I took a business trip to Maui recently (I’m serious!) and stopped by Honolua Bay to do some snorkeling. This is one of my favorite snorkel spots on Maui because it’s a secluded spot north of Kapalua that requires parking on the road and walking through the forest. When Megan and I went there last year, it was February and not very crowded. This time the roadside was packed by 10 AM, and there were three catamarans with tourists in the bay.
Instead, I continued on to buy some dried mango at the small town of Kahakuloa — about two miles past where the road switches to a single lane. There was this guy last time with a roadblock who sold little baggies of the most awesome dried mango to every passing car. Apart from the bright orange color, you’d think he was selling weed. No dude, but I did buy some coconut candy from the little green hut known for its banana bread.
On the return I stopped at the Nakalele Blowhole and the Ovaline Pools, but these were also duds. What was so awesome about our trip last time is that the ocean on the north shore was really raging that day, creating an impressive blow hole and a stark contrast between the sea and the calm pools. Because of the calm ocean on this day, you wouldn’t even know a blowhole was there. The pools looked like stagnant water. (Check out a more positive review of my last trip there. You really should make an effort to visit.)
Luck found me upon my return to Honolua Bay. Those early birds were leaving, and I found space to park and head in to do some snorkeling. The jungle chickens and jungle cat were still there. And upon arriving at the rocky beach I was reminded by a hand-painted boogie board not to put on any sunscreen. It kills the reef, kills the sea turtles, and that just ain’t cool. So I decided to be a good little Seattle-ite and wait to put on sunscreen when I got out of the water.
It is now four days later, and still have an incredible sunburn! All of me is red, but my back in particular looks like a bottle of Heinz. There have been lots of times I’ve been cooking and I’ve hurt myself by splashing hot oil or grabbing a hot pan, but this is the first time I’ve considered going to a hospital burn clinic.
So next time, I’m going to wear the damn sunscreen. I think sea turtles are so awesome that I collect little figurines that drive Megan crazy. I think the coral reef is awesome, and it pained me to see a lot of dead coral out there from people who don’t treat them well. But I’m also careful to let my sunscreen soak in before I go in the water so there is less excess to rinse off. And I never, ever touch the coral. (I did touch a sea turtle once. He started it.)
Fortunately coral reefs don’t fight back, unless you consider their importance as carbon sinks. It would be a big problem if all the coral died. So do you hate me for my decision? Not as much as I hate this sunburn. There’s gotta be some solution that lets me enjoy nature without one of us dying.