Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Maui - Post Xterra Worlds

I had 3 full days to enjoy Maui after Worlds while simultaneously recovering.  Since I don't travel much and very rarely encounter an ocean I decided to do mostly ocean stuff and that meant snorkeling.

The first day post race I went to Olowalu beach because it was recommended by the dive shop that I rented the snorkel gear from.  There wasn't much beach between the highway and the ocean, kind of weird pulling the car up, crossing a bit of sand and just getting right in to the ocean.  Nonetheless there were people sunning themselves on the beach right next to the highway with the traffic blaring by.

The water was a bit cloudy close to shore, I had to swim out a ways to get to clear-ish water and the coral reefs where the fish hang out.  So very cool, my first experience with snorkeling.  The fish, the coral, so so cool.  It felt like I was only out there 30-40 minutes or so and my GoPro footage backed this up but when I looked at my watch it said I'd been out there an hour and a half.  All I can think is that something went screwy somewhere with my watch.

The water was wavy, not as bad as on race day but not calm either.  I was getting blown about a bit by the current and the water wasn't super warm so I had to keep moving or I'd get cold.  All of this added up to a bad case of motion sickness after I got out and got back to the condo.  I was fine while I was in the water but once I'd been out a bit my world started spinning.  Pretty sure I spent the rest of the day crashed out in the condo where the sound of the ocean probably didn't help matters.

By morning I was better and my roomie wanted to go swimming.  She had sprained her ankle during the race and wasn't able to snorkel so we met up with our coach and went for a short swim.  Then I was off for more snorkeling, this time to Black Rock Beach, also recommended by the dive shop.  I had to park at a different beach (Kahekili Beach State Park) about a mile or so away and walk across that beach to get to Black Rock.  The area had 2 snorkeling areas but the guide book had advised against trying to swim from one to another due to strong currents off the point that separated them.  Supposedly it was possible to get swept out to sea.  Or something.  At first I thought this was a warning for tourists who might not have swimming skills but the current was strong again and as I got to the point I wondered if it was worth tempting fate.  I have a strong respect for the ocean and I had no idea what the conditions really were so I decided not to risk it.  So I stayed on my side of the point and toodled around for about 20-30 minutes until I got cold and weary of being blown about by the current.  There were more fish and the water was clearer closer to shore than at Olowalu.  When I got out a guy asked me if I'd seen anything good.  He told me there were turtles and rays.  I'd seen loads of colorful fish but no turtles or rays.  I asked him if he was going to swim around the point to the other snorkel area and he said yes but he had proper scuba equipment and looked and sounded experienced.

I was so wanting to see the big sea turtles so I decided to get out and walk around to the other side of the point which was another 10 minutes or so.  This part of the beach was right next to the Sheraton hotel and filled with people.  Too Many People.  But it was way calmer and I'd walked all that way and there was the chance of turtles so I decided I had to give it a go.

And right off the bat, big sea turtles!  So so cool!  Of course I didn't have my GoPro.  The only problem was that as soon as there was a turtle, zillions of people would swim over to see it.  I got fed up with the crowds pretty quickly and swam further out to escape them.  Lots of fish and pretty coral but no turtles.  For some reason they were all hanging out close to shore with the people.  I swam back to shore and discovered a couple few that only one other person noticed so I did eventually get to enjoy them without the hordes.  Another 20-30 minutes and I was done.

And super sea sick again when I got back to the condo.  Earlier that morning I had signed up for a 7 hour boat trip that including a couple of stops for snorkeling the following day and I was wondering how I was going to pull that off.  When I returned my snorkel equipment the guy in the dive shop recommended some stuff that supposedly didn't make you drowsy like dramamine.  I was skeptical but figured it was worth a try.  I took a pill that night and did feel a bit better.  Maybe there was hope for the morning.

I woke up feeling much better and made my way to Lahaina Harbor for my boat ride/snorkel trip to Lanai, a neighboring island that I'd been looking at each day from my condo.  My flight home left at 10:00 that night so I had to leave my bike and all my luggage in the van unattended for 7 1/2 hours in a tourist town where car break-ins occur.  All I could do was hope for the best.

The boat was smaller than I'd hoped, not good for not being sea sick.  My coach's husband told me to keep my eye on the horizon and that would help.  I spent a lot of the trip staring at the horizon.  The trip included a stop in a bay off the coast of Lanai to snorkel and I was hoping to see some more sea turtles with less people this time.  The bay had other tour groups but it wasn't as bad as Black Rock.  The guides claimed there were turtles but when I swam over to where they supposedly were, I never saw them.  Oh well.  Still lots of cool fish and clearer water than off Maui.

Lanai from the boat. 

Coast of Lanai with Maui in the background.

And of course the Spinner Dolphins.  SO cool!  Probably the highlight of my trip to Maui.

That video footage took forever to put together and edit and it's a large reason why I'm so far behind in blog posts.  I don't know how people in film editing do it, so tedious.

The boat trip dropped us on Lanai for a couple of hours so at least I wasn't at sea for the full 7 hours.  Lanai is a weird place, former Oracle CEO Geek Larry Ellison bought it a few years ago and renovated the Four Seasons there making it supposedly the fanciest of all the Four Seasons anywhere.  Rooms start at $1075.  Here's an interesting article from 2014 about Ellison's takeover of Lanai.  Anyway, they gave us a packed lunch, dropped us off at Manele Bay, a 10-15 minutes walk to Hulopo'e Beach, and told us not to go wandering over to the Four Seasons' pool and fancy patio area.

The beach was nice but again had some surf and shore break.  Nothing like what I had to deal with on race day but enough to get blown around a bit while snorkeling.

Such amazing shades of blue.

I snorkeled for another 20-30 minutes then took a short hike along the point.  The trail didn't go very far, maybe 15 minutes, but there were some nice views along the way.

Picnic area at  Hulopo'e.  Not a bad place for lunch.

I didn't have a car so couldn't go into the town area.  The beach area had a weird feeling to it, beautiful but isolated and populated by tourists, nobody there looked like a local.  And the weird feeling of the super rich hotel and its occupants looming over it.  Plus a super fast internet connection according to a woman who was amazed at being able to send a photo to her daughter from such a remote place.

There was a primitive beach house with a shower and I was happy to be able to wash off the salt water before catching my flight back home.  But that happiness was short lived because the boat ride back to Maui was a bit more terrifying, er, exciting than I was expecting and I ended up drenched with salt water again.  The surf generally picks up in the afternoon and I had started the journey in the front of the boat not realizing that this is the best place to sit if you're looking for an exciting ride.  Thankfully they stopped the boat after a bit and let those of us who were looking a bit pale from all the excitement go to the back of the boat.  We got back to Lahaina and I was feeling like I'd survived some epic ocean crossing and the boat's captain said we were lucky, usually it's a lot worse.

Quick dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Lahaina and I was off to the airport to catch my flight home.  Somehow I put the thought of the seawater soaked into my skin and hair out of mind.  Totally worth it to see those dolphins.  And I slept like a rock on both flights.  I didn't get sea sick on the boat and I was o.k. at the airport but once I got home I was motion sick for 3 days.  Still worth it.

Glad I went to Maui and had the experience of a World Championship but I think it will be a once in a lifetime thing.

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