Snorkeling was a new experience for many of us on Maui. I have a healthy respect of the unknown creatures that lurk beneath the sea, not to mention the giant sea turtles that rolled in the waves right outside our lanai. Despite these fears, I vowed not to go home again without at least trying to snorkel.
My first attempt was solo: big mistake. I was just off shore, testing out the breathing tube in safe water. It went just fine, so I decided to venture out a bit further. Unfortunately, I came upon a giant black rock and my brain started spinning out of control, wondering what could be hovering behind it, so I immediately bee-lined it back to shore. Sam laughed at me, “You were afraid of a rock?!” As if he is one to talk about fears!
Soon enough, my brother returned and offered to take me out. I can remember when we were growing up, how even though he is 5 years younger I’d drag him with me whenever I had to walk through our dark basement because it felt safer than going alone. It was the same with the snorkeling – now that another person was by my side, I was filled with a sense of calm.
And wonder. My eyes were all googly under my goggles, taking in the schools of fish and spiny coral. I thought of all the days Tyson and I spent swimming at the Hooper pool, never dreaming we’d one day graduate to the Hawaiian coast.
And when we found my feared sea turtle, I held my course as he swam right past me for a breath of air, and then watched him float back to the bottom and nestle amongst the rocks. (I just knew things hovered behind those rocks!)
In the end, every last one of us got out there to snorkel at least once. For the most part, we snorkeled right outside of our condo (the Royal Mauian). There were plenty of turtles, fish, and coral right outside our front door. One day we took a charter with the Pacific Whale Foundation to Molokini Crater, where the water was clearer and the fish more abundant.
Clark and Tyson were by far the most experienced of the bunch:
Dad was a first-timer, but he still ventured out with them almost every morning:
Mom and Amy were especially brave, considering neither of them know how to swim! We thought the guys were trying to make us look like idiots when they said you had to walk backwards into the water with the flippers, but for once they were just being helpful!
Every one of the kids snorkeled too, bravely conquering their fears 30+ years before me. (Well, Sam anyway. He’s the only kid who had fears. Can anyone say sharks?)
Clark loved sharing his snorkel time with the kids, and they wouldn’t have done it without his gentle prodding. Once I was walking Sam back to the condo after he’d been out swimming with sea turtles, and he was just going on and on about his dad. “Daddy keeps you so safe out there. He holds your hand the whole time, and he points things out for you, and when you point at things he looks at them…” It was just adorable.
Maggie, on the other hand, did most of the pointing. Clark said her little finger was jolting like crazy, seeing and loving everything simultaneously. She just couldn’t get enough.
These aren’t memories I will soon forget, bobbing around the salty ocean water with my family, taking in the beauty that lives just beneath the sea.