Honolua Bay

Lahaina, HI

Seriously, can this be only the 2nd full day of our vacation? Island time, slow and laid back, is wonderful.

This morning’s breakfast was darn good. We had saved one of our 2 baked potatoes from last night – shredded it, added some chopped onion and tomato and made hash browns. Accompanied by scrambled eggs with onions, toast and juice (and of course Kona coffee!) it was a nice way to start the day.

Today we are going to explore some other places to snorkel. We pack up water bottles and snacks, snorkeling equipment and cameras, put on a boatload of sunscreen and hop in the car. We are heading for Honolua Bay which, according to our book, has excellent snorkeling. Honolua Bay and Slaughterhouse Beach are right next to each other separated by narrow Kalaepiha Point. Together these two areas make up the “Honolua-Mokule’ia Bay Marine Life Conservation District” and we’re hopeful that the water will be clear.

Here is a photo of the walk down to the beach…it was beautiful.

The path to Honolua-Mokule'ia Bay
The path to Honolua-Mokule’ia Bay

When we got to the water we were surprised to find not a sand beach but a very rocky one. And chickens – lots and lots of chickens! Do you know the history of the chickens in Hawai’i? We were told that years ago a hurricane hit the Islands and most of the domestic chickens were set loose in the storm. What we have now are a LOT of wild chickens – talk about free range! 🙂

We find a little shade in a less-rocky spot for our towels and head for the water. I’m heartened because there are two snorkeling tour boats anchored out on the right side of the bay. Getting into the water is tricky because of the rocks but the bay is so sheltered that there is virtually no surf. As I lowered my head into the water my heart sank – it was murky, sandy. I tapped Jeff and pointed out by the tour catamarans. “Let’s head that way. The boats always drop off at the best spots.” It was a longer swim than it looked and I’m so proud that Jeff did it. He has never been very comfortable in the water, but he is doing awesomely.

Oh, MUCH better snorkeling out here! The coral was spectacular! Colors I’ve never seen before – blue coral? Who knew. There was a lot of fish life as well. This is a trumpet fish



I had started taking underwater photos when a snorkeler tapped me and said “Come look at this ” I followed him and a very large free-swimming green eel was moving through the water.

Free swimming green eel
Free swimming green eel

Turns out that Jeff was right behind me and he got to see it too. This was great!



A few minutes later a woman swam up and very excitedly told us that she had just seen the biggest turtle of her life. It was “out past the catamaran”. Jeff and I decided to head further out. It seemed to be taking forever to get there. Then Jeff called out to me to “hang on – that catamaran is sailing away!” No wonder we never seemed to be getting closer. Hahaha. I saw three scuba divers surface and swam over to ask about turtles. Yup, they had seen one about 150 feet further out along the ridge, so we followed the underwater wall for awhile. No turtles.

Time to go back closer to shore and to the coral. I swam ahead and a little ways along heard Jeff calling very loudly and excitedly, “Octopus!!”
“NO WAY” I shouted back and began swimming to him in earnest. He had seen the octopus walking on all 8 of its legs and more amazingly than that he had watched until it attached itself to some rocks, so by the time I got there he could point it out to me! WOW! Once it was camouflaged it was very difficult not only to see but also to tell it was an octopus. I did repeated surface dives trying to get down close enough to get a decent photo. We called to two passing snorkelers to come see the octopus. The four of us hung around it for a bit and we told them to keep an eye out for the turtle.

Okay, now we really are heading back closer to shore. Oh, wait. The two snorkelers we had been talking too called out to us that they found the turtle! We swam out to them and there was a huge green sea turtle calmly eating. This turtle was missing its left front flipper. I wonder how that happened? We watch the turtle so long that it surfaced twice for air. The second time it swam up It came to the surface almost under Jeff.

Close encounter
Close encounter

Here is apretty good photo of the turtle diving back down and Jeff in the background.
We stayed out by the turtle a long time, just hanging in the water until we both started to get cold.

This time we headed for shore and went all the way in.
It was so much fun to sit on our hot rocks drying out and talking about the octopus and turtle. I cannot believe we saw an octopus! This bay is known for spinner dolphins, but we didn’t see any. It’s probably a good thing because I don’t think I could have taken much more excitement.

We’ve spent more time than we planned to spend here and we decide not to go to the next beach we had planned to visit, Malu’aka Beach – also known as Turtle Beach – because it is about an hour drive away. We’ll do that later this week instead. We walk back up the path to the car and drive to an overlook to see Honolua Bay from above. It is pretty, isn’t it?

Honolua Bay from the overlook
Honolua Bay from the overlook

One of the snorkelers we chatted with on the beach suggested we try Napili Beach and since it’s on our way home we stop there. The beach is gorgeous! But being so late in the afternoon it has gotten windy and the waves are rough. We decide we are too tired to deal with the surf and sit on the sand, a welcome relief for our butts after the rocks at Honolua.

Pokey and Gumby are enjoying Maui, too
Pokey and Gumby are enjoying Maui, too

While we sit a young woman and an older woman come out of the water together. It was quite clear that the older woman had never been in the ocean before – she had an excited, semi-terrified look on her face along with a huge smile. She shouted “Isn’t this great?” at us as she walked by. We agreed.

We got back to our condo, washed up and had dinner. A repeat of Friday night’s fare – pasta and salad.

Tomorrow we are planning to drive “The Road to Hana” so we pack snacks, swim suits, hiking boots and backpacks, unsure as to what all we will need. We are hoping to leave no later than 7am so it is time for bed.

I hope you will come along on our road trip tomorrow….


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