A Day of Sailing, Snorkeling, and Scuba (Written by my husband Norwood)

Kauai Travel Blog

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Today started quite early with an alarm at 5am. The first thing I noticed in the morning was a gecko on the ceiling in our shower about two inches long and brown. As I was showering he lost his grip and landed on my foot briefly before scurrying away. After considering letting him guard the room, we decide to catch and release him outside so that he wouldn't get hurt. After groggy packing we set off to Port Allen and began our Ni'ihau and Na Pali coastline catamaran tour! Ni'ihau is also known as the forbidden island and access to it's waters are heavily restricted so we were pleased to have the chance to snorkel/scuba in it's crystal clear waters.

Our boat trip started west along the coastline and right off the bat we saw some exciting sea life. A sea turtle was sculling around the port and once out in the open ocean we were treated to a dolphin encounter. The captain slowed the boat to a cruising speed and the dolphins began to ride the wake. We saw both bottle nose and spinner dolphins. Baby's swam next to mothers and the spinner dolphins spun out of the water in graceful and slightly silly displays of acrobatics. At one point, heather questioned me about an odd bird gliding over the water which turned out to be a flying fish that was cruising at about 5 feet above the water for about 30 seconds.

Next we cruised along a foggy Na Pali coastline and after seeing some remote beaches and ancient Hawaiian settlements our captain took the boat into some amazing sea caves. This was actually quite harrowing because the boat came withing feet of the rocky volcanic cliffs as tourists stood on the bow and the slightest mistake could have dashed some of the less surefooted people against the rocks. Some of these caves have been used over and over by Hollywood for their unique arches and remote inlets. The main bay of the Na Pali coast was mysteriously shrouded in fog. This was slightly disappointing, however a few days prior we had seen the same vista from the overlook at the top of the valley.

After the Na Pali coastline excursion we headed out across the channel to Ni'ihau. It was during this trip that I was briefed in the use of my scuba gear. I had impulsively signed myself up for a dive a few days prior. Neither Heather or I are dive certified so this introductory dive also included a brief orientation to the techniques required. Heather chose to snorkel instead and so I found myself fully kitted out as I stepped off the boat and dropped 5 feet into the water breathing compressed air for the first time. I must admit that I was in a mild state of panic at the time and did not fully trust the mechanisms. After a brief skills orientation I was instructed to pull myself hand over hand down a rope anchored on the sea floor a modest 40 feet below. There is something very disquieting about putting your trust in equipment that you don't fully understand and sinking to the bottom of the ocean. At first I had trouble breathing and my mask was filling up with water but once I had calmed myself and drained my mask I started to truly enjoy my first dive. The water was crystal clear and the terrain was made up of underwater arches and volcanic striations. The tropical fish calmly went about their business as I poked and prodded starfish and sea cucumbers. It sort of felt like being an astronaut visiting the surface of another planet as I slowly made my way through miniature valleys and past cliff faces and through archways making my way further and further down. My instructor picked up a starfish and to my surprise a tiny fish had made it's home on the surface of the starfish. This level of tiny detail was present and visible everywhere. I took some photos and by the time my air was depleted I had completely relaxed into this new experience and we slowly made our ascent back to the boat. As we rose I could see other divers and snorkelers far above us. One was holding a lobster, very surreal. And so my dive ended and I joined heather and the others for a quick snorkel which also proved to be very enjoyable.

We were served lunch as the boat taxied around the island and after a half an hour we headed back to port allen. I must say this was the least enjoyable part of the trip. Not only were we leaving behind all the cool stuff, but we were also now sailing against the wind and the current which confined us to our sea sprayed seats for the duration. Normally I am not a man who gets sea-sick, but I must say that I didn't feel great as the boat slammed repeatedly into the ocean rollers. The ride back also took two hours and when we finally arrived we were glad to be on dry ground, however both heather and I felt that the land was moving like the sea for the rest of the evening.

After our seven hour journey it was now 3pm. Exhausted we then drove over to Poipu beach and lay out on the sand and did a little light snorkeling. Around dinner we drove to Brick Oven Pizza, my favorite restaurant on the island so far, and had a pineapple and tomato pizza on wheat. After making plans for the next day I cut up a ripe pineapple and we settled in for the evening.

Heather and I hope to get over to the Buddhist festival tomorrow and to Queen's bath, so tomorrow your regularly scheduled writer will return to let you know what happened on this eventful trip! Mahalo and Aloha!

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photo by: hauteboy