Turtle Breathing

Sorry, we’ve been on a cruise for a while now so our blog is a bit behind due to lack of internet access.  But we will get caught up asap – we have a few more great Maui experiences to write about, and then it will be on to the cruise ports!  So with no further ado…

I’ve realized that one of my favorite pastimes in the world is snorkeling with sea turtles.  What’s not to love?  Swimming in the blue ocean, underneath a blue sky with puffy white clouds.  Sun shining down on me and the water, lighting up the underwater world for me to explore.  And a huge turtle, sometimes as big as me, swimming along, cute curvy flippers paddling along.

We’ve seen sea turtles in a few places in the world, but Hawaii remains to be the top contender for guaranteed sea turtle sightings, where we always manage to find them completely on our own.  Everyone there talks about how you have to go snorkeling at “Turtle Town,” and the big joke is that Turtle Town is wherever the activity vendor wants it to be.  On our boat trip to the “Turtle Town” named by the Quicksilver boat company we were with, we didn’t feel we were seeing anything better than what we see on our own.

We saw our first sea turtle together on a beach named Po’olenalena in South Maui four years ago.  We were psyched to return to the same beach on our first full day in Maui this time.  We went back to the same spot in the reef where we found them years ago, and at first had no luck.  Elliott was ready to pack it in, but I suggested we try swimming across to the other side of the beach.  Before we made it all the way across, I had spotted a sea turtle, and we were both thrilled.  (We also spotted some sting rays that were all too happy to swim very close to us, so close that we wondered if we should be concerned.  Could they sting us?  Of course, our underwater camera battery had gone ka-put for the day.  I regret we have no photos of the gorgeous spotted Eagle ray that returned over and over again.)

The very next day, we tried a new snorkeling beach for us named Ulua Beach.  The reef and fish were better at Ulua than those at Po’olenalena, so we enjoyed exploring every nook and cranny we could find.  I did my best to photograph the shy Humahumanukanuka’apua’a, Hawaiian’s state fish.  Elliott even saw an octopus at one point!  (He lost it before I could see it or get a photo though:( )

After we had been snorkeling for a while, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a large sea turtle come swimming by.  I had to chase him because he was going too fast and Elliott was nowhere in sight.  I kept hoping Elliott would find me and follow me, and sure enough, he did!  Eventually he caught up and I was able to show him my sea turtle.  We kept swimming and swimming, deeper into the ocean, and the best thing happened – our turtle led us right to his turtle friend!  It was so great watching them both.  When they split we swam away and then followed a third one for quite a while.  Once in a while it would come to the surface and I could hear it breathing!!!  It was a new sound in nature for me, and such an awesomely awesome experience.  Eventually it got harder and harder to see our turtle so we came back towards the reef and the shore.

That wasn’t the last of the sea turtles.  On our last day on Maui, we headed back to Po’olenalena for one more chance at turtle sightings.  We found one quickly this time, on the right side of the beach, but he was swimming quickly across the ocean to the far left side of the beach, and we decided to follow.  We were so glad we did.  He led us to an area we had never explored before, with the most beautiful reef and fish we had seen all week.  I went crazy taking photos of the beautifully colored coral and fish.

Some kayakers joined us, and Elliott spotted the turtle this time, beneath their kayak.  But it wasn’t just one.  We snorkeled around, and saw a second, and a third, and a fourth!  The turtles were calm, and friendly, and seemed content to let us swim around them.  After a while, one by one, they went down to the bottom and anchored themselves in the sand, and just chilled.  We’re not sure if they were sick of us or just resting or maybe even getting ready to mate.  At one point we definitely witnessed what we can only label at a minimum as some “turtle cuddling!”

I didn’t get to hear any turtles breathe that last day, but I felt like they gave us everything we could ask for.  We got some photos of Elliott and a turtle, some of me with a turtle, some video, and some of multiple turtles hanging out together.  It was the perfect turtle day, and we knew we had finally found our “Turtle Town” in Hawaii.

Here are some awesome turtle vidjos:

Stephanie catches up with a sea turtle

Elliott swims with a sea turtle

Turtle heads down to the sand

Stephanie says goodbye to the sea turtle


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