James and I have now snorkeled a handful of times, but it’s always been in one of our local lagoons.  It’s winter which means the water is rougher and the waves are higher, so I haven’t felt confident to branch out just yet.
But then I read online that Kuilima Cove is a good place for beginners.  It’s not a lagoon, but it is protected by some rock barriers, so the water is calmer than other areas on the North Shore.  So after our hike last Wednesday, we headed over there.
I took a billion pictures, but only these two turned out.  I really have to work on my aim.  The poor fish were all either blurry or half out of the frame in my images.  Oops.

James also grabbed this shot of me.  We only had about 40 minutes to snorkel because I had a prior commitment, but it was seriously awesome.  It felt totally different than the lagoons, and it gave us confidence for other areas.  My fear of sharks is real and not small, but once you’re out there, you realize that it’s not really all that scary.  My imagination is much worse than reality.

On Friday, we had a homeschooling event at our old faithful lagoon.  And then we had plans to hang out there the remainder of the day, so we brought all of our beach supplies (which seriously fills the back end of our van.)

A quick look into the water showed us that the water was crystal clear – much clearer than any other time we could remember.  We could see the the bottom all the way out to the rock barriers.  So James and I threw on our snorkeling gear and swam out as fast as we could.

Up to this point, the kids hadn’t really shown a lot of interest in snorkeling.  The few times they’d donned their gear, water quickly entered their mouths and masks.  We hadn’t stopped to really focus on them individually.  (Parenting really has a learning curve, doesn’t it?)

So I decided to see if Austin wanted to come out with just his mask.  No snorkel – just focusing on looking at the fish, and coming up to breathe.  He had his swim vest on, so he would always be at the surface anyway.

He was interested!  So off we went.  With only one piece of equipment to manage (he didn’t wear his fins), we were able to adjust it effectively.

He had the most fun ever.

Unfortunately, by the time we tried, the water had gotten muddier and rougher, so he didn’t get to see a ton.  But it was still a huge breakthrough, and we couldn’t wait to get back and try again.

I love this kid!

Yesterday, as soon as James got home from work, we ran off to the lagoon again.  I knew from the other day that the water was clearer early in the day.  So we barely dropped our stuff before Austin and I were in the water.

It was amazing.  My underwater photo skills still need a ton of work, so the images are few, but the experience was incredible.  The water was so shallow that we were just in a few feet of water, and we could reach places we’d never seen before by the rocks.

I just knew that we had to get the other two out in the water.  Audra was hesitant, but Aidan was totally not interested.  But sometimes as a parent, you have to make them do things they wouldn’t choose to do, so…

As soon as we were out there, Audra was thrilled.  Again, we were able to adjust her mask so no water entered it, and she loved every minute of fish-gazing.  We would both excitedly point at every little fish (or school) we saw.

After a bit, she went back to shore, and James and Aidan were finally making their way out to the rock barrier.

Aidan doesn’t feel as comfortable in the water as the other two, so James grabbed his bodyboard to eliminate the fear factor.  After some reassurances that his mask wouldn’t leak, Aidan stuck his head in the water.  And the way his face lit up?  Oh man.  That’s a parent’s dream.

Then, because I’m greedy, I convinced him to lose the body board and let me try to float him.  I knew that the swim vest would keep him up, but the trick was making him believe it.  Since we were out on the rocks, and he could touch the bottom with his fins, it did eventually work.

And I’m pretty excited about getting him out there again.

After we went back to the shore, I needed a break.  Snorkeling is hard work!  Fun work, but it’s still work.  But I really wanted to see if Audra could use the snorkel now that she felt comfortable with the mask.

And guess what?  This girl is now a bonafide snorkeler.

My camera died so I have no more images, but we headed out to the other side of the lagoon together, and she totally rocked it.  The water was getting rougher (after all, we’d been there 4 hours), and it was getting harder to swim against the current.  But we saw a ton of fish – even two schools in one small area.  We also saw a black eel.  I panicked a little and started pulling her away as I saw it eyeing us.  It was down at the bottom though and I don’t really think it would have come up, but….eek.

So guess who is already asking when we can go snorkeling again?  I love that in one short day, she went from scared to obsessed.  Wonder where she got that from. (Her father, obviously.)

P.S. For info about our snorkeling gear and my waterproof camera, check out this post.

Makapu'u Tidepools (& Bunkers)
Camp Erdman