Archive for the 'Hawaii' Category

Oahu 2016

February 09th, 2016 | Category: animals,Hawaii,Hawaii,scuba,Travel

Another work trip, with, of course, a little free time.  Not so much this time – work kind of gets in the way sometimes – but i made the best use of what time I had!  Unfortunately I got sick, some sinus thing, and also was very busy so had to curtail my diving – but I did get to go once.


I’ll put a few images up front with captions underneath.  Click to enlarge. To see them all, browse the gallery below.

The California coast

The California coast over LA


The island of Oahu, seen at last after hours of empty ocean. Kauai is in the background.

North shore Oahu

Oahu’s north shore, near “the pipeline” which has such great surf waves.


A surfer on Oahu’s north shore. A few days prior there were record, 40-foot waves, but on this day it was less dramatic.

north shore beachgoers

Beach goers on the north shore. Those waves are something else! The sea is something to be reckoned with here.


Near Kaena point

At Kaena point, on the northwest corner of the island where the trade winds hit the shore, the scenery is dramatic and, for the foolish, quite deadly.

Near Kaena point

Near Kaena point, to the north.

Near Kaena point

Near Kaena point, to the south. This wave was 30 feet tall, but since there’s no perspective, it’s impossible to tell. You can stand there without seeing one of these monsters for a few minutes, and it can sneak up and get you. If you go, pay attention to the rocks; is there water in the holes? If so, watch out.

Near Kaena point

Look at the water’s color where the sun strikes through this wave.

Kaena point, looking south

Kaena point, looking south. This is a fantastic hike, specially if you go at a time with few people. There was almost nobody there when I went, and it was magical. I have visited a few times over the years, and it always delivers.

Whale breaching near Kaena point

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, whales started leaping out of the water. later they came very close, but it was too dark to photograph. A pod of Dolphins and a monk seal were also present.

Waikiki sunset

Waikiki sunset

Green sea turtle

A Green sea turtle off of Hawaii Kai, on the southeast corner.

Green sea turtle

Note the specialized nostril lips.

Green sea turtle

This guy has a tumor, poor dude.

Moray Eel

Often seen, always enjoyed – a yellow margin moray eel, looking scary.

Moray Eel

A yellow margin moray.


This animal, named the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, is the state fish, and yes I can pronounce this!

Pearl Harbor

At the Pearl Harbor visitor’s center, you can see the Missouri at left and the Arizona memorial to the right. I have visited both of these in the past, but not this time.

Japanese torpedo

A Japanese torpedo, found in the mud in the 1990s. It was intact, but after the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) people finished with it, it was damaged, as they had to blow it up.

USS Bowfin submarine

The USS Bowfin, a highly decorated submarine.

USS Bowfin submarine

Up periscope!

USS Bowfin submarine

USS Bowfin submarine

USS Bowfin submarine

USS Bowfin submarine

USS Bowfin submarine

USS Bowfin submarine’s engine room

USS Bowfin submarine

USS Bowfin submarine aft torpedo room

USS Bowfin submarine

USS Bowfin submarine

The 5″ deck gun, used to sink many vessels. DO not forget, if you enjoy this kind of thing – as I do – that these vessels represent not only bravery and performance of duty in the face of hardship, but that also they are the instruments of death, used in a grim struggle. War is hell.


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Oahu 2014

November 07th, 2014 | Category: Hawaii,scuba,Travel

On the tail end of a work trip to Hawaii, I tacked on a few days for myself.  The goal: scuba diving.  There’s a lot of things to do on Oahu, and it’s hard to make a choice, but I focused almost entirely on diving.  Still, I have pictures from around the island – it’s so beautiful, I just can’t help myself.

One of the things I love about flying to Hawaii is how no matter what time it is, you can go to the beach, and that’s always what I do.  Nothing washes away the combined filth and exhaustion of air travel like the ocean. Here’s some scenes from Waikiki:

On another day I wandered around Kakaako beach park, which has a lot of stray cats (and stray people):


Here’s some random images of the shoreline on the east side:

Here’s one from the north shore, where a 40-knot wind fueled perfect, mach-1 windsurfing:

…and finally, of course, the diving! I was having camera problems, so my color balance and image quality were all messed up.

Here’s the outflow pipes at electric beach, which I dived with new friends Zack, Heather and Daniel.

Clouds of fish in the warm outflow.

From another dive, some crappy pictures of sharks… I was playing with a new camera and didn’t do very well.

Some other reef scenes:


…and a lot of other images you can look through if you are so inclined.

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Kauai horse ride

September 13th, 2012 | Category: animals,Hawaii,Travel

While “the girls” were all out doing things like getting their toes polished, I went horseback riding with my friend Joe, the groom.  We had a great time!

Because I didn’t get my toes polished,, I looked disheveled and ungraceful at Joe & Sara’s wedding; but I’m used to that by now.

