Hawaii was beyond anything I could have imagined. A fuller post later, but some pictures today. The highlight of the trip:
We visited a place known locally as "Electric Beach." It is located on the West side of Oahu at the base of an electrical plant. The outflow valve is underwater and pumps a ton of really warm water into the bay. A reef has sprung up along that pathway. If you go early enough in the morning (around 8-9am), spinner dolphins swim offshore. When we arrived, I was a little doubtful. It was sparsely populated, there was only a very small beach, and some very large waves and rocks against which to get dashed. I was a bit intimidated.
I'm not the world's strongest swimmer. But almost immediately, we could see the dolphins flashing into the air and then crashing back into the ocean. They were about 1/2 mile out to sea, in water easily 30-40 feet deep. I was with an experienced snorkeler and water baby whom I trusted completely (my friend Stacie) and 2 ex-lifeguards. I donned my flippers, snorkel, and mask, and prepared for the swim.
It was - bar none - the most amazing experience of my life. While we floated in crystal clear water 35 feet deep, we were surrounded by a pod of dolphins. There were babies and adults both. They clicked and squeaked. It was easy to hear them under the water. They did not seem disturbed at all by our presence, and we drifted with them for well over half an hour. No other snorkelers nearby, no tourists, no yelling, excited kids trying to touch or disturb the dolphins. Just the cool, deep ocean and dolphins all around. The swim (with flippers) was unstrenuous in the calm waters farther out.
Rocks on which to be dashed.
Another amazing experience was Hanauma Bay, a collapsed volcanic crater home to a warm, shallow reef. I wanted more than anything to see a sea turtle or an octopus. I was lucky enough to see BOTH. Going in the off-season is a great idea, as there are so many fewer people. The waters were calm, the animals plentiful. We swam with 2 green sea turtles (no pictures:( and one very curious octopus that darted away and then came back to check us out. He put himself in a hole in the reef, then would poke his head out to check on our whereabouts periodically. He changed colors in a heartbeat (as well as texture), from spiky and brown to match the reef to a brilliant pearl white with rippling grays bars to an unbelievably deep violet. He was magnificent and fascinating and obviously as interested in us as we were in him.
Then there was gorgeous Waimea Bay where the husband and I took the plunge from the famous giant rock (about 2.5 stories) into the warm waters and basked in the sun, stunning Waimea Valley botanical gardens, Waikiki, somber and beautiful Pearl Harbor, and just the entire experience of being saturated in an island lifestyle. I didn't wear makeup once, I let my hair get salty and tangled (it's ridiculously long), and I felt amazing. More to come....
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