Hawaii: Days 3 and 4

June 21, 2019 • 1:30 pm

Two days ago I did my first beachy thing, but I dislike simply sitting on beaches, even beautiful ones, and prefer going into the water (and it has to be warm) and snorkeling. One of my favorite things to do is snorkel on a tropical reef where you can see beautiful and colorful fishes. It’s like traveling to another planet, which it really is. So far I’ve done that in only two places: Costa Rica and Hawaii.

So there was a visit Lanikai Beach on Wednesday. According to Wikipedia, “This small half-mile strip of beach is consistently ranked among the best beaches in the world.” And indeed, it’s gorgeous, with all hues of blue and green in the water and, luckily, not crowded two days ago:

A lone snorkeler. Look at the colors in that water!

Here are the famous twin islands of Na Mokulua, between 2.7 and 3.9 million years old. And that’s Professor Ceiling Cat in the foreground enjoying the view:

Three military helicopters flew over, probably from the Marine Corps air station in Kaneohe Bay:

More exciting, a frigatebird flew over. They breed on Oahu, but you don’t see them aloft very often. Photo by Nilou:

There isn’t much coral at Lanikai Beach, and so I saw only a few fish. But the water was 80°F (27°C) and it was a pleasure just to look around in the warm azure sea.

Below: lunch at Maui Mike’s Fire-Roasted Chicken, which advertises, “fresh, natural, premium chicken.”

Well, fresh is good since it wasn’t frozen, but what do they mean by “natural chicken”? Is that in contrast to artificial chicken, like tofurkey? And there isn’t any such official grade as “premium chicken”, at least as classified by the USDA. (In contrast, beef can be graded as “premium,” “choice”, and the like.) As the USDA notes of chicken:

Grade A is the highest quality and the only grade that is likely to be seen at the retail level.

Image of Grade A Label

So all the chicken you buy is grade A. Here’s the misleading sign. The “meals made to order” is also a bit misleading, as the chickens are constantly turning on a rotisserie, and they simply pull one off when you order. (The hyphens are also ungrammatical.)

But the chicken was very good, served with Cajun fries and your choice of sauces. Here’s a half-chicken order and a chicken sandwich with bacon and cheese (minus the cheese):

Yesterday I went snorkeling—for the third time on my two trips here—at a wonderful and convenient place: Haunauma Bay, made famous by Elvis’s bare-chested singing appearance in the 1961 movie “Blue Hawaii”. It was formed by a volcanic vent that eroded into a bay no more than 30,000 years ago.

Hanauma Bay is full of reefs harboring dozens of tropical fish species (seen below at low tide), and is easy of access—only a five-minute drive from where I’m staying. It does “suffer from overuse”, as Wikipedia puts it, because the snorkeling is easy and it’s close to Honolulu, drawing dozens of people. The reefs are somewhat degraded from people standing on them, and they close the bay one day a week to allow it to “recover.”

But really, it would take a century to recover, and so we must enjoy it as nondestructively as possible while it’s there. I do take care to not stand on or touch the coral, and of course I don’t potchke with the fish.

The view of the bay from the cliff above, photographed by Nilou:

Yours truly after two wonderful snorkeling swims to the outer reef. I’m happy because I saw dozens of fish species:

My favorite fish here, as it was before, is the Christmas Wrasse, Thalassoma trilobatum. This photo is from ThoughtCo  I’ve thought about getting an underwater camera to photograph these fish, but decided that there are plenty of good photos on the Internet, and I’d rather swim around and just look at them.

Snorkeling for a long time works up a big appetite, and so we went to Fatboys for a big plate lunch: kalbi shortribs with teriyaki sauce, with two scoops of rice and one scoop of “salad” (macaroni salad, of course). It was excellent: just the ticket as a restorative:

Finally, some local duck friends. Here are Gareth (a beat-up looking mallard drake), and Katy, apparently a feral Pomeranian duck (a breed of mallard). They are always together, and I see them as the duck version of Romeo and Juliet.

Katy is beat up, too, with a dent in the rear of her head where a number of feathers are missing. (I suspect it’s from other drakes trying to rape her.)

They are an unlikely couple but seem to care a great deal for each other. Can ducks be in love? If they can be, these two are.

Katy has had two broods of little black ducklings, but, to my sorrow, none of them survived. We feed them daily.

And I can’t resist another photo of my local BFF, the rescue Persian Pi:


21 thoughts on “Hawaii: Days 3 and 4

  1. A wonderful reminder of when I was there 15 years ago. At Hanauma Bay, the best snorkeling is just beyond the reef in about 15 feet of water. From there you can inspect the crevasses in the coral wall where many fish hang out.

    1. Back when I was fifteen I went on holiday to Tobago with my dad’s side of the family. We stayed at the same hotel that Bryan Ferry stayed at, which had its own private beach.

      On the last day of the holiday someone gave me snorkels, swam me out a little beyond the beach and pointed out where to look. What happened afterwards is one of a handful of genuinely mind-expanding moments in my life. I must’ve spent the next three hours just drifting, mesmerised. And the next day we left.

      I’ve never had the opportunity to go snorkelling again, but I do evangelise about it to others. It’s an incredible experience and it comes from just strapping some goggles to your face and putting a pipe in your mouth.

      1. We’re booked to go to Tobago in November, and I love snorkelling, so I’d be grateful to know which hotel you stayed at. We’re already booked at Coco Reef, just next to the airport. I’ve stayed there before, and done some snorkelling inside the artificial breakwater. There were lots of fish, but no coral there.

  2. Looks awesome, Jerry. God may have been inordinately fond of beetles, but it seems he also liked fish and birds a lot, too. Always amazed at the variety.