We encountered a paradisaical waterfall and pool and went for a swim.

Joe took a few pictures of me.  Gotta love REI desert-weight convertible pants.; they make a good swimsuit in a pinch.

I look like Sancho Panza.

Here, I ride a unique headless horse.  This horse had very distinct ideas about where and what it was going to do.  They seldom coincided with my ideas; nevertheless, I managed to keep the lid on the situation and it never became an outright rebellion, although constant vigilance was required.  After it was all over I thought we did pretty well.  I can’t wait to ride a horse again!  It is a great way to ride across interesting terrain.





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The Pihea Trail and Waimea Canyon

September 13th, 2012 | Category: Hawaii,Travel

While Rachel and I were in Kauai to attend the wedding of our friends Sara & Joe, we visited Kōkeʻe state park, among other places.  It is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Of many spectacular sights, there are two main features: the ridge overlooking the north coast of the island, and the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Looking at the pictures, it looks almost fake.  I felt the same way when I was there – “Is this real?” I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The sweeping panorama overlooks the Kalalau Valley.

The heavily used trail is difficult to negotiate when it rains – which is definitely was doing when we were there.  Judging by the narrowing of the trail, most people turn back long before the end.  The narrow trail turns into a steep mud slalom; requiring some agility and slots of risky dependence upon overhanging trees, it’s not for the faint of heart.  A hiking staff (or two) would have been a big help.  The splorpy volcanic mud was shin-deep in places, and filled with amazing colors. I was concentrating so much on not slipping that I hardly took any pictures at this point.

Looking inward, you have a view of the Alaka’i swamp, quite literally the wettest place on the planet. It is known for amazing birds and other animals; I have been to this spot twice now and not had time to forge into the swamp.  One day I’d like to walk all the way across the island through this area; it would be an epic trek.

Leaving the northern ridge, we spent some time along the ridge of the Waimea canyon, technically in its own park, but basically the same area as the Pihea trail. We took the canyon trail to Waipoo falls, which you see from the top, plunging almost a thousand feet into the gorge.  There are no rails here -nothing to protect you from yourself.  The trail affords numerous opportunities to wind up temporarily airborne before becoming bug splatter at the bottom!  That – and almost constant, breathtaking beauty, wondrous botany, and occasional boar and mountain goat sightings.  We had the place to ourselves.

The jungle reverberates with bird calls not heard in the contiguous 48.

For images from my first trip here, including wildlife, scuba diving and oceanographic flight images, click here and here.


Diving in Kauai

September 10th, 2012 | Category: animals,Hawaii,scuba,Travel

Here are some pictures taken on a recent trip to Kauai.  I always meet such great people when I travel & dive, and this was no exception.  Diving sites were Koloa landing, tunnels beach and some boat diving around Sheraton caverns.

You may notice that the collection is a bit turtle-heavy.  I like turtles.  Deal with it.

Sheraton caverns was by far the most interesting, with lots of life and interesting terrain, but not so far off shore that a long boat ride is required.  Tunnels is a great beach, and near some other interesting things to do on shore, but I found it rather barren for the most part.  This is probably due to the violent wave action that makes this site undiveable in the winter.  The cleaning station in the shallows was fantastic; if you find it, stay there – it’s the coolest thing you’ll find there, I think.  I found the tunnels (rock formations with a lot of swim-throughs) marginally interesting.  I’d probably like them better if I went with just one other diver.  Koloa landing is a good practice/reintroduction site, and a great way to start out a week of diving after not being in the water for a few months.  Although not super awesome like Sheraton caverns, there was a lot of life and it was really easy to get in and out, both in terms of diving and arriving by car.



Here are some Pacific Green sea turtles being cleaned by tangs off of Tunnels beach.

By the way, they are not called green because of their color – which is not really green – but because of their fat, which is green in color (people used to eat a lot of turtles).  Some green turtles are, in fact, green, but this is because of algae.  In true color, they are yellow/brownish-orange.  The color distortion at depth makes them look green in some photos, but this is misleading.  The next two pictures show this effect.

Here is a non-color-corrected image:

…and here is one taken with a flash, to show true color (and algae growth):

These next few images are close to the surface and the color is pretty accurate.  I’ve never seen so many adult turtles in one place.  Like all reef animals that want cleaning, they hang motionless in a slightly head-up position, flippers out.  This body posture is a signal to the cleaners, who come up to do their job.

Some other sights from Tunnels – my diving buddy that day, Carmen M.:

A little whitemouth moray eel found in the shallows.  they are very common in Hawaii.

What it looks like in the tunnels:

A school of bluestriped grunts.  I love to watch when a stationary school of animals rocks gently back and forth in the current.

