Saturday, September 07, 2013

Old Lahaina Luau

We did do a few other things on Maui...dining, shopping, exploring Lahaina, etc.  We spent one memorable evening attending a traditional Hawaiian luau.  There are lots of great luau options on Maui and I have been to several at the major hotels in the past, but I wanted something more traditional and that featured good, historical information (i.e. maybe the kid would learn something) as well as great food and entertainment so we chose the Old Lahaina Luau

The venue is right on the waterfront in Lahaina and includes a traditional lei greeting.  Here's Ryan modeling his lei.

The tables are in rings around the stage.  The closest ring has low tables and you sit on pillows on the ground and the next two rings have traditional tables and chairs.  We were in the third ring so I would have liked us to be a little closer, but really, there's not a bad seat in the house.

While it doesn't have the spectacular fire dancers or the dances from other Polynesian cultures (Tahiti, Samoa, etc.), the venue and service are outstanding and the hulas were some of the most beautiful and well performed that I have ever seen. 


We learned that the drum was first brought to Hawaii by a prince of Tahiti and was initially considered to be such a sacred item that it was placed in a shrine and could only be approached by a priest. 

Here's a short video showing part of that story.

Several of the dances were based on legends surrounding Pele, the volcano goddess of Hawaii.  In this video, a dancer representing Pele herself tells part of the story.  If you listen closely to the chant, you will hear the name of Pele mentioned.

I was most impressed by a more modern hula dance that was done about lovers on Old Puhio Beach on Oahu - it was truly one of the most spectacular hulas I've ever seen.  I was so busy enjoying it that I forgot to hit "play" on the camera to get a recording LOL!

The rest of our evening included wonderful drinks and food including traditiona luau staples such a roast pig (from a traditaion imu or oven pit) and poi (a paste made from the taro root).

That was our evening at the luau!

Stay tuned to see what happened when we took a day cruise to the island of Lana'i!


Friday, September 06, 2013

Honolua Bay Snorkeling

If you think all we did was snorkel while we were on Maui...well, you'd be close to right, but not completely.  I do have an obsession with all things ocean-y and now that Ryan is old enough to be my water buddy, I was determined to take full advantage of the situation.  After all, I figure I only have another year or two before he hits the "I'm embarrassed to be seen in public with my mother" phase.

Last time I went to Maui in 1999, I had the most amazing experience at Honolua Bay.  It was way off the beaten track, hard to find and many of the locals we spoke to had kind of warned us off it.  I don't know why at the time that ignited my desire to go there anyway (stubborn?  who, me?), but it did and I have never seen such an unbelievable abundance of marine creatures and such stunning water clarity.  Unfortunately, camera technology back then did not allow for affordable underwater options like it does now so I only have my own memories of that dive and no photos.

Now armed with the underwater camera I rented ($55 for the whole week from Boss Frog's in the Lahaina Cannery Mall if you're thinking of doing the same thing and TOTALLY worth every penny), I was determined to go back.  Got the same semi-negative reaction from everyone we asked about poor visibility and rocky, difficult water entry.

I went anyway.  Again, I'm not stubborn AT ALL.

Here's a view of the bay from the lookout up above.  A few hundred yards past this point on Highway 30, there are now a couple of turnouts where you can park.  In 1999, no turnouts - you just parked on the side of the road and hoped no one would hit your car or rob it.

From the turnouts, there are now a couple of trails through what looks like jungle to get to the bay.


About halfway down the trail, we ran across this amazing tree.


Now with small child added for size reference.


The rare ubiquitous Honolua Bay chicken.  It's so're on a jungle pathway and you expect to hear exotic bird calls and all you hear is roosters crowing and there are all these chickens walking around free.  Some of them were very unusual looking, too.  This was the only one who stood still long enough to pose for me.


Probably because she had these cute little fluffy babies with her.  Soooo CUTE!  I can't stand it!

However, the water was calling us so it was time to head on down to the bay.

Unfortunately, this time everything the locals had always warned about was true.  15 years has led to a lot of environmental impact in this area.  So much silt and mud choking the bottom close to shore really reduced the visibility and a lot of the coral had died off.  The concrete boat dock that used to be there making water entry easier has mostly been worn away by wind and wave.  I did still manage to get a few decent pictures like this urchin, although you can tell the water clarity is nowhere near as good as it was at Black Rock.

In this photo of a Christmas Wrasse (background) and Bluespined Unicornfish (foreground), you can really see the mud/silt deposit on the rocks.

This Brown Surgeonfish is taking advantage of the algae growing in the mud to grab a quick snack.

This Moorish Idol is doing the same.  This would have been an amazing shot if the water had been clearer.

Finally, as I moved out into deeper water in the bay, the clarity got a little better.  There were lots of these Orangbanded Surgeonfish roaming around, but it was quite a trick to get a side view so he could show off his orange and blue racing stripe!

The further out we went, the more fish there were, too.

