Updated: Jul 24, 2020
Lock down in Hawaii? Closing borders to the United States...schools shutting down...suspending airplane travel into and out of the islands due to the COVID-19 Pandemic? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing on the radio. How could this be happening in this beautiful paradise?!
As I pulled up to one of my favorite scenic spots on the island, I parked the car on the side of the road and hiked down the trail to the beach cove below. Hanauma Bay is located on the eastern side of the island and is a sanctuary for all types of tropical fish and sea creatures. Once I reached the sandy shoreline, I quickly put on my goggles, snorkel and swim fins then dove into the cool ocean water. Beneath the sea everything was calm and quiet. The worries of the world above slipped slowly away as I took in the sheer beauty of the life below it. Schools of pink, yellow, blue and silver fishes of different species swam rhythmically through the sea like a synchronized orchestra. Undisturbed by my obvious presence, they simply split up and streamed right past me only to join up again behind me to continue their journey. I couldn’t help giggling at some of the baby fish that swam right up to my face mask flitting their little fins and tails like crazy!
As I glided gently through the water, I could see the different shades of coral and seaweed swaying with the ocean’s current back and forth beneath me. The reef below was littered with so much activity. Different varieties of fish, crab, sea urchins and creatures of all sorts lived in this well-balanced ecosystem. It was a beautiful sight to see and one of the many reasons that I enjoy snorkeling. I have always felt a peace below the surface of the ocean. It is a tranquil escape from all of the global chaos that is happening in the world right now.
After a few hours of playing in the sea, I slowly emerged from the salt water and laid back on the warm inviting sand. I closed my eyes for a few minutes enjoying the heat of the sun on my face and body.
I smiled in my slumber remembering a time when I was hanging out with my girlfriends at this beach during the summer breaks. There is a place that all of the locals used to go to located on the other side of the cliffs. It is a hike from the beach that requires climbing over rocks and rough terrain, pausing in certain spots as the ocean waves crashed up against the cliff sides and exploding into the air and landing onto the pathway leading to our ultimate destination. If you weren’t careful, you could be swept over the edge and into the jagged rocks below. Once we came around the bend, we walked a few more yards inland and there it was...a place we called “the blowhole”, or often referred to by locals as “the toilet bowl”. It was like a small swimming hole with an underwater cave that was sculpted by nature to allow the ocean water to flow in and out of it with the current of the sea. You could either jump into the ocean channel and swim into the blowhole through the underwater tunnel or jump directly into it when the water reached the surface.
If you timed it right from the ocean channel, the current would pull you rapidly through the underwater archway and cause the water to rise in the swim hole very quickly and blow you straight up into the air with the rush of water beneath it. We normally ended up on the surface or easily pulled ourselves to the top by climbing out when the water was even with the edges of the swim hole. If you timed it right again, you could easily jump into the blowhole while the water was still high enough, then when the water begins to drain out of it, like a toilet bowl flushing, allow the current to sweep you out of it and through the underwater tunnel leading back into the ocean channel. From there, you can either swim into the blowhole again with the next wave or swim towards the rocks to climb out.
“Excuse me…,” said a deep voice interrupting my thoughts, “...you can’t sit or lay on the beach here due to the Coronavirus. You can only swim for exercise,” said the uniformed officer. Regrettably I nodded my head and started packing up my gear. Life as I knew it was changing drastically and as I drove off, I wondered, what laid ahead for the people of Hawaii.
A Hui Hou Kākou (until we meet again),