July 24, 2021
It’s been an action-packed last couple of days here on the Big Island.
Thursday was our first day of open-water scuba dives! Everyone was eager to put their scuba skills from the pool to the test in an actual ocean dive. We packed some sandwiches and snacks for a full day out on the boat, then met our instructors bright and early at the dock. We got the chance to see some awesome marine life that day; Kate seemed to spot a moray eel every 30 seconds, and Banks conquered his fear of sharks after seeing a few underwater! Kirksey and Ella powered through their stuffy noses to be able to equalize at depth, and Trey and Mac were superstars during the lesson portion of the dive. Perhaps the most exciting moment that day was when we got to make a pit stop to snorkel and watch a pod of Pilot Whales swim by right below us!
After diving, we drove over to a nearby beach, where we got views of unique lava rock formations and the calm Kona ocean water. Benjamin and Trey set out in search of crabs, while Banks and Elle did some sunbathing and caught some much needed zzz’s after our long day. When we arrived back at camp, it was time for an Iron Chef dinner competition! The first group went for Mexican style flatbreads, an original recipe from Olivia topped with Holland’s super secret spicy sauce. The other group whipped up some cheesy nachos with shredded chicken, and oh boy were they delicious. The judges might’ve been a little busy getting second and third helpings to pick a favorite dish, but with food that good everybody wins!
The next day, we were back out on the boat for our last two scuba dives of the trip. It was an awesome day filled with amazing marine life sightings like octopi, sea turtles and puffer fish to name just a few. And to cap off such an amazing experience, everyone got scuba certified. Wohoo! We ate pizza on the dock to celebrate, and then said our final goodbye to the awesome instructors who had guided us along over the last four days.
That night, we shared our campsite with the HWI B group and danced our way through some hula lessons! Afterwards, everyone got to learn the basics of ukulele, with Mac really stealing the show. Ben spotted a keyboard in the corner of the room and serenaded the group with a beautiful piece by Ludovico Einaudi. After our lessons, we all went back to the campsite for a delicious mac n cheese potluck dinner and some swing dancing! Ben and Emma were really breaking out the moves for their dance partners, and everybody was jammin along to some tunes. It was also fun for everyone to briefly catch up with the other group and hear about all of the crazy and funny moments from their trip.
We started our final day right with a massive, kitchen sink breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, bagels and more. In between bites, everyone talked about how hard it was to believe that this evening would be the end of our time together. Eager to get the most out of our last day, everyone jumped into action to break down camp and to clean the van and our gear. Back in Kona, we stopped at a waterfront restaurant for some delicious poke and burgers. Grady’s burger appeared to be larger than his head, and Kate’s poke salad looked like it belonged on a food blog. After our banquet, we stopped for some heaping servings of ice cream at a local gelato shop. It was absolutely delicious, and it got everywhere.
Blasting some of our favorite jams from the trip, we pulled into our final stop at the Kona airport. After some bittersweet goodbyes, everyone started trickling through security and onto their flights back home.
Looking back, it has been an amazing past couple of weeks, and we’re so thankful for the adventures had and our new friendships.
Until next time,
Jack, Vivian, and Molly
July 21, 2021
Aloha from the Big Island!
The group began our adventures on the Big Island with bagel breakfast sandwiches and muffins at camp. After meeting our fellow camp mates, the three dogs that guard our campsite, we headed off to explore the island. We made our way northeast to Hilo. Holland assumed the DJ role by requesting hits that everyone loved. In Hilo, we stopped by a farmer’s market where Mac and Ben found their favorite t-shirts. Elle picked out beaded bracelets that would become the group’s friendship bracelet. A few açaí and poke bowls later, we headed inland for some exploring. The biggest adventure of the day was a visit to the Kaumana Caves, which are lava-tube caves that were formed in 1881 by the volcano, Mauna Loa. Grady fearlessly led us into the first cave. Trey tested the echo powers of the cave walls with chants. After we fully explored the caves, we headed back to camp. Grady rounded up a crew for a spikeball tournament in the field, while Elle started a tumbling contest with the girls. Kirksey and Banks cheffed up fajitas for dinner. Our first day of scuba lessons began Monday with half the group diving into the pool. Emma and Ben absolutely showed out during their lessons and impressed their instructor with how fast they learned. The first half of the group celebrated finishing the pool lessons by eating lunch in the hot tub- a luxurious activity according to Mac. The rest of the group took the day to explore Kona. Olivia was ecstatic to find a hula girl for her car dashboard at home. After a little time apart, the groups joined together on the beach. Nearly everyone napped on the beach with sea turtles. Trey woke up from his nap feeling totally refreshed and ready for the rest of the days activities. For a special activity, we stopped at a laundromat to give everyone’s clothes a nice reset from camping. Even this “chore” was a fun event- as everyone took turns spinning Elle around in the laundry carts. We had a picnic dinner before heading to the harbor for our Manta Ray snorkel, and Olivia got her full on chicken fried rice. The boat ride was a beautiful sunset cruise over to the “campfire”. Grady impressed our guides by having the most knowledge on the manta rays. We all suited up in our wetsuits and hopped into the water. Kate spotted the first manta ray and squealed through her snorkel.
