cause trouble if you step on them. Here’s a basic guide to the most common sea urchins of Hawaii.

Echinometra mathaei – Rock Boring Urchin: This is the most common urchin that you’ll find in tide pools all around Maui. They come in one of two colors. One is a olive green, while the other is mauve. They aren’t venomous, but their short, tapering spines are sharp enough at the tips that they would be painful to step on, so tread carefully. On the plus side, they carve their way into the rocky pools so each one is nestled into its own depression. This helps protect you from them, and them from you! They’re also among the smaller urchins, normally growing to just 4-6 cm, but 15 cm specimens have been found.

Echinometra oblonga – Black Boring Urchin: This species is almost identical to the last one. Their size range is exactly the same, and so is their shape. They are found in the same kind of habitat and bore their way into rocks the same way. In fact, the only difference is that this species is black in color, or a very dark purple. They are also non venomous.

Tripneustes gratilla – Collector Urchin: This species could almost be mistaken for the Black Boring Urchin, but they have some very distinct differences. Although they share a very similar black/dark purple color, their spines are much shorter and finer, sometimes tipped with white or pink. Despite their short spines, they are larger on average, growing to about 10 cm. You’re most likely to see them in reef flats, but they can be found in a variety of other places. They earned their name because of their tendency to pick up objects like pebbles and shells

Colobocentrotus atratus – Shingle Urchin: This species is unmistakable and very easy to identify. Its spines aren’t sharp and pointing in all directions. Instead, they’re shaped like little paddles, and lay flat like protective scales. These urchins are armored for surge zones, so you’ll often find them on rocks along rough shorelines. They tend to be dark purple in color, and generally range from 4 to 6 cm in diameter, but can grow up to 9 cm.

Heterocentrotus mammillatus – Slate Pencil Urchin: This species is delightful to behold. They boast long, blunt, red spines that can be as thick as fingers. Because their spine tips are so blunt, they’re especially benign, and their bold reddish hues add some extra vibrancy to the reefs where they live. It’s not just their color that stands out, but their size as well. This species grows to a remarkable 20 cm in diameter.

Chondrocidaris gigantae – Rough Spined Urchin: These are somewhat similar to the Slate Pencil Urchin in that they both feature long, blunt spines like pencils. In this species, however, the spines are covered with rough, thorny projections, and they grow somewhat larger, at 25 cm in diameter. They are also found in holes on the reef, but sometimes at a greater depth. Their coloration is mottled red and cream on the body, which comprises the exoskeleton known as the “test,” while the spines tends to match whatever is growing on the reef, as a camouflage strategy.

Echinothrix calamaris – Banded Sea Urchin (Wana): These last two species are the venomous kind, so you’ll want to take care to steer clear and admire them from a safe distance. Typically found in holes on the reef, this species can be distinguished by the rich green hues of its long needle-thin spines. The green color varies from light to dark shades, and they bear distinct bands that make each spine look striped. The spines are also covered with small spinelets, and they sting. They can also grow up to 15 cm in diameter, which helps to make them especially easy to spot.

Echinothrix diadema – Black Sea Urchin (Wana): This species is closely related and therefor similar to the last, but more common. Its coloration is black in adulthood, but younger specimens also bear bands on their spines, and often share the green hues of their relatives, so the two species are often mistaken for each other at a young age. Although their adult color is black rather than green, they have the very long, needle-thin spines in common. Both species grow to 15 cm in diameter, and both can be found in holes in the reef.

We hope these descriptions are enough to get you started as you learn about the many fascinating creatures that can be found while snorkeling Maui and exploring the tide pools. We hope you have a safe and memorable experience! If you join us aboard a snorkeling boat tour, you can count on us to share our knowledge with you. Mahalo!


Achilles Tang
These black fish have a distinctive orange patch near the tail and some seriously beautiful orange, white, and blue stripes that look like they were painted on. Growing to 10 inches long, the Achilles Tang can be found in surge zones, along rocky shores and coral reefs. While you should always try to keep a respectful distance from fish while snorkeling, it’s especially true of the Achilles Tang, as their tails consist of sharp spines that can cause deep wounds.

Bird Wrasse
White and grey in color, as juveniles and females, Bird Wrasses, like all Wrasses, will evolve into males, as they mature, and turn blue and green. With their distinctive snouts, the Bird Wrasse can grow to about 10 inches long. They can usually be found near the reef looking to dine on shellfish, worms, urchins and other sea creatures.

