Monday morning, the girls and I watched Bravest Warriors while Michelle was out for a long run. Hell, vacation is like one long Saturday, so why not watch some cartoons? We snacked on dry cereal, coffee, and milk & honey (the obviousness isn’t lost on us) and eventually finished off the leftover Chinese food (fried rice is the breakfast of champions). When Michelle returned, we went down to the shore to watch the eight or more turtles awkwardly trying to get themselves off the reef. The baby turtles are absolutely adorable.
So, we got a little later of a start, but we headed over to Keiki beach in the late morning sun. After setting up camp, the girls and Michelle tried snorkeling for a bit and I slipped away to try the Mala Ramp/Wharf again. This time I entered from the actual boat launch since it was empty. The launch is very easy compared to the reef, and I found a bunch of golf balls among the junk on the bottom. The visibility was poor initially, but once I rounded the corner, the visibility improved. All along, the reef and life among the rocks and poles was already pretty good. But when I started towards the derelict pier, the visibility improved and the reef teemed with life. The reef itself, growing on the collapsed hulking masses of decking, was spectacular. The variety of reef rivals anywhere I’ve seen on the island, and the odd structures created by the collapsed piers makes for a truly interesting experience.
I swam slowly out towards the terminus of the wharf, which is marked by a pole with a diamond sign (as indicated by the dude in the dive shop) and saw lots of fish – much bigger than in the places I’ve been on the trip so far, and in much bigger schools as well. There were some schools of Trevally (which look delicious) that easily surpassed 500 fish. As is somewhat common, turtles were also active, though not as easily spooked as in other places. Some of the younger turtles (adorable), were not nearly cautious enough of a dork in a white shirt who kept rinsing goggles and snorting air out of his leaking snorkel. I eventually arrived at the pole inidcating the start of the (former) wharf. The depths was too great for me to really do much since my cold was causing problems with equalization. Still, I tried a few dives, marvelled at the schools of goat fish, tickled a few urchins, and slowly worked my way back. I admit, I was bummed. Defeated even at not having seen a reef shark. The guy at the dive shop said he sees them almost 100% of the time. So as I worked my way back, I dove down to check out every overhang that looked like a good place to relax. Nothing. Though I did see some bastard divers go by with their “not having to surface for air” superiority. As I approached the bit of the still standing wharf, the visibility decreased quickly. The water was turbid and it made the snorkeling awkward and unpleasant. But as I crossed the reef back towards the launch, I came across a white tipped reef shark mellowing in a sandy patch between reefs. The excitement and trepidation coursed through my veins and I had to dive in for a closer look. The shark was a little over four feet long and just splendid in it’s movements. It didn’t care too much for my awkward advancement and tried to move away, but I kept following. After a good ten to fifteen feet of chase, it bolted and I was left alone, exhilarated, and wanting to see another.
But, I need to be fair and return to my family, so I returned to the boat launch, head above the skuzzy water, and walked back to see the family. They were all sunning on the beach, warming after a long snorkel. I tried to whisper what I’d seen but my excitement prevented the message from quietly getting to only Michelle and the girls heard. I explained what I’d seen, and how I tried to follow the shark but it had bolted and didn’t want me following. This seemed to appease the girls and we played “find the golf ball” while Michelle soaked in the rays and her book. Later, we headed out to snorkel together, though not intentionally, when I signaled to the girls that I’d found a turtle. I also found a brittle star fish that I showed the girls, but it was too much like a spider for them to enjoy. Michelle and Ella were able to enjoy the turtle from a respectful distance while I worked with MG on her whole breathing, standing, talking while snorkeling thing. She’s doing pretty amazing for a five year old, but the mask fit is admittedly poor and she was struggling with draining it and staying afloat. I think we might have figured out the draining thing, but we’ll have to try again to see if that works. After some snacks, we headed back to the condo and swam for a while.
Later, we headed out to dinner at MaLo down the street. Amazingly, we got in without a reservation and were seated outside. We started with Mahi Mahi ceviche, which was amazing, and played some classic dinner games. Ella and Michelle had a more emotionally (and productive) game where “I am Happy” was the answer to the hangman game, while MG and I struggled with the few words she knows how to spell and the whole “order” of things. But she beat me at tic-tac-toe. Dinner itself was only so-so. Michelle’s pasta dish was decent, though she kept giving away the good bits of seafood to the girls, who had ordered noodles with red sauce. I got the stir fry instead of the whole fish, which I regret. It was above average for Lahaina, the service and view were great, but we finished the day with some excellent shave ice and ice cream before utterly crashing for the first solid night of sleep (for the kids) thus far.
I woke up this morning to roosters crowing. Hard to ignore. The girls trickled out and we watched cartoons, had coffee and milk/honey, and lazed about until Michelle got up. She egged me on to go for a run, so I did. I ran upland a bit, running for a while on the old railroad tracks, then winding up through some business park loops. I was lost, but I managed to get a good view of Lahaina from up top before returning to sea level and breakfast.
The high surf warning officially ended this morning at 6am, but the wind was a little high still so we headed south to Kehei and Kamaole Beach III where we’d had such fun two years ago with the Eivas. There was still wind and surf which obliterated the visibility, but the girls had an absolute blast playing in the water. The waves were predictable, reasonable, and fun. Ella took to boogie boarding like a champ, and was in the water on her own for a good two or more hours. Maddie had limited luck with the boards, but was content to be out with her sister for long periods of time. Michelle and I lounged up-beach, tried snorkeling in the sand, and enjoyed our kids. I broke out one of the coconuts that the girls had harvested a few days back and opened it up with my knife – a laborious and blister-causing task, but the coconut and its water were delicious. Michelle, MG and I savored the liquid, then enjoyed large slivers of coconut. You could tell the other people on the beach were hella jealous. The knife alone wasn’t adequate to open the coconut, but we’d brought along a combo beer/wine bottle opener and I used the corkscrew to open up the nut to drain the liquid. So, future note to self stranded on a desert island – take a pocket knife with a corkscrew – or at least an awl.
We played in the surf as a family, built a giant “sand bath” with walls and towers, and dug a trench for water to fill the tub. And we might have had our fill of rays for the day. As we drove home, it became clear that we’d pinked up a little more than expected. Not burned, but close. Careful.
We finished the day with more Mahi Mahi and shrimp tacos that were devine. A recommendation for everyone out there – fall in love with someone who likes food as much as you do, but cooks even better than you do. We savored the grilled shrimp and Mahi Mahi as the sun set, watched a little bit of Babe and (ugh) the Voice, then everyone crashed hard. In fact, I need to go crash with them now.