Friday, September 26, 2014

Sunset Colors

After a late afternoon surf session I grabbed my camera and luckily snapped a couple of photos as the sun went down and the colors came out.

All the pictures are from the Kaka'ako waterfront, some looking west towards the sunset and some looking east towards Waikiki. The clouds still remained after afternoon showers so I knew I would have a good chance at a great sunset.

Sunset Waves in Hawaii

Monday, September 22, 2014

Shore Dive at Electric Beach, Oahu

Ornate Butterflyfish
Red Pencil Urchin
   It has been five months since we have ventured a dive along Oahu's south shore. The summertime south swells are on the fade out so we decided to grab some tanks and try our luck on a shore dive along the southwest tip of the island at a place called Electric Beach.
Blue Dragon Nudibranchs, Do you see the 2nd?
  This is usually a good spot for a couple species of nudibranchs, as well as juvenile reef fish. Every once in a while we have been surprised by turtles and spinner dolphins at this spot but today was more of a small-things macro hunt.

Heidi found these Imperial Nudibranchs
Imperial Nudibranch
Spotted Coral Blenny
 Heidi slipped right back into nudibranch hunter form as we came across a few desirable nudibranchs, two imperial nudibranchs, and over twent blue dragon nudibranchs. 

Blue Dragon Nudibranch

The tell-tale red and yellow under fin of a devil scorpionfish
Ornate Butterflyfish

On the way back in Heidi spotted a very well camouflaged devil scorpionfish waiting to ambush its next prey. I took a picture of the tell-tale red and yellow underside of its pectoral fins. This is how I always know if its a devil scorpion fish or some other species of scorpion fish.
  As always it felt great getting back underwater and immersing ourselves among the reef life. And it didn't hurt that the water out here is a balmy 80°.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Historic Honolulu

Aloha Tower
  I had a guest on one of my tours the other day ask me if there were any photogenic buildings in Honolulu. I actually had to think about it a little. So I decided to do a bit of exploring around town and these are a couple examples of what I found.
  The aloha tower has been standing watch over Honolulu's busy piers since 1926. It is kind of like our Statue of Liberty. It was the tallest building in Hawaii for four decades and has greeted hundreds of thousands of visitors to the islands as they first stepped foot onto Hawaiian soil. Now it houses two restaurants and is being remodeled as dorms for Hawaii Pacific University.

St. Andrew's Cathedral
   St. Andrews Church/Cathedral is a beautiful old church built in the Anglican tradition at the behest of then King Kamehameha IV and his wife Queen Emma. It is one of only four cathedrals in the Hawaiian Islands.

Downtown Honolulu
    Downtown Honolulu is currently evolving from a seedy night out for sailors to a boutique restaurant and culture area. Fine food, shopping, and historic buildings mix with sky scrapers and a flourishing China town. One of those historic buildings is the Hawaii Theater. This interesting building opened in 1922 as was boasted to be on par with fine theaters in San Fransisco and beyond. It slowly feel into disuse and disrepair during the 70's and 80's until finally closing in 1984. However the theater reopened in 1996 after concerned citizens banded together to raise money for the restoration effort. Now it is again a popular venue for stage shows and concerts. 
Hawaii Theater

Monday, September 15, 2014

Big Waves and Closeout Sets

  In between huge close out sets like the two here, there were some fun, fast rides to be had along Oahu's south shoreline this weekend. One of the biggest swells of the summer decided to arrive after summer was officially over. I saw boat channels being closed out by huge waves, surfers scrambling up the rocks trying to get away from the pounding white water, and some amazing surfing as well.

    For me it has been overall a very good swell. I've had four sessions in the past three days, catching some of my biggest waves of the season. The water is still warm, hovering around 80 degrees, and the winds have disappeared almost completely. I might even have one more session left in me this afternoon.

  It is good to get these big swells right before the north shore starts lighting up to get prepared for the winter to come. Right now it is that incredible time of year when we have great waves on both coasts, which spreads out the crowd and gives you the pick of the set. Now I just have to give my arms and shoulders a little break. Too bad I'm not in Indo, I could really use one of those $10 massages.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Video of the 1st North Swell of the Season

  The first north swell of the season filled in over the past couple of days here on Oahu's fabled North Shore. These early swells are some of my favorite because of the lack of crowds. All the pros are in southern California for the Trestles ASP event, and other surfers are waiting for the peak season to fly to Hawaii. When I paddled out to this secret spot that I call "Big Lefts Oahu", there was only one other guy out. After a few waves he paddled in and I had the break all to myself for a couple hours. Glassy conditions and head high to overhead waves...can't ask for more than that.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dive into Oahu's Beautiful North Shore

Heidi exploring an underwater cavern
It is September here in Hawaii which means those big winter swells are just around the corner. Heidi and I wanted to get at least one more North Shore scuba dive in before the waves arrive so yesterday we drove across the island and rented tanks from Surf and Sea and headed to the left of shark cove for a shore dive.

  The conditions were still very nice for diving. The water was pretty clear but did have quite a bit of suspended sediment. The clouds above cleared and let the sun shine through. And the water temperature was hovering around 80 degrees.
    We found some amazing underwater rock formations. Lots of swim throughs, a huge cavern with multiples exits, and encrusting sponges and coral covering it all.

   On the hunt for unusual sea creatures and good photo opportunities we came across this young green sea turtle. I noticed it swimming toward the surface to replenish its oxygen so I waited for it to start swimming back down to the bottom where I was. Using a very small aperture I was able to turn the bright sun into a starburst, with my two strobes lighting up the underside of the descending turtle.

  I added these two pictures to show how different the photo landscapes can be at this site. Heidi is swimming about 30 feet down in this picture to the left and fish school in the shallows under natural light in the picture to the right.

   While we came across dozens of white margin nudibranchs, egg cases, a conger eel, and banded cleaner shrimp, the big find of the day was the spanish dancer nudibranch pictured below. The reds and pinks of this species of nudibranch are so vibrant. They are known to be sporadic swimmers, undulating through the water like a Spanish dancer's dress during the tango.

A Spanish Dancer Nudibranch (Hexabranchus sanguineus)