Part of the Pupukea Nature Preserve, Shark’s Cove is an amazing place to go snorkeling from April to September. The North Shore is better known for surfing in the fall and winter months, but in spring and summer, the waters are calm enough to visit with the turtles and fish.
There is a paved parking lot above Shark’s Cove, and there are restrooms to change. There’s even a bit of a makeshift shower (outside) where you can rinse sand off your flippers and out of your hair.
The path down to the water is dirt, but it’s not too steep so it’s pretty easy to get down it. Everyone leaves their towels and car keys on the rocks, and the instance of theft is very low.
The entry point is rocky, so you’ll want to have boots. The currents can be strong, so longer fins are advisable as well. There are some tide pools to play in, and those are great for kids. However, in the deeper water, you’ll find a rocky landscape full of caves.
If you dive, this is a great place to do some swim-throughs. Just make sure the passages you choose are wider than you and your gear!
On the right-hand side (if standing in the parking lot facing the cove) there is a turtle cleaning station at the mouth of the cove. This is where surgeon fish come up and eat algae and parasites off sea turtles’ shells. That makes this an ideal place to see turtles.
Just remember: You’re not meant to get close to them. They are endangered, and you should never feed or touch one. However, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are magical to catch a glimpse of.
One of the neat places to go in Oahu is Byodo-In Tempe. If you need an easy day with no big hikes or difficult swims, this is a relaxing place to go.
Now remember: It’s a Buddhist temple and many of the people who go there are devout Buddhists who are going to make offerings and pray. Therefore, you want to keep your voice down while you are on the temple grounds and be respectful, like you would in any church.
The temple is a replica of an ancient temple in Japan, and it was established on June 7th, 1986. The temple was commissioned to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to come to Hawaii.
It’s $4 to enter, and like many places here on Oahu, you’ll need to bring cash. There are more than a few spots that don’t accept cards.
On the side of the temple you’ll often see vendors who set up and sell all sorts of beautiful works of art. If you need a souvenir for someone back home, this is a great place to get it! The temple shop also sells gorgeous art and Buddhist statues and prayer beads.
However, my favorite thing you can buy there costs $2, and it’s the Koi food. You can feed it to the swans, the koi, or the birds. The temple is a mecca of adorable life, and koi food is perfectly safe for it all.
The pair of black swans were a gift from the country of Australia. I’ve heard there is a peacock, but I’ve never seen it. Both are birds that can be dangerous though, so don’t try to chase or touch them. It’s best to throw the food to them if you want to feed them.
When no one is around and feeding them, I think the koi are fabulous to just sit and watch. They’re very peaceful fish.
Remember to keep your eyes peeled as you are walking around. The first time I was there I almost didn’t notice the turtles sunning themselves in the pond behind the temple, and I missed the frogs entirely.
Also, the flowers are different in every season and all of them are spectacular, so keep an eye out for them. There’s anthurums, hibiscus, irises, ginger, and so much more.
I recommend bringing coins to offer at the various shrines throughout the temple grounds. Even if you’re not Buddhist, it can never hurt to put some good karma into the world.
You may want to bring a few dollars for traditional offerings too like ringing the temple bell to ask the gods favor or making an offering of incense to the statue of Buddha inside the temple.
There are bathrooms behind the gift shop, so if you feed the birds, be sure to wash your hands afterwards. They are wild animals, and wild animals carry all kinds of diseases.
I let the little ones come fly into my hands because I wanted to be snow white, but that’s just me.
Byodo-In Temple in Temple valley is on the rainy side of the island with spectacular mountain views and the occasional rainbow on rainy days. There is very little parking, but in my experience you can find a spot even on a busy day. I’ve been on both a weekend and a week day, and the crowds were about the same.
As always, remember to wear sunscreen when walking around Oahu. It’s not on the equator, but the sun is harsh and you can get burned in only a few minutes.
I went with friends, but it’s definitely a place that I could see myself going alone as well. There plenty of spots to meditate and reflect a little. However if you have kids, maybe don’t bring them. A peaceful Buddhist temple is not a good place for children unless they are well-behaved. Remember: It is a church. You want to be respectful of the people who are there to worship in peace.