What you see when you surface at Tunnels reef:


Koloa Landing

This is a rockmover wrasse, but I think of it as the stoned-out-of-its-mind fish:

These nudibranchs (probably Chromodoris vibrata) are mating (I think). They are basically fancy slugs, and they are beautiful and tiny.

Here is another type, the Gold Lace nudibranch.

Here is a rather blurry image of a humuhumunukunukuapuaa (it’s pronounced HOO-moo-HOO-moo-NOO-koo-NOO-koo-AH-poo-AH-ah).

A stonefish.  It’s venomous – very much so, and also common; I’ve found them all over the world.  They are almost impossible to see. Look for the eye, and the mouth to its left.

A flying gurnard.


An injured, sick-looking turtle with a completely algae-encrusted carapace.  If I had seen it in Florida, I would have alerted the turtle hospital, but I don’t know who to speak to about this in Hawaii.  Note the crushed portion of its shell near the left shoulder.

Another green turtle.

A green moray eel, which is really green.

A spotted pufferfish.  these guys are hard to photograph, because they move so rapidly and are shy.



Sheraton Caverns

This area is so named because a) it’s off-coast of a Sheraton and b) there are some lava caves and swim-throughs in the area.  Turtles (yes, more turtles) like to rest in the caverns.  Drowsily perched on the stone blocks, flippers hanging carelessly, they resemble bored people waiting at a bus stop.  Like many reptiles, they don’t have the necessity to constantly respirate like us mammals; the simply stop breathing when water makes it inconvenient.  Lodging themselves in the rocks, they doze off.  It makes me consider the alien lives of other animals.  Can you imagine an existence in which breathing was more like eating – something you needed to do, but could be put off for long periods of time?

It was pretty exciting to drop into the cavern and find it filled with turtles, none of whom seemed particularly concerned with my presence.

Another of my favorite animals is the octopus.  They are very hard to find, specially in daytime; here is one hidden away in its crevice. This one is called the day octopus, for the simple reason that it is a rare type that can be found out and about in daylight hours.  Can you see it?  It is camouflaged not only by color, but by texture; an octopus can change either at will.  It is in the center right, a brown, rough-surfaced object.

Here it is a little more obvious, apparently menacing a banded cleaner shrimp. By this time the octopus has changed color and texture.

Shrimp is definitely on the menu for the day octopus, but either it wasn’t hungry, or it was scared by me, and it retreated into its lair.

Here’s the shoreline during our surface interval:

Back below, some morays: a yellow-margin and a whitemouth, respectively.

A hawkfish;  they are on every coral head.

At the very last minute, while ascending, some white-tipped reef sharks appear.  I didn’t have enough time to go back down after them.

Back on the surface, while the sun sets, some outriggers set out for a brisk row amidst the dashing surf.


Molokini Crater Dive

January 16th, 2011 | Category: Hawaii,scuba

While staying in Maui I decided to dive the back wall of Molokini, since it’s famous for clarity and the breathtaking wall plunging into the depths.  What I didn’t realize is that surface conditions often make this dive impossible to plan upon; the shops I called wouldn’t promise me a back wall dive, only that they’d try if the weather was right and the group of divers were experienced.  Another thing they seemed concerned about was diver experience level; I can’t blame them – who wants to see some clueless diver sinking into the abyss?  Luckily, when the day came it all worked out and we did exactly what I wanted to do – a portion of the back wall known as the northwest “corner.”

I used the highly-recommended outfit Mike Severn’s diving. They launched their boat from the Kihei boat ramp and the ride to the crater was only 20 minutes or so.  It was a drift dive, but there wasn’t much drifting, so let’s call it a live dive. Max depth was 85 feet with a temperature of 73, comfortable with a 3mm suit and a 2mm hoodie vest.  After our Crater dive, we stopped by the site of a tank and armored personnel carrier that somehow wound up on the ocean floor during training in WWII. During both dives, we could hear whales and porpoises singing.  We didn’t see any while diving, but we did see both types of animals on the surface – it was better than the whale-watching trip I’d taken a few days earlier.


Above: Divers float over the abyss next to Molokini.


An octopus lurks in a crevice within the profusion of life on the wall.  Can you see it?


Above is a close-up.  Can you see it now?  Only a tentacle is showing.





Above is another hard-to-see animal. Below is the close-up: it’s a nudibranch.  I haven’t identified it exactly yet, but I have never seen one quite like this.



Above: a perfectly still and almost invisible frogfish.


Above: a school of bluestripe bass.


Above: the tank.


Above: the APC.



Above: a very rare black frogfish.





