Anyways - my second full day in Hawaii (really Day 3), I got in 3 of my "must-do's" for any trip back home. I went snorkeling, I had shave ice, and I had saimin (it's funny how many of my must-do's are must-eat's, but that's really kind of a Hawaii trait, I'm on a couple of Hawaii-themed Facebook groups and we spend an inordinate amount of time making each other hungry talking about poke and saimin and malasadas and spam musubi and all kine, local kine, ono kine grindz, 'cause there just isn't anything like the good island food we all grew up with and crave to this day).
Speaking of Facebook groups, I met two Facebook friends out there. I'd already written about the excellent meal Keaka and I had at Aiea Chop Suey - so much better eating there with at least one friend, I am not somebody who has any problems with eating in a restaurant by myself, but at Aiea Chop Suey, it's much better to be in a group 'cause otherwise you have to pick ONE THING from the menu and THAT'S JUST SAD.
Tane actually lives on the Mainland now but she happened to be back on Oahu around the same time helping out her father, so she and Keaka and I planned a Monday morning trip to Hanauma Bay. Unfortunately Keaka ended up not being able to make it (she and I went later in the week, I love snorkeling and willingly traded in thoughts of paddling, which is lovely in Hawaii but which I can do here in NYC anytime, for an extra snorkeling session) but Tane and I went ahead and went. I'd read that the parking lot there fills up fast, so we were aiming for 6:45 am and did make it there a bit before 7; that worked great 'cause the parking lot attendant wasn't even on duty yet so no charge (plus plenty of space)!
This beautiful spot was very nearly a literal victim of its own popularity in the late 80's to early 90's, when unrestricted and careless use led imbalance and destruction, so now numbers are limited and everybody who goes has to watch a short film that talks about proper snorkelling practices. You still see plenty people walking on the reef, I guess they're thinking the guidelines don't apply to them, or they just don't care, but I guess enough people listen 'cause it doesn't look quite as bad as it was said to at the worst - the inshore coral still doesn't look so good, but there's a nice variety of fish acting pretty natural, not just the roving gangs of mooching mullet that people have told me were ruling the roost back in the days when people would bring bags of frozen peas to feed the fish (unnatural selection for the greediest and pushiest fish, which I guess were the mullet). We watched the film, walked down, I rented snorkel gear and a locker for our valuables, and then we hit the water for a lovely couple of hours. The water was a little bit murky, but I had much better luck catching fish with my camera than I did with my hook in Jamaica Bay last weekend!
As always - click on any photo for a better view.
Tane ready for some snorkeling!
First fish of the day - not very fancy but I was still happy to see them. I wasn't quite sure what kind this was - they're silver like mullet but wrong shape, but I found a nice little fish ID card on the University of Hawaii's SeaGrant site and looking at that I think these guys are Hawaiian flagtail (Hawaiian name, which that card gives, which is nice, is āholehole).
Here's a yellowfin surgeonfish, puaho. There are a bunch of different kinds of surgeonfish here with strikingly different colors, but they all have a similar body shape and the main thing that tells you you're looking at a surgeonfish is that they've all got that same little surgeon's knife sticking right at the base of the tail.
A nice pair of bluestripe butterflyfish. Butterflyfish are another variety with all sort of varieties, but again, they tend to have similar body shapes and lovely colors - lots of bright stripes and splashy patches of black.
Here's a parrotfish, uhu, hanging out with a school of convict tang, manini. Manini means this kind of fish but you also use it to say "little" in Pidgin english - "Kinda manini, da waves, yeah?". Manini aren't the biggest fish on the reef but they always hang out in good-sized schools so they have the advantage of numbers. I have to laugh at myself now 'cause I was just making some pedantic blanket statement about always being able to tell a surgeonfish (tang being another name for surgeonfish) by the little blade on the tail, but on these guys it's pretty small and hard to see. Same sort of pumpkinseed shape, though.