Black Durgon
Also called a Black Triggerfish, the Black Durgon appears to be a solid black fish, with white stripes that run along its dorsal and rear fins. But, a closer look reveals that the “black” is actually multiple colors, and depending on the lighting can be quite striking. This blimp-shaped fish is normally around 12 inches long, but it can grow to 18 inches. Black Durgon are, usually, found just below the surface, near rocky and coral reefs. (Photo copyright Conchasdiver |

Blacktip Reef Shark
With black tipped dorsal and pectoral fins, the Blacktip Reef Shark is fairly easy to differentiate from other sharks. They are considered, relatively, harmless, and should not alarm you, if you spot one while snorkeling. As long as you don’t antagonize them, and stay a respectable distance from them, you should be safe. They can grow to around six feet.

Bluespine Unicorn Tang
With a horn-like growth out of the middle of its forehead, it’s no mystery where this fish got its name. Like the Achilles Tang, Bluespine Unicorn Tangs have sharp spines in their tales that can cause injury if you touch them. They can grow to 24 inches, and tend to eat near shallow reef surfaces.

Christmas Wrasse
The Christmas Wrasse, named for its red and green coloring, can be found primarily in shallow reefs, and along rocky bottoms, going as deep as 30 feet. Growing up to nearly a foot in length, it’s one of the larger Wrasse fish in Hawai’ian waters. (Photo copyright Krlkllr34 |

Convict Tang
The most common of the Tang (or Surgeonfish) family, the Convict Tang can be found in tidepools and shallow reefs all the way down to depths of 150 feet. These distinctive fish really do look like convicts with their white bodies and black stripes. The Convict Tang averages about six inches in length and feeds on reef algae.

Forceps Butterflyfish
Unless you look closely, this fish can be easily confused with the yellow Longnose Butterflyfish. Both fish are bright yellow, with dark heads, and long noses. But, there are two main characteristics that separate the two fish: the Forceps Butterflyfish has a slightly shorter nose, and its jaw is roughly one-third shorter. The Forceps Butterflyfish, also, feeds in shallower parts of the reef, whereas the Yellow Longnose feeds in the deeper waters at the outer reef. (Photo copyright Oskanov |

Fourspot Butterflyfish
With a bright yellow lower body and black top half, the fourspot is so named for the two white spots on each side of it’s body. Still, it’s often confused with raccoon butterflyfish, even though the black rings around its eyes are far less prominent than in the raccoon variety. The fourspot butterflyfish is common in Maui’s reefs and reaches a length of about 8 inches. (Photo copyright Krlkllr34 |

Hawai’ian Green Sea Turtles
Native to Hawai’i, the Hawai’ian Green Sea Turtle is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world. They can grow upwards of 4 feet long, and can weigh more than 300 pounds. They are the most common of the five sea turtles you’ll see in Maui’s waters. The other turtles you may come across are the Hawksbill, Leatherback, Loggerhead and Olive Ridley. Hawai’ian Green Sea Turtles are endangered species. It is against the law to touch them.

Hawai’ian Whitespotted Toby Pufferfish
Endemic to Hawai’i, these small fish grow to around three inches. The Hawai’ian Whitespotted Toby Pufferfish is yellowish to dark brown, with white spots, and are the most common pufferfish found in Maui’s waters. Like all pufferfish, when alarmed, these fish will expand their size by upwards of 2x to 3x by sucking in and holding water. They, also, have poisonous toxins in their skin that makes them dangerous for predators and humans. (Photo copyright Wrangel |

Milletseed Butterflyfish The black-spotted, yellow Milletseed Butterflyfish is endemic to Hawai’ian waters, and is one of the most common fish seen by snorkelers in Maui’s reefs. It has a unique, vertical black eye mask. They tend to swim in schools in both shallow and deep reefs and grow to about 6.5 inches.

Moorish Idol
Quite beautiful, the Moorish Idol, which has white, yellow and black bands of color, is often confused for a butterflyfish, but it’s actually a member of its own species. These fish are commonly seen near the sea floor around shallow reefs by snorkelers. Besides its coloring, another characteristic of Moorish Idols is their extremely long dorsal fin that can double the length of the fish. Moorish Idols can grow up to nine inches long.

Long and narrow with needle-like pointy beaks, needlefish swim near the ocean’s surface, and often leap from the water. While you’re in the water, they can actually be hard to spot as the shimmering silver coloration often looks like simple waves. Needlefish can range from a couple of inches all the way to three feet or more. (Photo copyright Andris Lipskis |

Orangeband Surgeonfish
Generally between 6 to 14 inches long, the Orangeband Surgeonfish is identified by a thick orange strip just above its pectoral fin. Another fairly easy identifier is their two-toned body, normally white (or lighter) in the front half of their body and grey in the back. They tend to swim in schools near the sandy ocean floor.

