Really Swell


_HPP2214 Friday pm:

A 13 hour flight sounds intimidating to many, but when you know the Big Island of Hawaii is at the end, it goes by quickly. Boston to San Francisco was filled with the movie "Her" (two thumbs up from SwimVacation guide film review team) a crossword puzzle, and a review of our week ahead. The expanse of ocean between San Francisco and the Hawaiian Islands is impressive. Guide Heather had the widow seat and reported endless blue sea; no ships.

Photo May 16, 3 13 58 AM Photo May 16, 3 32 29 AM Photo May 16, 12 09 15 PM

Taking off from Boston, arriving in San Francisco.

Photo May 16, 11 01 27 AM Photo May 16, 11 38 29 AM Photo May 16, 11 04 34 AM

Taking off from San Francisco and launching out over an endless expanse of blue Pacific.

Photo May 16, 3 03 29 PM Photo May 16, 3 54 33 PM

After 5 hours of flying, Maui's volcano appears in the distance, and we cruise in for landing over the northern shores of the Big Island.

Our jet descends and for the first time in a long while, green. Bright, vibrant, lush green. Maui and it's ancient volcano in the distance. Then black lava fields with tufts of tan grasses, and touchdown. A big loud ALOHA from the flight attendant, then our first breaths of hot humid wonderful Hawaiian air.

I remind myself of the local customs. Alohas and Mahalos are thrown around liberally. Little kids are given special treatment here. Elderly people are called Uncle or Auntie, whether they're related to you or not. Drivers are courteous. Pedestrians and cyclists are given lots of space.

First stop: van rental. It's a fussy little rental company and since I am not a fussy person, it drives me a little crazy. But since they have the only 12 person van rentals in town this week, I'm stuck with the fussiness. Rather, I stick Heather with the fussiness while I take a walk. They take 63 photos of the van, inside and out and even under with rolling mirrors. You'd think we were renting a Rolls Royce. Rant over. Van acquired.

Photo May 16, 5 46 11 PM


With that behind us, we drive to our guide shack on Lyman's Bay in Kona, just down the street from the home where our guests will be staying when their vacation starts Sunday afternoon. I look out to sea, a little disheartened, because the swell is kicking up 10 foot waves, not ideal conditions for swimming. The swell is supposed to peak today and diminish through the week, thankfully. The north Kona coast will remain out of the swell, so we'll head up there early in the week to hit Hapuna, Beach 69, and Kua Bay.

By 8:00 PM our bodies feel like it's 2:00 AM, so we're nodding off in our dinner. Tomorrow we'll really get running; picking up gear, meeting with our chefs, hooking up with our local lifeguard Ryan.

- Hopper



Saturday am:

Hi there, Heather chiming in here...

Yes, the swell is up, but it will be gradually be settling down in the coming days and I know we have the resources to pull of a great week of swimming.

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More importantly, I'm in Hawaii, in the middle of my favorite water body, the Pacific. Flying over it, jumping into it, watching it crash, ebb and flow, no matter what it throws at us, I am always enthralled to be near it. Last night before our dinner we jumped in at my favorite local beach, Kahalu'u. It's a tiny black sand beach with a cool old style guard shack and only local waders. With the high surf and setting sun, we had the place nearly to ourselves. We paddled around, mostly to wash off the full day of travel and reacquaint with the Pacific - it looks different, sounds different, smells different, tastes different than the Caribbean. As the sun set, I let the power of it wash over me.

I'm here. As a photographer I am immediately juiced by the quality of the light all around me here. As a sea going land mammal, I'm ready for a week of immersion. Open water swimming is about grace and faith and acceptance about whatever the sea has to offer. When I jump in, whether in Maine or the Caribbean or wild wild Hawaii, I'm open to becoming part of this flow.

Lots to do today, and tomorrow we greet our guests. I can't wait to share the Aloha.

Mahalo, Hawaii!

- Heather