After our second-day Hanauma-less adventure, we decided to try the VERY early approach this time. Luckily, the kids are floating somewhere between Hawaii and Washington time, and got up all on their own and only slightly surly at 6am. By 6:15 we were in our swimsuits. Well, most of us were in our swimsuits. Boyness didn't want to swim RIGHT THAT VERY INSTANT and, in typical four year old fashion, absolutely could not conceive of wanting to swim ever, ever again. So him we let carry his swimsuit to the van. We grabbed a random assortment of fruit, boiled eggs, bagels, and travel-mugs of coffee and juice, and were outta there by 6:30. Arrived at the parking lot at 7:20...OPEN!! YEEESSSS!!!
We DID have to pay admission, because Hanauma Bay is quite the setup now and apparently, they don't take EXPIRED drivers licences, however local they may be. Ah well, it was worth the five bucks.
Hiking down to the bay:
Off they go!:
My mom took the two big kids for a little putz-around and then took Becca for a slightly longer trip. Once they'd gotten that out of their systems, my dad and I left the kids with her and went for a more extended trip, exiting the inner reef area through the semi-harrowing center channel, travelling along the outer edge of the reef towards the left-hand side of the bay until we were close enough for our own comfort to the rock wall there, and then looping back for the slightly spooky trip back through the center channel. The outer reef is much more alive with fish and corals. We saw a great many varieties and some very large fish, as well as a few dangerous urchins (one I'd never seen before and had to dive down for a closer - but not too close - look). Coming across a deep hole in the reef to a white wash of sand below is shocking; the beauty of these 'holes' is difficult to describe and perhaps not everyone sees them the way I do. They are a pure break in the riot of life that is this reef zone. Seeing the depth, the cleanliness, the fish microcommunities, the rays of sun like columns holding up surface; literally hearing the crackle and static of a thousand parrotfish and wrass crunching a million small rocks into a billion new grains of sand; watching schools of convict tang dart between rocks and over and around the hills and valleys of the reef-freeway; it is heartache-beautiful.
The return trip past the reef was tough but we made it back fighting a strong current, tugged around in murky water, jagged rocks popping up out of 'nowhere' - because you can't see anything - and we were fine but there was a dad who had taken a preteen kid out that wasn't doing so great. I nearly lost my dad because halfway through the passage I got ticked off and opened up to full swimming effort assuming he'd follow, and he didn't. By the time we got to shore we were laughing and remembering times we'd dragged OTHER people through that passage.
We capped it off with a little goofing off on the rocks before we left:
And after we'd broken camp, we trudged back up the trail - this is when my mom spouted her ingenious idea, which warranted another entry all its own - and ferried sleeping children back to my parents' for a late lunch and some swimming and the bike adventure.
The kids were BEYOND exhausted by 7 and asleep by 8. Tony even said "I don't wanna watch a movie tonight, I wanna go to bed now." Ahhh, lovely tired kids. Off I go to join them.