I heard them first. The soloist belting out high pitched whistles, each one a burst of uncontained joy. The percussionist, nailing down a pattern of staccato clicks spontaneously in rhythm. And holding up the whole ensemble was the steady bassline, deep currents possessing complete and utter control over the energy. I’m not sure if it was the innate ability of each component that startled me or the uncanny nature in which these pieces fell into place, as if by an external force. All I knew was that the sound waves traveling into my ear canal and vibrating through my bones were unmistakably the sweet sound of music.
I saw them second. A dark ethereal shadow took shape in the distance. As I drifted closer, the singular sizable mass turned into about thirty individual forms in motion, synchronized and graceful. There seemed to be about three different clusters surrounding me on all sides. Fear of the unknown coursed through me, and I fought the urge to swim far away.
All at once, a thousand sun beams cut through the surface of the water, like fishing spears, revealing the faces of gentle creatures dancing with the sun rays that spotted the ocean floor. My heart fluttered when one of the creatures glided underneath me and shot up out of the water, performing an exuberant one-hundred-eighty degree spin through the air. This seemed to spark inspiration in the others to follow the circus-like act, and soon enough no more than a second passed without one of them charging up into the air for glory.
I have never once in my life seen such a radiant expression of passion, a dazzling outburst of pure bliss, than that of the spinner dolphin. After the snorkel off the bay of Hulopo’e Beach Park on the island of Lanai, my parents, brother, and I resembled starfish in the sand, lying there awestruck from the otherworldly encounter. It wasn’t until later that day, traversing across the once free-flowing lava paths looking over Puu Pehe, a stunning rock and landmark of Lanai, that I realized that we had been blessed with a gift on Christmas Day.
Water cascaded down the arch of a hardened lava tube, black crabs scuttling in and out of the current, symbolizing marine life always in motion. We left the sliver of heaven to head back to the equally stunning paradise, the island of Maui. We chose a top level seat on the ferry, prone to water douses from the movement of the boat through waves. That, combined with smatters of violent downpours, soaked us thoroughly. But being about a hundred miles up in the clouds, none of us cared the slightest bit about our appearance.
Our natural highs were beginning to wear off by the time we pulled our car over at a nameless beach park to watch the sun retire over the horizon. It dipped down over the water, leaving behind streaks of pink and orange to savor, and the signature conch shell sound rang out to mark the end of the day. Too exhausted to cook, we picked up dinner from a local restaurant called Eskimo Candy, a treat we had begun to familiarize ourselves with by the end of the trip. Once returned, we devoured crispy coconut shrimp and laughed and played card games long after dark.
Ancient Hawaiian beliefs are that nature and mankind are siblings, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I had met my long lost siblings that day.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.