More Fun in Paradise

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When we were in Hawai’i last month I took my kids to the Kahalu’u Beach Park (above) in Kailua-Kona to go snorkeling. I affectionately refer to the place as “fish in a bucket,” because it’s so darned easy to see fish. (There’s a good slide show on this site that has 19 more pictures of what it’s like.)

The day we went, however, the place was overrun with hapless tourists standing on the coral (bad), and generally flailing about. (I was one of those, trying not to swallow water while propping up my youngest.)

One sea turtle was loitering in the shallow water, eating and letting some gentle waves wash him this way and that. But because this is a city beach, he was surrounded by pale, sunscreen-gooped people, about twenty feet from where some volunteer was patiently explaining all the things you weren’t supposed to do so the reef and its poor denizens wouldn’t get completely thrashed.

It was a perversion of nature, an endangered species surrounded by us icky humans like were were in an interactive zoo. Then, when things didn’t look as if they could get get any weirder, an teenager waddled up with his waterproof camera, stuck it into the one foot of water, and snapped off a couple pictures of the turtle’s head.

The text on the kid’s shirt said it all: “Industrial Vultures.”

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Hawai’i Tourism: A Modest Proposal

Not long ago I was on the Big Island of Hawaii on vacation. We were there for a week, and we snorkeled, body-surfed and dined out. Last year we also went to Volcanoes National Park, where we hiked through lava tubes, checked out the Kilauea Caldera, then drove down to the end of the park to see the lava falling in the ocean, which was fascinating and sketchy, in about equal measure. We also ponied up for a submarine ride, which allowed our little guy and his grandma to see fish by looking through the windows.

In other words, we had quite a fun, busy week — though that isn’t the point of this post.

We also visited with friends who were staying at a different hotel. Their hotel typically has a kiddie pool, but since it was being remodeled, the kids were allowed to share one of the adult pools during the remodel.

In tight proximity to the pool on three sides were chaises, about half full of adults doing … nothing. Just lying there, reading, while the Pacific Ocean beckoned 100 yards away, while sea turtles rested on the beach, while tropical fish swam in their own tide-filled lagoon. I even took a picture of an eagle ray cruising around there … it was just that easy.

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Yet the whole time we were watching someone feed the eagle rays and having lunch and swimming and watching the turtles, these people poolside didn’t budge, unless it was to roll over, or get Evian water spritzed on them. (No I’m not making this up. If you have enough money, apparently you can get people to do all sorts of embarrassing things to you.)

Then in USA Today, I found statistical evidence that these hopeless slugs are practically the majority of vacationers:

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Which makes me think we could save a great deal of time, money and carbon if we just identified these people before they ever got on a plane. Hell, if Dubai can build a ski resort

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Then surely we can build Hawaii simulation centers in large urban areas. With enough warming lamps, humidifiers and island-trained chefs, I’m sure we could build a very expensive, exclusive, peaceful pool where lazy, harried vacationers can get the Hawaii “experience” without bothering to move their carcasses halfway across the Pacific just to baste.

Meanwhile, the few of us who actually want to do stuff will just do things the old-fashioned way.