Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hawaii Day 4 - Snorkeling and Luau

(Continuing the recap of my early May trip to Hawaii's big island...)

I'm not a water sports person.  Taking swimming lessons as a child, the deep end of the pool terrified me.  Being in a lake where I couldn't touch bottom was to be avoided at all costs.  The one and only time I tried water skiing was a bust (had to leave my glasses on the boat, and couldn't see a thing). I've never had the urge to surf or scuba dive (nope!)  So I wasn't super thrilled about adding a snorkeling excursion on our Hawaiian trip.

But....Hawaii is known for its fabulous coral reefs full of colorful fish.  How could I visit and not at least try it?

Heading out to our first site

Eventually, the fear of missing out won over my fear of bobbing in deep ocean waters, and in a moment of  weakness I ended up booking a half day snorkeling excursion.

"Place of Refuge" - our first snorkeling site

As mentioned in the previous day's post, neither my hubby nor I had ever done any snorkeling and were kind of nervous about our upcoming trip.  So  hubby bought a cheap Walmart setup and we practiced in the calm waters of our hotel's lagoon.  Turned out to be a great idea - this really boosted my confidence.

Our group disperses into the bay

Early Mother's Day morning, hubby and I drove south to Keauhou Bay to meet up with our guide company.  After checking in and signing our release forms, one of the employees fitted me with a snorkel mask that was a close match to my eyeglass prescription.  I had no idea such gear existed!  Figuring I'd have to shuck the glasses, I was totally thrilled to now be able to see underwater.

Bright yellow fishies!

Then a dozen of us loaded up on a large inflatable raft and met our captain Kendra and first mate (a young man whose name I can't remember).  Motoring out to our first spot, Kendra struck up a conversation with me.  She was friendly and funny - helped ease my worried mind, which was at that moment starting to have second thoughts about this whole swimming in the ocean thing.

After a short bumpy ride, we arrived at Honaunau Bay, also known as "Place of Refuge."  Most everyone in our group had prior snorkeling experience, and after a few brief instructions from Kendra, donned masks and fins and jumped right in.  I, however, lingered in the boat.  The water looked deep....  Could I really do this?

Heading towards our next destination

Kendra, being bubbly and upbeat, offered encouragement.  Emboldened, I perched myself on the boat's edge and slid into the water.

I opened my eyes and looked down at the ocean floor.  It was covered with interesting shaped rocks.  A school of colorful fish drifted by.  Fascinated, I swam after them. 

A secret black sand beach

I'd brought along my GoPro camera.  It had logged lots of skiing hours, but this was the first time I'd used it underwater.  I became so caught up trying to capture the underwater scenery and aquatic life, my fear of swimming in deep water vanished.  I actually began to enjoy myself.

Ready to go again

Our captain allotted 45 minutes at Honaunau Bay, and boy did it pass quickly.  Before I knew it, our group was being called back to the boat.  Time to head to the tour's second location!

A sea turtle!

Captain Kendra took a long ride way out in the ocean.  We bumped around for what seemed like ages.  But finally, she headed towards the shoreline.  Our next destination was a remote, inaccessible black sand beach.  The tour didn't allow as much time in this location, and we were given the choice to either explore the beach, or go snorkeling.  Surprise - I chose snorkeling!

Fear forgotten, I eagerly plunged into the ocean, following my hubby.  Paddling around the bay, at first all I saw were submerged rocks and a few bland fish.  But then someone spotted a sea turtle.

Captain Cook Monument

I swam right over, GoPro in hand!  Although we had to stay at least 10 feet away, I was able to get fairly close to a large green turtle floating along the bottom.  What an amazing creature to watch!  I switched on my camera and proceeded to record.  I became so concentrated on capturing the turtle below me, I almost missed another one swimming right by.  Luckily I looked up at the right time and was able to get both turtles on film.  I've attached the video for all to watch. 

Lots of cool fish here

Climbing back onto our raft, everyone who'd chosen snorkeling was super stoked about the turtle sightings.  Definitely a highlight of the trip!  I chattered excitedly with another woman as our boat headed down the coastline, bound for the final snorkel site.

See the blue and gray fish?

Our last location was Kealakekua Bay, an extremely popular snorkeling site that also is known as the place where Captain Cook died at the hands of the Hawaiians.  A white obelisk at one end of the bay marked the spot he was thought to have fallen. 

The coral reefs were teeming with life

A dozen kayaks were already bobbing in the bay, along with another nearby snorkel boat.  Kendra gave us strict instructions not to go on land - we were expected to stay in the water.  She also mentioned this bay was her favorite place for snorkeling.

Another reef close-up

Jumping in, right away I understood why.  The amount and variety of colorful fish here was astounding!  And the coral reefs below the sea were so interesting.  My camera became very busy trying to capture it all.

Snorkel selfie

About the time I located the highest concentration of fish, my camera flashed a message that my memory card was full.  Nooooo!

Oh well......I already had some great footage.  And I was totally jazzed about the sea turtles I'd captured at the last location.  Besides, it was time to swim back to the boat and have lunch.

Sea arch (with fisherman on top)

Lunch was included in the tour, and we all munched on deli sandwiches and chips while Kendra told us the story of Captain Cook's death.  (Read about it in this Wikipedia article)

Spouting sea cave

On our way back, Kendra passed by several sea arches and caves.  She positioned the boat as close as possible to give us a good look inside.  One of the caves actually shot water in the air from the incoming waves (see video below).

What an amazing tour!  I couldn't believe how much I'd enjoyed snorkeling.  It was fascinating to watch the colorful fish flit above the sea floor and observe the sea turtles.  As our boat pulled into the dock, I knew I wanted to do this again.

A tired but happy bunch

But hubby and I couldn't tarry - we needed to be back at our hotel by early evening, as we'd also made reservations for our resort's luau.

