Swimming with Sea Turtles

Swimming with Sea TurtlesI’m so happy that Eric and I generally have the same travel priorities. We both really love to explore new places, and we’re not big on anything too fancy. For my part, this is because it’s the actual experience of seeing a place that’s important to me, and if I did it up big everywhere I went, I could never afford to travel as much as I do. (Speaking of which, I actually laughed out loud while reading this NYT article about how planning trips makes us happy: so true!). So, Eric and I don’t really do fancy dinners or tours, and we like to stay in affordable rentals when we go somewhere for more than a few days. You can save so much money just by being able to eat breakfast at home and reheat your leftovers for lunches and dinners, to say nothing of doing your own cooking. When we’re in a place with museums, that’s what we spend on our money on. And when we’re in Hawaii, we splurge on underwater camera rentals for our snorkeling adventures!

Swimming with Sea TurtlesWhen I read that Maui’s coral reefs were abundant in green sea turtles, I was beyond excited. I’ve never been able to see too much while snorkeling, and these turtles are truly majestic creatures. Once my cold got a little bit better, we went to rent snorkel gear. When we were checking out, I noticed that they rented underwater cameras. The price was really reasonable (think museum admission for two people), but it still felt like a happy splurge because I just didn’t know that the equipment was available. So we headed down to Makena to check out a reef so full of turtles it’s called Turtle Town. (Also, for posterity, those are the bikini bottoms that Eric said looked like the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. I heartily approve of this comparison.)

Swimming with Sea TurtlesOn our first swim, we found that snorkeling was actually kind of difficult. The breathing requires some concentration, and the fins were kind of heavy. And then there’s all that salt water in your ears and nose. BUT all of this is of course worth it. It was just more of a workout than we expected! The coral itself was so beautiful, and I loved seeing sea creatures I never would otherwise. (In possibly related news, The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor was totally my favorite book from that series).

Swimming with Sea TurtlesThis is just one of the beautiful types of fish we saw. They are called Moorish idols.

Swimming with Sea TurtlesCoral, coral, as far as the eye could see.

Swimming with Sea TurtlesWe became masters of underwater communication. And something about the light or the water turned my hair completely red in these pictures. Hi from Ariel.

Swimming with Sea TurtlesOn that first swim, we didn’t see any turtles, though the fish were gorgeous. We came back to the beach to regroup, and thankfully, a kind lady gave us some tips for the next time around. However, getting my hair impossibly tangled in my mask proved unavoidable.

Swimming with Sea TurtlesAfter a bit of rest, we were ready to head back out again. The light on the coral was so beautiful.

Swimming with Sea TurtlesAnd look at this pretty guy.

Swimming with Sea TurtlesAnd then we saw a turtle!! That’s me pointing him out to Eric. I am pretty sure I also came to the surface and yelled, “Turtle! Turtle!” Luckily, turtles don’t pay any mind to excited tourists.

Swimming with Sea TurtlesMore excited pointing! I love that you can see the baby in this shot. It’s going to be so much fun to show him these pictures someday.

Swimming with Sea TurtlesWe followed this little guy for a good long while, and he did not seem to mind at all. We were careful not to invade his space, of course, but that’s one of the things that amazed me the most about this experience: where else can you see an animal in its natural habitat, so up close, without disturbing it?

Swimming with Sea TurtlesSoon we saw a second one! It’s hard to describe how incredibly graceful these creatures are. Watching them swim is like watching the world’s smoothest flying, and they make it look so completely effortless.

Here’s a little video.

Swimming with Sea TurtlesI love the pictures of me swimming with him. Being so close to something so beautiful was really one of the more moving experiences in my life. And I’ve had a lot of those.

Video of me swimming with him!

Swimming with Sea TurtlesAt this point, we were about ready to head back, but I was hoping we’d see just one more turtle. And we did! And he was huge!

Swimming with Sea TurtlesAh, how beautiful.

Swimming with Sea TurtlesNaturally, I wanted to swim with him too.

One last video of sheer elegance. I am so glad we were able to see a few turtles, and so glad we rented the camera. We have already looked through the photos and videos about ten times! And that, my friends, is the sign of a sound investment.

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