This post is part of a series of stories from our 2019 Spring Break adventure in Hawaii.
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Two years ago I tried snorkeling for the first time in Belize, and I was surprised how much I loved it. I didn’t grow up going to the beach and it’s never been our thing as a family of three. (Colt was 8 years old the first time he saw the ocean — and it was Coney Island! Hardly a traditional day at the beach!)

But! Over the past two years, we’ve adventured in both Belize and the Cayman Islands — and now Hawaii — and found that we’re falling in love with the ocean and the fun to be had out on the water.

A snorkeling excursion was an easy thing to add to our Hawaiian wish list for Spring Break this year, but as I did my usual travel homework — I kept seeing SNUBA pop up.

And we had to try it.

Excellent reviews and recommendations by friends led us to Trilogy Excursions, and we set out for a day on the water — snorkeling and SNUBA. Here’s what we learned.

Cinnamon roll breakfast on the boat.
Photo by Island Dream Productions

Let’s Talk About Cameras

This is absolutely not the most important thing to know about snorkeling, but let’s get it outta the way. I’ve been a GoPro fan for years and it is hands-down the best camera for a day of snorkeling and water sports. {Read more about my favorite camera gear here.} I left the DSLR on the charger that morning and only had a GoPro with me on the boat. I upgraded to a Hero 7 this year and I’m still stunned by the quality of the shots from such a little toy.  If you’re planning a water adventure as the weather gets warmer — borrow/rent/buy a GoPro and learn how to use it. You’ll be glad you did.

So I had a GoPro, but Trilogy Excursions also had a photographer on the boat with us which was a really nice touch. For a shockingly reasonable price, we had amazing photos of our day! These are almost always worth the price for me — and the photographer got some really fun shots. Thank you Island Dream Productions, for making us look like fabulous merpeople.

First stop: Molokini Crater

The first of our two snorkel spots was Molokini Crater, which is beautiful and iconic Maui and clear, blue, magical waters — but no turtles. I’d had my heart set on seeing a turtle in the ocean for weeks, but our crew told us there would be very little chance of seeing turtles at the crater because of the water and reef dynamic there. And! The water was pretty choppy that morning so we were practically the only boat there. Our crew said it was unheard of to have that much privacy at such a popular spot as Molokini — and the water wasn’t bad at all. Crystal clear and gorgeous.

Photo by Island Dream Productions

Fearlessness in Kids is so Damn Inspiring

Colt is a cautious kid, no doubt. He’s no daredevil and he always asks plenty of questions so he has solid expectations before trying something. But sometimes it blows me away how confident he can be in these situations. He’s been snorkeling a few times, sure, but he just suits right up, grabs his mask, and bails over the side of the boat like it’s nothing. It makes me smile when it happens because that comfort level is one of the reasons we live this life. Go get ’em, Buddy.

Ok, so what is SNUBA?

SNUBA = Snorkeling + SCUBA.  It requires breathing through a regulator but the tank itself is carried in a little inflatable raft instead of on your back. And it doesn’t require any training or certification — only that kids be at least six years old and able to listen to a comprehensive safety and instructional demonstration.

Basically, it’s as comfortable as snorkeling but you can dive deeper and longer like SCUBA. SOLD.

Each of us wore a weighted belt to help us stay deeper in the water.

Our guide, Tiger, was patient and thorough and so kind to Colt — the only kiddo in our SNUBA group on the boat. I thought the regulator may take some getting used to, but it was really that simple — Colt breathed in and out a few times and jumped into the water.

Tiger taught us a few simple hand signals so we could communicate underwater, and we were off!


Photo by Island Dream Productions

And! And! We were diving at a spot called Turtle Town — and guess who we saw! He was hiding and napping in the reef, but look at that grumpy and adorable little face!


It’s Not for Everybody

Becky didn’t SNUBA with us — but instead did more snorkeling at our second stop — because she has lifelong ear issues and the depth and pressure would have been painful (and possibly damaging). There are a handful of other reasons it may not be right for everyone, including swimming ability, heart issues and blood pressure. The crew on our boat was thorough and the paperwork we read was very clear about risks and information. While it’s not a requirement by SNUBA, I think some experience snorkeling would be a huge benefit in trying SNUBA for the first time, too.

We’re Ready to Try It Again

The freedom to stay under and dive deeper was a lot of fun, and we would both do it again. SNUBA is growing in popularity like crazy so chances are you’ll be able to find a SNUBA guide many places you can snorkel or SCUBA. We’ll definitely be ready to try it again soon.

Thanks for a beautiful day, Trilogy! From the cinnamon roll breakfast to the SNUBA adventure to the relaxing ride back, Mai Tai in hand. What a day.

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