June 22, 2021
Our first day scuba diving went absolutely ~swimmingly~ ! The morning started with a scrumptious breakfast at our campsite picnic tables, where fresh fruit from the farmers market abounded. We hopped in the van to start our first day drive to the dive shop, where the certified divers met their open-water guides and the divers-in-training split up with Carlos to begin their pool dives. The open water divers went out to sea with Captain Bob and their Dive Master Jim to dive at the Golden Arches and the Arch Cave. Mercer and Ian displayed their cool composure in a stressful situation when they noticed that Logan’s tank had fallen off his back and helped him fix it mid dive. Later at the Arch cave, the group saw several pods of dolphins, a sea turtle, and were even fortunate enough to swim with two 7 foot white-tipped reef sharks! Eliza was scared to swim with sharks but after swimming with these two she was itching to get back in the water with some more!
Scuba day 2 started with HIGH energy from the crew. Another oatmeal spread gave us all energy for a long day, and many of the kids took part in an apple-banana and lychee taste test. On the drive to the dive shop, we blasted pump up songs and started a mongoose spotting count (at present, we’ve gotten to 11). One group then stopped at the shop to jump into their next training activities, while Logan dropped the other group at the harbor to meet their guides for the day, Peter and David. Pulling out of the harbor, our captain spotted a massive 14-foot Tiger Shark cruising in the shallow water. SO COOL! During the dive we made many cool discoveries- Ian spotted an octopus hiding in coral, Eliza and Patrick swam through an amazing submerged rock formation, and Liza and Mercer helped the group locate pods of dolphins throughout the day. Tom befriended captain David, who allowed him to sit in the bridge for most of the day’s adventure. The certification class continued with their pool training and then got to venture into the ocean for a snorkel! Today John showed his toughness by having a great attitude despite the pretty gnarly sun burns he had on his hands. He really enjoyed the day diving into his books and teaching the leaders and students all about Russian politics and history. During the afternoon, the certification class got to swim out to a cool buoy and get a free-diving lesson. Carlos even picked up a collector urchin from the bottom and let all of us hold it. Wicked!
Friday morning, we got the day started EARLY! Margaret, Asher, and Meredith pumped themselves up with a sunrise jog up to the top of a beach lookout- SO beautiful! The whole group then packed up the van to start another awesome day of diving – this time all together on one boat!!! Today was the certification class’s first ever ocean dive! We dove at Tako City and found some awesome creatures. We saw lots of yellow tangs, eels, sea stars, two nudibranchs, an octopus, and some humuhumu nukunuku apua’a (reef trigger fish & state fish of Hawai’i). Most of the boys ran out of air quickly, except for Patrick who is apparently a very efficient breather. After two awesome dives, we headed into Kona to get dinner before our manta ray snorkel. We met up with our amazing guide Keller and headed to Manta Ray Bay in search of the manta’s! Within minutes of jumping in the water, there were mantas swimming up to everyone and doing barrel rolls. After seeing the size of them, we all agreed that Liza would be able to fit into one’s mouth. Everyone was taken aback by the size and beauty of seeing these amazing creatures in the wild. Casey, Margaret and Lucy were also amazed at the comfort provided by a warm water shower on the back of the boat afterwards. We finished the day with an energetic moonup in the van before heading all the way back to camp. Brooks helped this by choosing some great pump up songs.
Saturday, the day the whole crew had been waiting for, was the day everyone got to dive together! Yahoo! The crew had been asking to see sharks so we talked to Carlos and he took us to the harbor in search of the notorious and illusive tiger shark. While we didn’t see any tigers, our team saw several octopuses, a teardrop butterfly, several widemouthed eels, and so much other cool marine life. Liza, Mercer, and Logan even hopped in for a snorkel in between dives to explore the coral. When we got back to camp, we were greeted by a steady rainstorm which initially had the group’s spirits down. Asher noticed this and lead a push to start cooking, play some music, and raise moral. At first it was just Asher, then Mercer, Liza, and Lucy joined and before long all 15 of us were huddled under a tarp sharing a warm meal of Hawaiian fried rice which then abruptly turned into a dance party. This ended up being one of our best evenings together yet!
Sunday we packed the van and headed north on an adventure to circumvent the entire Big island! We made a stop at Waipo Valley overlook for a spontaneous photo shoot, then drove to Akaka falls for a short hike to a 442 foot-tall waterfall. From there we headed south to Hilo where Lucy and Liza helped prepare a lunch for the crew in between activities, followed by a quick visit to the thrift store to find appropriate banquet ware. The guys elected to match in jorts (Jean shorts) and sleeveless golf shorts with 7 pairs of identical brown boots while the girls chose to sport funky dresses and fun earrings. Everyone was full of energy when we pulled into the campsite with the other Moondance group. John led a introductory dance huddle to warm up the night. The leaders fixed a breakfast-for-dinner spread while the group partook in a hula lesson from local dancers. As many nights do with this group, the night ended in a massive dance party, where Tom stole the show with his groovy moves. After an incredibly fun night, everyone headed home where we held our final Moonup on our campsite’s beach. Eliza and Casey encouraged many of the group to bring out their sleeping pads where they fell asleep under the stars, fully living up their last sleep in Hawai’i for the summer.
