My trip to Maui: Swimming with turtles

Not only was our trip to Maui a first, but so was our main activity: snorkeling. (Actually, Jeff did some “freshwater snorkeling” as a kid with barely functional equipment in a lake with nothing to see. We won’t count that.)
I was excited to snorkel…but scared, too. I am not the strongest swimmer, mostly because I so rarely swim. When you grow up as a very nearsighted child (glasses at the age of five but should have had them at three), those half-blind trips from the locker room to the pool are enough to make you swear off water sports unless you’re half guppy, which I’m not.
Add to that that I’d never swum in seawater (too cold in these parts), and I had to keep reminding myself that if little kids can manage to snorkel, then I could too…darn it. And let’s be honest, the fact that in the last few years I have not just waded through, but excelled in, some heavy science classes (organic chem, biochem, microbiology) and a year of grad school, all things I would have never thought possible, have taught me that virtually anything is possible. I was not going to let a set of fins scare me, by golly.
They were good fins, too. We rented the top-o-the-line Moflex model from Snorkel Bob’s, along with the MoflO2 snorkel, which doesn’t let water in and…wait for it…prescription goggles! Hooray!
On my first outing (and, OK, my second outing), I had to fight not to hyperventilate. I blame a heady mix of nerves and the new experience of getting all of my oxygen through a mouthpiece. But once I got over that, snorkeling was awesome. I most highly recommend it. It was fun to see so much coral close up, as well as tons and tons of fish varieties that I had only before seen in aquariums. And then there are the sea turtles. They are so cute, and when one rises to the surface right in front of you to catch some air, it is truly amazing. (Jeff took the photo at the top of the post with a disposable underwater camera. Unfortunately the water was cloudy the day we used it, so that’s the best of the lot.)
Our snorkeling excursions reminded me of something I learned during a rare cluster of summer swimming outings a decade-plus ago: swimming is quite different from walking. I have the endurance to power walk for miles and miles, but that level of cardiovascular fitness didn’t quite carry over to snorkeling. That made me a little nervous the first time we snorkeled a distance straight out from shore (would I have the stamina to make it back!?) but I paced myself, and used my legs more and arms less, and all was well. And that, dear readers, is why it’s good to mix up the ol’ fitness routine now and again.
Speaking of the ol’ routine, we shockingly didn’t do a lot of walking in Maui. There weren’t any lengthy trails or sidewalk stretches near us, and even though I admired the dedication of all the people we saw walking or running on the shoulders of the minor highways and major roads, that didn’t scream “vacation” to us. Most of the beaches are hemmed in by coves, so no long beach walks to be had, there.
No, it was snorkeling, and wave jumping, and lots of yoga. I packed my yoga mat and a few DVDs, and was so glad I did. It was strange watching a yoga DVD filmed in Hawaii (as many of them are…that or Sedona) while a lovely Maui ocean view was visible right outside. It was pretty great.