Orangespine Unicorn Tang
Unlike the Bluespine Unicorn Tang, the Orangespine Unicorn Tang does not have a prominent “horn,” but an easy to way to identify these fish is by the orange band where its tail meets its body. They primarily feed in shallow reef surfaces and can grow up to 24 inches long.

Ornate Wrasse
The Ornate Wrasse lives near the reef and can be found at depths from as shallow as 3 feet all the way to down to nearly 500 feet. They, normally, reach a length of about 6 inches, but can grow up to 10 inches. These multi-colored fish normally sport a pinkish head with green, blue, and red spots and stripes.

A brilliant pink, orange or blue, parrotfish are commonly seen on Maui reefs. Though they are often colored similar to parrots, their name is derived from their beak-like snouts. Parrotfish can be found in both shallow and deep water reefs and can grow quite large, up to six feet in some cases, though most range between less than a foot to three feet long. By expelling the corals they eat, Parrotfish are actually partly responsible for the white “sand” beaches you’ll find around Hawai’i.

Pennant Butterflyfish
With a white body and two wide black stripes, this fish is often confused for the Moorish Idol. The main way to tell them apart is in the length of the dorsal tail. Where the Pennant Butterflyfish seems as though it’s snipped off, the Moorish has an extremely long one. They are often seen in schools in deeper water.

Raccoon Butterflyfish
Growing to nearly eight inches in length, the Raccoon Butterflyfish has an oval shape and is named for its black, raccoon-like mask. Its bright yellow body is easy to spot against the reef. The Raccoon Butterflyfish is very common in Maui’s waters.

Reef Triggerfish (Humuhumunukanukaapua’a )
The state fish of Hawai’i, Humuhumunukanukaapua’a means “triggerfish with a snout like a pig.” While they reside in shallow reefs, they aren’t the friendliest of fishes and will scatter if they feel encroached upon. That said, with their bright, distinctive coloring, they are easy to spot and track from a distance. They grow to about 10 inches.

Saddle Wrasse
A fish native to Hawai’ian waters, the Saddle Wrasse can reach nearly a foot in length and are found mostly in waters from about 15 to 75 feet deep. The Saddle Wrasse acquired its name because of the colorful “saddle,” normally red, located behind the dorsal fin. The Saddle Wrasse is one of the most common fish you’ll see while snorkeling Maui’s waters.

Sergeant Major Fish
So named for the five black stripes running vertically against it’s, generally, blue coloring, the Sergeant Major fish can live in waters up to 130 feet deep. Juveniles can be found in tide pools. Though they can grow up to 9 inches, most max out at around 6 inches.

Spotted Boxfish
While the females are primarily brown, and the males mostly blue, they are named for the spots that cover their bodies. Hawai’i’s most common boxfish, they swim mostly in shallow waters and can often be seen by beachgoers wading near the shoreline. Spotted boxfish can grow to 10 inches, though most tend to be around six inches. (Copyright Dirk Jan Mattaar |

Spotted Pufferfish
Pufferfish come in two varieties, smooth and spiny. The Spotted Pufferfish is a smooth puffer that can reach 20 inches in length. Fairly common in Maui’s waters, they are brown with white spots and can found near the reef during the day.

Threadfin Butterflyfish
Normally hanging out near the inner and outer reef slopes, Threadfin Butterflyfish grow to around eight inches in Hawai’i’s waters. To tell this fish from other Butterflyfish, look for the black dot near the rear of its dorsal fin.

Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish
While, normally, bright yellow in color, researchers believe the Yellow Longnose Butterflyfish will sometimes turn dark brown, then possibly shift back to its yellow color. They grow up to eight inches in length, and tend to live in deeper waters at the far end of the reef. (Copyright Olga Khoroshunova |

Yellowmargin Moray Eel
While eels are often seen in the reefs of Maui, the Yellowmargin Moray eel is the most common. Staying hidden in the reef during the day, they are sometimes difficult to spot. Yellowmargin Moray eels can grow to four feet in length. While they have acquired a bit of a scary reputation, as long as you don’t provoke them, Moray eels are not considered dangerous. But, as with everything under the sea, you should stay back a respectable distance and don’t antagonize them.

