June 23, 2023
Mahalo to Hawaii and the most amazing, special, wonderfully weird and wholly awesome group of people to spend the past two weeks with! We are so thankful for endless smiles and laughter that made saying goodbye today so hard, but luckily, we have a million unforgettable memories to take back home with us!
Our last few days of SCUBA diving were filled with excitement as everyone was knocking out skills and firing through the curriculum. After finally completing all of our pool dives, we took the dive boat for a spin and put our skills to the test in Hawaii’s gorgeous tropical blue water. To put it lightly, we crushed it. We earned ourselves a shot at the real thing, the final certification dives the next day, and celebrated with a manta ray snorkel that night.
After some refreshing, well deserved açaí bowls and street tacos, we headed out on the boat for a sunset cruise. But while the sun went down, we geared up and donned wet suits and snorkels. Diving into the pitch-black water, we held on to surfboards that had been jerry rigged with lights meant to attract plankton, the main food source of our 12 foot mantas, and waited. Suddenly, a massive pair of wings glided effortlessly towards our board and started doing back flips, loop de loops in order to catch plankton. Annie, Thompson, and Carter oood and ahhhd through their snorkels as we were all mesmerized by the manta’s dance. It was a trip highlight for sure! Macwas especially excited to see the local 800lbs Hawaiian Monk Seal named Waimanu our guide introduced to us, who came to investigate us and showed us the photo luminescent plankton that sat beneath our boards. On our trip back, Frank felt a little sea sick and went to sit alone on the windy bow of the boat. However, he was quickly joined by Grace, Marina, Matt, Tereza, and Foster who kept him company and had a party jamming out to some of Captain Russell’s tunes!
Everyone was eager to jump out of bed the next morning knowing it was scuba certification day! Whoop Whoop! We headed to the docks to complete our last few dives, including a peer dive and a dive planned by just the kids! We entered our first dive of the day straight from the beach. Before we descended, we spotted some dolphins in the distance that we could hear talking to each other the whole dive! Although we never actually saw the dolphins under water during the dive, it was still so cool to hear them in the distance. One group of divers, the sharks (previously known as the sea cucumbers, then minnows, then dolphins but upgraded once they earned their full scuba certification), even saw a manta ray on their dive! We headed back in for lunch and planned out our second dive of the day. Since we had completed all of our skills, our only objective for our last dive was to get an underwater video doing to water, we crushed it! That night for dinner Julie helped whip up some amazing burrito bowls for the group to enjoy before heading out to go watch the sunset! We ended the night with laughter and hugs at the gorgeous lookout point taking in the amazing veins as the sun went down. Admiring the the green cliffs and fluffy pink clouds that reflected over the water below us, we shared our favorite memories and stories from the past couple weeks, laughing about all the fun times we shared. LODs Frankand Annie lead Moonup under the stars after the sun went down to wrap up and awesome day before heading back to camp.
Our final day was bittersweet as everyone was excited to see their friends and family (and especially furry friends!) again, but sad to leave the friends they had all grown so close to over the past two weeks. We visited a local Goodwill and picked up some great outfits, highlighted by Frank’s homemade jorts and Francie’s hat, for our final meal as a team. We ate at a great local pizza joint, recommended to us by Carter and Tereza, and savored some of our last moments together (and some seriously amazing pizza).
We’re so sad to see our small family go their separate ways and return to the hometowns and friends we’ve been hearing so much about; but are so much prouder and more excited to see what amazing things they are going to accomplish with the lessons they’ve learned and experiences they’ve fearlessly conquered. We consider ourselves so lucky as leaders to have such an amazing group of kids kick off summer and want to thank you endlessly for sharing them with us.
Miss you all already!
Foster, Maggie, and Anna
June 20, 2023
Aloha families of Hawaiian Islands 1B!! We are so excited to tell you about our last couple of days of SCUBA diving and how proud we are of our group’s progress! Since you’ve last heard from us, we spent our first day on the big island taking it easy and getting the lay of the land (and of course checking in on some local gelato spots).
Our next day started bright and early in the pool! After our gang was split into groups, everyone started practicing the skills we would need to use later in the open ocean. We were impressed by the way Julie conquered the ten-minute water tread with determination. Matt and Carter showed their skills off early by playing a game of catch with a torpedo in the deep end of the pool. Marina had a slight hiccup getting her ears to equalize in the deep water, but everyone was so happy and proud of her for pushing through and getting her ears to equalize!
On our second day, our already-certified SCUBA-pros, Tereza and Foster, took an early trip out on the dive boat to explore the Old Airport and Manta Ray Bay. The rest of the gang headed back to get through more skills to be one step closer to being to do an open-water dive! It seemed as though Mac had been doing this her whole life because she was perfecting the skills on her first try. Thompson, Frank, and Grace enjoyed showing off their SCUBA underwater backflips in the deep end.
