It’s been too long since we’ve travelled (Japan feels so long ago!), and we’ve been itching. So when a photographer friend invited us to Hawaii for a week of photos, how could I resist?
I’m still working on processing the photos (almost 2500!), but here’s the first batch.
Two Step is a wonderful snorkeling spot in Honaunau Bay on the Kona side of the big island. It is named for the rocks that naturally make two convenient steps right into the ocean. The water is a bit choppy but still snorkebly calm – and this spot is simply packed with fish.
It sits adjacent to a state park with iconic grass huts, luscious palm trees, and proud totems speaking of the island’s heritage. I wandered this area for a bit before venturing into the water. Looking at the pictures now, I’m amazed the colors are precisely as depicted. They look fake and augmented, but the sky there really is that blue; the fronds that green.
We parked our towels and overclothes on the rocks, discovering a chill turtle basking in the sun. He blended in so well with the rocks that most didn’t notice him. It made for easy pictures.
I bought a waterproof case for my new commuter camera, and this was my first real opportunity to take it for a spin. It performed splendidly! I didn’t lose any of the camera’s functionality (even flash), but I ended up shooting on automatic underwater. It was difficult to see the display, so I found myself somewhat blindly shooting. I’m sure I’d get better pictures with more practice, but I was more interested in enjoying the fish with my own eyes anyway.
I even managed to get the reluctant Aaron into the water.
Taking a break onshore, our turtle friend decided he was drying out a bit too much. His movement drew the attention of everyone sunbathing nearby, so he had quite the audience. It was a good opportunity for me to get some shots of him from under the water, and my sister loved this resulting shot I shared.
There were people swimming around everywhere, it was very sunny, and I heard excited voices exclaiming about turtles and dolphins. I went back out to chase turtles with a couple of our group, but I ended up losing track of them. I thought to go for the dolphins instead (how cool would that be?), but they were far from the launch site, and I didn’t have any flippers. I stumbled upon an interesting underwater message before I was called back out of the water. No dolphins this time around.
I did, however, find a wedding band wedged in the rocks. I put a notice up on Craigslist, and I even had one couple message me about it, but it turned out to not be their ring. I can’t imagine the pain of losing something so sentimentally valuable; I still hope to find the owner.
We enjoyed our time at Two Step so much (despite the brutal sunburn), that we made a point to return on our last day. There were far fewer people out in the water that day (even though it was a Saturday), and the resident fish weren’t as much in attendance as the first time.
Armed with flippers, I attempted to make my way out to the spot where dolphins were last reported, to no avail. Time slipped by, and I kept thinking “maybe around that next bend” as I followed the shoreline. I instinctively feared the deeper water as irrational thoughts of sharks filled my head. The water was just murky enough that I could only see about 20 feet in front of me, and my goggles kept fogging up, making distant objects questionable. It didn’t help that I periodically hit patches of water suddenly colder than what I was used to, and the isolation from the lack of other snorkelers made me anxious to return.
Just as I was about to give up, I was rewarded for my efforts by a beautiful sea turtle poking at the rocks. Such a graceful creature, he flew through the water like a seagull on a breeze. I marveled for a few minutes, snapping some shots and capturing some short video clips, before finally turning back.
Apparently, it’s easy to lose track of time while snorkeling, and I was surprised to find how long it took to get back. I returned to the rock to find my group anxiously scanning the water with their telephoto camera lenses for my tiny snorkel. They were glad to see me back safely, but I felt bad for making them worry. Though I still didn’t see any dolphins, I got to see a beautiful turtle, so it was worth the trek, at least for me.
Snorkeling is a blast, but it’s obviously not something I have many opportunities to do in the Northwest. Two Step was by far our favorite diving spot off the big island. If I lived in Hawaii, the first thing I’d buy is a good snorkel set; I imagine I’d find a way to have a snorkel commute if I could!