P.S. shoutout from Tom to Gracie and Ham!
June 16, 2021
The past few days have been an absolute whirlwind. On Sunday, our group kayaked the entire NaPali Coast of Kauai, a total of 17 miles. We have some early risers in the group, Ian and John, who are always the first to wake up eager to start the day. That day, everyone awoke before the sun came up, and got in the van to head to our start point. We got to the meeting place early, met our guides (Adam and Cooper), and began our kayak adventure! In the first half of the day, we got to go into 3 huge sea caves. Some of them had waterfalls at the mouth, and once we were inside the caves, people were clear to jump out and swim. Adam had loads of cool Hawaiian legends to tell us about the spots that we visited, featuring kings and warriors and shape shifting demigods. Navigating the open sea on a small kayak is no easy feat, and it proved to be pretty challenging. Eliza and Logan’s crazy kayak beat the outfitters’ previous tipping-over record, a total of 7 times throughout the day – but don’t worry, they were okay and laughing through it all! Asher and John were also among the few that joined them in the water. They were all great sports about it!
After a total of 12 miles, and around 5 hours, we stopped at a beautiful remote beach that can only be accessed by boat or helicopter to feast on our yummy lunch. After absolutely devouring their sandwiches, Liza, Margaret, Casey, Lucy and Mercer enjoyed their time under the sun, while Patrick, Brooks, John, Ian and Tom took a nap. Then, we only had 5 miles left to go! We all powered through to make it to our destination, Polihale State Park. As we paddled our last few miles, we could see the island of Ni’ihau in the distance. This prompted Lucy to ask some great questions about the history of Hawaii and the culture of the Hawaiian people. At last, we landed on the beach, and everyone jumped in for a quick swim before hopping back in the van to head out. As we were attempting to leave the parking area, the van got stuck, and everyone chipped in to help get it unstuck and to cheer on Meredith while she maneuvered the van out of the sand. We finished our day with some Paco’s tacos, home of the most BUSSIN’ chipotle sauce (6/5 on Brooks’s bussin’ scale), to fill everyone up after a long day of hard work. It was a great day, not only because the NaPali coast was beautiful, but because the whole group had an amazing positive attitude!
On Monday we had our second surf lesson. By now, everyone is practically a pro surfer. Ian was ripping on some gnarly waves. And both groups did a few party waves, which is where you line up side-by-side and ride the wave together! Mercer, Margaret, and Liza used some of their free time to collect some really beautiful shells. Tom, Patrick, Lucy, Eliza and Asher used this time to get to know each other a little better. During a kind of deep conversation, Eliza got pooped on by a bird and we all broke out into laughter. After our surf lesson, and several days in the hot sun, our LODs Patrick and Eliza prompted the group to decide how we would spend our afternoon, and we decided on some retail therapy. On the way to the shopping center, literally every single kid (and Brooke) napped in the back of the van. Luckily, this revived the groups energy and we got ice cream, some really sweet t-shirts, and an assortment of other trinkets at the outdoor shopping center. We then headed back to the campsite for our last night on Kauai! It was perfect. As we made our personal pizzas, the sun began to set and to light up the sky with an array of color. Cook crew helped chop up veggies and Italian sausage, and everyone loaded up their own naan bread with toppings for their pizza. Everyone agreed that it had been a great day and that we really love each other. There was even a huge group hug :). Our LODs led a fantastic last Moonup at the campsite, closing our time in Kauai with a bang!
Yesterday was our BIG travel day to Kona. Brooke flew out early in the morning to set up our campsite and get all of our gear ready for our next week together (thank you, Brooke!) Our afternoon flight allowed for a loungy morning, where everyone helped clean the campsite and the rest of our gear. Logan even made a giant batch of pancakes with a spread of fresh Hawaiian fruit! Brooks and Eliza were among the few who were brave enough to try a pineapple pancake (which was pretty delicious if I do say so myself). Asher and Mercer, our marvelous LODs, then led the squad on our trip to the airport. We blasted our favorite songs in the van as everyone waved goodbye to the Lihue beaches. After a very smooth 40-minute flight, we landed in Kona, where we were scooped up by Brooke in our new van (which the group nicknamed “the yacht”). Patrick’s surprising love for Lady Gaga kept the whole group entertained on our ride to dinner and then to our new campsite. Our Moonup was held in our newly beloved van, where the LODs gave the group a series of amazing questions and finished with a game of “pass the squeeze”. A very heartwarming start to our time on the Big Island!
