So, Hawaii is great. The weather is fantastic here, the sun is bright and very serious (I have a wee sunburn to prove it), and the ocean is delightful. It wasn't quite hot enough to spend much time in the water - 70 degree water really does feel cold when it's only 80-ish outside.
I did go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, which is a very pretty place. It took me about an hour to both warm up enough to go full-on into the water and to get over some significant phobias related to the snorkel mask and breathing through my mouth. I didn't really get the hang of snorkeling; I kept trying to breathe through my nose, which caused that flap in my throat to close up - in turn causing a little panic that I had a hard time getting over.
I love swimming though, and when I wasn't swallowing the ocean I rather enjoyed swimming around and seeing all the fish. I don't love coral, and the sea creep-crawlies that live on it are gross and unpleasant. Several times I got trapped in a little coral spot and because I wasn't supposed to stand on it or touch it I felt sort of panicky about being surrounded by it. I was okay as long as I stayed away from it though. And, it turns out that I do enjoy swimming with schools of fish so that's good to know.
We went to Turtle Beach but didn't actually see any turtles. It was raining that day anyway, so even if they'd been there I'm not sure we would have done much apart from observing them (boring).
We also hiked a big crater (Diamond Head). It's only 1.7 miles from base to peak but it felt like a hundred. Somewhat steep and switchback-y, and I learned about several new phobias I wasn't really aware that I had. The first, and most prominent, being that tunnels into a mountain make me run out of breath. It was slightly uphill, dark, and very close; there were so many people around me that I couldn't get enough air and I was (completely unreasonably) convinced the mountain was going to collapse and bury me under piles of rubble. I hated that part.
I also hated the part where there was a giant staircase directly after the tunnel, then another narrow hallway (also carved right into the mountain), and then another giant staircase - this one spiraled and metal and covered with cobwebs and crawly things. I didn't love that either. Despite disliking most parts of the hike, I am so glad I did it. It felt good to have exercised (I decided, once I was done) and Steve really enjoyed it, so that made it worth it. I guess I got some pictures from way up at the top, but the view was boring so I'm not really sure (yes, I said that).
My favourite activities were Pearl Harbour and the Polynesian Cultural Centre. I'll have pictures of the Centre to post soon, but they don't really capture my experience there. It's a giant park with areas featuring the different cultures - Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tonga, etc.. Each area features presentations about the culture and traditions - music, food, dancing, history. There are so many hand-made items available for purchase there too, so it's a great souvenir-buying opportunity.
The Centre is run by the church, and over 75% of the people working there are students at the nearby BYU campus. BYU has a programme that allows students to have a portion (up to 100%) of their student loans forgiven if they use their leadership skills once they return home. So visiting the Centre also meant contributing to the education and opportunities of the college students.
They also offer a guided tour from the Centre over to the La'ie Temple; it's just a short bus ride to the Visitor's Centre, which is so much bigger than the Portland Visitor's Centre! I've always known ours was so small, but it's the only one I've seen so far, so the difference was remarkable. At La'ie, the Christus statue is on a giant marble base and the wall and ceiling behind it are painted like the sky. The Special Witness recordings -this is where the twelve apostles, the prophet of the church, and his counsellors have had their testimony of the gospel recorded for visitors to view- is an actual room with several chairs for sitting and viewing. They have two rooms for the regular videos shown there, with seating for dozens. The Visitor's Centre was really amazing, and the Temple grounds were beautiful. We didn't make time for a session, but I got a few pictures that I'm excited to share.
I have had a relaxing and fun vacation with my sweetie - I joked a little bit that I might never want to leave here, but the truth is that I'm ready to come back and be in my own home and see my animals. I'm also surprised to find that I maybe a little bit kind of miss the overcast rain-ish weather we have in Washington. Whatever.