Hanauma Bay

Today we snorkled at Oahu’s premier spot: Hanauma Bay.

We have heard that the snorkeling around Oahu is generally disappointing, because the reefs are barren compared to the best spots on Hawaii. Hanauma Bay seems to be a counter-example. We saw a whole mess of fish, and Dexter saw a sea turtle.

The Park itself is a little unusual. First, the charge separate to park and to enter, but they do charge. ($1 per car and $5 per person.) Then, everybody is required to view a short educational and cautionary video tape.

After that you can walk down the inside of the crater to the beach, or ride a tram down for $.50. The ride up is $1.00.

Whitney, Spencer and I arrived early in the afternoon and headed out on the reef. The tide was pretty low, and there wasn’t much water over much of the coral. It was easy to get into a shallow area and bump your chest on the reef, which isn’t good for the reef or for you. But there were fish of all sizes and colors. The only real drawback to the day was that it was pretty rough, and that kicked up a lot of sand to obscure the visibility.

Dexter and Kora arrived a little later, and the kids went out snorkeling. Whitney and I took another circuit later, being careful to stay in the deeper sections. You could swim out to an opening in the reef, and the water was rougher out there, but the fish were congregating in the current. It was a very cool day.

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North Shore

Today we drove out to Sunset Beach on the North Shore. It’s about a 1-1/2 hour or 2 hour drive, depending on the traffic and how lost you get.

Dexter suggested the spot; it helps to have an advance scout in the party. Even for mid week, a number of other beaches were too crowded to find parking.

The beach had pretty high surf offshore, and it was very windy, but the water near shore was calm enough. There was a reef further out, and I spent some time snorkeling out there. We’ve heard that the reef wildlife isn’t very good here compared to on the big island of Hawaii, but in a few minutes I enjoyed quite a short little swim. I don’t know the fish, but there were yellow, blue, and green ones. I can’t tell you how they taste.

Dexter and Kora led us to a pizza joint off the beach, where we enjoyed two meaty pizzas. Then we headed back in time to get into the Honolulu rush hour traffic jam.

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Yesterday, a surf instructor offered to give Spencer a quick lesson on the beach front. Spencer quickly mastered standing on a surfboard on dry land and had tried standing on a still surfboard in the water. The instructor declared that Spencer was ready for the real thing, so we arranged to go to surfing school today.

Spencer was a little nervous on the way there, but he jumped on his board and paddled out into the surf. We couldn’t believe how far out he went. It made it pretty difficult to track his progress, but we could occiasonally make out his form riding a wave or wiping out.

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Celebrity sighting

Last night we saw a man with wavy grey hair and a full beard eating at the restaurant. He looked vaguely like somebody from around town in Duvall.

This morning I overhead some folks talking about meeting George Lucas at breakfast. Later in the morning we saw this party down the beach from us. Note that they didn’t spring for the cabana rent today.

I still wasn’t sure, but when he walked by talking, and I heard Earl Fordham’s voice, I knew that Star Wars III must be done; the director is on vacation.

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Swimming with the dolphins

Spencer had an appointment to swim with the dolphins Monday morning. Feeling about this are mixed in our family; it’s a wonderful opportunity for people to interact with these special mammals, but the dolphins are captives for the purpose.

The program included instruction about the other animals they have in the ponds behind the hotel, including sting rays and sea turtles. Spencer had a good time, and now he knows what a dolphin’s skin feels like.

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On the beach

We decided to spend our first day at the hotel’s beach. We hit the beach after breakfast, about 10:30. The towel boy led us out to the beach and rented us our cabana for the day. (Given the cost of our room, it’s surprising how many items are additional charge.) My plan was to be there until dinner time, popping in and out of the water, reading, and getting nagged by Spencer.

And that’s how it went. Only one really surprising thing; Hawaii state law prohibits alcohol actually on the beach. So, we spend the day drinking water, smoothies, and soda. When Whitney and I went to Cancun a couple of years ago, the list was a less family appropriate pina coladas, margueritas, cervesas, and water.

We’re also fairly paranoid about sun protection, which served us well. We all had a couple of streaks of red, but we spend the whole day out in the sun without getting barbecued.

That night, we met Dexter and Kora in Waikiki for hamburgers, and then strolled down the Avenue shopping for books, Hawaiian shirts, and ice cream. We actually bailed on the ice cream and headed back to the hotel for more sleep.

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Dexter’s Digs

It was dark by the time we got to Dexter’s house. It’s just up the hill from our hotel, but we took the long way to get there.

He shares a house with 4 other kids and the landlord. He actually shares a room with Jordan, and the other kids (that we haven’t met yet) have their own bedrooms. The whole house is pretty large, and it was too dark for a tour of the swimming pool; we’ll have to go back. Kora and Molly were there, and we headed out to dinner with the four of them.

We went to a waterfront restaurant in a strip mall. The food was good, but it was really fun to catch up with Dexter and his friends. By the end of dinner, I’d been up for 40 hours, and it was time to head back to the hotel.

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