Ready for our first luau

After cleaning up, I discovered despite two applications of sunscreen, I'd managed to burn my shoulders and the backs of my upper legs.  Luckily I'd thought to bring some aloe gel, which was liberally applied to all areas of red skin.  Hopefully it would get me through tonight's luau.

Lots of guests

My hubby and I really debated on whether to attend a luau while visiting Hawaii.  The one our hotel hosted was expensive, and we weren't sure it would be worth the cost.  But never having witnessed such a special event, we finally decided we had to go at least once.

Mai tai!

Our resort had a large stage and seating area just for the luau.  Three times a week the place put on a huge buffet, complete with Kalua pork, and then entertained guests with song and dance.  Every participant received a lovely flower lei, and all the tropical drinks you could handle.  Hubby and I went straight for the mai tais!

Bringing in the pig

Kalua pork is the signature Hawaiian dish served at all luaus.  Keeping with traditions, the hotel roasted a pig all day in an underground pit.  Right before dinner, with great ceremony, the pig was pulled from it's pit and paraded around the tables.

Hawaiian dancers

After stuffing ourselves with delicious food from a huge buffet, hubby and I loosened our pant buttons and sat back to enjoy the evening's entertainment.  A series of dancers took the stage, sometimes all women, others all men, and once and awhile both groups shared the spotlight.  The hula ladies were amazing to watch.

Photo with a hunky Hawaiian guy

But the highlight of the night were the fire dancers.  Two men came out with flaming torches and proceeded to twirl them overhead and between their legs.  One guy even placed a lit torch in his mouth - multiple times!  Although I had my camera, poor light, and an abundance of people in the way kept me from trying to get any images.  This time, I decided to relax and just watch the show.

After the entertainment was over, several of the performers stuck around and willingly posed for photos.  While I was in the restroom, hubby talked at length with one friendly young man and learned a bit about how the fire dancers perform.

And a gorgeous Hawaiian dancer

It had been a day full of new experiences.  Not only was I glad to have experienced a real Hawaiian luau, I also was proud of myself for finally trying snorkeling.

But with only two days left on the island, we had more sightseeing to do.  Tune in to my next post and see where hubby and I go next!


  1. I'm loving your Hawaii images. Looks like you had a really wonderful time.

  2. Linda I am so pleased you overcame your fear and found snorkrling as the most wonderful experience. I loved all the videos and the luau ooks very entertaining. A great trip and day/evening to remember

  3. Wow what superb snorkelling water, you don't know how lucky you are. What's with the purple insulation tube? I went snorkelling off a Greek Island my wife &I stayed at and ended up around half a mile off the beach, my wife lost t sight of me as I kept diving down to the bottom only to be snapped out of my revere by the noise of a boat going past. When I realised how far I was away I found it a long swim back. Hope you enjoyed it

  4. A boa disposição continua nesta magnifica viagem e as imagens debaixo de água estão fantásticas.
    Um abraço e boa semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  5. ...you sure can have a fun time in the islands.

  6. Hi! You look very happy in Hawaii. I enjoyed your posts in Hawaii very much. I feel you enjoyed snorkeling. I wish I could see your water skiing.

  7. Hello Linda, awesome photos and video from your snorkeling trip. I am glad you relaxed and had a great time. The luau looks like a fun time too, great photos. Happy Wednesday, enjoy your day!

  8. Linda, what a fantastic time!!! I would love this! And your photos are fantastic, so much to see and explore! Thank you so much for sharing!

  9. I had never snorkeled but it was a favorite when I was in Hawaii. It's a big surprise to see all the colorful fish.

  10. looks like a great vacation

  11. Wonderful - I love snorkeling but don't get to do it where I live!

  12. Looks a cracking trip. Seeing the turtles would have been my highlight and all the different fish. Lucky you had a waterproof camera as that is my Achilles heel if I do snorkeling here. No photos to show for it and usually the start of a bad cold and sneezing the next day.

  13. Glad you overcame the swimmers ng fear! Amazing underwater views!

  14. What fun! This is an amazing trip. I love that snorkel selfie. That is such an amazing shot. And the images with you and your hubby are fantastic!

  15. I have heard that many people love to snorkel in Hawaii, my husband says it was the highlight of his trip there..well that an thong bikini girls:)

  16. You were brave! I have been afraid of swimming since I took lessons at six years old and the lifeguard forced my head under water!

  17. You can actually hike down to that Captain Cook monument. It's a steep climb back out and you have to be careful that the mongooses do not steal your lunch while you are snorkeling. Maybe a boat is the way to go!

  18. Yay! I'm so glad you were able to experience snorkeling AND had a great time! I've snorkeled at Captain Cook site too and saw some turtles...it is an amazing experience!

  19. Linda, I am so glad you tried the snorkeling. It was a highlight of our trip to Key West last year and if I ever get to Hawaii you can be sure I'd go again. The luau looked like fun too. What a fantastic trip!

  20. There are so many great photos here, I don't know what to comment on. I'm not a water sport person either, but I did like snorkeling. I love the pictures of you and the sounds in the video. Well done!

  21. That looks like a load of fun. Glad you gave snorkelling a go, you probably would have regretted it if you didn't.

  22. I love snorkelling! I've been lucky enough to see the Maldives and the Great Barrier Reef and now Hawaii is on my list. Loved the videos, turtles really are wonderful to watchg aren't they.

  23. Snorkeling looks fun, I've never been. You did a good job swimming around and photographing/videoing as well!

  24. Snorkeling is the most awesome thing... we snorkeled off the reef right by the Place of Refuge, pushing off the shelf of rock on an incoming wave, quite the experience for a newbie snorkeler! It's a beautiful place, one I hope to return to one day. Glad you had such a wonderful trip!


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