The Big Island: Trip 5

A couple weekends ago, we met our friends Lindsay and Channa on The Big Island for a quick trip. They were visiting from Seattle so we decided to crash their vacation for a couple days.

Saturday was a bit rainy so we slept in and then walked into Kailua for brunch. We ate at Daylight Mind Coffee Company (which was delicious) and then wandered back to our hotel.

After eating plenty of food, we decided to go on a short walk to the End of the Earth. We watched a few people jump off the rocks and enjoyed the spectacular view of the ocean.

After a relaxing day, we walked to dinner and enjoyed the evening!

On Sunday we decided to go snorkeling at Two Step. Great location with tons of fish! Videos below!

After lots of snorkeling, we worked up an appetite. We ate lunch at Da Poke Shack before saying bye and venturing back to Oahu! The poke was DELICIOUS.

 

The Big Island: Trip 4 – Day 6

Of all the amazing days we had planned on our trip, I think I was most excited about this day/night because we had our Manta Ray night snorkel. This had been on my bucket list for a few years so I was REALLY looking forward to it!

The snorkel definitely did not disappoint. We went with Wahine Charters and I would highly recommend them to anyone! We took off from the harbor, had a half hour boat ride filled with stars and arrived at the site ready to hop in the water. We held on to these light boards and the manta rays were attracted to the plankton that are attracted to the light. They do somersaults and almost look like they are going to swim straight for you and turn at the last minute. It was so incredible it completely took my breath away.

 

 

Byodo-In Temple

While my mom was visiting, we decided to visit the Byodo-In Temple. It was absolutely beautiful and we felt like we were in another country. My favorite were the black swans!

Fear Conquered: PADI Open Water Diver Certified

As of Wednesday 10/30/2013, I successfully completed my PADI Open Water Diver certification! For many people, this is a big deal…but for me this is HUGE. As someone who has been terrified of the ocean her whole life, getting scuba certified was the last step for me in conquering that fear. After numerous snorkeling trips, getting in a cage to go shark diving and even just swimming in the ocean off the beach…I was ready.

On Monday, I did my first day in the water. The first site we went to had a few small waves and I completed one skill. All of a sudden there were huge waves and I was getting knocked around everywhere. At this point, I started to slightly panic as I knew I couldn’t get used to all of the equipment if I kept getting thrown into the rocks by the waves. My awesome dive instructor decided it would be best to go somewhere else that was a little calmer. We moved locations and started again. This time it was MUCH better. I completed all of my skills correctly on the first try and that was the end of day one!

On Tuesday, I did my first open water dive off of the shore. The first dive we just had some fun and went down to about 20 feet. I got to see an octopus and a pufferfish, among other tropical fish. The next dive that day, I did a few skills and we swam back to shore.

On Wednesday (my final day), I opted to do a boat dive…and I am so happy I did! Our first stop was Turtle Canyons where turtles come to hang out, sleep and relax so the fish can clean their shells off. We pulled up to the spot and there were two huge turtles on the surface by the boat. We got our gear on and jumped in the water. I did a few skills, then we got to have some fun. The visibility was decent and I was able to see some pretty cool fish. However, the best thing about this dive was the GIANT turtle sleeping. It was so big, at first I thought it was a rock. Absolutely incredible! I also got to see a spotted moray eel, a nudibranch (sea slug) and a sea snail.

Our next dive had much better visibility at Nautilus reef. We spent some time on the surface, I did my last skills and then we got to dive! Our first discovery (I say our, but really it was my awesome dive instructor) was a huge pufferfish. It was hidden in some coral, but I was able to get a partial picture. The next was a small whitetip reef shark. It was only about two to three feet, but still a shark! It was swimming under some coral..pacing back and forth. The next was an octopus! This time, I got to hold it! It was so weird to feel it suctioning onto my skin. So bizarre! You could also see him changing colors. Pretty phenomenal. After that, we swam around and saw a sea cucumber, tons of beautiful coral and fish and found another octopus. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty big success!

The Big Island: Trip 3 – Day 1

This past weekend, Josh and I headed to the Big Island one last time for our last trip before Josh deploys and I move. We flew in on Friday night and checked into our hotel to get some sleep before starting our early and very busy Saturday.

Our first stop of the weekend was kayaking across Kealakekua Bay to the Captain Cook Monument to snorkel. The snorkeling and kayak tour came highly recommended to us and they definitely did not disappoint! On our 1 1/2 mile kayak to the monument, we were surrounded by a pod of spinner dolphins. It was so amazing to be so close to them and on their level! The video below shows just how close they were too us. Amazing!

Kayaking with Dolphins Video

After kayaking over to the monument, we landed our kayaks and got our snorkel gear ready. We also took some time to admire the monument. Captain Cook first visited the islands in 1778. It was thought that he and his crew were gods and were welcomed with open arms during a time of peace. After exploiting the kindness of the Hawaiian people, he left and returned during a time of war where he was not exactly welcomed back with open arms. He was killed in the bay by the Hawaiians and the monument memorializes his death.

