Be Adventurous! / Be Prepared! / Health/Fitness / Sports & Recreation / Travel

An Unreasonable Fear of Snorkeling

For weeks, I’ve been meaning to get back to some video posts/badge updates from our November exploration of Hawaii’s Big Island. And after last week’s really in-depth No Impact Week posts, allow me to offer some brevity, color, and motion with this one!


I tried snorkeling it once before many years ago with no success at all. The waters were deep and excessively choppy, I had no instruction, I didn’t trust myself, the flippers kept sliding off my feet, I inhaled sea water, and I was entirely certain I would drown.

I climbed back on the boat and waited it out while others flopped about like ugly dolphins. I was unsure of why and how I’d failed so miserably, but I chalked it up to one of those things I just “can’t do.”

Well, you can’t earn the Swimming Badge with that kind of attitude!

In advance of our November trip to the Big Island, yours truly decided it was time to suck it up and learn. So thanks to YouTube videos for some visual instruction, and thanks to Charles who calmly talked me through the process a couple of times.

We rented our gear from the hotel and plodded off to a cove where we’d seen several people snorkeling the day before.  I donned the flippers, put on the mask, bit down hard on that breathing tube, and stepped into the water.

Fear is such a powerful thing. With absolutely no chance of drowning in a foot of water, my heart was racing, and I couldn’t seem to catch my breath. Every image of drowning took hold, and it was all I could do to keep putting one flipper in front of the other.

For the first thirty minutes, I swam close enough to the shore that I’d be able to touch bottom if I went vertical. I saw a little bit of coral, pretty, but not enough to persuade me this was worthwhile. My heart kept racing, and I remained incredibly unsure of my ability to breath with this apparatus. The scariest thing of all was the sound — or better, the absence of all sound except my breath.

But then I saw it below me — one vivid fish unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I had to follow it, away from shore, towards the real show.

Folks, I wish I had had a decent underwater camera that could have taken pictures that really reflect what I saw in those waters. As it is, all I had was a disposable underwater camera to document things.

But holy cow, snorkeling is AMAZING! I had no idea! I am SO gonna do this again and again and again….

(Oh, yeah… one more thing: apologies for the really boring voice over on quick video. You’d never know that I really think snorkeling is bad-to-the-damned-bone.)

Oh, yeah, and one more thing. You can’t go snorkeling and NOT want to do more to protect sea life. It’s the first time this issue has really reached my “personal radar.”


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