Snorkelling All Day and All Night

On Sunday we boarded our plane in Honolulu, O’ahu to travel to Kona, Big Island… but just as we were about to take our seat the pilot announced that we all had to get off as the plane was leaking fuel. So, we went a few gates along and boarded another plane (identical to the original plane but minus the fuel issue). We soon took to the air and were treated to beautiful aerial scenes of Waikiki, Honolulu and the other islands before quickly arriving at our next Hawaiian destination, Kona.

Waikiki Honolulu Oahu Hawaii

Our airbnb in Kona came with an amazing host who scrawled all over a map the many things to do and see around big island. He also offers for us to tag along with him the next morning when he goes paddle boarding, and we go snorkelling, so that he can point out where a family of sea turtles live. The next morning, we don’t travel very far… the beach is only 100m from the house and the turtle spot another 50m along. It’s a bit tricky getting in past the breaking waves but our host on his paddle board points us in the right direction and we find ourselves snorkelling alongside 4-5 turtles!

That night we head out for a real unique experience – night snorkelling with Manta rays… Our tour boat departs the marina around 5:30pm. We see a humpback whale breaching the water on our way out. Then we see the manta rays on the surface eating plankton… they do this all day long. The sun finally dips below the horizon and it quickly becomes quite dark. Our tour guides throw a floating plank overboard and turn on the massive lights underneath which starts attracting the plankton. There are also another 3-4 tour boats doing the same thing beside us. Suddenly we see a manta come near our board, so we get the go-ahead to jump off the boat and hold onto our board. Within 10minutes the 24 passengers on our tour have surrounded our floating board, snorkel masks on, laying on our tummies. But no manta-rays… just lots of plankton and greedy fish. After a few minutes (which felt much longer) a big shadow appears from below and as it rises you can see a massive open mouth scooping up the plankton as it glides towards the surface. This beautiful creature is so graceful. Just like a ballerina (and I’ve got a few friends who know all about my sudden new-found love for watching ballet) – The manta-ray glides all the way to the surface flipping over itself. This manta-ray only comes for a short performance. We’re left floating, waiting for more. It’s about then that I realise how cold it is and I begin to think how silly it is floating out in the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night. Kadin is right beside me also hanging on tight and shivering too. So, I can’t help myself from calling out to him “Jack… Jack…” Unimpressed by my Kate Winslet impersonation, we continue our wait. It felt like an eternity, but the wait was well worth it. This time we had two manta-rays performing and they just kept going and going. They would glide so close that you could feel the power in the water pushing against our bodies. One of the two was easily over 10foot wide -the gigantic size made them appear all the more majestic. Watching the pair made me forget about being cold and I was disappointed when the guides called to us to return to the boat. Back on board and wrapped in our towels I quickly forgave the crew when you realised the timeframe in the water was probably well calculated. The return trip provided us with a great display of stars in the sky.

On Tuesday we headed south stopping in at another coffee place. The free tasting cups are almost as big as a cup I’d buy back home. Feeling I got my caffeine kick for free I bought a traditional Hawaiian Lilikoi (passionfruit) Cake instead which was a great morning tea treat. Our southern destination for the day was a visit to the City of Refuge, a sacred Hawaiian site that acted as a sanctuary for those who broke the law. Hawaiians would make a dash to these grounds by land or sea and on entering would be blessed by the priests and could then go back to their normal lives. Walking around these grounds reminded us a lot of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in NZ -several wood carvings and huts. Although lots more lava rock.

Right beside the City of Refuge was a well-known snorkel spot, Two Step. Our airbnb host had given us the heads up about this place so we had come prepared with all our snorkel gear. The waves were a bit surgy against the rocks and you had to time your entry and exit carefully… but the coral and sea life made it worth it.

Gemma Sit Down Paddler

The next morning, we headed into town and hired 2 stand up paddle boards. We headed straight out of the calm bay and into the choppy water (regularly being churned up by the many boats zooming past) …so stand up quickly became a sit down paddle board. Nevertheless, we paddled out toward a group of boats gathered together with snorkellers crowded around. The main attraction of course being a pod of spinner dolphins. Kadin attempted to join the snorkellers but it’s quite choppy and they move around quite a bit. At one point the pod surfaced right next to my board …but we soon felt that the whole situation seemed a bit full on for these creatures and get ourselves out of there.

Gecko chilling at our airbnbWe spent the rest of the morning chilling at our airbnb. Eventually we find our way to the farmers markets in town. Kadin buys an awesome Hawaiian shirt and I get a pair of turtle earrings. We then head north to a beach recommended by our airbnb host, Kua Beach. It’s a surfy spot for body borders and we set up camp between the lava rocks with our fruit drinks from the market, watching all the action until the sun sets.

Have fun at work!

Gemma

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