We started out with an early drive over to Hanauma Bay for some beginner snorkeling. On my last trip to Hawaii, it was definitely my favorite place that I snorkeled and I still think it probably holds the title for now. For starters, the water is shallow (maybe a bit too shallow this time when the tide started rolling out), there's almost no wave action, which makes for easier swimming and less worry about getting scraped along the reef or rocks, and a plenitude of colorful fish and good chances of seeing turtles. At least I've seen them both times I've snorkeled there. This time as I wasn't too worried about the snorkeling part, I remembered to bring my disposable underwater camera to Hanauma and was able to get quite a few pictures of turtles and some other good pictures of fish. The shallow depths and lack of waves made taking pictures at Hanauma easier than some of the deeper, wavier spots we hit later in the week. Maybe next time I can learn to actually dive down and take some closer pictures in the deep spots. For now I'm staying up at the surface. Oh, and insider tip for Hanauma: If you get there before 7, it's free to get in. And since I'm usually waking up in Hawaii around 5:30 anyway, at least on my first few days there, it's not really that bad to get there by 7.
Starting things off with a nice Ringtail Surgeonfish
First turtle of the morning
This Pearl Wrasse may have been the most colorful fish I saw there
The crazy thing about Hanauma is how there are really just fish everywhere in the reef. You put your face under the water and they're right there. And most good snorkeling places are like that. On the land and in the air, at least in the places I'm used to being, I'm just not used to seeing that much wildlife up close.
Ben meeting up with the 2nd turtle of the day. Not sure if this is the same turtle as before or a new one.
Nice profile shot of the 2nd turtle
This pair of raccoon butterflyfish had great black & yellow coloring
Wrapping things up with my first encounter with a moray eel. He's back there in the rocks just poking his nose and mouth out.
After snorkeling for 90 minutes or so at Hanauma, we packed up and headed back toward Kaneohe, meeting up with Kimi and the kids at a private beach at Bellows Air Force base for some playing on the beach time. The grandkids had a great time playing in the sand. Among other things the grownups tried out was renting a sea kayak. After spilling out a variety of times, we pretty much came to the conclusion that it took at least 3 people to get 2 people into it without spilling. I'm sure with more practice we probably could have figured it out. Anyway, I think most of the fun of the sea kayak was in paddling it back into shore with the waves. Well, that and watching other people try to get in and tipping over.
Natalie at Bellows
George and Ben boarding the sea kayak
George & Kimi with the sea kayak. Yes, we got the pregnant lady in and out without spilling her once. :)
Burying Ben in the sand
After a nice 2nd half of the morning at the beach, we stopped for late lunch at McDonalds, where the manager hooked up us with some free hot taro pies. Which were surprisingly good in my opinion. Why surprising? I guess because they were purple and taro is a starchy root, kind of like a potato. Anyway, if you're in Hawaii, I recommend trying them out.
When we got back to George's, we cleaned up, and packed up all of our stuff to head out on our "vacation-in-a-vacation", driving up the coast to Laie to a "beach" house that my parents had rented for a few days. I say "beach" because really it was up on the cliffs above the bay and there was no sand in sight. Don't get me wrong, it was a great place to say and I think extra fun for the grandkids to actually feel like a vacation since they weren't staying at home any more. Later in the week, when told we were heading "home" after a day of activities, Elise asked whether we were going to their house or to "Uncle Jake's Beach House". I don't know if that makes me the funnest uncle or not, but it seems like a good sign to me. :)
In any case, we got settled in, Grandpa Tom barbecued some steaks and chicken for dinner and we settled in for the night after a long day of Hawaii fun.
Back patio of the beach house. One of the coolest parts was the huge sliding glass door that opened up all the way on to the patio and made the whole downstairs feel like it was overlooking the ocean.
More photos from Day 3.