Here's a closeup of one of the fish from the school above.  This is a Whitesaddle Goatfish.

I was happy to see that not only did the visibility improve in deeper water, but that the coral was not completely gone.

That explains why there was a nice variety of Butterflyfish in this location - they like to nibble on the coral.  This is an Ornate Butterflyfish.

This is a pair of Raccoon Butterflyfish - see the "mask" over their eyes?

Although it looks very similar to the Ornate, this is a Redfin Butterflyfish.

I took a picture of one of these at Black Rock, but the colors didn't show nearly as well.  This is a Saddle Wrasse - named for the orange "saddle" just above his pectoral fins.

I wish I could have gotten a photo of this guy from the side - amazing stripes!  This is a Sailfin Tang.

This is a gorgeous fish and there were large schools of them everywhere.  Bright yellow with electric blue and turquoise stripes, this fish is called a Bluestripe Snapper.

Sadly, our journey ended at that point.  Ryan's snorkel developed a leak and my mom (who doesn't swim) had been patiently waiting on shore for us for an hour so we decided it was time to call it quits and head somewhere for lunch.  I was bummed because some of the snorkelers who were farther out were reporting squid sightings and I would have loved to see that.

Honolua Bay has now been declared a marine preserve and I hope that some of the poor conditions I saw there will begin to reverse themselves with it being more protected.  I hope to return some day and spend more time in the deeper sections looking for squid and other creatures!

Stay tuned to see what we ran into when we attended a traditional Hawaiian luau!


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Snorkeling at Black Rock

This is the Black Rock area as seen from the right side of our balcony.  The snorkeling area is all along the rocks out into the water. 

The island of Lana'i can be seen in the background of this photo.

 If you're feeling more adventurous, you can even swim around the first point and into the cove on the other side.  Here are some paddleboarders making that trek.  Being that I had a child with me who had never done this before, I opted to stay closer in.  There were definitely some currents farther out on some of the days we were there and I didn't want to deal with them.

After first giving our snorkel gear a test run in the condo's pool, we were ready to make our first attempt.

Here's Ryan giving me the "everything's okay can we please get going" pose.

The first thing you notice is the amazing clarity of the water.  Even with lots of people around (the only downside to this location), the water remained unbelievably clear.

Close in, this location is a sandy bottom with rocks to the right.  Not much live coral due to too much human impact on the environment, but once we swam out a little farther, there was some coral still alive.
This is probably my favorite photo that I took underwater out of all the places we snorkeled.  I have a whole new appreciation for all the underwater camerawork on the Discovery channel, Animal Planet, etc.  If you think land photos are hard...try bobbing up and down while holding your breath and trying to capture a moving target that swims faster than your digital camera can take a pic!  At least this gorgeous, bright orange Slate Pencil Urchin held still long enough for me to get the shot.  I did have to free dive down to do it, but it was worth it. 

This was the only Trumpetfish I managed to find out of all our dives.  Apparently, they go through a phase where they are solid yellow, but in this phase, they are olive green until almost the tail and then you get a black with white spots section and a bright yellow tail.  Sadly, the next day, I watched a spearfisherman get out of the water in this location with two of these gorgeous fish that he had killed.  They are so very narrow that I can't imagine they make good eating so I can only figure that he took them just because they were so pretty and unusual looking.  Kinda hate that.
Also hanging out in the coral area were quite a few of the Hawaii state fish.  Known as the little fish with the big name, it's called a Humuhumunukunukuapua'a.  In English, it's known as a reef triggerfish.
Here's another shot of this guy with an urchin in the lower left corner.

I thought they would mostly stay by the rocks, but I caught this one racing away over the sandy bottom.


Other fish that seemed to prefer the sandier areas are these Sergeant Majors (striped) and tangs (solid). 

The Sergeant Majors seemed fairly comfortable with all the people in the water so I managed to get a close up of this one.
These Cornetfish were all over on the sandy bottom, but you had to look closely because their skinny silhouette and uniform coloring make them look like shadows or blades of grass.
This guy was so fast.  I chased him all over the place trying to get a good shot of his amazing colors, but this was the best I could do.  This is a Yellowfin Surgeonfish.  He's mostly blue with bright yellow fins that look like a bird's wings flapping when he swims.  There's also a bright yellow stripe just below the dorsal fin on his back and white ring around his tail.

This was another fish that led me a merry chase and who has phenomenal colors that I couldn't capture.  Brilliant scarlet and lime green, this Christmas Wrasse was one of the most colorful fish we saw.

Moving back over to the coral area, I caught this lone Longnose Butterflyfish.  I thought it was odd that it appeared to be all alone, but I never did see any others like it that day.

Another singleton was this Yellow Tang.  Every day that we went to Black Rock, I saw this same single fish hanging around this same rock.  Normally, they come in schools so I can't figure out why he was all by his lonesome.

