Tag Archives: scuba

2015 Recedes

2015 recedes in the rearview mirror. The time to review my goals for last year and prepare those for the new year has arrived. First, why not look back at some of the stuff that happened in 2015? That’s right, time for another GoPro compilation—Year Six. Climbing and canyoneering take center stage and the usual copious jumping shots. Diving, paragliding, tubing, and some ancient ruins found their way into the cut as well. Incorporated is some of the footage shot on my three week roadtrip throughout the West and includes contributions from Alden Anderson, Steven Calcote, and Tommy Day. You can watch it above on Vimeo or on YouTube.

Basking in the Big Island

Big Island Silhouette

It seems like I am always hearing people in California talk about how they are going to or returning from Hawaii. Even though the flight is only a little longer than a flight to the east coast Erika and I had never been. Finally, that has been rectified. We spent eight days there in the middle of May—specifically on the Big Island.

The Big Island (the one island actually named Hawai’i) is big, larger than all of the other Hawaiian islands combined. It is also less developed than Oahu and the landscapes are more varied—all but 2 climatic zones exist on this one island. We flew into Kona on the Western side (the dry side). I’m not one to fawn over airports (and I haven’t been to all that many), but the Kona Airport is pretty superb. The entire facility is outdoors and each gate is a thatched pavilion. We stayed at the Royal Kona Resort primarily because half of our nights were free thanks to a time-share presentation we had attended in January. There are many nicer upscale resorts on the island, but—as folks used to sleeping on the ground—it was more than sufficient for us. Besides, we didn’t intend to spend much time in the room. We didn’t.

We squeezed as much into those eight days as we could. We spent a day on the Eastern side of the island, but most of our time was on the Western side. I’d like to return and spend several days exploring the lush jungles and forests (full of waterfalls and enormous trees) on the Eastern side of the island. Much of our time was spent participating in water activities: scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and beach bumming.

SCUBA: We went on four dives during the week. The reefs and life in the area are beautiful and the water is a bit warmer than California, but the big draw in Kona is manta rays. Our last dive was the famous Manta Night Dive. This is a surreal experience. For roughly 45 minutes, we sat at the bottom of the ocean while various lights attracted plankton, in turn attracting several mantas. These alien-looking creatures not only swim near you, but often brush across your head as they eat the plankton your dive light attracts.

Snorkeling: We tried various spots, but nothing beat Kealakekua Bay. The hike in and out can be rough, but it is absolutely worth it. If you can only go snorkeling once when in the area, go there. if you don’t want to hike an hour or so down and up the steep trail, you can launch a kayak from the end of NapoÊ»opoÊ»o Road across the bay or go with an outfitter.

Beaches: Big Island has an enormous variety of beaches of all types. The ones we especially liked were:

  • Makalawena – no crowds, sand and rocks, turquoise water
  • Mahai’ula - near and similar to  Makalawena, but easier to get to, great trees for climbing
  • Punalu’u – gorgeous black sand beach, plants growing out of the lava flow
  • Waialea Beach (Beach 69) – easy access, but not crowded, similar to Mahai’ula, but smaller

 Pololu Valley: We drove North until the 270 ended. There we found Pololu Valley. It is a spectacular green valley that opens to the ocean. We hiked down a winding trail at the end of the road leading down to the valley and beach. My words won’t do it justice so I won’t bother. If you are in Northern Hawaii, make the drive to Pololu.

We also had a short visit to Volcanoes National Park where we saw an active caldera and hiked through a lava tube—a cave created from hardened lava. There is clearly lots more to see and do there than we could manage in a few hours. We had a short visit to Hilo, saw Rainbow Falls, visited a macadamia nut farm, and climbed a huge banyan tree. We even attended a luau. It is hard to do everything in eight days on Hawaii (we’d probably need eight years). Now that I’ve been, my list of places to see has only gotten larger.

As we drove to the airport to fly home, we pulled to the side of the highway and explored one last lava tube as the Sun set. We checked our baggage, then sat under the moon as a cool breeze wafted past and planes rolled down the tarmac. I doubt I’ll ever again be so content while waiting for a plane to arrive.

Makalawena Breaks

Gallery is below, but there are even more photos on Facebook.

Goddamn Right

Here is a compilation of some of the stuff I managed to capture during my first year as a GoPro owner. It’s too bad I didn’t take it more places. There were so many times I forgot it and wished I’d had it with me.

Textual Drive-by

Catalina Diving

My ability to maintain this journal always seems to wane in the summer. A lot has happened since my last post. I quit my job and fled to Canada for two-and-a-half weeks. The first week was spent sight-seeing with Erika. Along with my friend Steven, we completed the West Coast Trail over six days of backpacking. Then I took the Amtrak train down the coast back to Los Angeles. There is plenty to share about the trip and I intend to do so over two entries in the near future.

Returning to California submerged me in the world of self-employment. I thankfully had two paying projects awaiting me. Those were completed early this month. Since then, I have finally been working on The Many Maladies of Marty Mitchell. I am hoping to post a completed excerpt from that very soon. I have also been working on editing fresh demo reels and building a web identity for a venture I intend to launch with a group of friends next month.

It hasn’t been all work. I finally learned to surf. I’m no master, but I can get on the board and ride it a ways (sometimes). I’ve been sticking to my plan to rock climb as much as possible (I’ll be getting up in a few hours to do that). Erika and I hiked the Zion Narrows again, this time with Karl and Extreme Things. We also got back in the ocean and did some more SCUBA diving (the first time since our certification last August). I’ve been shooting GoPro footage all over the place and am hoping to edit a few more short videos (if you don’t know what I am talking about, check out my sledding video).

New posts with better content on the way (hopefully soon).

Waterfall in the Zion Narrows


As of the afternoon of Saturday, August 15th, Erika and I are PADI certified Open Water divers. Essentially that means we can go dive anywhere that doesn’t require specialty diving skills or depths below 60 feet. Learning to SCUBA dive has also made me feel more comfortable snorkeling and wearing masks that encase my nose. Years of sinus problems have made me especially touchy whenever I feel my breathing is hampered. Forcing myself to learn to dive has alleviated much of that.

Our three certification dives took place in the waters near Catalina Island—specifically Lulu’s Reef and Big Giger. Our first dive was the most interesting. There were only four of us and we dove through a labyrinthine kelp forest descending down to 49 feet. As we made our way down the anchor line, the kelp parted like a doorway letting us into an undersea world. Between the three dives we spent an hour underwater, mostly demonstrating skills necessary to receive our certification. It was fun, but I really look forward to a day when we can spend all of our time underwater exploring.

During the trip back to shore, our boat was often flanked by pods of dolphins racing alongside. Over a dozen dolphins would swim just beneath the bow, then leap into the air and shoot ahead into the ocean. There were times they would breach and be merely several feet from my awestruck face.

More Undersea Photos Here