The Underwater Turtle

In these clear waters of Kāʻanapali Beach, Maui, we swam with a huge, Hawaiian green sea turtle.

The turtle glided underwater very gracefully and silently. It appeared from nowhere and we didn’t try to chase it. With huge, strong strokes, it swam past me like it didn’t even notice me.

The turtle made an impression on me – this was a wild animal, at home in these soft waves. A sign somewhere told us that the green sea turtle was called na honu in Hawaiian.

We had timed our holiday well and had the beach almost to ourselves for the couple of weeks we spent in Maui. So peaceful and relaxing to be away from the crowds of Waikiki. We’d chosen a budget hotel next to some fancier ones. It was perfect – even though one night, when it rained, I woke up with rain water dripping on me.

In the evenings, we ate sandwiches for dinner in our hotel room with the terrace door open and listened to a nearby luau which always ended in Iz Kamakawiwoʻole’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I’d never heard that version of the song before and it enchanted me.

So many different ways you could interpret the same experience from a traveler’s perspective – to someone, Hawaii might be just another mass tourism destination. And to someone else, it’s an exotic, isolated group of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Hawaii I saw had something primitive about it; the volcanoes, the plants, the lush green hills.

I could even imagine the origins of the fire and hula dances performed for tourists. Maybe similar dances were performed for the first explorers, who came by ship. Maybe the intention was even half-hostile, when you think of what (allegedly) happened to Captain Cook. Some of those fire dances looked fierce.

Sure, there’s no denying the abundance of commercialism, but I didn’t mind. Exactly the opposite, in fact: the brands, the humongous portion sizes, and the other details were new to me, since I’d never been to the USA (or should I say, elsewhere in the USA). I simply enjoyed the blend of urban and beach – it reminded me of Australia, with many of the places’ names still in the indigenous language.

The globe is getting smaller and people are traveling more. Traveling has become a mainstream dream. I can see this simply from the amount of travel industry schools in my home town today, whereas when I was choosing my future profession as little as 15 – 20 years ago, there was only one. Applying for work at an airline back then resulted in a job, whereas these days there are thousands of applications to compete with. People are more educated of what they want, it seems, and they dare to dream more. And I’m all for dreaming, go for it.

With all this traveling, one day we won’t be able to distinguish between the so-called tourist spots and the rest. All destinations will simply be destinations, because everyone’s already been everywhere, and we won’t be able to call someone a tourist while referring to ourselves as travelers. And I actually wouldn’t mind that, either.

For someone, going to Maui means going to a lively luau and drinking sweet cocktails with umbrellas.

For me, it meant swimming underwater with a huge, wild turtle in complete silence. Yes, you can do that in Hawaii.

27 responses to “The Underwater Turtle

  1. Look what I’ve just shared on FB, an invitation for teachers, even without proper credentials, to come and work in Hawaii.

    They are desperate! Imagine that! Have you ever been a baby-sitter? 🙂

    Your turtle experience sounds magnificent. And the empty beaches would be what I’d search as well. I hope you return one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would also prefer to experience the more “primitive” side as you’ve described it. The rest can be experienced elsewhere as well (mostly) but the things that are unique to a place can only be experienced by getting closer to nature, I think.


  3. I have been to Honolulu when I was a kid and even then it was very commercial. So lovely to hear that you can find these kinds of spots in Hawaii.

    True with your thoughts about tourists and travelers and the future. The other scenario could be the total opposite – no more trips but for the very wealthy as traveling costs could skyrocket. Who knows… Have a great day! ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s funny, but I hardly think of Hawaii as the U.S.! Of course it is, and I guess the culture reflects that, but when I go there someday, I hope to find the Hawaii you found.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s pretty random, too, that it’s part of the US. No offence! 🙂 But then again, on a larger scale of things, country boundaries are pretty arbitrary – or influenced by a desire to possess. I hope you’ll enjoy Hawaii if you ever go there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. There’s actually much more to Hawaii than this. This post was partially inspired by a recent comment by someone who didn’t like Hawaii. I don’t really get how someone could not like it (knowing beforehand that it’s all about beaches – if you don’t like beaches then you’d probably go somewhere else). But I guess your experience is just influenced by so many things, ie I might not have enjoyed the trip if I’d spent it in a resort with other tourists. It all depends on your own actions and attitude


  5. Wow 🙂 Thats a totally different perspective on Hawaii 🙂 I do not know swimming but my hubby does and he is so excited everytime he gets a chance to do so 😀 And I can imagine how surreal it would have been to swim alongside a green turtle 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been to Oahu but will spend two weeks on Maui next month. I’ve devoured everything I can read about the island but this post has confirmed what I hope to find – pieces of paradise untouched by commercialism. Wonderful posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I’m very happy to hear thispost was useful/inspiring 🙂 Maui has very commercial parts but it also has quiet parts, the same goes for Kaanapali beach. You just have to look 🙂


  7. Pingback: Hawaiian Beaches to Visit | The Snow Melts Somewhere·

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