Yellow Tang
Probably the easiest fish to spot and identify along Maui’s reefs, the Yellow Tang’s bright yellow coloring really stands out. Your eyes can’t help but be attracted to it. It’s the only solid yellow fish in these waters. They can grow to eight inches, and are normally found in shallow reefs.

Let’s be clear, this is not a Best Beach Movies list. Nope. Not even close. This list is all about fun. None of these movies will make you use your brain, but when you sit down to watch them, you’ll probably keep a stupid grin plastered on your face. If you’re planning a trip to Maui, these movies will get you in the mood for some fun. Listed alphabetically…

Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
Starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, “Beach Blanket Bingo” is the fifth of seven in the “Beach Party” series of movies, and the last one to star Frankie Avalon. This one features the beach, duh, singing, dancing and a mermaid(!). Of the seven movies, “Beach Blanket Bingo” is probably the best known and most popular of the series.

Blue Crush (2002)
Think of it as “Rocky” set on Oahu’s North Shore. A young surfer, recovering from a gnarly wipeout must stare down her demons and get back on her board and compete. While the story is predictable, the surf scenes are cool and well shot. “Blue Crush” features appearances by some of the greatest surfers the world has ever seen, including Keala Kennely, Coco Ho, Layne Beachley, Jamie O’Brien and Bruce Irons, to name a few.

Blue Hawaii (1961)
The first of three movies Elvis Presley shot here in Hawaii, the plot revolves around Chadwick Gates’ (Presley) reluctance, after returning to Hawaii following a stint in the Army, to join the family business (a Hawaiian fruit company) and instead finds work as a tour guide. Yep, that’s it. Much of the film is shot on location at Kauai’s famed Coco Palms resort, with additional scenes shot in and around Waikiki.

Gidget (1959)
Often cited as the movie that brought surf culture to the mainstream, “Gidget” stars Sandra Dee as the title character. Her name in the film is actually Frances, but is nicknamed Gidget, a combination of Girl and Midget. Instead of chasing boys, like all of her friends, she focuses on learning how to surf. In the course of learning how to surf, though, she ends up in a bizarre love triangle. “Gidget” is the film that kicked off the “beach” movie craze of the 1960s.

Point Break (1991)
An FBI officer, the awesomely named Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves,) goes undercover in an attempt to bust a group of surfers, led by the also awesomely named Bodhi (Patrick Swayze,) who double as bank robbers. “The Fast and the Furious” pretty much took the movie’s storyline and swapped in cars for surf boards. “Point Break” features awesome action sequences and both really bad and kind of awesome surfing. Director Katheryn Bigelow later went on to win the Best Director Oscar for “The Hurt Locker”.

Right now you’re asking, where’s “Jaws”? Where’s “The Endless Summer”? What about “Splash”? We know. All are better than these five. But, hey, it’s our list, and these movies make us giggle and relax and think about how we should be at the beach, not inside watching movies.

What are your favorite beach movies? Tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject

This might be the hardest list we’ve written due to the overwhelming number of fine dining restaurants with outdoor dining on Maui. Almost every restaurant on Maui has outdoor seating! For a romantic evening, there are few things better than dinner under the stars. n the meantime, here’s our list of best fine dining establishments with outdoor seating on Maui, listed alphabetically.

Gerard’s (Lahaina)
Located off of Front Street, Gerard’s serves Maui’s best French food. French food may seem heavy for Hawaii, but Chef Gerard puts a local spin on it, staying to true to traditional French cuisine, but incorporating Hawai’ian ingredients. One of the pioneers of the food movement called Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, Chef Gerard has been using only locally sourced vegetables, fish and meats since he opened his first restaurant in 1982. (Gerard’s)

Ko (Wailea)
Winner of the 2017 ‘Aipono Award gold medal for Best Hawaiian Regional Cuisine, Ko features local dishes inspired by the sugarcane plantation era. What does this mean? Expect to see a wonderful mix of foods from the homelands of the people that worked in the fields: Korean, Japanese, Portuguese, Filipino, Chinese and, of course, Hawai’ian. At Ko, kids under 5 eat for free if they order from the Keiki (kid) menu. (Ko)

RELATED: The best casual restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating on Maui

Merriman’s (Kapalua)
Located on the ocean, Merriman’s not only has fantastic outdoor seating, it’s outdoor seating with one of the finest views on all of Maui. Merriman’s uses only the freshest farm-to-table ingredients, 90% of which actually come from Hawai’i. This in itself is awesome. But the freshness of the locally sourced foods really comes out in the dishes they serve. With fresh seafoods, steaks, gluten-free options and tasting menus, Merriman’s has something for everyone… and it’s all great. (Merriman’s Kapalua)

