The first time I went snorkeling, I received a mouthful of salty seawater and had only spent minutes in the wind-swept water before scampering back to shore– slightly frightened and disappointed. So, when my family planned to go snorkeling on our first full day of our Maui vacation, I was less than excited. However, when I arrived at the quiet, protected shores of Kapalua Bay, I did not feel the pit of dread within my stomach. Instead, I felt the warm sand tickling my toes and the playful waves lapping at my feet, inviting me to join them. After laying out our towels, our family carried our snorkel gear out to the edge of the water. Activity and commotion surrounded us- children laughed in the crashing waves, adults chatted by the shore, and small birds chirped on the sand. My sister and I awkwardly waddled our way into the water. But as soon as I immersed myself in the turquoise water, all noises from the shore ceased. The only thing I could hear was my breath, rising and falling, and the constant crackling of fish munching on the coral reefs below me. Life blossomed down here, bright yellow coral grew on the seafloor, fish of many shapes, sizes, and colors inhabited the lively world directly beneath me, and I swam forward, replacing all my previous negative snorkeling memories with colorful, new ones with every stroke I took.
My family and I explored the fragile yet thriving ecosystem below us, distancing ourselves further and further away from the shore. The serenity of the ocean absorbed me, and I felt strangely weightless as I floated along the surface of the water. Excitement soon replaced relaxation when my mom pointed out a large green turtle, or honu, about twenty feet away from us, gliding gracefully in the water. I marveled at the creature, this was the first time I had ever seen a sea turtle in person before. He swam effortlessly through the water with the fluidity and grace that only nature can achieve. I followed his every move with my eyes, even lifting my head to see his small face emerge above the water for air before quickly ducking down to return to his underwater haven. When we finally decided that we had imposed on his foraging enough, we parted ways, leaving him to rest on the ocean floor.
After exploring the other side of the cove, my family and I decided to return to land. We had been snorkeling for over an hour, much longer than we had all thought. After relaxing on the beach and fueling our bodies with cold passion orange guava juice and Spam musubi, a local favorite snack, we returned to the inviting water where we again were greeted by the familiar crackling sound of coral, graceful honu, and vibrant fish. We came back to Kapalua Bay the following day, and even the day after that, for nothing really compares to exploring a new world that is full of new discoveries. The underwater haven we visited was beautiful and thriving, but also fragile, and some of the inhabitants are threatened by pollution and the endless stream of “human invaders”. We are not residents of the coral reefs, we are visitors, and we must remember that fact if we want to continue to experience the beauty and wonder of this undersea world. Preservation, education and close examination of our impact on their world must be ever present if our future generations are to enjoy the splendor of Kapalua Bay.
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.