Here's another uhu with a Picasso or lei triggerfish. This is one of a couple of fish that go by the famous humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa,, which means triggerfish with a snout like a pig. This is not actually the one that's the state fish, that's the slightly less flashy (but still very attractive) rectangular or reef triggerfish. Whether that fish should be the state fish has actually been discussed more than one might think; obviously the name is tons of fun to say and of course there's the famous song where the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa goes swimmin' by, but it was once pointed out to me that these guys are found in tropic waters all over the place and although you can't beat the name for uniqueness, it might have been nice to pick a fish that's more unique to Hawaii. I don't have a strong opinion about this but I thought it was an interesting point. I didn't actually know that this triggerfish is also called a humuhumu until I posted it on Facebook when I got back, I thought that was only the reef triggerfish, but friends from the islands enlightened me.
Slightly better picture of the same guy. I got better pix of the reef triggerfish when I came back a couple of days later.
This guy sent me back to reefguide.org (a very well-organized site that TQ found when we were identifying fish we'd seen in the Caribbean in January) 'cause I'd honestly never seen one like this before and he's not on either of my fish i.d. cards OR the online one from U.H. I have to say that it is VERY neat to spot an entirely new fish here in a place that I've actually spent a lot of time. I think the birders call it a "life bird", when you see a kind of bird for the first time in the wild -so thank you Hanauma for giving me a life fish! Which I think is a Flying Gurnard - and isn't that kind of a fun name in itself?
Picture's right-side up, it's the fish that's upside-down, trying to get an especially tasty bit of coral. This is a Four-Spot Butterflyfish (two on each side), Hawaiian name Lauhau.
Done for the day, hoofing it back up the crater wall, and had stop to get a picture of the beach naupaka. There's a mountain variety where the flower grows with only the top half. There are local legends that connect the flowers to unfortunate lovers, parted or killed - you can read a couple of summarized versions here.
Back up on the rim of the crater. Aloha for today!
And what's better after a couple of hours of good snorkeling than shave ice (with azuki beans and ice cream YAY)? We went back to Tane's father's home to pick up her husband, and they took me to their local favorite, Waiola Shave Ice. It was delicious, with a really unusual texture - they grind the ice much finer than most places so it's very soft and fluffy, more snowy than crunchy icy. Tane said it almost tastes creamy to her. Really delicious! Funny thing was I happened to be wearing my Aoki's hat, didn't even think of it until Tane posted this on Facebook! Aoki's is close to getting back into business, they'd been hoping for the end of July but didn't quite make it, but even if they had, I didn't make it to that particular corner of the island this time. Even if they had and I had, it would have been a bit of a dilemma because one of the reasons I used to pick Aoki's over Matsumoto's every time was because the lines at Matsumoto's are kind of ridiculous when Aoki's made a perfectly wonderful shave ice -- but of course if they'd started selling their shave ice again after a couple of years off the week I was there? My gosh, the line would've been halfway to Waimea. Anyways, Waiola was delicious, the company was good, and I stocked up on crack seed from their little store.
We parted ways then and I headed back for Lulu's, very sleepy and ready for a nap before doing whatever I was going to do in the second half of the day. Another nice thing about going to Hanauma Bay so very early was that enough of the day was left that I was going to be able to fit in a solid second activity -- I'd been actually stressing out about the shortness of my stay vs. the things I wanted to do (or eat), so this was absolutely a gift.
And speaking of eating - the route back to Lulu's took me down Kapahulu right around lunchtime. The shave ice had been a perfect post-snorkeling snack, but I still had room for Zippy's!
I was after that only-in-Hawaii noodle soup, saimin, of course, which Zippy's does well. I do wish I'd taken a picture of the specials board for Baydog - where else in the world would you find a fast-food restaurant offering a tripe stew special?
I stuck with the saimin, though. Funny, you'd think that with the supposedly increasing popularity of Hawaiian food in NYC (various friends have sent me food critic Robert Sietsema's article about how Hawaiian food is the new thing but he names very few restaurants, including 2 that closed a long time ago and only one of which I can personally vouch for as being really local-kine, so the article leaves me underwhelmed) combined with the explosion of really excellent ramen joints (including one sponsored by Hawaii's own Sun Noodle Company), there would be somewhere in NYC that you could get something in the saimin line - but if there is, I haven't found it yet. So for now - this is still a very special treat! There's no taste like home, there's no taste like home...
Next up - the afternoon's adventure!