  3. That Pi looks like quite the character.

    I’ve used underwater cameras in Hawaii and wasn’t impressed with the photos: blurry, flat and blue. Best to swim unencumbered and enjoy the views as you do.

    1. I agree. I’ve taken many underwater pictures and they’re mostly not very good. It really takes some rather pricey equipment – as is the case in many endeavors – and a lot of practice to get the picture you really want.

      1. Yeah, and my camera didn’t have a flash which would be essential. I’ve checked out Nikon’s Nauticam D850. Just the camera housing costs $3,800, and that doesn’t include lighting equipment which would probably add another couple grand.

    2. “Blurry” is probably because the camera is trying something non-optical for distance measurement. Ultrasonic ranging would get very confused underwater, in a housing. Also, typically, underwater you’re photographing things that are closer than for normal photography.
      Use manual focus if it’s available.

      “flat and blue” sounds as if you’ve likely not set the “white balance” for the camera to take into account the change in colour of the light coming through the water. If your camera manual doesn’t have a description of how to set the white balance, move onto the next model for consideration. (Mine is menu/ setting/ set WB, then take a photo of something nominally white – like your note-taking slate – under the dive conditions (as you start your bottom time.)
      (From next message)

      I’ve checked out Nikon’s Nauticam D850. Just the camera housing costs $3,800,

      That sounds like the dive shop salesman was hoping for a happy ending – considering he was in a dive shop and likely on 5 or 10% commission.
      My dive camera (well, strictly, the wife’s) is a Fujifilm now approaching ten years vintage, which came as a bundle with a waterproof housing (40m, the limit for regular recreational diving), the total giving a decent system for approximately twice the price of the “compact” camera on it’s own. Between still and video, the battery will last about 3/4 hour, which is most of a tank. So change batteries between first and second dives of the day. The results are perfectly acceptable, to me, and when the wife dropped the camera on it’s “nose” and the motors have started to jam, wailing and gnashing of teeth did not occur.
      IIRC, the combination cost ~£400, when the base camera (a perfectly regular Fuji) cost around £200.
      What they have on the market now, I don’t know. When I spoke to some dude from Fuji at a dive show, a while back, he said their policy then was to keep one camera+housing in the range for the foreseeable future, but they may have reneged on that. In which case, Ebay is your friend.
      Annoyingly, they wouldn’t commit on keeping one dive casing to work across multiple series of cameras. Commercial decision, I guess.

      1. Thanks for the information and advice Aidan. The camera I was using didn’t have a white-balance…it was a (iirc) a closeout item for $30 bucks or so.
        Your link does show photos that were 10x better than mine. Good price too.

        1. That’s what you get from a cave-diving background. “Caves is tight, but cavers are tighter.”
          Besides, a Nikonos wouldn’t last 10% of the distance from daylight to water surface in an average cave. They’re not, as the description goes, “cave shaped”. Something that you can slip down the side of the ammo box carrying your gags is more likely to make it to the kitting up site intact.

  4. … made famous by Elvis’s bare-chested singing appearance in the 1961 movie “Blue Hawaii”.

    Call me a hard-bitten old cynic, but I’ve an inkling The King may’ve been lip-synching in that vid. 🙂

    Would that Elvis had stayed with Sam Phillips at Sun Records in Memphis and never run off to Hollywood to make meretricious movies for “Colonel” Tom Parker.

  5. My goodness! What lovely pictures. Frankly, I’m getting a little sick of you making me so jealous 🙂 It seems like you get to go everywhere I’ve always wanted to go. I hope I manage to get to these places some day. Hawaii, The Netherlands, Poland…

  6. Very nice photos and a couple of the best places to go on Oahu. When we lived in Hawaii in the 80s (Kaneohe) our place to spend time at the Beach was Bellows. It is just south of Lanikai and looks very much the same. The only difference is that Lanikai is a public beach, as most are on Oahu, but Bellows is a military recreation area. There are some cabins and the military folks can rent cabins. Also a shoppette and gas station. The sand at Lanikai or Bellows is very fine, real sand. You do not see this kind of sand so much on the other side of the Island.

  7. Coincidentally we have been gadding about O’ahu as well, and spent a day at Kailua Beach just up the road a bit from Lanikai; ate at Buzz’s across the road from the beach, and it was quite good. We did our snorkeling at Shark’s Cove on the North Shore, and it was very nice; dinner at Haleiwa Joe’s. Stayed in Laie and had lots of good food including a local joint called Papa Ole and dinner at Lei Lei’s at Turtle Bay. Did not see Jerry 🙂 Final stop, Pearl Harbor.

  8. My first experience of Hanauma Bay from years ago was assuming that the sand would be soft, letting my derriere drop to the sand and finding it hard as rock. Took awhile to recover. In the meantime, my husband snorkeled almost all day and was quite a ways out of hearing distance when the guard yelled that he was closing then gate in the evening. I began to think we’d have to stay on the beach overnight, but my husband finally noticed and returned to the beach. He had a blast!

    1. That’s the way it is with me too. After Hanauma Bay, my wife and I became certified divers and dove from the South Africa to the Galapagos and Hawaii.

  9. Chicken REALLY made-to-order:

    You put in your order, you hear squawking, a screech, and then silence …

    BTW, made-to-order, if used as an adjective, can be hyphenated.

  10. Underwater photography is an art of it’s own, and not just for the equipment.
    I knew a few underwater photographers, and they are not good diving buddies, they want to lay in one spot for hours, well, at least for most of the dive.

  11. I take it that the “made to order” is the assembling of the ingredients. Sort of like if they’d sliced up some tofu first (and kept it in the first) and then fried it for you.

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