My very last day of my very excellent vacation was spent in a very awesome way: I gave up my snorkeling virginity!
We ventured around the southern shore of O’ahu until we found the found the entrance to the Marine Wildlife Sanctuary of Hanauma Bay Wildllife Preserve. Walter and I had discussed snorkeling as being part of my Wild and Wonderful Hawaiian vacation and it took us until the last day I was there (due to the fact that they are closed on Tuesdays and we arrived to find a full parking lot, with no access allowed, on Wednesday) to actually go. I had never snorkeled before, and despite warnings in regards to claustrophobia from Walter, I pompously assumed that I WOULD BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT. I was wrong…I ended up having a minimal freak out the first time I put my face under the water. Most of it had to do with remembering that I COULD NOT BREATHE THROUGH MY NOSE and had to breathe through my mouth, and the rest of it had to do with my ridiculously unjustified fear of fish.
After a few minutes of swimming around and now and again popping my head back above water to reaffirm that the outside, land-based world had in fact, not ended, despite the fact that I wasn’t able to see it, I started to get the hang of snorkeling. My heavy breathing sounded vaguely reminiscent of a teenagers prank phone call but I was finally feeling OK and we decided to venture away from the sandy bottom out into the deeper waters of the bay in the hopes of seeing a honu, AKA a green sea turtle. We began to swim out over-top of a tall stretch of the reef – there was barely enough room between the top of the reef and where our bodies were and I in fact, managed to scrape my knees up a bit as I floated over. ::ENTER FREAK OUT NUMBER 2:: I suddenly began to feel the walls close in. I’ve never considered myself claustrophobic; I mean, I hate shopping in malls around Christmas time because being surrounded by so many people for so long makes me feel panicky, but I always just assumed that was because I hate people. No longer shall I assume THAT! I literally jumped as far out of the water as I could, grabbed Walter’s arm, spit my snorkel out and started chanting: “I’ve gotta get out of here! I’ve gotta get out of here! I’ve GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE!!!” in such a tone that I believe I attributed to her mild panic attack as well. I was legitimately FREAKING THE SHIT OUT. After a moment of deliberation, we decided to haul ass back the way that we had come in hopes that the trip BACK to shore would be quicker, and less traumatic than the trip out to where we were was.
I must have looked like I had a motor attached to my ass cause I was kicking those fins as fast as I could and I didn’t even have to use my arms to swim. I literally flew out of the water and landed on the beach as if I was landing a boat, with Walter close behind. In that moment, we both decided we needed a cigarette. Being a Nature Preserve, we had to go back up the massive hill to the parking lot to smoke.
As I was sitting in Walter’s car, inhaling deeply and trying to calm my racing heart, I noticed that as the ocean water was drying on me, it was leaving the most ridiculous crust of salt that I have ever seen. Needless to say, I became so enthralled with our salty arm hairs that I forgot all about ALMOST DYING in the middle of paradise (see photo below).
Seriously folks, this is the fantastic paradise of Hanauma Bay. Even if I had known I’d lose my shit, I probably STILL would have gone out, anyway! And yes, the water really is that color. *smile* No retouching, I swear!