(dontcha love my pink mask and snorkel?)
Not far from Waikiki there is a park called Hanauma Bay where you can snorkel and dive reefs along a flooded volcano. Here are some signs with the helpful science and a map
(why explain it myself when some nice copywriter already did it for me?)
First you have to pile into a theater to see a presentation about the history of the park, proper reef etiquette (don't put your feet down, don't touch anything, don't try to ride the backs of turtles etc) and snorkeling safety. (never ever snorkel alone; hmmmmmmm... i just didn't make eye contact with the staff during that part) The back door of the theater releases you to the top off a long, steep road(ish) with more educational signage about various sealife that can be seen during the year. It wasn't whale migration season when i was there unfortunately.
There is a shuttle to get to the bottom of the crater,
but it is kinda sketch so i opted to walk instead.
As you get closer it is easy to make out the reef edges.
I was advised to go early
as it gets really crowded,
but i didn't see too many people until i got closer and then indeed there were people everywhere.
For safety i wanted to have my home base be really easy to sight-line from the water (remember kids, don't snorkel alone) so i walked way down the beaches to where people hadn't started grabbing spots and set myself up under this set of palms.
Frack and Mrs Frack had gone earlier in the week and had both gotten super-crispy fried so not only did i put on sunscreen and sunblock, i put swim shorts and a tee shirt over my suit.
In we go!
A little swim from the shoreline, here is the view at the edge of the crater,
the beach behind us,
over to the left (Koko Crater)
and the far left.
While i was just swimming out and breaking in my new mask, it occurred to me that we really do look kinda like thrashing seals:
If i was a shark, i'd be confused and perhaps take a little taste.
I basically swam all the way across the crater and back, enjoying that there were a lot of different depths, water colors and micro environments, like the porous, Swiss-cheesy places where urchins were chilling
or the deeper water where the sunlight filtered to blue
or the shallow sandy places where i saw this awesome pipefish
(do you see him?)
or the mid deep water with larger outcrops of rock and reef where the larger fish were feeding, like this fabulous rainbowey fish with a crazy head
(no, i don't know what it was;
what? the degree is marine science, not identify-every-fish-in-the-world-ology)
that i swam with for a while to get a good picture
(well, good for an underwater disposable; when i hit the lottery i'm going for an underwater digital camera)
and the state fish of Hawaii, humuhumunukunukuapua'a
or as i call him, Bob.
It looks like i was alone in the water, but honestly there were a bunch of people around so i started swimming out farther from the shore.
After a while i was startled to see this:
ummmmmmm, i'm pretty sure that isn't natural.
When i looked out of the water i had managed to swim out past the markers. BTW, they weren't kidding about those strong currents. I was getting really tired by this point so i turned and headed for shore. The only thing i hadn't see was a green turtle and swimming against the current by myself i knew that i needed to get in before i lost all my energy. Plus, i figured i had pushed my sunblock to the limit. Swimming over a deep section i saw this outcrop of rock
that seemed to be moving.
That's not a rock, people!
Hello, Mr Turtle! (dude, Mr Turtle was my father)
sigh... the adventure was now complete
and that scary, rickety shuttle seemed totally worth the 75 cents to get back up to the top of the crater.