Next, it was time to snorkel!! It was absolutely stunning. By far the best snorkeling I have ever seen. I could have spent hours just swimming around the area. It was great, as we were the only group (us and one other couple with our guide) and two other random people. We beat the crowd of tour boats!

Kealakekua Bay Snorkeling Video

After we finished snorkeling, we headed back across the bay. We encountered more dolphins along the way showing off their spinning moves. After we had lunch, we went back to the hotel to shower, change and start making our way towards Mauna Kea. The Mauna Kea summit sits at 13,796 feet and houses University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy and Mauna Kea Observatories. The 13 telescopes are operated by astronomers from 11 different countries. It was an incredible sight to see.

We stopped at the Visitor Information Station (9,200 ft above sea level) to acclimate to the elevation before heading to the summit. After about an hour, we headed up to the summit to catch the sunset and check out the observatories. Unfortunately, it was pretty cloudy so we didn’t get to see the sunset, but the clouds were still beautiful.

After that, we headed back down to do some star gazing. The Visitor Information Station sets up multiple telescopes for people to view things far, far away! It was awesome. The stars were absolutely breathtaking. I have never experienced anything like it! Once we finished viewing everything through the telescopes, we wandered through the gift shop and then headed over to a picnic table area, where it was pitch black, to better view the stars. As we were sitting there mesmerized, Josh said “So I have a question for you”. My response was, naturally, something along the lines of “Yeah, what’s up?”. To which he replied “Will you marry me?” as he got down off the bench onto one knee (in the dark). I was COMPLETELY shocked and surprised and uttered things such as “EXCUSE ME!?” and “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”. After I slightly recovered, I remembered to say “OF COURSE YES!!!!!!”. Since it was so dark, I couldn’t see the ring he had…he jokingly said “So I know it’s dark, but I promise it’s pretty”. It was an absolutely amazing and unexpected way to end the day! As I sit here writing this, I’m still in shock! We attempted to take a selfie picture of the two of us and, of course, cut half our faces off (typical). So that is our engagement picture…sitting in the dark with half our faces cut off and squinty eyes! Once we got back to the car, we took a much better one (below). Then I decided to call my mom and wake her up at 2:00 am her time to tell her the amazing news! We then made it back to civilization to find a place to eat dinner. Since it was so late, one of the only places open was “Humpy’s”. Yep, we celebrated our engagement at a restaurant called “Humpy’s”. Hilarious! All in all, I would say it was one successful day on The Big Island!

Engaged!!!

Engaged!!!

Kauai: Trip 2 – Day 1

This past weekend, Josh and I took our fourth trip to Kauai (which I believe we have 100% determined to be our favorite island). This time, we ventured there to take a boat tour of the Na Pali coast and to hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls.

Our Saturday morning started out bright and early as we had an hour drive to the boat harbor where we would be departing on our tour. We left at 7:00 a.m. and headed towards the Na Pali coast. Our guide told us that there had been a really large swell the past few days that made it impossible to go in the caves and snorkel as well as, made the boat ride an extremely rough one. We lucked out! We were able to do all of the above and had an amazing experience.

One of the things I was incredibly excited about was the chance that we would get to see Hawaiian spinner dolphins. I have wanted to see dolphins out in the open water since I’ve lived here, but hadn’t gotten to experience that yet. I definitely fixed that on this trip! We saw TONS of them on multiple occasions. Our first encounter provided us with a small pod that had a few babies in it. One of them was the size of a football and was so incredibly cute. They were on all sides of our boat and periodically jumped out of the water to spin. It was amazing!

After getting to experience the dolphins, we continued on to the indescribable beauty of the cliffs of the Na Pali coast. To see it from this angle was, to put it mildly, absolutely stunning. Every time I see this landscape, I always think I’m prepared because I have seen it multiple times before…and I will no longer experience the awe of what I am taking in. However, it never disappoints. Every single time it nearly takes my breath away.

After we made it down the whole coast, we turned around to head back. On our trip back, we got to venture inside the sea caves and get a little closer to the coast.

After touring the sea caves and taking more pictures of the coast, we were able to stop and snorkel for a little bit. Oddly enough, only Josh and I snorkeled out of the six people on our tour. It was a little rough, but there were some pretty big fish. Josh also got to see a HUGE sea turtle. I unfortunately got out about five minutes before he did and missed it! He got great footage of it though!

Na Pali Coast Snorkel

After having some snacks and drying off, we headed back to the harbor. On our way back we came across about five times as many dolphins as we had encountered in the beginning of our tour. They were jumping out of the water everywhere, surfing our wake and just swimming all around us.