We passed the most gorgeous beach on the way to pick up Tereza and Foster from their dive, so we all had to go explore it together! The awesome swimming spot turned into a great way to unwind after a long day of perfecting our scuba skills. Annie and Francie showed us how to do cheer stunts in the water as a base and flier!
We headed back to camp to enjoy some delicious pizza made by your very own Matt, Anna, and Maggie. Meanwhile, the property owner of our campsite set up a bonfire for the whole campsite, perfect for enjoying some s’mores before everyone headed to bed for some much-needed rest.
We can’t wait for tomorrow when we’ll take what we learned out into the crystal-clear Hawaiian waters and explore a whole new world! Next time you hear from us, we’ll all be the proud holders of a PADI Open Water Diver certification.
Reporting to you from the wettest spot in Hawaii (the ocean),
Anna, Maggie, and Foster
June 16, 2023
Aloha from the big island of Kona! Since you last heard from us, we have spent our last few days on Kauai and have arrived safely to the big island. We can’t wait for you to hear about our epic past couple of days.
Monday, day 4 of the trip, we began our morning with surf lessons in Hanalei. Our instructors were super nice and great at what they did – everyone got up on their board within the first 15 minutes! Us leaders, as well as the guides, were awed by everyone’s skill and determination. In the beginning, it was pretty flat, but waves started rolling in and Thompson, Matt, and Frank were able to show off their impressive abilities to catch and ride the waves without any help from the guides. Annie had a few tricks up her sleeves as well, and she was able to do a headstand on the board in the water! This takes insane strength; we all couldn’t believe our eyes!! Everyone was catching wave after wave and having an absolute blast. Julie and Anna even surfed a wave together on the same board (tandem surfing) which was another highlight of the day! After surfing, we had a little down time at camp, where we enjoyed some sun and ate lunch. In the afternoon, we were lucky enough to go to Lydgate Farms for a complimentary chocolate tasting! Our guide from yesterday’s sea kayaking, Mason, works at this cocoa farm and invited us to come. We tasted a variety of chocolates all grown and made on the island. It was definitely some of the best chocolate we have ever had!
After our chocolate tasting, we headed down the road to do a small hike to a hidden waterfall. We had so much fun jumping into the swimming hole of crystal clear, cool water. Mason also let us know about this hike and told us that the swimming hole is almost 100 ft deep! Marina and Tereza, although wary at first, absolutely couldn’t get enough of jumping in the water hole.
Day 5 started off bright and early with a gorgeous hike leading to a red clay cliff. We enjoyed our lunches soaking in the views of the beaming blue waters and bright green mountains of the Na Pali Coast. Mac kept up the high spirits in the back, motivating the group to finish strong! We finished the hike feeling strong and accomplished, and to celebrate our hard work, we stopped for some Hawaiian shaved ice on the way back to camp! Carter was especially excited for his Hawaiian ice treat, as he has been raving about getting Hawaiian ice all trip!
The next morning, we hit the waves again to perfect our surfing skills! While half the group surfed, the other half enjoyed some much-needed beach time and cheered on our friends surfing. Francie had some impressive “down the line” surfs, unusual for just the second day on the board! After the second group surfed, we hit the town and explored some local markets and shops suggested by our surfing instructors. Grace was super excited to find an awesome Kauai hat from one of the local surf shops!
We headed back to camp for a quick lunch and then helped the campsite with some service work. Later that night, Maggie and Grace made the group some bomb breakfast sandwiches for dinner while Marina turned our campsite into a club, sharing with the group some of her favorite songs. After dinner, we enjoyed some brownie brittle and card games with Foster!
After packing up camp the next morning, we headed into town and enjoyed a fantastic local breakfast before heading to the airport. Mac, Julie, Marina, and Tereza cranked out some friendship bracelets on the flight and we touched down safely in Kona. We’ll miss our campsite and guides on Kauai but are so stoked to explore the big island and learn how to SCUBA!
Thank you so much for sharing your exciting, adventurous, and endlessly lovable kids with us!
Anna, Maggie, and Foster
Hi Mom and Dad! I am having the best time of my life. I love my group so mulch. Can’t wait to see y’all but don’t really wanna come home…. Hope Mae is doing well and Happy Fathers Day! Thanks for everything you sacrifice for me. Also car…! Wink wink
Annie: Hi guys!! I am having soooo much fun and love my group! I miss y’all and can’t wait to see everyone but definitely going to miss this. Also Happy early Father’s Day dad love you and hope you have the best day! Love y’all
Grace: hey y’all. I miss you but having a blast here! Thank you for letting me come on this trip. Happy Father’s Day dad! Hope you get to rent the wood chopper and get some good yard work done. I love everyone here too!! Ok that’s all I gotta say. Love you the most and miss you so much but still not ready to leave. Ok now I’m done. Love you!!!
