Saturday, September 12, 2009

Snorkeling the Kona Coast

Thursday I booked us the snorkel trip on the Hula Kai. Hula Kai is the upscale boat run by the folks at Fairwinds. I'm sure the Fair Wind is a fun snorkel tour. We saw the 60 or so people lined up to get on. But the water slides which look like great fun for families, is not for us. We're going out with around 25 people, with comfortable deck seating under awnings, to further away sites and with no kids. Its a very nice boat and a very nice ride.

Here's the boat at the pier in Keahou

We start out around 9:30AM. It's a beautiful morning, the sky is blue, and the water is very, very calm today. Almost immediately, we spot a pod of spinner dolphins. Some of them jump out of the water to greet us.

The haze visible on the hillside is mostly VOG from the erupting volcano further down the coast. The vog doesn't bother us much, but it does make for an almost constant haze. Todd meets some folk from LA on the boat, and jokes that the vog must make them feel right at home.

Our first snorkel site is a place they call "Driftwood". The water is maybe 35 feet deep, so while its gorgeous, the pictures are very blue. There are plenty of fish to see. I don't want to get too close to the edge of the coast though, I can see the surging waves crash there. We're told to stay within 6 feet of water. I tell you what... I never get close to less than 15 feet or so, I'm sure.

When we come up, they've set out breakfast for us. Croissants, juice, fruit, coffee. I don't want to eat too much, but its good to have a bite and plenty of fluids. It only takes about 15 minutes to zip over to our second snorkel site. This is close to some sea caves, and there may be turtles here as well as many fish. I actually found this site less interesting than the others. I can see the underwater caves, but the tide is too high to go near them, much less swim in them. And the water is a little cloudy here. I do see turtle however.

This is what the coastline is like here:

After about an hour, we get back on the boat (I'm getting pretty close to being the first one off the boat, the last one back on...I really like being in the water. Its warm, I love floating around and looking at the's just great). This time when we get in, we can smell the grill going, the captain is cooking burgers and teriyaki chicken. There's salads and chips and cookies for dessert. And beer and soft drinks. Now I AM hungry, and the lunch is pretty good.

It's early enough that they take us to a third snorkel site, called Turtle Rock. This is a fascinating area because it's over black, volcanic sand. So its a completely different sort of underwater scene. And we do see a couple more turtles here. I've got a picture of one, but it was pretty deep, so its not all that clear.

Turtle Rock:


On the way back to the dock, we stop in Kealakakua bay to get a look at the Captain Cook monument. A lot of the snorkel boats (including the Fair Wind) stop here, but we don't. There are a number of snorkelers about, and kayakers in this area.

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