March 2019 | Snorkeling with Friends on Oahu
Would you believe it if I told you that in my first year and a half of living here, I had never once fully immersed myself in the ocean or gone snorkeling? It’s true — Curtis and I are mountain people and not beach people, and we cling tightly to that label. When we found out we were moving here, we assumed that at some point we would either try snorkeling or maybe even diving, but whenever the weekend rolls around all we want to do is go hiking. Hiking is just easier — it takes less planning, we’re more comfortable and experienced, and even the busier trails are still less busy than most beaches on a sunny day.
However, Mitchell spoke so highly of snorkeling that we knew we just had to try it with him. After our first time snorkeling, our reaction was the same: “What took us so long?!” It’s actually much easier than we had led ourselves to believe; we already had some goggles and snorkels from Goodwill, all we need are the right beaches or conditions of waves. Thanks to Mitch’s instructions, we both picked up on it and were introduced to a whole other side to the island we hadn’t enjoyed before: underwater. Of course seeing and learning about the many types of colorful fish that live here is the most exciting factor, but for me, I found the coral so interesting to look at after spending over a year looking down on it from hikes such as Ka’iwa Ridge and Hanauma Bay Ridge. I’m not saying that we’re giving up our “mountain people” title, but maybe we’ll be a little more open to visiting the beach more often now.
Here are the places that we went snorkeling over the course of the week:
After hiking Hanauma Bay Ridge for sunrise, we entered this state recreation area and prepared for our first snorkeling experience on Oahu. Hanauma Bay is the most popular snorkeling spot on all of Oahu, but thankfully on this overcast weekday the crowds weren’t too bad. We watched the short film that taught how to help protect the coral and the creatures that live here, then made our way down to the beach. Even just by wading in the shallow water near the coral, we were able to spot colorful fish, but by venturing further and going underwater we were able to see how much depth there is to this bay. Knowing it was so popular, I wasn’t expecting to see a lot — I guess I assumed that the fish would stay away from people — but that wasn’t the case at all! Mitch was quick to spot the Hawaiian state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapua`a — which we simply refer to as the Humu-humu, or the reef trigger fish. 😉
Kaena State Park
Curtis’ first experience snorkeling came the next day, after our hike to Kaena Point. We wandered down the beach towards the Southern end of the state park, and since it was a weekday we basically had it all to ourselves. There were signs in place saying to watch out for the stronger waves, but on this day we were fine. The guys started off just practicing snorkeling in the surf and quickly spotted more Humu-humu. And as they got more comfortable with the waves they started venturing out towards a reef and caught sight of plenty more fish: tang, butterfly fish, angel fish, trumpet fish, and a couple puffer fish. The coral was also really cool; Curtis especially liked the pencil coral. One of these times we’ll take the Go-Pro with us so we can show what we’re talking about.
Bellows Air Force Beach
On weekends, most beaches tend to be pretty busy, so on Sunday we opted for a less popular one: the military access only side of Bellows Air Force Beach. The waves were much stronger on the Windward coast that day, but that didn’t stop the guys from going swimming, boogie boarding, and getting crushed by the waves. I enjoyed my spot safe on the beach with the mountain views, watching them get knocked around. 😉 We also discovered that the military side of this beach has a mini golf course, so we played a game together, with Curtis and I hoping to make a comeback after a game that took place several years ago. Alex still took first place today, but I happened to be the only one who got a hole in one, which is basically as good as winning.
For Mitch and Alex’s last day on the island, we did a long drive around the North Shore. Along the way, we stopped at several beaches and noted that the waves were much too strong to snorkel in safely. However, while we were hiking to Kahuku Point, the guys noticed that there was a perfect calm spot, so after some other obligations *coughPokemoncough* we returned and spent a few hours here. It turned out to be another great spot, with several fish spotted. Mitch also noted that it would be a great place to spot sea turtles in the summer when the water was warmer. However, the real highlight here was seeing a dog on a surfboard!