Diving the Lana’i Cathedrals II Site

December 27th, 2010 | Category: Hawaii,scuba

I was on vacation in Maui with a few days to dive.  Since I’d never been to Maui before, I decided I’d do the “must see” sites before trying to do something more novel. My guidebook recommended Extended Horizons, based in Lahaina, the city on Maui closest to Lanai’i island. Extended horizons was an excellent operation – thorough, attention to detail, treating new divers with extra attention and leaving more experienced divers largely alone as desired.  I was not forced to surface with the first gas-sucking newbie; I was the first person off the boat and the last person back on, which was terrific.  The boat was fast and perfectly adequate for the small group of divers they booked.  Diving on Maui is expensive – $140 for a two-tank boat dive, as opposed to about $100 elsewhere in the states.

For our first dive, we went to a site called “noname/pinnacle” just to the west of the Cathedrals II site.  Max depth was about 90, with a volcanic pinnacle rising to about 20 feet.  The bottom is covered with short branching corals inhabited by lots of fish.  nearby there is  seaweed field that looks like it might contain seahorses.  The pinnacle itself has a few swim-throughs and, of course, plenty of fish action.

The Cathedrals II site is shallower, and the caverns have multiple openings and levels.  Some nooks and crevices hold lobster and have plenty of hiding places for dark-loving fish.  It’s a really beautiful location and I’d like to do it again.  on the way out and back, we saw many whales.  A couple of times, we came to, turned off engines and enjoyed the whales.  It was better than the whale-watching trip I was on a few days earlier!

Water temp was 75.  I was comfortable in a 3mm with a 2mm hooded vest.  A 5 would be perfect for many people.  Bottom time for me was an hour each dive on EAN 36.

Here are the highlights, with all images in the gallery below. Click on any image to see it larger.













Snorkeling in Shark Cove

July 10th, 2007 | Category: Hawaii,scuba,Travel

Shark cove is on Oahu’s north shore, an area beloved by surfers. This cove has some of the best snorkeling on the island during the summer. I’d love to dive there as well. Even the most casual swimmer can see a great variety of life in the shallows.

Top left: yellowfin goatfish. Top right, Ringtail surgeonfish? Center: Achilles Tang. Bottom right: some kind of parrotfish? Bottom center: ? Bottom left: ?

After snorkeling, I saw these adorable little birds – common waxbills, not a native.

Here you can see the birds foraging, eating grass seeds. They weigh so little that their weight barely bends the grass.


Work happens

July 05th, 2007 | Category: Hawaii

I’ll leave out most of the details about work. Suffice it to say that every few days, I get on a plane, usually before before the sun rises, and fly for 10 hours performing the surveys. I don’t pilot the aircraft, but operate equipment on board.

me on the P-3

There is a crew of about 11 people that fly the plane, fix things, and operate sensors. Think of the bridge of the enterprise from Star Trek, where there is a science position, a command position, a sensor station, a communications station, etc. Sometimes we fly over 3000 miles, but we usually fly in a circle and return to the same place. I like working with the Navy crews, particularly on this assignment, because they are very professional and are working with us closely to accomplish our goals.

I can’t always post images of what I do, but here are some images from previous missions.

The missions are sometimes boring, sometimes cause terrible air sickness, and sometimes are really exciting and take me to exotic places. I keep doing it, so I must like it! A recent exotic place was midway island, which we only flew over.

midway island

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The Pali lookout, Ko’olau range and Maunawili trail

July 03rd, 2007 | Category: Hawaii

The Ko’olau mountain range is a spectacular knife-edged volcanic ridge that separates the northeast side of the island from the southeast. It is like a wind-block that protects Honolulu. Every guidebook will explain about the windward and leeward sides of islands, and how one side (the windward side) has more rain and the leeward side is dryer. It is certainly true, and very obvious when you see it for yourself. The Pali lookout is a small park lodged in a pass between the two sides. The wind howls through here in a legendary and impressive way. There is an abandoned highway that winds down to the northeast side and feeds into the Maunawili trail, which I walked until it intersected the Maunawili falls trail (maybe three miles one way from the Pali lookout). The abandoned highways is overgrown and a great place to see birds, once you get away from the wind. Unfortunately, the active Pali highway is nearby and makes a lot of noise for the first mile or so. As you go down the old road, there is some great volcanic geology visible on the wall of the cliff side.

Here is a view of the Kailua area from the abandoned road:

This is Kaneohe:

Here is a view westward along the Ko’olau range. There seems to be a perpetual cloud band at the ridge edge.

This bird is a red-billed leiothrix, another introduced animal. They are found mostly in the elevated wet forests.

A red-vented bulbul

There are a couple of spots along the Maunawili trail as you approach the falls trail that present awesome views, the kind that make you draw in breath.

The clouds near the summit edge are constantly changing, making for dramatic lighting.

Walking along the Maunawili trail, you will pass a number of stream beds and waterfalls. They are not always full or tumbling, but there is probably always enough to depend upon if you have a water filter. Looking eastward, you can see Makapu’u head, which I visited on this trip (there is an entry for it):

This view of rabbit island was lit by the setting sun beaming in at a steep angle underneath the Ko’olau summit clouds.


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