Have you heard this one before?
My two sisters and I were so fortunate to be able to visit Hawaii (on a budget) earlier this year. It was the first visit for all of us and, hopefully, not the last. I had always been excited to visit Hawaii but did not expect it to be as magical and perfect as it was. Even two months after we returned, I was still thinking about it every single day.
We visited the island of O’ahu and stayed in Honolulu but we got a rental car for a couple of the days so we had the opportunity to see almost the entire island while we were there. I’m so grateful that we were able to put our eyes on so much of the island. Honolulu is great and we really enjoyed staying there but you can not fully appreciate the island without experiencing it’s native beauty up close like at the Kualoa Ranch in Kaneohe.
One of the things we were most excited to try was snorkeling. We had snorkeled in a pool before but none of us had snorkeled in the ocean. My youngest sister, Lolo, has been afraid of sharks for a long time but even she was super excited to try snorkeling.
For our first snorkeling adventure, we picked up some gear from one of the local shops and walked about twenty minutes down the beach to an area that had a break wall. Some reef had grown around this wall so it was supposed to be a good spot to see fish. Lolo led the charge. She was in the water before our other sister, Anna, and I had even gotten our gear on.
Anna and I stuck pretty closely together as we adjusted to breathing underwater with our gear. We slowly made our way toward where Lolo was already in full swing, taking photos and motioning for us to come look at the fish she was seeing.
At one point, after I had really started to get the hang of it, started seeing fish and was practicing taking photos with my phone while in its waterproof baggie, someone was smacking me on the shoulder. I thought it would be Anna since she was nearest to me but, when I looked over, I saw a light blue swimsuit that I didn’t recognize. I lifted my head out of the water and saw a lady I had never seen before, who was also snorkeling. Before I had a chance to say anything she asked, “Did you see that?!”
“Two sharks! They just swam right underneath you!”
In the corner of my eye, I saw Anna start swimming for the shore. She had clearly heard this exchange and wasn’t sticking around.
Trying not to panic, I asked, “Are you fucking with me?” Not something I would normally say to a stranger but I needed to know and this seemed like the quickest way to let her know I wasn’t joking around.
“No, I’m serious, there were two sharks. They swam right underneath you.” I now recognized that the excitement in her voice was just that; excitement. Not panic, which is what I first heard. I also now noticed that she was holding a GoPro camera at the end of gyro stabilization stick. “I saw them yesterday and I’ve been trying to find them again,” she told me.
It was all coming together for me now. This woman was trying to capture these sharks on camera. Got it. She was not panicking, therefore I was no longer panicking. She went on to tell me that they were small, about 3-4 feet long, whitetip sharks, that they weren’t aggressive and did not even feed until after dark. All good.
Thinking of Lolo, her fear of sharks and her excitement about snorkeling, I asked the lady if we could please stop using the word “shark” because I didn’t want my sister to be scared to snorkel if she knew there were sharks nearby, even small ones.
The lady responds with, “Sure, two turtles – two turtles just swam right underneath you!”
Right at this very moment, Lolo pops up out of the water and exclaims, “Turtles?! I just saw two sharks!”
Lolo loves turtles. She has even joked about wanting to be one in her next life. So she was pretty disappointed when I told her that “turtle” was actually code for “shark.” Thankfully, since she saw the sharks with her own eyes, saw that they were just swimming around beneath her and not trying to eat her, it did not discourage her from snorkeling.
I told this story so many times when we got home from Hawaii. It’s still making me smile even now as I’m writing it. I wanted to capture it while it was still somewhat fresh in my mind. I hope it made you smile as well.