On the way back to the harbor, Kate led the group in a dance party. Although we were expecting everyone to sleep on the way home, Kirksey and Olivia kept everyone entertained with sing-along song requests the whole way home. The whole van cheered when we pulled into camp and everyone could climb into their sleeping bags after a full day of fun. Tuesday, Olivia, Mac, Ella, Holland, and Kirksey jumped into the pool to start their scuba lessons. Ella conquered the discomfort of removing her mask under water. The rest of the group took their turn exploring Kona, where souvenirs were found. The ride home was another concert with everyone singing as loud as possible. Holland led the all girl cook crew in preparing spaghetti for dinner, while Mac rounded up the boys for a game of soccer. Dinner consisted of lots of laughs as Banks and Holland told their tragic hamster stories. Everyone is pumped for our first dives tomorrow- and Grady is prepared to lead us as the experienced diver he is. We’re headed out on the Kona Coast tomorrow and will send updates soon of what we find under the sea.
Vivian, Molly, and Jack
Emma: Aloha, mom & dad! Having such a fun time and meeting so many cool people!! Surfing and seeing “Queen’s Bath” have been my favorites so far and I can’t wait to get started on scuba in the ocean. Catch y’all on the flip side! Love y’all!!
Banks: Hey Mom and Dad! Kirksey and I are having such a fun time in Hawaii and don’t want to leave. Swimming with the manta rays was such an awesome experience and I can’t wait to scuba dive tomorrow! I love and miss you guys!
Kate: Aloha Mom and Dad:) It’s been so so fun and I don’t want to leave! Surfing and Snorkeling with the Manta Rays was so cool and I can’t wait to scuba in the ocean tomorrow!! I can’t wait to see you! Love and miss you so much<3
Holland: Hey hey!! I’m having the best time in HAWAII!! So far, surfing has been the best (wayyy better than VA beach) Miss y’all tons and tell Har I say hey! Can’t wait to see y’all at the Cape! love ya 🙂
Kirksey: Hi Mom 🙂 Banks olivia and I are having so much fun in Kaua’i and Kona. We went diving and saw Manta Rays and it was really really cool! I miss you and Dad and I’ve been thinking about Walker and I hope he’s having fun. I’ll see you in ATL with Caroline and Aly. Also I heard Edge of Seventeen in a grocery store the day before my birthday and I thought of you <3
Ofox: Aloha mom dad Leonard and Dewey! I am having a blast in haweewee!!! We swam with mantarays last night and it was the coolest experience ever! I screamed a lot but it was still so fun! I also had my first scuba lesson today and it was so cool to be able to breathe underwater! I miss y’all so so much and hope everyone is safe in Dallas and enjoying the two weeks I’m gone! See y’all soon <3
Ellemnop: What’s up Chaderak, A Boo Boo, and Lilo, I have had a blast meeting all these cool and awesome people!!! I became really close with one girl named Kate and I want to invite her to Cabo!! We have had great moon up conversations and snorkeled with humongous manta rays, craziest thing I have ever seen!!! The 2 weeks have gone by so fast but I have been thinking about y’all every day, so I miss y’all so much. Can’t wait to see everyone Saturday 😉
Ella: Hey mom. My sunburn is fine. I’m in Hawaii and it’s pretty here. I took a lot of videos of what I have seen. Yesterday we snorkeled with manta rays it was very pretty. Miss you and Bentley and don’t drive my car. My favorite thing we have done so far is surfing. I’m excited to go diving tomorrow but pray for me I’m kinda nervous. Can’t wait so see you Saturday
Grady: Hey mom and dad having so much fun with this group in Hawaii. Everyone is really cool making going alone not so bad. On top of the friends I have made the activities we have done so far have been a good combination of challenging and fun. We did a 17 mile kayak around the part of the island that didn’t have road. Along the way we went through caves as we took brakes to rehydrate. After 7ish hours we finally muscled it out by talking to each other. Can’t wait to tell y’all more on Saturday!
Trey: Hey I’m having a great time at moondance. Im sad to go home but the activities have been so much fun and am excited for scuba diving.
Mac: Hey family, this trip has been so much fun. Tomorrow we are scuba diving in the ocean because today we just did an introduction in a pool to get used to the equipment. So far my favorite activity has been the snorkeling we did last night, we saw tons of manta rays and other fish. Tell Harriet I miss her. Can’t wait to see you guys on Saturday, I miss y’all!
Ben: hey mom and dad, I’m having lots of fun camp and Im so excited to go on our first open water scuba dive tomorrow. Miss y’all and I’ll see you soon!
July 18, 2021
Our last days on Kauai were full of laughter, adventure, and sunscreen!! On Thursday, we had our birthday girl, Kirksey, lead the first group in our morning surf session. After our warm up runs yesterday, the group was comfortable surfing the waves in Kilauea Bay. Mac was eager to get out in the water and was catching his own waves one after another. He impressed us all with his confidence on the board. Holland especially felt the session was more enjoyable and was able to finally catch her first waves on her own. Emma popped up on her board smoothly and was graceful even when wiping out. After surf, we enjoyed lunch and birthday celebrations at our campsite. We all sang happy birthday to Kirksey, as she wore her birthday crown and waved her wand. Rainbow cupcakes were scarfed down and made everyone’s teeth and tongues a mixture of neon pink, green, and yellow.
