I felt like a party crasher, and I wasn't even dressed for the occasion everybody else had a shell. I was off the east side of Lanai in Turtle Haven (known as Coral Garden when no turtles are in residence). Six green sea turtles lolled along the reef, some wearing looks of bliss as yellow tangs picked parasites from their skin and shells.
It was a good day off Lanai. Earlier, while diving a site called Armchair, I'd been mobbed by what seemed like the most vain butterflyfish in Hawaii. I could almost hear them saying, "Look at me, look at me!" Pennantfish and snapper seemed quite plentiful, too. Just when I'd begun to think I'd become an undersea pied piper, I discovered why these fish were so friendly: A group of snorkelers had brought tidbits for the inhabitants. About 30 species of marine life, including black durgon and surgeonfish, immediately swarmed in. I was caught in a tempest of color and fins, making my fish-finder gene pretty happy and enthralling my fellow divers.
PADI dive center Dive Maui, which overlooks Front Street in Lahaina, heads off to Lanai several times a week. Besides Molokini and anything after dark, Lanai has some of my favorite dives in Maui County, with abundant endemic fish, the opportunity to spot dolphin and eagle rays and a better-than-average chance of encountering green sea turtles. It's the marine version of a lively social scene. I, for one, never tire of the company.