So we came to Hawaiʻi.
I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday in order to be ready for a 7:20 a.m. flight out of SJC; it was kind of weird to arrive at the Maui Coast Hotel in Kihei after what felt like a whole day of being out and about, and to look at the clock and see that it was only noon.
We went to talk with the scuba people at Maui Dreams, where I'm doing my referral dives, and had lunch at Joy's Place, one of the few really vegetarian/vegan-friendly restaurants I've encountered in Hawaiʻi. Very tasty food, especially the day's special grilled cheese with veggies and nicely garlicky pesto.
Then we went on a 45-minute helicopter tour to Molokaʻi, run by Air Maui. I would say the trip itself was roughly comparable to the helicopter flight I took last year on the big island, but the company (Kam) and the circumstances around this trip were far pleasanter. We got to see several spectacular waterfalls and some very tall cliffs, and even a few whales in the water far below.
After the helicopter trip, we drove over to Iao Valley (renting a car this trip has definitely made all sorts of things much easier); sadly, we arrived just after the main gate and the nature center closed, but the park at the outskirts was still open, so we wandered around for a bit. It looks like nearly every nationality that's ever had significant numbers of immigrants to Hawaiʻi has put up some kind of monument there. Interestingly multicultural history. There was also a statement put up by Hawaiian Kingdom, which seeks an end to the occupation of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi by the United States.
We ate dinner at a tiny and very slow Japanese restaurant nearby; reasonably good food. Then back to hotel for an early night. Over the course of the day, I took about 400 photos and videos, a few of which I may post at some point.
This morning, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. local time, in order to get ready for meeting at the dive shop at 7. Kam came along; she's a very experienced diver, so she went on a dive with a local guide at the same place (Ulua Beach) where I was doing my first two ocean dives.
My dives went reasonably well. I breathed way too fast (the other student ended up with way more air than I had at the end of both dives; I even ran out (on the surface) at the end of the first one), and I can't seem to figure out how to control my body without thrashing my arms around, but we saw various sea critters and I started to get a sense of how to do buoyancy control.
Kam's dives went quite well; she took a bunch of great photos and videos with my new GoPro Hero 4 Silver and its red filter. We had lunch at Joy's Place again, and made plans for tomorrow; considered doing whale watching this afternoon but that didn't work out, so we came back to hotel for napping.
Kam is still more or less napping as I write this. I probably should be, because tomorrow morning we need to be at the boat at 6:15 a.m., which means waking up even earlier tomorrow. The idea of waking up hours before dawn while on vacation seems non-ideal to me, but it's mitigated somewhat by the two-hours time difference from California; this morning my wake-up time wasn't too different from when I usually wake up at home. But tomorrow will be very early.
After tomorrow's dives, if all goes well, I will be a certified open-water scuba diver. Also, probably, exhausted. We might try to go whale watching or we might do more napping.
On Sunday, Kam and I could go diving together. That sounds nice. Except that by then I may be too tired to do anything other than lie on the beach. We'll see.