What a fun week, our Madison friend Julie McGivern came to visit this week on her return from Australia. She wanted to finish her scuba certification with her open water dives on Kauai. We met her at the airport on Tuesday and were trying to give her as much Kauai experience possible in the short time she is here. After her arrival early afternoon, we took her around to meet W06 at Poipu. W06 was so accommodating to show up that morning. Charlie drove us around the high points of the south shore and we ended up at the Grand Hyatt for evening cocktails and free entertainment put on by a local hula kumu, featuring Lelani Rivera Bond and a Keiki hula group. See the picture below
It was so much fun and a nice introduction to Hawaii.
On Wednesday, we had a seal, 4DP, up at Koa Kea and Charlie was kind enough to stay back to keep an eye on her while Julie and I drove up to the North Shore to see the Na Pali Coast and hike some of the Kalalau trail. Incredible vistas, and equally incredible and challenging hiking.
We hiked a little over two miles but decided to turn back so that we would return to Poipu in time for dinner and show Julie our “gourmet farmers market”. Since the cooking demo featured a fellow Wisconsinite, we wanted her to meet Helen (the soup lady from Antigo, WI) and partake in Helen’s pineapple gazpacho …….of course this always entails buying Helen’s signed cookbook. The demo was followed by a sampling of our local gourmet repast at The Eating House, Roy Yamaguchi’s new restaurant at Kukui’ula Shopping center. We waddled home, stuffed to the gills after some of the best pot stickers I’ve ever had, as well as various pupus, a rice fish bowl and wine. We packed a lot into her first two days.
The third day she took her first open water dives to finish her certification, which took all day. Meanwhile Charlie and I were called to check on a small turtle that died at Poipu Beach. The poor thing was tangled in monofilament fishing line that resulted in her drowning…very sad. It’s frustrating that people can be so irresponsible.
Julie’s dive was very complete, the instructor emphasized safety and took longer than expected, he inspired confidence, so it was a wonderful experience, Julie started at 8:30 am and didn’t finish until almost 4. After a welcome shower, we met our friends at Lawai Beach for sunset and pupus…..and of course a little wine and bubbly. Fun to introduce a long time friend from Wisconsin to our new friends. It was a beautiful evening, though short, since we left soon after sunset……perfect after a long day of diving.
The two new divers with instructor. Julie and Sue celebrating with our new matching shirts
After her two shore dives on Thursday, we both made two boat dives. Since she was still finishing her certification, I was a “tag along”. The first dive was through giant coral heads, so I just hung out getting re-used to being underwater, it had been about ten years since I was last underwater so it was a good refresher, watching her run a compass course out and back and watching large green sea turtles hover. The second dive was over a place called Sheraton Caverns, large lava tubes in about 60 feet of water. Upon entering the water an auspicious sign was the giant turtle swimming up toward us for a hole. Thus ended our Kauai diving, we couldn’t dive on Saturday because we were flying Sunday morning to the Big Island (we needed 24 hrs to clear the nitrogen out of our tissues).
Saturday we introduced her to the other part of our lives here and we went to the North Shore to show her the new pups (and incidentally, to meet all the nudes who hang out there – literally!). PK3 is especially cute.
We left Kauai for the Big Island of Hawaii Sunday morning to get there early enough to get our dives in. This time our goal was a night dive with the giant manta rays. We loaded the boat at about 4 pm after checking out all our rental gear, meeting our captain, Sam (a charming young woman), and Sara B., our dive master (an all female crew) and exited the harbor. The ocean was like glass, I have never seen it that flat, but Charlie and I had always been there in the winter when the waves are big and I understand the summer is calmer. We tied up to a permanent buoy off the Energy Lab near the airport, geared up, and giant stepped into the clear water. The coral is more developed than in Kauai and we saw multiple varieties of fish. Sara B. led 7 of us around to show us “the camp fire”, lion fish, eels, butterfly fish, and many others. After around 40 minutes we retreated up to the boat to burn off nitrogen, have a snack, and watch the sun go down. As darkness fell, Sara took a milk crate full of very strong lights down to the camp fire and we suited up. Sara gave an informative overview of both the Rays and the procedures we were to follow. We were to follow her to the bottom, sit down next to each other with our lights shining toward the surface and wait. I was floating a little so she brought me a rock and plunked it down into my lap. The lights from the “campfire” and the lights we held attracted millions of swarming plankton that in turn attracted 3 giant Manta Rays to feed. The 12-16 ft wing span, 1200-1600 lb. Rays would come diving over our heads, mouths wide open to sieve the plankton into their gill rakers. Skimming our hair, they would then do a sumersault above us and repeat. It was an incredible experience that neither of us has ever experienced before. The 40 minute show was over way too soon…..but what a show! It took hours after we returned to our hotel to calm down. What a special experience! and so fun to share with Julie.
We didn’t have underwater cameras, so no pictures to share, only our memory. The rest of our time we spent exploring Kona, snorkeling, having a wee bit of alcohol, listening to music, and enjoying the view from our hotel in the middle of Kona, Marriott’s The King Kamehameha hotel, shopping, and finally driving to the Kohala coast for the scenery.
The blog is late this week for I wanted to put Julie’s whole visit in one and we split in Kona on Tuesday night, with Julie catching a flight to the mainland and me returning home to Kauai. Thanks Julie for a fun visit!