Mill House (Wailuku)
With outdoor seating overlooking the Tropical Plantation and the West Maui Mountains, Mill House provides a romantic setting and some the finest farm-to-table dining you’ll find on Maui. From starters to dessert, every item on the menu is well thought out and delicious. The menu changes based on the availability of seasonal ingredients, but we’ve enjoyed every meal we’ve eaten at Mill House. (Mill House)

Morimoto Maui (Wailea)
Located at the Andaz Hotel in Wailea, Morimoto Maui is a fine dining paradise. While it has a laid-back Hawai’i vibe, it’s still very fine dining, with impeccable service and wonderful food. Of course, the sushi is fresh and fabulous, but the menu goes beyond sushi. Morimoto Maui uses locally sourced vegetables and features seafood caught off our shores. We really enjoyed the Duck Duck Goose. The name is funny, but it delivers. The crispy whole fish is also memorable. The last time we dined here, Chef Morimoto was actually there greeting guests. (Morimoto Maui)

Where do you like to go for a fancy night on the town with outdoor seating? Tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject.

Casual outdoor dining and Maui go hand-in-hand. Even the nicest places on Maui seem “casual” compared to mainland dining. We can’t remember the last time we saw someone wearing a tie at dinner. But for our purposes, we split “fine dining” from “casual” using the old standby… with our gut. The restaurants on this list have a more laid back vibe than our list of outdoor fine dining restaurants. At these places, t-shirts and board shorts are the norm, not the outlier. Here are our five favorite casual outdoor locations, listed alphabetically.

Aloha Mixed Plate (Lahaina)
A definite favorite amongst locals and visitors, Aloha Mixed Plate features only outdoor seating, but the tables have fantastic umbrella’s that block direct sunlight. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Aloha Mixed Plate combines a laid-back Hawai’ian attitude with fierce local foods like plate lunches, saimin and poke. They also serve grilled cheese and burgers for those hesitant to go “local.” For breakfast, try the fried rice loco moco. It’s a gut bomb, but so worth it! (Aloha Mixed Plate)

Beach Bums Bar and Grill (Ma’alaea and Napili)
Established in 2007, the Ma’alaea restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Famous for their barbecue, Beach Bums, also serves up good burgers, fish and chips and fish sandwiches. It has a nice, fun, casual atmosphere that kids will enjoy. For breakfast, we recommend the prime rib loco moco. The Napili location is new, with the same laid-back vibe, however it does not serve breakfast. (Beach Bum’s Ma’alaea, Beach Bum’s Napili

Cafe Des Amis (Paia)
Serving a slightly weird combination of crepes, Mediterranean cuisine and Indian curries, Cafe Des Amis, like Paia itself, may be a little odd, but it sure is good. If you go for the dinner, we recommend a curry plate. For lunch, the curry wraps should fill you up, without slowing you down. The crepes are available in both sweet and savory forms. Kids, OK, adults, too, seem to gravitate to the Nutella crepes… and with good reason. It’s Nutella and whipped cream rolled up into a fresh off the griddle crepe! (Cafe Des Amis)

Kihei Caffe (Kihei)
If you drive on South Kihei Road at around 9:00 AM, you’re bound to see long, out-the-door lines at this Kihei breakfast hot spot. If you get there before 8:00 A.M. or after 11:00 A.M., the lines are usually confined to inside the cafe, or caffe, as they like to spell it. Why is it so popular? For one, the food is just really good. Whether it’s a traditional breakfast like bacon and eggs, or something with a more local twist, like the kalua pork loco moco over fried rice, everything we’ve had here is great. The other reason it’s so popular is the portion sizes. Pretty much everything can be split by two people. Breakfast is served all day, but starting at 11:00, they add lunch items like burgers and sandwiches. Kihei Caffe closes at 2:00. (Kihei Caffe)

Kula Lodge (Kula)
If you need to escape the heat or the hustle and bustle of the city, head upcountry to the Kula Lodge. It’s also a great place to stop on your way down from Haleakala. Located at an elevation of over 3,000 feet, the crisp air alone makes it worth the trip, but the views of the mountains and ocean are spectacular. Their excellent pizzas come from a kiawe wood-burning brick oven that sits outside on the terrace. They also serve a full menu, featuring locally sourced seafoods and meats. (Kula Lodge)

Where do you like to go for a casual meal with outdoor seating? Tell us on Twitter @HIOceanProject and Instagram @hawaiioceanproject.