Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Day of Solitude--Hanauma Bay

On Wednesday, Tom and Quinn went off to see Pearl Harbor and explore the military boats and the Pacific Aviation Museum.  Since neither of them had the least interest in going snorkeling, I decided to take the day for myself and took The Bus to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve which is on the southeast side of Oahu, quite a good distance from Waikiki.

What I learned from this experience: look up where to catch your ride before leaving the hotel.  I knew what time the bus was coming (9:38 AM), and I thought I had noted what street it ran on.  Turns out, that was incorrect.  The good news was that I left lots of time to get to the bus stop.  The bad news was that I needed all of it, in order to account for going the wrong direction, then walking too far, talking to a bus driver to learn I needed to backtrack two blocks, then finding the actual stop once I was finally on the right road.

The number 22 only runs once an hour, and Hanauma Bay is a very popular destination.  I got the excitement of standing up for the entire 45-ish minutes of the journey, in the very back of the bus.  Very glad that I wore my Relief Band, because that made it so that I survived the trip.  It was hot and my feet hurt, but when we arrived at our destination I was pleased.  Very beautiful vista!  Which I did not get to see for very long, because I then had to stand in an impressively long line in order to pay my entrance fee and watch an orientation film on the bay and protecting the corals and fish living therein.

When I finally got down to the beach, I realized I had another difficulty.  I was by myself, and I was going to be in a bathing suit.  How on earth to sunscreen my back?  I ended up asking a stranger in the line to rent snorkel gear.  She was very kind and assisted with sunscreen application, saving me from a potentially lobster-baked back.

As a person who needs her glasses to find her glasses, I was pleased to discover that there are such things as prescription snorkeling masks.  I tried a few, picked the closest match, turned in all my belonging, including my glasses, to the locker people, and squinted my way to the water.

The ocean was cool, but not excruciating.  I stuffed my feet into the flippers (with some added sand--ouch!), and set off to explore.  Good news, the mask didn't leak, the waves were very slight, so I didn't get any water in my breathing tube, and I was able to float nicely on the surface without too much effort.  The bad news, I saw not a single fish.  I did see some coral, and I enjoyed the cooling-off provided by being in the water.  It was unnerving, however, to think you were swimming in one direction only to lift your head out of the water to check and find that you were actually heading 90 degrees, or even 180 degrees, from where you thought you were going.

Because I was swimming by myself, and not with the recommended buddy, I did not venture any deeper than where I could have stood up.  After acknowledging that fish just really weren't going to happen, I spent my time puttering around lazily, and finally decided it was time to go home.

I had intentionally not checked the times for the return bus, because I didn't have a timepiece on my while swimming and I didn't want to stress myself out, so I simply got dressed and made my way to the top of the hill with the assumption that if the bus was coming soon, I'd take it back and eat lunch in Waikiki, or if not, I'd go the the snack bar.  In an act of timing that I couldn't have duplicated had I been trying, the bus pulled up about thirty seconds after I arrived at the stop.  Also, because I didn't stay very long, I was able to get a seat for the return trip.

My only real wildlife sightings for the day were the large centipede that fell off the women's changing room ceiling then scuttled away, and a very sweet-looking mongoose bouncing around near the visitor center.  The local ticket-taker told me what it was, and mentioned that they kept the snake population down.  I remember Rikki-Tikki-Tavi from my youth, so this didn't surprise me too much.

All in all, I had a nice day of being by myself, and the boys enjoyed themselves in the USS Bowfin and the Pacific Aviation Museum.  Quinn took many pictures, and a video of Tom trying to get through one of the tiny hatches.

More later!

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