Snorkeling Fever

Article by Judy Edwards

The first time my friend Cheryl saw a bright-eyed damselfish, she laughed so hard she nearly sank. This fish, small enough to fit in a toddler’s hand, is endearingly cute (check the name) and fiercely defensive of its territory. Snorkeling just off Maluaka Beach by the Maui Prince Hotel, Cheryl intently investigated the damselfish’s coral reef home, and triggered the fish’s personal hot buttons. Gazing into a crevice, she was greeted by a minute but potent stare and lots of indignant tiny fish body language. That something so small could be so fierce apparently hit Cheryl’s funny bone at just the right angle. By the time I swam over she was laughing so helplessly that her mask was fogging up and it was all she could do to tread water.

Snorkeling. I got what I call ‘The Fever’ BAD about 23 years ago—my second day on Maui. My brother handed me a mask and snorkel and pointed me toward the water at Honolua Bay. I sat on a big black boulder, strapped my gear on, hopped in the water and promptly felt my mind blow. Corals in reds and yellows, oranges and greens, blues even!!! Fish from the Willy Wonka school of coloration—wrasses and parrotfish, surgeonfish, tangs, and butterflyfish. Black rock crabs and snowflake eels and cleaner shrimp. Blue that went on for an eternity in every direction, soft and electric.

And that was that for me. Love.

Thirteen years of life in Hawaii have only served to deepen the addiction. I’d be out there at Kapalua Bay, or Old Airport beach (both up on the West side) or Ulua beach in Wailea every day if I didn’t have to make that stupid money stuff. This could happen to you! Just wait until you see your first Hawaiian green sea turtle…I encourage you to enter that Pacific blue, a blue so original to this place that I can pick Hawaiian ocean water out when it’s used as background in movies.

The rest of your life, and the bright-eyed damselfish, await you.

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