Snorkeling with Manta Rays
[Kona, HI, Oct 16, 2016]
Sunday was our day to celebrate!
Our organizer extraordinaire Arev had arranged for a lunch for all 36 of us at the Kona Brewery – same one we visited on our first day here. It was great to see everyone and hear the other teams’ stories! Everyone had some good ones to share!
We took lots of photos, of course! One set of photos was the corresponding runners from each team – for example, all first runners, all runners #2 and so on. Here I am with my corresponding runner #6, Crystal. We are missing runner #6 from the third team – not sure who it was, but it was one of the few people who had to fly out before this celebration took place.
Of course, we had a running girls pic. You can tell these came from Lena’s camera because of the European date format (DD.MM.YYYY). We are not sure why May has her medal around her neck, spoiling the photo. 😉
And finally, here’s a selfie from May’s phone. Big group!
A group of us left early because we had another adventure in store – snorkeling with Manta rays!
Lena and I attempted to do this on our trip here in 2014. We got suited up and went out on the boat, only to turn around because the water was too choppy. We were hoping for a better outcome this time, and we were not disappointed!!!
Our group was a combination of snorkelers and divers. Laura, Margaret Camilla and myself snorkeled, while Linda and Olivia dove (they are both certified for this). We had signed up for two separate outings on the water – a two-hour snorkel in the afternoon, followed by a break for dinner (a sandwich) on the boat, then another sunset snorkel to watch the manta rays feed.
The first snorkel was nice but not that eventful. We saw pretty much the same fish as on my previous Hawaii trip, and actually, because we were out on the ocean and it was so much deeper here, the fish were harder to see than when snorkeling just off the shore. We had a great time anyway! We had a guide who stayed with us the whole time, explaining the different kinds of fish we saw and sharing stories from all the years he’s been doing this work. I left the picture-taking to my friends, so these pics are courtesy of Olivia and Laura.
The manta ray snorkel, however, was quite amazing. For this snorkel, we had a giant circular tube with lights on it that we all held on to. The lights illuminated the ocean to attract the plankton, which is what the manta rays feed on. The manta rays were huge but quite gentle. They came around right on time (sunset) to feed on the plankton while we were watching them from above. We did our best to stay horizontal on the surface so as to not disturb them, and we had a couple of them come really close to us! They were doing flips and just showing off! We could see our divers at the bottom of the ocean staring up at them! It was an absolutely beautiful experience! Here are a few pics from the divers. You can see the lights at the surface. I know these guys look scary due to their size and their funky-looking lip, but they are not dangerous at all.
I am so grateful we got to see these giants and I am especially thankful to Lena for bringing her snorkeling gear on our first trip here and teaching me how to snorkel! Without that experience, I may not have had the guts to do this – as some of you may know or remember, I can’t swim! As a matter of fact, I was the only person in the group to be snorkeling around with a noodle. And as you can see, it was totally worth the slight embarrassment.