This past week we went on a mini-snorkeling vacation that ended up being one of the highlights of my life. I have always loved the opportunities that I had in Oahu to snorkel and swim with the sea turtles, so when I was planning on going to the Big Island of Hawaii for some snorkeling I was really looking to it.
Our first day on the Big Island we went on a night snorkel to see manta rays feeding. It was a guided tour that was well worth it the price, but still a bit steep for my taste at over $100 per person. You can see from the video that it was a pretty amazing experience, though. The rays came very close and we were able to get some decent video. Keep in mind that it was night time, the water was full of plankton (what the rays are feeding on with those huge, open mouths), and when they turn upward in that big arching circle the lights from the tour really reflect off of their underside.
As bad as the video is, though, I think you can get a good picture of how great of an experience that it was. I tried to take the chop and lighting issues out with the Youtube editor as best as I could.
The Highlight of the Trip: Snorkeling Spinner Dolphins!
The day after the manta ray snorkel, the girlfriend and I were up early at 0530 and heading to the Captain Cook monument area to hike down and snorkel there. We were in a bit of time crunch, though, as we were sharing our rental car with someone else. So, we decided to drive on by and hit up Two Steps to snorkel there.
Two Steps is actually named Honaunau, “The City of Refuge”. This is where the ancient Hawaiians came to find themselves. It was one of the best experiences of my life. The water was calm and we were there before it go crowded. As a matter of fact, there were only 5 other people there when we arrived. We saw the spinner dolphins at Two Steps from the entry point and we were in the water and heading in that direction within 5 minutes. 2 minutes later we were swimming with the dolphins. A pod of 8, to be exact. The dolphin snorkel blew my mind. Also, Honaunau is one of the best snorkeling spots I have ever been to. It has it all. Beautiful coral, varying depths of water, lots of fish, octos, and turtles. Get there early, though. The crowds came in a big way at around 9 a.m.
The video does absolutely no justice to the experience but you can see that between the 23 second and 45 second mark how close they came. It was incredible. About 8 hours after paying over $200 to swim with manta rays we were in the water with Hawaiian spinner dolphins for free. And you can her them clicking at us as they glide by.