Monday, May 8, 2017

Ten Days in Hawaii - Day 2: We go Snorkeling

Our activity for today was a morning snorkel and BBQ cruise that we booked with Four Wind Cruises.  We left the house at 8:00 AM and drove back towards Kona to Keauhou Bay where our trip would start.  We got there just before 8:30, checked in, and got in line to get on the boat.  The large number of people we saw waiting made us wonder if it would be too crowded, but it was a large boat and accommodated everyone without feeling crowded.  When everyone was aboard we started the one hour journey north to Kealakekua Bay where we would do our snorkeling.  We look down at the bay from our house, but the only access to the snorkeling spot is by boat or a long, arduous hike – obviously, we chose the boat.

Myself, Val, Doug, Heather and Cathy wait to board the Fair Wind II for our snorkel and BBQ cruise (from Ev's cell phone).
We enjoyed the cruise north as the weather was clear and warm and the shoreline scenery was beautiful.  As we cruised along we were served a continental breakfast by the crew consisting of tropical fruits, breads, egg fajitas and juices; it hit the spot.  We soon reached our snorkeling spot, which was near the Captain Cook Monument at the northern end of Kealakekua Bay.  The Bay is a marine sanctuary with some rules about snorkeling there which the crew outlined to us before we were allowed to go in the water. The guide books called it one of the best snorkeling spots in Hawaii so we were all excited about getting in the water.  As we entered the bay, we were welcomed by dolphins swimming and jumping in front of the boat.

We leave Keauhou Bay.

We were greeted by dolphins as we entered the bay.
This is the area where we will do our snorkeling.
When we arrived, there were already several smaller boats there and as the morning wore on, a few more showed up; this is a popular snorkeling area.  You could see a few people on shore at the monument, but it was obvious that most people chose to arrive by boat.  Interestingly enough, if you arrived by boat you were not allowed to go ashore.  I don’t know why, but it was part of the licensing agreement that a business had to get to operate a commercial service.  They were also very strict about protecting the coral and you weren’t allowed to let your feet touch it.

There were already some other boats in the area when we arrived.
This is where we'll do our snorkeling.
That's the Captain Cook Memorial.  You are only allowed to be out of the water here if you hike down to it, but if you arrive by boat you have to stay in the water.
Our group before we start our snorkeling.
Heather and Cathy try out their snorkeling gear (a selfie from Heather's cell phone).
After the boat was anchored and we were given the rules and safety instructions, it was finally time to go snorkeling.  The boat was set up for all levels of expertise and physical ability.  Besides just jumping off the side, they had two sets of stairs that went from the lower deck right into the water; getting in was a piece of cake.  Even weak swimmers or people who couldn’t swim at all as they had paddle boards and all sorts of floatation devices. The snorkeling was wonderful and we had a great time.  The types of fish weren't as varied as what we saw in the South Pacific, but there were plenty and the coral was beautiful.

Val and I each had an underwater camera.  She had an Nikon AW100 for still pictures and I had a GoPro for shooting video.  Unfortunately we had a problem with the Nikon (it's an old camera) so many of the pictures aren't sharp and the pictures I extracted from the video weren't very sharp either, but these pictures will at least give an idea of what we saw.

Val's in the water.  The boat had two sets of stairs the led right down into the water, which made it very easy to get in and out, very important for us old people.
Cathy and Heather join us in the water.

The Captain Cook Memorial from the water.

Look at the big smile on this fish.
Doug was still snorkeling after the rest of us had gotten out for lunch.

After an hour of snorkeling, we got back on the boat and they were serving a lunch of bbq’d hamburgers and hot dogs, salads, chips and drinks.  It really hit the sport and tasted great.  They also had two water slides and high and low dive spots on the boat.  Doug and I tried the water slide which was surprisingly fun as it was a pretty good drop to the water and you hit startling hard.

That splash is me going into the water after going down the water slide (from Ev's cell phone).
No high dive for me, but I did try the low dive as I had just gotten a new GoPro camera for the trip and I wanted to put it through its paces.  My results from the slide and dive were a little disappointing as my camera angle could have been a little better.

After our lunch break it was back in the water for another 45 minutes of snorkeling before we had to head back.  We hated to leave, but we were pretty snorkeled out by that time.  Just before we turned back into Keauhou Bay and the dock, a group of dolphins appeared before us and the captain circled the boat around them so we got a good view of them jumping and swimming around the boat.  After that it was back to the dock and the end of our trip.

One last look as we start our trip back to Keauhou Bay.
A happy group, what a great time we had.

A group of dolphins cavorting just outside of Keauhou Bay when we returned.

It's difficult to get a picture of a dolphin jumping because you never know where they're going to come up, but Val got this one.
Back at the dock, our trip is over.
This was a great trip that we all really enjoyed and the crew was great.  They were very personable, friendly and helpful and made everyone feel comfortable no matter what their skill level was.  We would certainly recommend them to anyone wanting to go on a snorkel trip.

It was mid-afternoon before we got back to the house and everyone immediately headed for the showers to get the salt off.  The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing until dinner.  We ended up eating late, and soon after that people started drifting off to bed.  Nothing has been planned for tomorrow except for Doug and Cathy who are leaving early to try another snorkeling spot to the south.

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