Protected Places

Last summer, my husband and I went on a much needed vacation to Hawaii. One of our most favorite days was snorkeling in the spectacular Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu. It has the tropical white sandy beach and swaying palm trees, but the big attraction is the magnificent offshore inhabitants.Because it is a protected marine life conservation area, on top of the fact that over a million people visit the park each year, the fish seem to not be afraid of humans, and they are simply everywhere!Before one is allowed into the bay, you must watch a video that is designed to not only educate about the living reef, the fish, and the temperament of the local sea turtles, but also to remind and warn swimmers that this is indeed the ocean and moving outside the designated areas can put you in very real danger. Locals have named the two most treacherous areas the Toilet Bowl and Witches Brew. We made special note of these for obvious reasons. They are clearly marked with red flags and buoys yet every year people are seriously hurt or drowned because they have ignored the warnings. Staying inside the reef also protects you from the dreaded Molokai Express, a strong rip current that will take you to Hawaii’s least populated and developed island…via open water.

Exiting the building after the video puts you at the top of the hill above the bay where you can see the entire ancient crater wall as well as those areas of reef and calm water. It was nice to see the big picture and identify those areas we wanted to avoid.

With our underwater camera hanging around my neck, we entered the warm water and began to explore the reef. It was a bit of work to stay within arms distance especially with the ever moving current,  but the day flew by as we floated and swam and pointed out all the amazing sights. We took turns capturing pictures and video of animal life and each other, and when we finally exited the water for the last time, we were exhausted but full of joy from the experience.

I have often pondered that day and how it mirrors life. We are constantly given information and warnings of those places and situations that should be avoided. We need to regularly step back and see the big picture of where we are headed to make sure we are on the right path. All too often, if we are not very careful, we are caught in a current that takes us someplace we never intended to go.

Life is amazing in what it has to offer! As we keep loved ones close and work to stay in protected places, we are better for the experience and  oh-so-full of Joy from the journey!