Friday, October 3, 2014

Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay

I learned to snorkel in this flooded crater near Waikiki 35 years ago.  It was the beginning of a life long love affair with the sea.  Did I dare return?

  My memories were filled with a kaleidoscope of color and enchantment.  I didn't want to dash them with disappointment.

So I'm going to be honest here.  Things had changed.  Hundreds of us were corralled into a movie theater to get "educated".  Don't stand on the coral.  Don't feed the fish.  Don't do this.  Don't do that.  I got it.  And I tried to appreciate the fact that we tourists were still allowed to swim here.  But it was too late.  The damage had been done.

Though the coral has taken a beating, there is still a variety of fish to be seen and this is always an exciting thing.  I tried hard to enjoy myself, but the magic (like I feared) was gone.

 So was I glad I returned?  Yes.  This nature reserve, the result of a volcanic explosion on Oahu about 32,000 years ago, opened up a crater which eventually filled with emerald green and turquoise water.  Its oceanside rim was eroded by tidal currents and trade winds, allowing it to become a marine sanctuary for nearly 400 different kinds of fish.  The color of the water is even more vivid than I remember.  The breathtaking beauty may no longer be under the bay, but it is definitely above it.

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