In the afternoon, we surprised the group by taking them to Queens Bath, which are natural tide pools created by volcanic rocks and the large crashing waves. Grady led the group down the trail and loved exploring the rocks surrounding each natural pool. Elle and Olivia were the first to hop in and swam around like mermaids. Everyone was jumping off the rocks left and right, especially Banks with his fancy 360s into the pools. The day ended with a delicious array of breakfast foods for dinner, including pancakes, sausage, eggs, and fruit. Emma cooked the pancakes to perfection! We all were in bed early, as we were resting up for our big day of kayaking.
The group had an early morning wake up call and set off on our day-long adventure after the sun rose. As we were traveling, Trey kept everyone entertained with his jokes and worked on his “piece of art” with tan lines on his arm. We explored 4 sea caves and jaw dropping views all 17 miles. Kate showed her strength partnering with Mac, conquering every massive wave that came in their path. While soaring past the cliffs of the Na Pali coast, Ben admired the views and was the strongest of the group, leading everyone into each cave. For lunch, we enjoyed sandwiches, chips, and pineapples on Milolii, which is only accessible by water. Our final 5 miles after our long break were quick compared to our 12 mile journey before lunch. Ella powered through kayaking all the way to the end at Polihale State Park, where we all landed safely. Everyone cheered and congratulated each other as we completed one of the most challenging sea kayaks in the world. We made our final lap around the island with a stop to a local Chinese restaurant. Grady took one for the team and tried eating as many of the leftovers as he could. After eating 3 plates worth of food, the group was exhausted and went straight to bed when we arrived back to the campsite.
The next morning everyone was able to sleep in and enjoy one last breakfast in Kauai. Lots of chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, and sausage were consumed before packing up our bags and tents. We spent our final hours before our flight in the town of Kapa’a, where we shopped, dined, and reflected on the wonderful memories we have made on the island. The group is very excited to travel around the Big Island and dive deep into its turquoise waters. Olivia is looking forward to hopefully seeing starfish and all of the native fish in the seas of Hawaii. We hope to fulfill everyone’s goals for our second half of our trip and discover some of the fascinating marine life that we will be able to swim with. For now, we’re off to explore the vast landscape of the island and will return with stories of our diving adventures!
A hui hou,
Molly, Vivian, and Jack
July 16, 2021
Aloha friends and family! It has been an amazing start to our trip here on Kauai, Hawaii’s beautiful garden island.
We started out trip off with two days of service at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Our new friends Howard and Kila were incredible hosts for our project and made urge everyone felt included and engaged. The whole group put in so much effort the first day clearing out the debris from a massive fallen monkey pod tree. Emma and Kate were hard at work all day leading an assembly line to clear logs while Mac lifted loads of branches that were twice his height into the truck. During our breaks, Benjamin and Grady made it their mission to crack open coconuts to get at the refreshing drinks inside. Later, Kila made that task a little easier by chopping some open with a knife. Everyone’s hard work throughout the day was rewarded when we were given a tour of the Allerton side of the garden, marked by intricate water features, fresh fruit, and a gorgeous, secluded bay. That evening we settled into our campsite, and Olivia and Trey took the lead on a delicious Italian dinner.
The next day we returned to NTBG’s beautiful property to finish our service project. This time, we worked on clearing out invasive plants in the garden. Everybody was a rockstar with their scythes and shovels, and by the end of the day the area we were working on had been completely transformed. At one point Mac and Grady posed for a picture with a massive plant they had worked on uprooting, like it was a prize fish. It was a tiring day of work, but it was satisfying having so much to show for the hours spent in the garden. After saying goodbye to our friends at NTBG, we drove to Poipu beach to grab a snack at a local market. Back at camp, Banks and Kirksey were a tag team cooking up some fried rice.
After two days of rewarding service work, today was our first day of surfing! We went to a beautiful local beach and paddled out into some jumbo waves. Ella and Kate were absolute pros, getting up early on nearly every wave they attempted. At one point we got hit by a warm rain shower while we were in the water, and it was both beautiful and exhilarating. The whole group was so stoked to have gotten up on a wave, and everyone left the beach excited to come back the next day.
In the afternoon we headed to the world-famous Hanalei Bay to shop and relax on the beach. Elle and Holland were in the water almost immediately after we arrived at the beach, and Trey, Grady and Ben went on a killer run. Tonight, we switched to another campsite and are staying with Moondance session Hawaiian Islands 3B! The groups faced off in an intense volleyball match, and them enjoyed some delicious personal pizzas on the beach. Everyone hit the hay early after a long day and are looking forward to surfing tomorrow!
Excited to share more soon!
Jack, Molly, and Vivian
July 12, 2021
Hello Hawaiian Islands 3D Families!
The group arrived safely in Lihue 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!