Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19, 2010: Oahu - Rain, Snorkeling, More Rain, Indian Food

We woke to rain. In the middle of the night. It sounded like quite the storm - driving against the windows for hours, and it still hadn't let up by morning. I checked with the concierge - we wanted to go snorkeling at famous Hanauma Bay, and I wondered if it might be closed with all the rain, but she wasn't concerned. And we figured if we were already wet in the water, what's a little rain?

So we set off on our journey. I didn't pack a regular camera, since I wasn't sure how secure our belongings would be there, but we did take an underwater camera we'd bought the night before. Although I looked up the schedule for TheBus, either we just missed it, or the bus never came, so we waited for 40 min under the shelter (which wasn't very sheltery - still got kind of wet from the rain). But once we finally got on, it was an easy ride.

By the time we got there the rain was coming down even harder than before. The guy who sold us our entry tickets warned us that there were no refunds - looks like he was skeptical about snorkeling in the rain. We walked down the long, steep road to the beach and found that there were no more than a dozen people in the water. The place was deserted. You could see that it would be beautiful under sunny weather conditions - and probably crowded with thousands of tourists.

The rainy weather really wasn't much of a problem once we got in the water. It was my first time ever snorkeling, so Mark patiently coaxed me through learning to breathe all over again. The visibility probably would have been better with sunshine, but there were still hundreds of huge, colourful fish everywhere, which was amazing. Most of the coral reef itself was dead and white - whether this is due to the large number of tourists or to some other phenomenon seems to be a subject of debate.

No photos from our underwater adventure - the camera promptly swam out of Mark's pocket shortly after we got into the ocean. I comfort myself with the fact that we only lost $12.50 from our ABC Store purchase, rather than the $14.00 we would have lost if we'd purchased it on site when we got to the bay. That, and the water is so shallow and clear that some other fortunate tourist will pick it up and put it to good use.

When we finally got out of the water, the scene on the beach had changed. Whereas before it was a hard rain, now it was a torrential rain. There were rivers of dirty brown water streaming down the cliffs, across the sand and flooding the bay - it was only along the far sides that the water was still clear and blue. And there were even fewer people left in the water.

We walked back up the steep road to leave - now a channel for run-off and gushers of water springing back up out of drains that were too overloaded. We got a snack at the top, huddled under the meager roofed area, then headed out to the bus stop. No shelter there, but why bother - we were already completely soaked. Everyone waiting was laughing - it was ludicrous how strong the rain was and how wet we were. The ride back was crazy - I wouldn't have wanted to plow through that much water in anything but a giant bus - we tossed up a wake like we were a boat.

It may not have been ideal conditions, but it certainly was great to have the bay to ourselves instead of fending off thousands of other tourists. We judged it a crazy adventure, rather than a wash-out.

We had dinner at an Indian restaurant just across the street - we didn't want to venture far in the rain after managing to dry out in our hotel room. Great food and worth the long wait.

Whereas the typical visitor to Hanauma Bay may have seen a scene like this...
we saw something more like this... except less sunny.

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