Wouldn’t it just figure that one of the most amazing and unforgettable experiences of our lives happens when we don’t have our camera? But isn’t that just how it works? It’s either your battery dies, your space is used up, or you forget the camera all together. I swear it’s some sort of karma which is forcing you to use your photographic memory and really absorb the ‘unforgettable experience’ without you sitting there fiddling with gadgets and missing the opportunity to envelop yourself in that moment completely.
Our last day on the Big Island, Hawaii proved to be one of these experiences. We went snorkeling in Honaunau Bay, which we found out after talking to the locals, that this was the snorkeling gem of the island. I’m so mad at myself that we didn’t try this location sooner, because you’d better believe we would have been out there every day.
As soon as we arrived, we realized we had left the GoPro memory card in my computer the night before. Party Foul. I was super disappointed, especially since this reef was supposed to be so great and I obviously would love to have pictures to prove that we were there. What pained the inner photographer in me even more was the fact that, as soon as we walked up to that rocky beach, we could see a pod of dolphins jumping in the distance. I mean are you freaking kidding me? THE WORST day to not bring our camera.
We headed out immediately and were greeted by crystal clear waters, an abundant and very alive reef, and tropical fish. It was perfect, perfect, perfect. We headed out to the spot where the dolphins were last seen (maybe about 150 yards off the beach). It was a bit nerve wracking going out that far, especially since the reef below us was getting farther and farther away from us, and the water quickly went from a good 9ft to about 50-60ft, maybe more.
The cool thing was the water was so clear you could still faintly see the bottom. The sun rays plunged straight through the surface of the water, making a gorgeous view below for all of us who dared stick our faces in to enjoy it.
That’s when the ‘moment’ happened. To the left of us a group of 8 spinner dolphins came right out of the deep and shot to the surface for air. We were so stunned and giddy that they were literally 5 feet in front of us, I couldn’t help but giggle through my snorkel. They dove back down and then we were able to see more of the pod. Seriously countless dolphins were lazily drifting (or so it seemed) on the bottom of the ocean while they slept the day away. Within the blink of an eye we were completely surrounded by dozens of the most graceful and fun-loving creatures on earth. To the left, to the right, in front, behind, and below us, different groups of 3-8 dolphins were taking turns rising to the surface to have a little fun and get some air. The little bubbles they’d make out of their blowhole were tickling us on their way up; I honestly thought the dolphins would run into us as they headed to the surface. One of the females had a tiny baby with her, probably not more than a week or two old. They weren’t shy or scared of us, but seemed content to share the waters while we watched them with awe.
I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire life. The only thing I had to compare the experience to was watching dolphins in an aquarium at the zoo, but that’s nothing. I kept trying to count how many dolphins I saw at once, and the highest number I got to was 48, and that was just in the little area we were in. There had to be 60-80 dolphins in this pod, and all seemed just as happy and healthy as you’d imagine dolphins would be.
There was one in particular that loved to show off, and he (or she?) was constantly coming up under us and performing all sorts of spins, flips, and tricks as he jumped out of the water. Dolphins are one of the smartest mammals on earth, so I’m sure he figured out all the attention he’d get from us ‘humans’ by performing such feats.
I don’t know how many times I asked Derik if I should drive back to the condo to get the SD card (it’s an hour drive), but each time he’d tell me to just sit and enjoy. My heart was bursting with amazement from seeing such amazing creatures and so many of them, but at the same time to share the photos and videos from our experience would have been INDESCRIBABLE. I knew he was right though. How often would you get to see such an amazing thing? Why spend my time wishing for something to physically capture the moment, when it was happening right before my eyes?
We swam with the dolphins for two hours. It’s probably a good thing we hadn’t gone days before, because after discovering a treasure like that, you’d want to be in there every second of every day.
I will never forget my experience at Honaunau Bay. The Big Island gave us a heck of a last day, and left us wanting more. We will be back land of sunshine, rainbows, and adventure…we will be back.