Friday, October 23, 2015

Hawaii with Kids: Snorkeling and Tide Pooling on the Big Island

I was THRILLED that both kids took to snorkeling so quickly, so easily, and so, so happily. Just think--not only was this vacation absolutely marvelous right on its own, but it's also the vacation in which the kids discovered a new pastime and an entirely new way to see the world.

I was especially pleased for Will, because as a glasses-wearer myself, I know how wearing glasses can spoil something fun. But technology has apparently advanced since the last time I attempted to near-sightedly learn to scuba dive, and now the world contains such objects as magnifying masks! Will's grandparents were able to rent her a mask that corrected her vision underwater without glasses, and I know that must have made all the difference in the world for her.

As for me, I tried the heaviest magnification, fully planning to die snorkeling (I'm both claustrophobic and not a confident swimmer, so snorkeling just kind of sounds like certain death to me), but even that didn't correct my very heavy prescription, so the in-laws rented me a viewboard, and all the other toddlers and I were happy as clams on them, seeing everything the snorkelers could see but with our own anti-drowning buoying devices under us.

Best of all possible worlds.

But let's get back to the ocean fish otherwise known as my children!
Yes, most of my snorkeling photos are a game of Find the Snorkeler--a snorkeling person doesn't have much of a presence!

This spot is Two Step, the BEST snorkeling spot for children on the Big Island, in my opinion. We came here twice, and had a fabulous experience both times. There's open ocean snorkeling on one side, but also a shallow little bay with plenty of gorgeous creatures to spot. It's the last right before Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Site, and you can even see the site behind you in the photo below:

The entire family snorkeled, but I was hyperaware like an Australian shepherd the entire time, pretty much focused on knowing where the children were at all times, with glimpses of fish and sea turtles and coral and anemone in between. When Syd grew tired of snorkeling, I'd leave the water to watch her paddle around in the shallows while also supervising Will.
This kid. Happy as a clam.

Syd liked snorkeling as well as the next kid, but she got spooked here after FIVE sea turtles swam underneath her and started munching algae as if she wasn't there.

My beautiful Matt really is the fairest of them all. It was constant work to keep him from burning.
These people! The guy set up an honest-to-god DRONE to take this photo of them.

With all the snorkeling, we didn't do nearly as much tide pooling as I'd thought that we would, but we still did some, and it was always amazing. Here are the Puako Tide Pools, where you could spend an infinite amount of time, as there are miles of pools, and miles of rocks to clamber over between them:

We'd planned to snorkel at Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park, but when we got there I deemed the water way too rough for the kids. We could see the Captain Cook monument from across the bay, however, and also this pod of spinner dolphins:

Can I just say? I cannot BELIEVE we have seen dolphins in the wild! But we have! And here they are!

Another great snorkeling spot, Kahalu'u Beach Park, also happened to be less than a mile from our condo, so we went there plenty. There was a stand there where the in-laws rented my viewboard, and another stand where you could buy the Hawaii standard, shave ice.

More on shave ice later!

The snorkeling was also fairly shallow here--too shallow in some places, as you could easily get swept up onto the rocks--but the ocean was more rough than at Two Step. Gorgeous, though. Never anything but gorgeous: 

It was fitting that this was the last beach we visited on the Big Island, since it was also the first beach that we visited, just hours after we arrived. On that first visit, the kids and I were wading in the shallow area, not even really swimming, but just being AT the beach, you know? Anyway, as we wade, picking our way around the slippery lava rocks and looking for sandy places to stand on, something BIG swims past our legs.

A sea turtle. A genuine sea turtle, just out minding its own sea turtle business, eating algae off the rocks.

We followed that sea turtle around--at the prescribed safe distance, of course--for ages, until it finally swam off somewhere else. And we saw more sea turtles at almost every other beach after that, as well, including back here, on our final night before we left the Big Island for Oahu:

Magical, right?


Tina said...

Thanks for sharing your vacation with the world. I doubt we will ever get to Hawaii, so I am enjoying living vicariously through you guys!

I had some sea urchins when I was in high school as a science project. They are really cool creatures.

Dolphins! Awesome.

julie said...

Okay, now I totally want some sea urchins!

Is it ever a possibility to get stationed in Hawaii? We visited a huge military base on Oahu, and I was pointing out the residential areas to the kids and reminding them that their pen pal, Emma, lived on a base like that.

Tina said...

They were really cool. When you hold them, the sensation of all there little suction cups moving them along your hand is awesome.

There is a slight possibility, but Hawaii isn't our cup of tea. It looks like we will be going to Michigan State next (the hubs would be an ROTC instructor). That's like right up the road from you guys! We are just waiting to hear back from the school (they have the option to deny him even though the Air Force wants him there).