It was the last day of our holiday- oh no! When we woke up it was a very dull looking day. We discussed possible plans with Gwen and Christian over breakfast and considered going to visit some of the beaches north of Kaanapali. Christian warned that because of the weather it may not be too great up there for snorkelling. We Face-timed Mum to say ‘Hello’ and by this time it was really starting to rain and so we decided to go into town instead. It was still very early and we found a place to park on Front Street for free – much better than the $18 per 2 hour car park!
We put our emergency, festival yellow rain ponchos to good use- keeping ourselves dry and attracting some sympathetic looks. We enjoyed visiting the retail emporiums of Lahaina buying last minute gifts and postcards. The Hula Festival under the famous big Banyan tree was called to a halt due to the rain and none of the big fishing boats were doing much trade today. We visited some of the galleries- one in particular where the artist specialised in painting the light in the surf- something we’d been trying to capture all holiday on the camera. One of these could be ours for just $24,000. Whilst we made a decision…..
We popped into Fleetwood’s Restaurant and bar to get a coffee. This place is owned by Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac and downstairs we were distracted by the Morrison’s Hotel Gallery where they were displaying prints of photos of famous rock stars. It was a really impressive display indeed including great photos of Freddie Mercury and my favourite one of Keith Richards- holding a bottle of Jack Daniels, alongside David Bowie and Tina Turner slurping from a bottle of champagne. Jane got chatty with the owner- Robert and I think he thought he was going to get a sale- a snip at $500 for a postcard sized print. Whilst we made a decision…..
We went upstairs into Fleetwood’s itself and sat at the bar- it was now lunchtime after all. I decided to try a pineapple cider which was really excellent. Do they sell these in Waitrose Dave?
We got chatting to the guy sitting next to me – Don. He was from LA, retired and twice divorced. He was a portly chap with a moustache and big sideburns and he was sporting a Panama Hat and Hawaiian shirt. He seemed to epitomise the Hawaiian island escape – making friends as he travelled and not sure when he would go back home.
Fleetwood’s is a nice bar with great views of the sea from its front windows and lovely, relaxed music from a live band. Through the window I could see that the weather was clearing up and we decided it was time to get out of town. By now it was 2pm and we wanted to make the most of the sunshine and not drive too far exploring. We decided just to drive back to ‘Wipeout Beach’ and sit in our decky’s to chill.
It looked really different today – lovely blue skies , white fluffy clouds, palm trees( well they weren’t new obv.) – just perfect. The sea also seemed a lot calmer- although we didn’t intend to swim but had bought our stuff – just in case…..
So, I’d read about 2 lines of my book when I decided I couldn’t sit still- I needed to go in and see what was happening on the reef. Jane stayed reading her book. It was still a bit of a pavlova getting into the water but I was soon floating on top of the reef and gawping at the fish through the now very clear water. This reef went all along the beach with deep channels and tunnels- really great for hiding interesting fish. I saw some new ones including the marvellous yellow Long Nosed Butterfly fish- but by now I was secretly desperate to find a turtle to swim with. I swam about a lot but no joy- perhaps they don’t like the clear water?
I gave up, got spat out on the beach again and went back to see Jane. I said she should really give it a last go but if she wasn’t that bothered then not to worry. I sat back down to dry off but then 4 girls came out of the sea to settle back down just in front of us. I heard one say ‘Well , that was a nice snorkel and two turtles- one huge one- that was good’.
Well! That was it . I was up again and making friends , checking what they’d said. They were really quite casual about it all and said – yes- they’d seen turtles and one was right there (pointing right in front of me). Off I went again- Jane still not keen to come in after our previous experience of ‘wipeout’ here.
Pretty much as soon as I got to the spot where the girls had pointed I found a turtle! It was a big one and it was just swimming up and down going with the flow along with me. It was beautiful and I just stayed with it for a while. I took some photos and tried to take some video but my camera batteries were too short on power so not sure if I’d got any. No-one else seemed to be aware that the turtle was there – even though every now and then she popped her head up above the surface.
Obviously, I now needed to go and tell Jane and get her to come in! When I got out of the water I was breathing really heavily and was quite over-come. I thanked the girls on my way past with a huge smile on my face and then told Jane.
She was still unsure about going in but I told her that she HAD to come in. She agreed and down the beach we trotted. I gave Jane some tuition on how to get into the water and over the break safely. She was very brave and in we went….I held Jane’s hand until she was comfortable and then lead her over to where I’d seen the turtle. Within 2 minutes I had spotted her again and nudged Jane and pointed to the turtle- right in front of us. I was really pleased and after one big footed- booby stopped trying to chase her, we had the big beauty all to ourselves- gently bobbing about with her as she grazed. Jane says the turtle looked straight at her at one point as it got really close!
We headed out of the water – Jane making a more graceful exit than me. Now Jane looked like I did earlier – hyperventilating and quite emotional. The nice family on the beach in front of us looked worried and asked me ‘Is she ok?’. I explained that we’d just had our first swimming with turtles experience. The Mom laughed and said ‘Oh good, I was wondering if she needed CPR!’
We calmed down, packed up and drove back to our Air BNB. We told Gwen and Christian all about it (and anyone else who would listen!). They were really excited for us and joined us for a celebratory cocktail. Christian even brought out his prized bottle of Kula Rum which we sipped like Raki. We found out that Gwen had visited the UK the previous Summer- including Burford in the Cotswolds and Skomer Island to photograph puffins. They were now our new best friends and we’ve invited them to come and stay when they come to the UK again.
As it was our last night we’d booked a table down by the ocean back at Honu (‘turtle’ remember?!) which seemed an entirely perfect end to our grand Hawaiian adventure.