From Afraid to Addicted: Snorkeling in Hawaii

98% of these photos are from Flickr. Next time I go snorkeling, I’ll buy a real underwater camera; not disposable!

The first time I went snorkeling was 20 years ago–and I haven’t been since. It was beautiful, but not a relaxing experience. For starters, it was in Egypt, not where a Jewish girl is supposed to be (Hi Dad!).

And then there’s this thing with the mask–yeah, I didn’t like that. I hyperventilated. In the middle of the ocean. With strangers. Who were Yeshiva boys. My friend was having a blast and already underwater soaking up all the glory. I was trying to decide whether it was alright to even touch these boys in my moment of panic (men and women don’t touch in Orthodox Judaism). These guys weren’t all that Orthodox, since they were 1. in Egypt, 2. swimming in a public place, 3. with women…but at that moment, my years of education battled with my flailing need to hold onto someone.

And THAT thrashing is just about all I remember of snorkeling. There was stunning blue (positive) and we swam too close to coral for comfort (negative).

So, going to Hawaii and knowing that snorkeling is literally at every beach, I was compelled to overcome my fear.

A Girl’s Gotta Train

Armed with gear bought on (my mother ship), I was ready to go as often as I chose; no need to rent equipment.

The night before, I studiously watched YouTube videos. Walk sideways in small steps. Move hair away from your face for a tight seal of the mask. Use toothpaste on the mask to prevent it from fogging. Say what???

I practiced using the mask in the hotel pool, while others luxuriated in the hot tub. I’m totally serious. And was totally nervous. Do they make floaties for adults?

And, We’re Breathing

I’m quite comfortable doing a lot of things on my own. It would have been nice to hold someone’s hand, I’ll be honest.

I did have two freakouts on the first day–notice I said “first”day–oh yeah, I went snorkeling EVERY DAY after that! You swim right over the coral; there’s just a few feet between you and it, and that scared me. It’s alive and I don’t want to hurt it or have it hurt me. So when I hyperventilated, I just popped my head up, found the nearest human, and swam to him/her. I asked if I could hold their arm until my breathing settled. They were very gracious and calming.

Here Fishy Fishy

Some people complain that Hawaii’s coral isn’t all that grand. Spoiled brats. I may not have been to Great Barrier Reef, but shush. First, that’s like saying someone’s baby isn’t cute. Secondly, ask a question–Hawaii’s coral isn’t as colorful as other places because there isn’t as much land mass. The coral needs the earth to grow and bloom. Hawaii may be lush, but there just isn’t that much of it.

I can’t think of anything to say that isn’t trite. There’s a whole world underwater (duh) and it’s teeming, fascinating, addictive.

I saw a sea turtle!!

Sea turtle while snorkeling in Hawaii

Want to see fish? Of course you do! Click the pic to advance the slideshow.

The Underwater Labyrinth

All “rocks” in Hawaii are lava flow. Amazing. Coral then grows on top of it–even more amazing. You can be swimming right on top of the coral, or through pools between the rock. The fish are where the rock is; because that’s where their food is.

Click the pic to advance the slideshow.

All Play and No Work…?

It’s tiring. You can let the current take you, but you may be in a pool vs over the reef. Then you have to work to get back. Or, it’s work to stay in place and gawk.

There’s also the reality of sunscreen. Note to self: when snorkeling, put sunscreen on the back of my knees and where the bathing suit meets my bum. Mommy! Second note to self: don’t hike a mile straight up the next day when my under-tush is sunburned.

If anyone needs as much aloe as comes in a bottle then things are in really bad shape.

paula snorkeling

Above Ground Beauty

Lest you think the spectacular was limited to underwater, Hawaii did not disappoint above ground either. These are the places where I went snorkeling. Not bad. Click the pic to advance the slideshow.


So clearly I embraced this fear. Anyone know where I can go snorkeling in Texas?


What have you been afraid of and then loved?

5 Responses


AWESOME!!!!! I snorkeled Maui and Molokini and you are right it was amazing. I snorkeled with nurse sharks in FL, and I have snorkeled in Jamaica. But Hawaii tops them all, I swam with a turtle!!! You rule!!

Danielle – what’s a nurse shark?


Your Comments
Loved your snorkeling experience…had me laughing out loud. When I was in Maui we went out on a catamaran that dropped us off in a spot over coral where there were an amazing number of sea turtles. The staff on the catamaran told us that this was a sea turtle “cleaning station”. There were hundreds of small fish that would eat the algae off of the back of the sea turtles. Evidently this goes on every day at that one location…fascinating!

June – that sounds divine!


Do they have 12 step programs? Thanks for the note about the toothpaste – I always spat in mine and rubbed in around.

Leave Your Response

* Name, Email, Comment are Required

This is ad number one.


These links may be helpful with logistics for your trip. I may not have used them, but we all want to promote our sites!