On the other hand, there were lots and lots of these Lowfin Chubs hanging around.

I wish I'd been able to getter a better side view of this Orangespine Unicornfish to show all its brilliant orange and yellow coloring, but I was getting the "enough's time to boogie board" signal from the kid so had to pack it in for the day.

Notice that all snorkel gear has already been removed.  I barely got him to hang around long enough to take this last photo.  He was excited to do the snorkeling, though.  He kept forgetting I couldn't understand him with the snorkel in his mouth and would yell out under water when he saw something interesting.  Then I would smile and break the seal on my mask and water would leak in and we'd both end up on the surface spitting out water and laughing.  It was awesome.
Stay tuned to see what we found at some other locations around the island.





Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Why Everything is Better in Hawaii

Okay, maybe not everything, but so far I've only been able to come up with a few things that AREN'T better in Hawaii:

1.  Skiing.  Skiing is not better in Hawaii (although they do get snow on the volcano sometimes)
2.  Ummm...

Okay, so ONE thing that is not better in Hawaii.

And here's why...

We arrived on Maui about mid-day thanks to the time difference.  After wasting time at Costco (don't ask me why we needed to shop there for only 3 people), we made our way over to the Ka'anapali area of West Maui to our condo.  This was a new property for us since there were no vacancies at our regular Marriott timeshare.  I had my fingers crossed that the photos and reviews on the internet were accurate and luckily, they were.

This is a view of the island of Lana'i looking a bit to the right from our balcony.

And this is the island of Kaho'olawe looking a bit to the left from our balcony.

The property also had a gorgeous koi pond complete with a cute little bridge.  The nearby grassy areas were great places to watch doves, mynah birds and an occasional stork every day.

Here's a photo of the kid sitting by the koi pond patiently waiting for the SLOW adults to get their act together and get him to the beach already.

And boy did he have fun when we finally made it there.  Just down the beachfront path that winds in front of all the hotels in Ka'anapali is an area known as Black Rock.  It's located in front of the Sheraton hotel and is perfect for snorkeling, paddleboarding, boogie boarding or just enjoying a swim.

The white building in the background is the Sheraton hotel.

After a little bit of time on the beach, it was time to get cleaned up and head for dinner.  Here's a shot of our first sunset taken from the koi pond bridge.

And another shot of sunset (with boats) taken from the Hula Grill restaurant (best Lava Flow drinks on the island!) located right next to our condo in Whaler's Village.

That was our first day.  We spent most of the next day getting our snorkel and camera gear rented, hitting up the local grocery store for gluten-free food options for my mom, and exploring downtown Lahaina.

After that, it was on to snorkeling!  Ryan had never done it before and I had never had the advantage of an underwater camera so we were excited to play at being Jacques Cousteau.  Stay tuned to see what we found!





Friday, August 16, 2013

Back from Outer Space

Oh, my poor little blog.  I've had to leave it to languish all alone and lonely for the past few months.  On the up side, it means I'm more engaged with my REAL life and not wasting spending so much time goofing around on the internet.  On the down side, I sure do miss having an outlet for my thoughts, jewelry, etc.

Most of the last few months have been consumed with work, kid stuff, and household repairs.  No jewelrymaking and I can't even remember the last time I went on Etsy to buy new beads...I know, I don't believe me, but it's TRUE!  Oddly enough, though, I have actually been SELLING quite a bit of both jewelry and resin beads.  Why it's suddenly happening when I'm paying less attention to the site than ever...I have no idea.  I call it my "un-marketing" marketing plan. 

Genius, LOL!

We did manage to get away for a long weekend in late July.  Mom won a free weekend at a Dana Point beach condo in some charity silent auction thingy that she went to so our whole clan schlepped over there for several days.  We had a great time - the surf was huge and somewhere on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean are a pair of my swim goggles that I'll never get back after I wiped out pretty good in a sizeable wave.  The same wave made a valiant attempt at taking half my swimsuit, too, but I managed to hang onto that...which was a fortunate thing for both me and for anyone within visual distance.

Here's a lovely photo of the sunset on our first night showing the view out the condo's bedroom window:

This is Saltwater Creek beach - famous surfing spot and located right next to the Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Our real vacation is coming up this next week.  We're headed to Hawaii!  I lived on Oahu as a young child for a few years so my earliest memories (and probably my love of all things beachy) stem from that time.  I've been jonesing to go back since my last trip 13 years ago and am thrilled that we are going to Maui this summer.  Ryan has never been so I'm looking forward to taking him to a luau and teaching him to snorkel, etc.

I bought a waterproof camera and hope to get some shots of the coral reef, fish, turtles, etc.  Of course, I'm still kinda skeptical that this whole "waterproof" thing is actually going to work, but I have a receipt and a warranty so am hopeful that I can return/exchange it if there are problems.

I will definitely get the photos posted here if I'm able to get some.  Maybe they'll serve as inspiration for some new jewelry because I could sure use that!