Friday, February 10, 2017

Hawai'i Pt. 2 - Those Dirty Turtles, Heiau, Lauhala, And Manta Rays

Day 3: On our last full day in Maui, we had a big day planned. In the morning we went on a snorkeling tour to Molokini Crater... or we would have, but it was so windy that it wasn't possible to snorkel at the actual crater. We had some amazing tour operators (Hi Seth and Alex!) at Redline Rafting and they took us to some other spots that were out of the wind. There were also quite a few humpback whales showing off and I joked that it was a whale watching tour with some snorkeling thrown in. My favorite bit was swimming with turtles. After lots of snorkeling, we went to a different spot to have lunch. When we looked over someone said, "Look, a turtle!" To which someone else said, "Umm... I think there are two turtles." Seth said, "No one has ever seen whales mate. They are way more discreet than those dirty turtles over there."
It's really small in the picture, but there is a white speck that is the Humpback Whale, near the horizon

In the evening we went to the Old Lāhainā Lū'au  We walked around Lāhainā and saw the famous Banyan Tree before the lū'au started.
When I heard it was as big as a city block, I thought the trunk of the Banyan Tree was going to be huge. Actually, the tree has many trunks that span the block.

I was able to check getting leied off of my bucket list. We had chosen the Old Lāhainā Lū'au because we read that it was culturally sensitive. Well, for the first part of our evening, we ate a bunch of food, including pork that had been cooked in the traditional underground oven. Tasty. I was able to eat nearly everything on the menu. For second half of the evening was filled with the hula show. The dancers took us through a journey of the different eras of hula. It was a magical evening.
We got leied before being handed Mai Tais at the lū'au

As our vacation continued, Connor and I took fewer and few pictures in favor of just enjoying the experience of being in Hawai'i. But we had lots of fun experiences despite there being no evidence.

Day 4: We said good bye to Maui and headed to the Big Island. After hunting down some food in Hilo and getting to know KTA, the local grocery store, we headed over the Saddle Road to the Mauna Kea visitor center. We stopped and got a patch, but didn't go to the top because we didn't have the right vehicle for the rough road. We continued on and checked into our AirBNB in Kona where we got some instructions on where some great snorkeling could be found. It ended up being a really neat spot. A Trumpetfish looked me in the eye then guided me to see a turtle. The turtle was pretty laid back and we swam with him a bit before exploring the coral. At some point I lost track of Connor, but wanted to point out a sea cucumber. There was only one bit of coral in the whole area, but when I looked up for Connor, a wave caught me and threw me into it. My ankle was pretty cut up and bruised, but I kept going. We were having too much fun. We had a tough time getting back out because it got shallow and there were lots of sea urchins. I'm thankful I didn't add sea urchin sting to my list of injuries.
This is the only picture we took on Day 4. KTA had avocados the size of my head! I wish I could have taken one home with me.

Day 5: We drove north of Kona to Pu'ukoholā Heiau. What we didn't know was that there was going to be a Lauhala bracelet demonstration going on. Connor and I sat down for around 40 minutes and each made one. It was wonderful chatting with Marty (I hope that is right), our teacher, and other people who sat down to make one. In case anyone is wondering, everyone who sat down was also a knitter. I asked.
We were there on a Wednesday, but there are different demonstrations depending on the day of the week. You need to call them to find out.

After making our bracelets, Connor and I walked to the heiau. Pu'ukoholā Heiau means "The Temple on the Hill of the Whale." It is where King Kamehameha fulfilled a prophecy that would lead him to conquering all of the Hawaiian Islands. King Kamehameha also sacrificed his cousin there as part of the prophecy... the visitor center described it as "a scuffle where Keōua (Kamehameha's cousin) and all of his men were slain. It might or might not have been an accident." Draw your own conclusions there.

As we walked the trail loop, we came to a sign that recommended that you didn't wade in the water. Just looking at the water, it became clear as to why it was good to stay on land. We saw several black tip reef shark fins circling the area. It turns out there is an underwater shark heiau right there too. i think they chose the appropriate spot for that.
The rather dark, triangle in the foreground is one of the sharks

After our walk, we headed back south to see the Puakō Petroglyph Park. It was a short 3/4 mile (1k) hike through the woods to get tot he petroglyphs. I noticed that most of the glyphs were of men.

It was getting late in the afternoon, but we had one more stop before heading back: Kaloko-Honokōhau. This is a site where native Hawaiians had built a fish trap and fish ponds. The fish trap allowed fish to get in during high tide, but get stuck within the walls at low tide. The fish ponds were where the caught fish were kept alive until they were ready to be eaten. We hit bad traffic, but got our patch 11 minutes before the visitor center closed. They close the gates when the visitor center closes, but we were directed to park by the nearby marina. A short walk took us to a beach where we saw more turtles! I love turtles.
PSA: We were careful to stay far from the turtles. The lens zoom helped make it look like we were pretty close. We were unhappy to see other tourists standing next to the turtles, making them uncomfortable. It's important to stay at least 20 ft (6m) away from the turtles.

As evening approached, we rushed back, got some food, then got to a nearby marina to start our Manta Ray Night Tour. After I read in a guide book that the only place to snorkel with manta rays anywhere was by Kona and it was best far from a full moon (it wasn't even a half moon at the time), I knew we had to try to get a spot. We booked just before setting off in the morning and were happy to find that Sea Quest: Hawaii had two spots available. Friends.... it was amazing! First off, the reason you can snorkel with the mantas is because they have been conditioned to coming to the light in this area. A now defunct hotel nearby had a sea pool boarding the ocean. They lit it up at night and the mantas started to follow the plankton that was attracted by the light. When the hotel went out of business, some enterprising tour boat operators brought out light boards to keep attracting the mantas. They give you wet suits and a pool noodle. When you get to the right spot, you get in, hold onto a handle along the light board, hook the pool noodle under your ankles so you float flat, then you wait. We had such a show! There were five mantas that swooped by, sometimes hardly a breath from your face. You aren't allowed to touch them because they have a mucus membrane that protects them and touching them can disturb that and introduce bacteria to their skin. However, if one touches you, it's on them. During the tour, a manta did end up touching me! It actually surprised me because I was looking the other direction, but it got me on the elbow... and it is slimy!


Anonymous said...

Ooh what an amazing adventure! I was in Hawai'i two summers ago and it was amazing. I only visited Oahu and Maui though and saw NO turtles :(

Alicia said...

You are seeing all my favorite sea creatures!!

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