Pure Aloha Adventures. That was the center of the second day in Hawaii. The Bestie and I booked two of their tours, and both were phenomenal.
Beautiful, yes? This is Hanauma Bay, about a 30 minute drive from Honolulu (if you don’t hit traffic). We booked a snorkeling tour with the Pure Aloha company, which has wonderful reviews on TripAdvisor. Eva was our guide for the morning, and is mentioned in a lot of the reviews I found online. She lived up to her reviews and more. She’s very experienced and a great teacher (did you know you’re supposed to wash out your mask with toothpaste after you buy it?). You can bring your own snorkel set or there are some there to rent or borrow (I can’t remember which). I brought my own, because I’m not sharing spit with someone who hasn’t at least introduced themselves yet. Eva taught us the basics of snorkeling, and then led us around the bay to show us coral and various sea life. Very pretty fish, lots of coral, and even a resident eel made an appearance during the tour.
Just a bit of a rewind, Hanauma Bay requires visitors to watch a short video about the do’s and don’ts of visiting the bay. Basically, don’t stand on rocks and don’t be a jackass.
Also, the path leading from the entrance area to the bay is STEEP. There’s a tram ride that will take you back and forth — $1 to go down and $1.25 to go up. Not kidding. I thought it was a joke until the guy at the bay pointed at the sign. I did hike up to the top once. If you’re severely un-athletic like me, it’s worth the $1.25.
Back to the tour. Eva knows this bay like the back of her hand, and was expert in leading us away from the more crowded areas of the water. Let me tell you, get there as early as you can. Even at 10:00, I was kicking other tourists in my attempt to swim away from them. Eva is also an expert GoPro-er. Some of our better pictures and video were courtesy of her skills. She also told us a little about some of the different fish and creatures we were seeing, all of which escape me at this time. Oh, and to all those newbie snorkelers, coral is SHARP. They don’t teach you that on The Magic School Bus. Sliced my knee up real good. It’s a good thing those ABC Stores carry waterproof bandages. Seriously, those things won’t come off for anything. I had to peel mine off after a few days because I noticed the tan lines around it.
That same afternoon found us back in Waikiki at the boat harbor to meet Captain Krash (or maybe Crash?) for our Sail and Snorkel Turtle Tour. I found this guy HILARIOUS. I would seriously pay to watch this guy do standup. While we sailed out of the harbor, the captain told us little tidbits about Hawaii and Waikiki as his assistant fitted us all for flippers. There’s an area of Honolulu bay that they call “Turtle Canyon” where we would stay for a bit and swim with turtles. Once we parked (I don’t know if boats park because I don’t know anything about boats, but I know cars so I’m going to say park), the assistant made his way into the water first. The rest of us “buddied up” and went by pairs into the water. I lost the Bestie for a while, so my buddy was the assistant until I found her again. I didn’t mind that though. The assistant has some sort of super-underwater vision or something because he picked out turtles no problem. For a long time I thought I was just looking at mud (most of them were about 20 feet below me).
I really don’t like crowds, so the Bestie and I swam away from the rest of the group who were gathered in a circle watching a turtle swim along the bottom. It’s a good thing we did, because we ended up in the path of this gorgeous beauty to the left and had the view all to ourselves. We were warned not to touch the turtles, so we had to keep our hands to ourselves, but I literally could have reached out and touched this guy. The Bestie shoved me out of the way to take this amazing picture. I’m not happy about being shoved, but it’s my favorite picture, so I’ll let her slide. I guess these turtles are used to tourists, because this guy totally ignored us. It even came past us up to the surface to breathe. Oh boy, did I ever want to pet it then.
Pure Aloha Adventures provided us with some great experiences and memories. We spent almost a whole day with this company in the water and enjoyed every minute of it. I found them myself through a Groupon/Google search, and received no compensation for my opinions. If you’re in the area and would like a tour, click the link at the top for more information on their current tours. You won’t be disappointed.