Or: A Semi-Complete Record of the Warning Signs of a Mighty Fine Snorkeling Spot.
One of my main goals* for Hawaii was snorkeling, something I’ve been longing to do for the last, oh, four or five years. We decided to go to Hanauma Bay on the basis that it is beautiful, and because of a lovely teenage memory of chasing a glorious rainbow fish through the coral for what felt like hours.**
Oahu is stuffed with public parks that I’m sure make land developers weep on a near-daily basis. This may be chief among them. Driveway and tram aside, this place is just pristine. The sea turtles didn’t make an appearance, but dozens of other kinds of fish did, and K and I floated merrily among them for the better part of an hour.**
We walked down the hill to snorkel, and I noticed this.
Ok, fair advice. I was inclined to do neither, but I’m sure some dummies have scaled that waist-high rock wall with the idea of getting 18 inches closer to the hill view. Fine.
And then, next to the visitor’s center (where they play an excellent video with some stellar original compositions):
Ok. Do not climb on or go over the wall, do not touch the reef, do not feed the fish, and do not fondle the sea turtles. Got it.
All reasonable advice so far. No complaints. But then I noticed this outside the theater:
The tree branches were about five feet above the ground – so at eye level for a majority of adults. This warranted a special sign and an amount of caution tape usually reserved for sinkholes and crime scenes. That floor, by the way? Not wet. Not even damp.
We carried on down the hill – the one with a driveway that has no traffic other than a well-marked tram that happens to be, well, tram-sized and highly visible. Even so:
Right. Do not climb on or go over the wall, do not touch the reef, do not feed the fish, do not fondle the sea turtles, don’t run into the freaking tree branches with your face, and do not walk in the road that is meant for the vehicles. Ok, ok.
Ahead, I saw a sign that looked like it might contain some handy information about the ecosystem or perhaps the history of the area.
If someone’s always drowning in that spot, they really should rope it off.
I mean, little iconic dude was warned after all.
You could be swept away from shore and could drown. Or be pulled apart by serrated blades. Your choice, Mr. Knievel.
“You’re fucked.” -The good people of Hanauma Bay
No, seriously. Give up. Go home. Crawl into your panic room and stay put until… well, until you live out your natural lifespan.
And don’t look to the lifeguard UFO for aid. You got yourself into this. You’re on your own.
Ok, keep up: do not climb on or go over the wall, do not touch the reef, do not feed the fish, do not fondle the sea turtles, don’t run into the freaking tree branches with your face, do not walk in the road that is meant for the vehicles, do not let a wave touch you while you’re on a ledge, do not idly paddle in the drowning vortex, do not let the strong current get you, do not smoke, do not get crushed by falling rocks, do not fall off a sudden drop off, do not get swept out by a rip current****, and…
Things to know about this picture:
- This cone is a good ten-plus feet from the sidewalk.
- THE GRASS WAS NOT WET.
- The closest I came to endangering myself was when I ventured slightly onto the grass to get a better angle of this cone of absurdity.
So, here is what I recommend you do when you go to Hanauma Bay – and I do recommend you go.
I mean, come on.
Get out there early – before 10 am is ideal. Pay your $7.50 (cheap!). Walk down the hill. Plunk down $15 and rent a snorkel and some fins. Avoid the touristy throngs. And paddle on in.
Just be careful of the waves and the shallow parts over the coral. They can slam you down right onto it and scratch you up pretty badly.
But I’m sure the sign warning about that will be up in a few days.
*Other main goals: spending time with my cross-country best friend; drink rum. Check and check.
**Until it pooped at me. Thanks, red-lipped parrotfish.
***Just enough time for me to get the weirdest white on the edges, red in the middle sunburn across my back. I looked like an inverse of what usually happens. Hey, ok.
****For the record, these are not to be trifled with. Swim perpendicular to the current, staying flat and close to the surface of the water. Be careful out there.