Calm descends. It’s only me, the coral, and whatever fish I can see. The water crackles with the activity of some unknown creature. There’s a Moorish Idol! I love their graceful movements, with their threadlike fin swaying. Now a pufferfish! It’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen, though it’s not puffed. Ulysses comes into my field of vision and dives to take a picture.
I poke my head above the water for a moment and soak in the sun. Marie (of justaddshoes.wordpress.com) flags me: she has found an eel hiding in the rocks. A shiver descends my spine as I watch it slowly open and close its mouth, wriggling around a rock outcropping. I feel that there is something malevolent about eels, as it slithers across the reef.
Our first full day on Maui was spent at two beaches: Kahekili Beach Park and Honolua Bay. Both are on the west side of the island. We beat the crowds to Kahekili and the beach was beautiful. After dropping our towels on a grassy knoll studded with palm trees, we entered the clear water. After snorkeling, we laid on the grass and dried off in the sun.
Honolua Bay was a very different experience. Under Hawaiian law, beaches are public–you cannot own a beach. It is my understanding that you can own the land adjacent to the beach, but have to allow for public access. At Honolua Bay, we walked down a dirt road to gain access to the water and were greeted by a man who said he owned the beach. He laid out the rules–don’t touch the fish/coral/turtles, don’t bring any rocks/coral/marine life on shore, no suntan lotion in the water–and told us not to lose our keys. Honolua Bay is marine preserve, so I understand and respect the rules. But the delivery was just strange, and the buildings next to the shore looked like squatters shacks. There is no sand to speak of but instead a “beach” of rocks. I was in constant danger of twisting an ankle as we walked to a clear spot to set down our gear and enter to water.
In spite of that introduction, the snorkeling at Honolua was fantastic. The water was calm, the fish were larger than at Kahekili, and the coral was more complex. I definitely recommend it–just be prepared for the “owner” and the rocks!
*I will be adding pictures to this post once they become available, but until then, here’s a picture of the hills above Ma’alea.