After seeing dolphins for the second time, we made it back to the harbor around noon. We were both pretty exhausted and starving. We made it back to our hotel and grabbed a bite to eat. After that, we took a ridiculously long nap (I had taken dramamine and was seasick and we were both exhausted from lack of sleep). We woke up, grabbed dinner at the restaurant we ate at after we hiked the Kalalau Trail last year and headed back to our hotel. We packed up our stuff and headed to bed in preparation for another early morning!

Lanai: Day 2

On our second day there, we got up and had breakfast at our hotel before venturing out for some more off-roading. We had granola, fruit, coffee and orange juice.

Our breakfast at Hotel Lanai.

Our breakfast at Hotel Lanai.

After breakfast, we met Ben and Becca and headed to our first adventure of the day in the jeep…the Munro Trail. We were hesitant about this trail because the rental car company said it was closed to jeeps. However, after much research we established that it could be driven and that people did it all the time. It turned out to be the easiest off-roading adventure we had our entire time on the island. It also was the prettiest!

After the Munro Trail, we headed back to Lanai City to grab some stuff for a picnic and headed toward Shipwreck Beach (Kaiolohia) on the northeast corner of Lanai. We sat on some rocks and enjoyed the views of the 1940s oil tanker that still sits on the reef today after being beached there for the past 70 years. We also were joined by numerous sea turtles hanging out in the water near us. Quite a surreal lunch!

After having a peaceful lunch with the turtles, we headed to South Lanai to do some snorkeling along the beach at Hulopoe Bay. Ben had never been snorkeling, so it was a first for him (even though he’s scuba dived). We got some great video footage of our snorkel adventure!

Hulopoe Beach Snorkeling Video

After a couple hours of snorkeling, we hiked a short trail to the left to Pu’u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock). I was expecting it to be a cool iconic rock, but we turned the corner and were blown away by the how striking it was. There is a reason it is one of the most photographed places on Lanai. We walked to the top of the cliffs (where someone was actually proposing right as we got near the top). We had a great view of the small beaches down below. We could also see some of the bright yellow fish we had seen snorkeling earlier from all the way up there (about 100 feet).

After climbing back down from viewing Pu’u Pehe, we packed up the jeep and headed back to Lanai City. We returned the jeep, showered and got ready for dinner at Lanai City Grille (which conveniently for us was located in our hotel). I had read nothing but great reviews and wanted to make sure we made a stop here on our trip. The restaurant did not disappoint! We all split entrees and they were still huge portions! It was a great last evening on our vacation :).

Shark’s Cove

Today, we went out for our second round of snorkeling at Shark’s Cove on the North Shore. Neither Josh nor I had been snorkeling here, so we were excited to go and check it out. From everything we had heard, it was a million times better than Hanauma Bay. It definitely did NOT disappoint! We saw tons of beautiful fish and coral and got to swim with a sea turtle. It was significantly less crowded than Hanauma Bay as well, so we basically had the area we were snorkeling in to ourselves. Plus, I continued to conquer my fear of the ocean :). I compiled all of our video footage into one video (it’s long but great footage of the turtle!).

Shark’s Cove

Hanauma Bay Round Two

We ventured to Hanauma Bay last Friday so Bailey and Kyle could snorkel and see all the beautiful sea life. This was my second time here, but this time I really got to explore and enjoy snorkeling myself (last time I was on a field trip). We saw some amazing things! TONS of beautiful fish (some were HUGE) and Bailey and Kyle saw an eel! It was the second time using our Go Pro and I got some pretty cool videos (some of them ended up being corrupted…still learning 🙂 ).

Hanauma Bay Video 1
Hanauma Bay Video 2
Hanauma Bay Video 3
Hanauma Bay Video 4
Hanauma Bay Video 5

Shark Encounters!

On Saturday morning, Josh and I got up super early to head up to the North shore to go shark diving in a cage. It has been on my list of things I wanted to do on Oahu for awhile now and on a whim on Friday, we decided to sign up for the 6:30 a.m. tour with Hawaiian Shark Encounters….and it was AMAZINGGGGG! We left from Haleiwa and traveled about four miles off the coast and saw about five or six Galapagos sharks that were about eight feet long. They were extremely curious about the boat and the cage and were fearless when it came to venturing close enough to see what was going on. The guide was telling us that there have been a few generations of Galapagos sharks in the area due to fishermen feeding them from their boat. It was an incredible experience and so amazing to be so close to them! Pictures and videos below! The waves were really big, so we got tossed around in the cage quite a bit. Once again, Josh had to be the photographer and videographer so I didn’t get sick all over him (and everyone else). We purchased a GoPro for the occasion and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made!

Videos:
Shark Encounters 1
Shark Encounters 2
Shark Encounters 3
Shark Encounters 4
Shark Encounters 5