Monday, December 24, 2007

Continuing to support Hawaii's Tourism Industry
- Sunday Recap

First thing this morning, we got up and headed out to Hanuama Bay to go snorkeling. It's at the southeastern corner of the island, and has a reputation as the best place to go snorkeling in Oahu.
"Map" of Hanuama Bay from the State Park's website.

Logistics Summary:
- Parking costs $1.
- The average Joe off the street has to pay $5 per person to get in.
- If you're military AND stationed on the island (you have to show something that proves you have a local address in addition to your military ID), then it's free.
- On your first visit there, you have to watch a 9-minute cheesy video that sings cutesy songs about not feeding or touching the fish and not walking on the reef. After you've seen the video once, you can sign their "return visitor" list and you don't have to watch the film again for 1 year. (Cue Seinfeld Soup Nazi sound effect: "No film for you! Come back, one year!").
- It's a decent hike down the hill to the beach. There is a shuttle bus that will drive you down to the beach for 50 cents and carry you back up the hill for $1. (Children 3 and under are free). We hoofed it both ways.

Self-portrait of me and ES watching the fishies.

A rare glimpse of the very energetic and never stationary YS-fish.

We had a great time snorkeling and saw a TON of fish. We got enough pictures of enough different types of fish, I could make my own fish identification guidebook. We saw bluestriped snappers, reef triggerfish, lagoon triggerfish, multiple types of parrotfish, goatfish, bird wrasse, butteryflyfish, trumpetfish, puffer fish, convict tangs, sailfin tangs, flounder...

That's just off the top of my head. I could post dozens of pictures here, but I'll save most of them for Shutterfly later. Here's a sample of the scenery in Hanuama Bay from our measly little 4-megapixel camera (see tangent on cameras below):

A school of "Convict Tang" fish
(note the black & white stripes, hence "convicts")

Here's a picture of the hill you have to walk down to the beach (and back up again when you're through) unless you want to pay to ride the tram. Yes, the road coming down the hill looks "white" because that's the long line of MORE PEOPLE coming down to the beach.
Oh, so when you go to the beach and it's time to go, you tell you're kids, "Okay, it's time to go!" What do your kids do? Here's what YS does when we tell him it's "time to go":
What do the SEALS call that when they roll around in the sand and get themselves all nasty and caked with wet sand? Sugar cookies? Anyway, when we told the boys it was time to go, YS promptly DOVE into the sand and rolled around to get it EVERYWHERE (including in his mouth and all over his tongue).

Overall Assessment: We had a great time and saw a lot of fish. At the same time, I think I saw just as many fish when we went snorkeling in Ko Olina, but at Ko Olina we didn't pay for parking, didn't pay for tickets (for L & A), didn't have to sit through a lame video, didn't have to hike up and down that huge hill, and didn't have to deal with the crowds. Oh, the bathrooms at Hanuama Bay are a little nicer and cleaner than the bathrooms at Ko Olina, but when you're all covered in salt water and sand, I don't think it matters that much.

Tangent on Cameras: Over the past few years we have been very pleased with our Cannon PowerShot A520. We also bought the Canon underwater housing for it to use snorkeling and scuba diving, and were very pleased with it's ease of use and quality of pictures.

We were pretty sad when our camera died a little less than a year ago. The camera was no longer under warranty, and we'd been debating what to do. Should we pay the $100 to have it repaired, or should we give up the ghost and get a whole new camera? Unfortunately, Cannon no longer makes the A520, so we would have to get a whole new underwater housing to go with whatever new camera we bought.

Then, one day recently, we happened to walk into Walmart (so my LW tells me). There in the front was a table set up with a bunch of the previous-year's camera models they were trying to clear out of their inventory to make way for the new year's models. Wouldn't you know it? They had a brand-spanking new, still in the box Cannon PowerShot A520, and they only wanted $150 for it. The lady behind the table said something like, "Oh, nobody wants that one because it's ONLY 4 megapixels." We said, "We'll take it!" Yeah, it was $50 more than having our old one refurbished, but (a) this saved us the hassle of mailing the old one in for repairs and (b) this got us a working camera (and a brand new one at that!) in our hands before our relatives started arriving on the island. So we had it in the housing and ready to go in the water to see the fish today.

After we left Hanuama Bay, we continued our trek counterclockwise around the island and really enjoyed the scenery. Uncle A (otherwise known to YS as "that guy sitting next to Daddy in the front seat") was craving some (more) Jack-in-the-Box tacos for lunch, and who was I to say "no"? So we stopped there along the way. We drove up over the Pali overlook to check out the view on our way back home to get showered and cleaned up.

Tonight we went to dinner at P.F. Chang's (their lemon scallops are SOOO good!) in Honolulu and then went into Waikiki to see the Cirque Hawaii. Note, this show is NOT related to the Cirque du Soleil shows like in Vegas. I've wanted to see one of the Cirque du Soleil shows for a long time now, but alas, I have never been to one, so I can't tell you how they compare.

Overall, the Cirque Hawaii show was fairly entertaining, but nowhere near worth what we paid for the tickets (even with the ITT discount). The cast was made up of some very talented gymnasts who did some amazing things that I could never twist or bend or balance or twirl my body to do (without substantial injury to myself or someone nearby). The boys seemed mildly amused by it, but I don't think they have an appreciation for what they can and can't get their bodies to do at this young age in their lives. I know that I could NEVER do those stunts. ES says he didn't like it. YS wouldn't say, but he did clap several times during the performance. In any case, it was amusing, but I would NOT pay to see this show again.


Sagey said...

First we got the camera at Wal Mart, not KMart and YS did like the show. He told me. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have a very love hate relationship with Haunauma Bay. But loved seeing your crew enjoying it. Especially that little human-esque fish playing floatie offering up a big cheese! How adorable! (Not that you need ME to remind you your boys are too flippin' cute)

PF Changs. MMM. Lemon scallops you say? Something else to try.

Sounds like ya'll are really making the most of family time and the island. MERRY CHRISTMAS to your crew! (the family unit one, that is!)

Chap said...

Geez, I remember back in the day when they sold fish food on the beach. You'd drop a pellet or a frozen pea (kama'aina fish food) in the water and WHOOSH a hunnert fish turn you into a traffic circle. When you're done you still smell like fish food...some d#Xn fish beaked me in the knuckle!

Guess it was better than the not-so-bright move one of my sailors did right before deployment. So I actually have to *tell* people don't put your hand in the barracuda's mouth?

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