Before I even got off the airplane, I knew I was going to fall in love with Hawaii. The sparkling blue water of the Pacific was nothing like I’ve ever seen; and the life under it will never cease to amaze me.
My family isn’t the type you’d see in a fancy resort. We like adventure and doing things ourselves. That’s why we stayed at the vacation rental, Pali Hale (meaning house on the cliffs), on the BigIsland. Every morning we woke up to a stunning view overlooking Kealakekua Bay, which is the best place on the island to snorkel. I had been to Hawaii before, and I knew how to snorkel and all the rules about not touching the coral. It really didn’t seem like a big deal until I plunged into the waters of Kealakekua Bay by the CaptainCookMonument. Before that moment, I didn’t really know what my future held, what I was going to study in college, what to do after college. I’ve always loved nature and being outdoors, but I’d never really thought much about the ocean until then. The water was chilly, but the temperature didn’t bother me after I saw it, “it” being the sight of my future. The vibrant colors were nothing like I’ve ever seen before. My disposable underwater camera couldn’t capture the true beauty of it all. Everything was alive. There were bright purple, blue, and green parrotfish chomping away at the pink and orange wall of coral. Dazzling yellow tangs lit up the water and could even be seen from the surface. Orange and purple wrasses were restlessly darting in and out of the coral. I stayed in the water for as long as I could to soak up the sights. My 24 frame camera was gone in less than 15 minutes. After this experience, my dream is to study environmental science and save the reefs and fish of Hawaii from ruthless destruction due to man.
The event that changed the way I look at the Hawaiian way of life as opposed to the Illinois way was when we went to Two Step. It’s a great snorkeling place with a lava rock beach without any sand. It’s called Two Step because there’s one spot to get in the water with a natural staircase of two steps. Sure, the fish were dazzling, with any color imaginable, and the water was crystal clear, but that wasn’t what “got” me. My family and I were just sitting on the rocks enjoying the view when this woman came to the beach and picked up her snorkel and fins. On her way back to the parking lot, she said to us “Only in Hawaii.” We just looked at her dumbfounded until she continued, “I left my stuff here about two hours ago. If I were anywhere else, it would’ve been gone the minute I drove off. Only in Hawaii would it still be here untouched!” And that is most certainly true. The next day we came back to Two Step because we loved it so much. We were just relaxing when my mom points out this gnarly dude with long hair and tattoos everywhere and no shoes on. “Look at that guy. I noticed he was here yesterday doing the same thing.” The big, tough guy was standing by the two steps, helping people out of the surf. When we went in the water, about three or four hours later, he was still there to help. Now that’s the spirit of aloha.
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