It's been a dream to visit the clear blues and tropical green mountainous lands of Hawaii for a little while now and I was fortunately able to make that dream happen with my last most recent travels. Conveniently too, after some expensive quotes from travel agents I decided to endeavour into flight alternatives myself and discovered it was cheaper to fly Jetstar to Honolulu, spend the day swimming with turtles in Hawaii then catch a plane that night to Vancouver, Canada to spend time with Morgan and her family. ( Little loop hole secret for you there ;) The alternative route being Sydney - L.A, L.A - Vancouver which is far less exciting and if you book last minute - more expensive! Of course, if you booked 6 months in advance (which is a practice I so often neglect to do) you'll save either way :)
On the way there was a short and sweet visit, soaking up the sun, diving with the Happy Honu in Shark Cove and catching the sunset in Haleiwa before boarding as a salty, sun stroked and stoked aussie. Canada was incredible as usual but that's a story for another time :) On the way back I had the privilege of my lady Morgan accompanying me to the big Island of Hawaii and we had 3 days, 3 nights and more of a game plan! It's a pretty streamline process once landing in Honolulu, the people there, for the most part all have big friendly smiles and welcome you with an Aloha wherever you go. We caught the shuttle straight to Dollar rental car where we got our ride/home for the next few days and set out straight for the north shore. In the summer months ( May - September ) the ocean at North shore is relatively flat, it's protected by the south swells and east winds that dominate that season so you can walk the infamous pipeline stretch but won't see much wave related, which is good for diving! We spent the first morning relaxing on the beautiful white sand of Waimea bay which was beautifully peaceful until about 9am when the hoards of people began arriving (early bird gets the worm). We then grabbed an Acai bowl and hired some fins and weight belts from Surf and Sea, Haleiwa and set out for my favourite little spot near shark cove..
We were also very fortunate to have a rare encounter with a very large Hawaiian Monk seal, these magnificent creatures are the only 2 members of the seal family to solely inhabit warmer climates, the other being the Mediterranean Monk seal, both species being endangered with only approx 1100 Hawaiian monk seals left in the wild. Sadly, its numbers have been decreasing roughly 10% a year since the 90's primarily due to poor fishing practices, getting caught in nets, and human encroachment. The small Islands of Hawaii were their home before becoming a hot tourism area. Due to inflation, overtime the seals would spend more time offshore becoming more susceptible to apex predators. Nevertheless, this guy was about as happy as any living creature could be as he gracefully floated past me with a few sleepy looks at me as I photographed him only a few feet away. The comical value of the roundness of his belly was beyond me, couldn't believe how awesome this guy was!
Speaking of apex predators, the next day was an exciting one. Waking early for a private charter with the team at One Ocean Diving; a pelagic research program that educates people on the behaviour of sharks in their natural environment and the need to conserve these beautiful animals for the sake of our oceans health. An alarming 11000 sharks are killed every hour, a horrific statistic caused by the asian fishing industry for the inhumane dish of 'Shark Fin Soup'! The entire scenario of this practice is so far beyond me and my comprehension but am committed to doing whatever I can to spread awareness of this ocean genocide and keep the Ocean healthy. On the positive side, Ocean Ramsey and Riley Elliot were our hosts giving us the grand tour on a beautiful, warm sunny morning out off the North Shore..
It was such an incredible experience free diving with some sandbar sharks and a large Galapagos shark that held its dominance at the pelagic research site. A truly educating time and highly recommended for anyone interested in the ocean and conserving its inhabitants.
It was an amazing few days and relatively low cost, you don't have to stay in the Sheraton for $600 a night just to visit Hawaii, most of the beaches are permitted camping areas which was for us 5 star accommodation! Sleeping under the stars with a warm ocean breeze coming through the tent and waking to a golden sunrise and a warm ocean swim. Doesn't get much better.
Check out @ThurstonPhoto and @morganleealain on Instagram and our Facebook page for more updates from the trip and visit our 'Wildlife Collection' for more Honu and Shark images available for purchase.
"What if we knew the time in which we'd leave this earth,
Every second we're given would hold eternal worth,
Our love would be deeper, each smile so sincere,
The family trip would be next week, instead of next year.."
"An uplifting personal account of a man and his appreciation of the world around him...
'Living Water' gives an intimate insight to the driving force of Philip's life and his appreciation for the gifts of the ocean.
"Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart" - This book shows through beautiful pictures and reflective words the motto he lives by." - Ray Collins // International Award Winning Ocean Photographer.
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