On Day 9 we headed up the east coast of Oahu to visit the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It’s a cemetery and public park with a beautiful replica Japanese Temple based on the Byodo-In Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan. The grounds are extensive, with large koi ponds, gardens, statues, and apparently peacocks, although we didn’t see [or hear] any. It was VERY overcast, and actually started to rain as we were leaving:
I loved this pretty little Pacific Golden Plover – he didn’t care at all that I was a few feet away:
The non-denominational Temple has been featured in several episodes of LOST, Hawaii 5-0, & Magnum PI:
Inside is a 9-foot Amida Buddha statue sitting on a lotus flower:
The weather cleared up that evening enough for a beautiful sunset over Waikiki Beach:
On our last full day in Oahu, we finally got to snorkel at Hanauma Bay! This had been on our wish list since booking our trip last Fall. The beach where the Bay is located has very limited parking, so it’s recommended you arrive before 7am. *SNORT* – like that was going to happen! Thankfully our hotel concierge had a large poster at his desk advertising van trips to the Bay, which cost $20/person and didn’t leave the hotel until the civilized hour of 10:30am *nods*. The van company supplied snorkels, masks and fins, and best of all advertised a full range of prescription masks. I have to say, the prescription mask was as life changing as the prescription goggles I bought for this trip!
There were 3 other couples in the van with us. After dropping us off, we paid our admission fee and walked down the long driveway to the beach. The view was breathtaking:
At the bottom of the driveway hubby noticed a momma mongoose and babies peeking out from a rock wall. He suggested we hit the beach first, and take pictures of the mongoose later. HELL TO THE NO! I was not passing up a chance to photograph mongoose BABIES! *OMGSOCUTE*!!! And it’s a good thing, because when we left we didn’t see any sign of them:
The beach was crowded, but not overly so:
The Bay and coral reef were amazing:
We saw so many beautiful fish – I’m going to do my best to identify them based on the handy “Hawaiian Islands Reef Creatures Guide” I bought in Waikiki. We didn’t see any moray eels, I guess you can if you swim out beyond the reef, but that was too deep for me! No turtles either. But we did see so many beautiful fish!
Reef Triggerfish [Hawaiian state fish] & Palenose Parrotfish:
Orangespine Unicornfish & Redlip Parrotfish:
Whitespotted Surgeonfish & Palenose Parrotfish [I like how he’s gazing off into the distance]:
Sailfin Tang & a Pacific Gregory [apparently these can be very feisty, but this one wasn’t]:
Hubby diving deep & a Christmas Wrasse:
Ringtail Surgeonfish & Redlip Parrotfish [this pic is a good example of how shallow the reef was! It was hard to swim around without getting scraped]:
I also played hide and seek with a Coral Blenny – if you’re not familiar with Blennys, they are the cutest/funniest fish I’ve ever experienced! They look like little muppets. They use their front fins as arms and do pushups so they can check out their surroundings. The one I saw on the reef was hilarious and I spent over 10 minutes trying to get a picture. But every time he’d pop up and look at me, he’s just as quickly disappear. He was only about a foot away from my face. They’re very small, about the size of your thumb. I ended up with lots of empty frames thanks to him! Blennys are also the reason I’m not allowed to go on research fishing vessels at work… Waaaaaaaaaaaaay back when I was an intern I went out on a research vessel. I had a hard time with it because I hated seeing the fish die on deck after each haul. I had to help sort and count each type of fish after every net haul, but I kept sneaking the [Atlantic] Blennys overboard through the scuppers… Before they could be officially counted… so they wouldn’t die. And I got caught. Meh. Here are some random google shots of Blennys so you can see how incredibly adorable they are:
Getting back to our trip, here’s 2 pics hubby took at Hanauma Bay that I love. We saw the pigeons sitting in the water fountain basin and figured they were waiting for water [like Darwin does at home]. We turned on the faucet and they were thrilled [but they wouldn’t drink until we stepped back]:
On our final morning, we took one last Hawaiian selfie:
Until next time, Hawaii!