Sunday, October 27, 2013

Secret North Shore Getaway

Surfer's Yoga Hut
Misty Mountains of the North Shore
  Winter is here and that means the surf is up on the famous North Shore of Maui. When I moved here I told myself I would become a better surfer since I have some of the best waves in the world on my new island home. So far I have been amazed at the conditions here. The wind has been almost nonexistent, which never seemed to be the case on Maui. Also the sheer numbers of waves seem to be keeping the crowds down a bit. I do hear that these first few swell can be pretty special since all the winter surfing vacationers and pros are not here yet. But while surfing is definitely at the forefront of winter season, Heidi and I decided to spend a little time just relaxing at a secret getaway on Malaekahana beach.

Malaekahana beach sunrise
North Shore cabin
  Our little beachside cabin turned out to be a 3 bedroom, hang out on the lanai, grill up some brats kind of place. Small waves made the ocean very inviting just out front and the lack of wind made the water look like glass. Away from the lights of Honolulu we could see tons of stars outside and the milky way stretching across the night sky. And it was a perfect jumping off spot for some early morning surf sessions.

Practicing my cutbacks
Grabbing the rail
After discovering a hidden local breakfast place near sunset beach called Ted's bakery we stopped at a favorite wave of mine where I knew Heidi would have a good vantage point for some pictures. The waves looked fun and only two guys were out so I ran down into the water and caught 15 or so waves in a little over an hour. Heidi honed her surf photography skills and it also helped that I rode the waves into very shallow water. I made sure to be up on the wave which gave me a little buffer from the boulders below. On the very inside section the barely submerged rocked would propel the wave up into crazy designs, throwing the lip up and out in a disjointed barrel.
Usually I would have kicked out by now but since I knew Heidi was taking pictures I went for the inside shallow section

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Magic Island's Underwater Creatures

Kahuna nudibranch
 After our first successful nudibranch search at Honolulu's Magic Island dive site we decided to head back to see what else we could find. The water viz is usually pretty low at the entrance, around 15ft, but opens up to 30-35ft as you round the corner. We explored the Ala Wai boat channel, which you can see to the right of Magic Island in the aerial picture, on our first dive. This time we skipped most of that and jumped in almost all the way out of the channel.
Indian Nudibranch
Kahuna Nudibranch (Thorunna kahuna)
  Before rounding the corner of the breakwall we stumbled upon our first nudibranch finds, a Kahuna nudibranch. This beautiful nudibranch is white with a brilliant purple fringe. We have found it a few times already here on Oahu, however it was very rare to see on Maui. It's funny how shifting 80 miles away can have a noticeable impact on wildlife. Heidi spotted an Indian nudibranch shortly after. These are one my favorite nudibranchs to photograph. They have raised, multi-colored cerata lining their body.

Imperial nudibranchs trailing
Ardeadoris angustolutea
   Many more nudibranchs followed with 17 or 18 in total. But that's not all. We were lucky enough to see some moray eels, a slipper lobster, and a white tip reef shark hanging out in a cave. Even though the reef is more rocky and has less coral here than Maui, it still seems to be alive with cool underwater creatures.

White bump nudibranch
Slipper Lobster out during daytime
White mouth moray eel

Baby teardrop butterflyfish
Hawaiian boxfish

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Kayak Adventure in Lanikai, Oahu

It was a beautiful day for an adventure. A big north swell is showing up tomorrow so we decided today would be the day for kayaking. I visited Lanikai a long time ago with a good friend from the Big Island and had not been back until today. I remember walking out to the beach and seeing the most beautiful turquoise water and two offshore islands just waiting to be explored. It is a scene that has always stuck with me. The picture above is that scene! It felt great walking out onto the beach and seeing this tropical vision in front of me.

  We launched the kayak and headed out towards the two islands collectively called Na Mokulua. A tiny turtle swam up beside us at one point but quickly darted off after noticing the kayak. The islands got bigger and bigger as we paddled out farther. By the looks of it the north swell may have started wrapping around to the east side of the island already. A couple of stand up paddleboarders and even a kayaker had the small waves all to themselves. We paddled out around the smaller island and I jumped in to check out the deeper water. I could easily see the bottom but there was alot of silt in the water column. The bottom was just sand covered rock and not too exciting. I waited around for a couple of minutes to see if anything big was going to swim by but no avail.

  We could see a bunch of people on a little beach on the bigger island so we paddled over there next. As we pulled our kayak up to the beach through the surf we noticed a huge Hawaiian monk seal on the beach, surrounded by beach goers! Luckily there were signs posted and most people kept their distance. However every once in a while a new kayaker would paddle up and have to divert at the last second when they noticed the seal.
  Heidi and I attempted to walk around the entire island. It was a bit rough in locals (flip flops) and at one point after some serious rock climbing we had to turn around. It was pretty wild to see the different colored tide pools and the big waves pounding the backside of the island. We also stumbled across a couple baby shearwaters at the entrance to their underground nests. Seems this offshore rock is more than just a far off spot on a postcard.
  After getting our fill of rock climbing Na Mokulua and a bit more snorkeling we paddled our kayak back across to Lanikai, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Protect the Shark

While the adventure continues the awareness begins! In all of my travels I have come across amazing underwater encounters. Sharks have always been my favorite. I have been lucky enough to swim with great white sharks in Africa, thresher sharks in the Philippines, whale sharks in Mexico, and hammerheads in Hawaii to name a few. Unfortunately seeing these sharks has become a rarer and rare treat.
A lot of conservation has sprung up to help conserve shark species around the world. Raising awareness is going to be a huge part in saving the sharks so I am doing my little part. Check in from time to time at for the latest updates on shark conservation.

-Dai Mar

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Stay-cation in Waikiki

Hilton Waikiki Village Resort
Penguins in Hawaii
View from our Room
 Penguins in Hawaii!? We pulled out all the stops this past weekend for some anniversary fun in Waikiki. Thanks to my Hilton rewards credit card Heidi and I had a free weekend at the Hawaiian Hilton Village Resort in Waikiki. It is a pretty incredible complex reaching over 22 acres on the west end of Waikiki beach. 8 swimming pools, jacuzzis, and water slides played a big part in our "stay-cation". There is even a penguin rock pool exhibit there.
Molokai Royalty
   I think we were the only people there excited about the weather being overcast and a little rainy. We would jump from the pool to the hot tub, out to the ocean, and down the water slide into the pool again.
   I can't say that this is our normal adventurous weekend but what a way to mix things up. I was pretty excited about seeing the Friday night fireworks show but it turned out that our room was perfectly blocked from view. I tried to climb up to the roof of our tower, Hangover style, but the access door was shut tight.

Waikiki Glowing at Night

Our home for the weekend
  It was cool to get a nighttime view of Waikiki and soak it in over a couple of days. While this is the one place a lot of visitors see, it is the place that locals avoid the most. Parking is expensive and the rest of the island is just so inviting. However it is a beast unto itself and definitely worth checking out. Endless restaurants, entertainment, even a huge parade on our first morning there made Waikiki the place to be last weekend.