Today our group begins our first day of scuba! Our certified divers will be out on the beautiful blue water all day with Logan, while Brooke and Meredith join Brooks, Margaret, Casey, Asher and Lucy at the dive shop to learn the ropes!
Thanks for reading and check back in soon!
Logan, Brooke, and Meredith
June 13, 2021
Aloha from Kauai!
Our first three full days have been nothing but absolute adventure on our first island! Ian, Patrick, and Tom were the first to arrive on Wednesday afternoon, and we spent the majority of the travel day in the airport playing name games and cards. After scooping up the rest of the crew, we headed off to pick up some Hawaiian pizza on the way to the campsite for our first night in the tents! Our night ended early, with Liza and Brooks designated the first Leaders of the Day (LODs) for their extraordinarily positive attitudes despite a long, long travel day.
We woke early Thursday morning for our first day of service at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. After an amazing tour of the garden’s endemic (only found in Hawaii) plant species from our guide, Amanda, each student was given a sickle to help clear brush from underneath a native species of Hawaiian palm threatened by invasive insect species. Brooks proved to be the brush cutting KING, and Mercer and Ian triumphed after slaying a centipede. Asher absolutely killed the service, taking every weed as a new challenge and keeping us laughing all the while. We pulled out of the gardens that afternoon feeling both sweaty and rewarded as we headed to the airport to fetch our last student, John. Even after a challenging travel experience, John was still smiley as ever as our gang rolled up blasting Party in the USA. We ended the day with some scrumptious pineapple fried rice and a fantastic first official Moonup of the summer. Tom’s ukulele rendition of Riptide was one of many highlights of the night spent under the stars!
Ian started off our morning by whipping up some delicious eggs for our scrumptious breakfast sandwiches. Off on our second day at the NTBG, most of the group continued helping clear under the palms while Casey, Eliza, Margaret, and Tom formed a mulch spreading squad. After some tiring work and a sandwich lunch, Amanda gave us a tour of the Allerton garden, home to movie sets used to film Jurassic World, among other cool movies, and a tropical turtle sanctuary. Mikey and Joel (our fearless NTBG leaders) helped us end our service section on a striking note as they led our team to a great waterfall where we had an amazing photo shoot! We drove off in a happy daze for some classic Hawaiian snow cones, where Mercer encouraged the group to get a big bunch of friendship bracelets. We spent the remainder of the day at Anini beach. The group splashed around, spotted some cool coral, and watched while Asher and Logan executed masterful tricks and flips. Patrick, Eliza, Casey, and John closed out the day flipping a batch of incredible chicken quesadillas, followed by a Moonup under a canopy of trees on the shore.
WOOHOO!!! This beautiful Saturday morning marks the first day of our surfing section! We woke up early for an oatmeal breakfast before hopping in the Boat (our well-loved 15 passenger van) to head to Rock Quarry Beach to begin our adventure! We stopped for some Kauai coffees and smoothies on the way to load up on energy to SHRED the waves. While waiting for another group to finish, Lucy and Ian (today’s LODs) decided we should set up our hammocks and an impromptu dance party commenced, where Brooks tore up the dance floor with some killer moves. We had several hammocks with three people in them, Liza even hopped in one with Meredith and Brooke! During our surf lesson, the waves were firing, and everyone was catching them left and right. Lucy, Eliza, and Margaret were practically pros. After the lesson, we headed to Hanalei Bay for lunch, and then to another beach to swim. This particular beach had a cool rope swing that some people went on (Patrick showed off his strength), and we played a pretty fun game to end it all. MOO! We ended the day with some yummy pasta, preparation for our big sea kayak day tomorrow, and one of our best Moonups yet. Liza got big nugs from the leaders for her awesome EB (Expedition Behavior) and Kokua. Casey and John were named tomorrow’s LODs for our kayak adventure! Wish us luck!
Mahalo for reading! Check in with you all soon :)!
-Meredith, Brooke, and Logan
June 10, 2021
Hello Hawaiian Islands 1B Families!
The whole group arrived safely in Kauai last night, and they are off on their adventure! We have heard from our leaders that the trip is off to a great start, and we cannot wait to hear more stories from their adventure.
Please remember our leaders and students will be unplugged during their trips but we will be posting up to three trip updates throughout the next couple of weeks! This will allow you to follow along with the trip and the students will also give a special shout out mid-way through! You can also follow us on Instagram, @moondanceadventures, to see more of what we are up to this summer!
– Moondance HQ