Today we went to Hanauma Bay. I hadn't been there since I was kid. I wasn't really interested in ever going back, since all I can recall was that the beach was way too crowded, the day was way too hot, and the walk downhill and uphill was way too difficult for my whiny self.
In the past decade, though, some important changes have taken place at Hanauma Bay. It has become a lot more eco-friendly. 10,000 tourists used to visit the beach daily; today, that number has dropped to 3,000, due to stricter regulations. The water was once full of bread, and the fish forgot to behave like fish; today, the area is a nature preserve, and feeding the fish is prohibited. The reef was hurting something awful; today, it is slowly reviving.
Rob and Z have really been into snorkeling lately, so it was only a matter of time before Rob suggested that we visit Hanauma Bay. We arrived early, at 7:30, about an hour and a half after the beach opened for the day. This was a brilliant move on our part, since the beach was relatively quiet and pristine at that hour, and the fish weren't being scared off by the crowds. Rob and Z saw so many amazing fish -- as well as a very unhappy eel -- and came back to the shore raving about all that they had experienced while snorkeling.
I had my own little adventure to share with them. While they were out snorkeling, I spent my time wading in the shallows, marveling at the size and colors of the curious fish that came to check out my feet. Then I saw it.
Just as I realized what I was seeing, it was gone.
I ran to grab my camera, and went right back to where I had been standing, hoping that it would reappear.
A moment later...
How cool is that? A baby hammerhead shark!
So inspired was I by my brush with animal awesomeness that I decided to go snorkeling as well. However, by the time that I went out, the beach had become crowded, the water had become murky due to all of the kicked up sand, and most of the sea life had sought refuge elsewhere. Lesson learned. We'll go even earlier next time -- and bring snorkeling gear for three.