Julie: hey y’all, I miss y’all so much tell Anna i miss and love her, imma b supa lit when I get back. Also happy Father’s Day sorry I’m not there have the best day evaaa . See y’all soon
Mac: Heyy!! Miss you guys so much! I’m having so much fun, we just got to Kona a few hours ago and it’s so pretty! Thank you soo much for letting me go! Zip lining was definitely my most favorite thing. Love you guys sooo much give the dogs kisses for me! Happy early Father’s Day!
Tereza: HI GUYS!! I am having the must fun of time of my life ever!! I never wanna come home it’s actually amazing here!! Also happy Father’s Day dad I love and miss u
Matt: Having a ton of fun Love and miss y’all. Especially Lizzie! Happy early Father’s Day stud
Frank: Hey I’m doing good and can’t wait to see yall in a week
Thompson: wuddup, I’m chillin, having fun, see you in a week
Carter: Having a great trip, can’t wait to see you
Marina: HI MOM HI DAD!! I miss y’all so much but I never want to leave. I’m def gonna be moving here for my gap year…anyways I could never express how grateful I am that you guys were able to send me on this trip. Happy Father’s Day Dad, I wish I could be there. I have so so much to tell y’all but I might never come home LOL. Love you both, Denver, DJ, Lola, and the Dickies
June 13, 2023
Greetings Hawaiian Islands Families and Friends! We are so happy to be able to give you such a glorious first trip update. Day one of the trip was spent primarily in the airport after everyone landed in beautiful Lihue, Kauai. Among our first arrivals was Grace, whose outgoing spirit and positive attitude made group bonding quick and easy. We enjoyed pizzas and salads after leaving the airport and eagerly drove to our temporary home in Kauai on the northeast coast – a beautiful ocean front campsite. Upon arrival we had our first Moonup where the group shared their goals for the trip; everyone is so well intentioned about what they want to get out of our time together, it has us leaders super excited of what’s to come with this group!!!
Our first morning in Kauai came quickly. The kids didn’t realize of course, but everyone was awake by 5:30am because of the time change! Lucky for us, we caught the sun rising above the ocean on one side of our campsite and a rainbow on the other!! Some of us took a morning dip, Mac and Francie among the first in the water. For breakfast Maggie, Thompson, and Matt made some delicious eggs and bacon that were enjoyed by all. We then had the morning to settle into our campsite before heading south to explore some beaches and get our first açaí bowls – YUM! We quickly devoured the fresh goodness of Hawaiian açaí and then hit the road.
After DJ Marina got us all fired up with her music in the van, we were ready for an exhilarating afternoon of zip lining. Carter and Frank raced each other down the first two, and Carter pointed out a sensitive mimosa to us along the trail. If you touch the mimosa, it instantly shrinks away! Then we enjoyed a cool dip in a small waterfall oasis where Mac showed us how it’s done by zip lining into the pool of water! After a heart racing 4000 foot zipline, we all enjoyed some well-deserved cookies and headed back to camp.
For Moonup tonight, LODs (Leaders of the Day) Tereza and Matt decided to go to a scenic location overlooking the south ocean. It was the perfect spot to get to know each other better after an epic first day and we even got to meet an island legend, Uncle Joe!
Morning 3 was an early one, but nonetheless, so worth it because sea kayaking the Napali Coast was nothing short of breath taking. We drove across the island to the west side and began kayaking from Pohili State Park, where the luscious green mountains meet crystal clear water. We couldn’t have had better weather- little current and perfectly small gusts of winds kept us cool without impacting our paddle. Annie was a beast on the water, she acquired the nickname “Annie turn animal”. While kayaking, Julie and Mac spotted a sea turtle! Sea kayaking was full of amazing scenery. A couple miles in we stopped in front of “echo rock.” We all had a great time yelling and howling on the water and hearing the echoes of our voices from what seemed like miles away. Grace was especially talented at getting her hoots and howls to echo off the rock! After some persistent paddling by everyone, we arrived at our lunch spot – an old Hawaiian fishing village only accessible by boat. It was absolutely stunning. We even got to see a Hawaiian Monk Seal here – the 2nd most endangered mammal on earth! After lunch we were fueled and ready to continue our journey on the water. This time we had a little more head wind, but everyone probed themselves to be strong paddlers and persisted. Well, almost everyone. Francie enjoyed some nap time and prioritized tanning as she sat in the front of the boat with one of our guides – more than happy to have Francie’s hilarious one liners over help paddling.
With so much love and excitement,
Anna, Maggie, and Foster
June 10, 2023
Hello Hawaiian Island Families!
We heard from our leaders and the group has landed safely in Hawaii! 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!