comments 2

Hi Hawaii : To Spot a Turtle

One of the things I was most excited about before departing for Hawaii was the thought of spending every day in the ocean. I literally became giddy like a school girl when I thought about it. This is why I am getting my Dive Master in Thailand. Ever since I was 11 and dipped my feet in the Pacific Ocean when my family went on vacation to California, I fell in love with it. I have always loved water. My mom (like most moms) called me a fish when I took swimming lessons. In college, I easily learned that having a shower was the best way to relieve stress from either school work or roommate drama, and this past year I found out my favourite form of exercise is swimming laps. I am absolutely not cut out for the business world because I am always longing to be in the water. Even during this Hawaii trip, I would try to work on my tan (burn) on the beach, but couldn’t resist the temptation of going in the water and spending all my time there instead.

Therefore, I was more than happy when we went snorkelling three times during the trip. Since we were on the North shore and the swells are massive on that side of the island during the winter, we figured our best chance of finding a snorkelling spot was to head to the South shore. We were right in that the ocean was calmer down that direction, but the snorkelling was only so-so. The first snorkel trip we went to Brennecke’s Beach in Poipu. I’m sure the snorkelling would’ve been better if the beach wasn’t so busy. Instead of focusing on what was below me, I had to worry about running into snorkelers around me. It was way too crowded, and the entire beach felt a little touristy. I didn’t see many fish in this area (although my mom did when she got away from the crowd), but a monk seal healing from a shark bite made it to shore and that made picking that beach worth it. The picture of the monk seal is in the post: My Mom is a Fish Expert. You can see a little bit of the shark bite on its right shoulder.

Me and my mom snorkelling at Brennecke's Beach.

Me and my mom snorkelling at Brennecke’s Beach.

The second snorkel spot we decided to try was at Anini Beach. Now, Anini is on the North shore near Princeville, but it was calm enough to snorkel. I actually really liked this spot. I saw more fish and best of all, we spotted a huge turtle munching on some seaweed along the coral. This was an amazing experience. I have never seen a turtle so big. Sadly, my Nikon Coolpix broke the day before and Holly/Eric didn’t have the GoPro, so I have no image to show how large this turtle was. For the next ten minutes or so, we floated glided along beside it. It was Justin Bieber and we were his rowdy fans following him every direction. Except we didn’t touch him because touching a turtle is illegal. We could have followed that turtle forever, but we lost it somehow. I think he started getting a little scared because he started swimming faster and faster. I don’t blame him. Anini Beach was a great snorkelling spot. The water wasn’t as rough meaning and there were less snorkelers hogging prime snorkel space.

The last snorkel spot we went to was Tunnels Beach. If you haven’t heard of Tunnels Beach, it is where Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark on her surf board. I was a little worried about snorkelling in Tunnels because sharks are known to roam those reefs, but I went any way with the belief that sharks are the dogs of the water, you can’t turn your back on them and swim away, you have to look them in the eye and stare them down. (Doesn’t sound like that is logical or worth trying). Tunnels has two large reefs, one closer to shore for beginners/intermediate (where we snorkelled) and then one farther out for advanced snorkelers. I’m sure in the summer months it is easier to get to the outer reef, but since the waves were breaking on the outer reef, we had to stay along the inner reef, which was probably for the best. There were no sharks in that area.

At first it was intimidating when we attempted to snorkel at Tunnels. The current was pretty strong, and there was an immediate drop off once you reached the reef. It was so deep, I couldn’t always see what was at the bottom which had me worried I might just see the outline of a shark. It was hard to fight the current which easily made my younger sister panic and go back to shore. If it wasn’t for the current, Tunnels would’ve been the best snorkelling spot by far. The reefs were huge, there were lots of fish, and we saw a couple turtles. We quit trying to fight the current by swimming against it and started at one end, floated with the current along the reef, went back to shore, walked back to the beginning and started again. It was much easier than splashing your way up the current and worrying about a curious shark coming up to take your arm off. Probably one of the coolest parts of this snorkelling was when my brother and I stopped at the end and tried to go back to shore, but were met with a school of curious fish who came right up to us, and swam around our legs, rubbing up against us like house cats. It was the craziest feeling! Another cool experience was on our last float down the current, Eric brought the GoPro and we saw another turtle, catching it on camera. It was a lot smaller than the turtle we saw at Anini, but we saw enough of it right before it escaped from our view to the deep.

Turtle at Tunnels Beach.

Turtle at Tunnels Beach.

It never got old seeing a turtle. Yes, I think they are the most adorable underwater sea creatures. All of the other fish were amazing to see as well, but seeing a turtle was something else and swimming with them, even better. Out of all the snorkel spots, Anini was my favourite because of the turtle spotting we had there, but Tunnels took the cake with how massive the reef was and how many fish we were able to see there. One day, I want to come back in the summer and maybe see a white tip reef shark on the outer reef of Tunnels. I still haven’t swam with sharks since my trip to the Bahamas and am still terrified of them. But I have a feeling spotting a shark would be ten times more amazing than spotting a turtle.

Me at Tunnels.

Me at Tunnels.

Filed under: Hi Hawaii

About the Author

Posted by

I grew up in the middle of nowhere and now, everywhere is where I want to be. Storytelling is a passion of mine and as I travel from one place to the next, I want to share my awkward adventures and encounters. I love the ocean and the colour blue. Follow along and see the world with me from a "deer in the headlights" perspective.


  1. What you discovered at the Tunnels reef was what we call “drift diving” in the SCUBA world. There are diving locations where there is always a current, so the boat will drop you “upstream” and you drift with the current to the pickup point, where the boat will be waiting for you. You were right not to continue to fight going against the current. That’s the fastest way to become so exhausted you put your safety at risk. 😉

    • Drift diving. I like that. I cannot wait to learn more about diving/snorkelling on my trip to Thailand. Thanks for confirming our doubts of fighting against the current, Cindy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s