I am now selling select photos on Shutterstock. I would be amazing if you could spread the word. You can also always check out my YouTube Channel. A lot of my under water adventures are on there.
Since I have been volunteering at NOAA doing reef monitoring, I spend a lot of time in the water. As long as I am on the reef swimming anyway, I may as well snap some pictures for myself, right? So here are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them!
Green sea turtle diving.
I don’t take a lot of pictures on land anymore. I am sure that will change in Oahu. It’ll be cooler, so hiking won’t be as unpleasant.
It’s only six weeks until the move, and I can feel myself getting more and more nervous as we get closer. I am looking through photos of our time here on the island, and feeling more nostalgic than I thought I would.
I think the big takeaway for me is that anywhere can feel like home if you live there long enough.
Anyway, I thought I would put together some of my favorite pictures so you can see what these last four years on Guam have been like. Being away from friend and family like we are, I know that pictures are one of the only things that makes anyone feel connected to us anymore. It’s hard to believe I left my home ten years ago after graduating ASU, and I have been so many places since…
I miss you all.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since we moved to Guam for what started as a two-year tour (and then got extended twice.) It feels like such a short time since I was packing up to leave South Korea and stay with my mom in Oregon while Rich went to school in Mississippi.
Somehow, four years flew by, and it’s time for us to move on. As I sort through all our clothes and possessions and get them ready to be packed, I remember all the things we have learned since we moved here.
For example, we hardly knew how to swim when we moved to Guam. Now, we’re both great swimmers.We learned to scuba dive, too. After much study, I think we know the names of all the fish on our reef, and a lot of the coral as well.
I learned about coconut grabs, huntsman spiders, and tropical flowers. I also got to find out a lot about the Chamorro people who are native to Guam. I watched Proa boat races and learned to eat reef fish.
We did some volunteer work painting the local animal shelter. I’m allergic to dogs and cats, but I still care about them. We learned a lot about the unique challenges that islands face when it comes to ecosystems. (We also got to pet lots of animals.)
Guam has been fun. We’re really going to miss it. However, I am sure that Hawaii is going to be great, too! I can’t wait to love it.
As you know, I spend most of my time volunteering for NOAA doing reef monitoring, and writing books.
The reef monitoring is because we need to protect our oceans, and I encourage you to please avoid using plastic of any kind, and to lower your carbon footprint as much as you can. What you do does effect the oceans! Here on Guam we have seen a huge loss in coral due to climate change, and everything you an do to help matters.
As for writing books; that is because of my friend Dave Strand. He wrote an app called Multi-Path Audio Books for Apple, and he needed stories to go in the app. I had been a journalist, and I had written textbooks. However, I had never written fiction before. I considered it an exciting challenge, and I wrote a book called The Vampire’s Sister.
This made me realize that it was possible to write a full-length novel. I guess you could say I “got the bug” from The Vampire’s Sister, and I went on from there. I don’t think I was very good at first, but I would like to think that I have gotten better as time went on.
I wrote The Teenager’s Guide to life, which is a collection of short stories about life as a young person. This book has illustrations by Anthony Black, and has been a fun collaboration.
I also wrote a series of romance novels called The Jamie Johnson Trilogy. This was meant as a counter to the negative books about BDSM like 50 Shades of Grey, which portray kink as abuse.
And then I wrote the book that ruined it all: The New Testament of The Flying Spaghetti Monster; Dinner 2.0.
I wrote it under the pen name Violet Johnson, and I was intending to use it to try to start a movement towards kindness and unity. After all, the main problem in politics and society these days is that artificial divisions are causing people to loose sight of real human values.
I worked for a year on The New Testament of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. I read all kinds of modern philosophy and listened to podcasts of people talking about comparative morality in the digital age. Rich helped me come up with ideas here and there. I took all my old vacation photos and Photo-shopped a Spaghetti Monster Rich made into them for the social media. We had fun, but it was a lot of work.
After a year of hard work, I published my book through Createspace. This is an Amazon company that my friend Chris Backe recommended to me. He thought it would be easier than wasting years trying to sell it to a publisher, and pointed out that I could control my own distribution and pricing. It sounded perfect.
However, less than a day after the book came out, Bobby Henderson reported it to Amazon for copyright infringement. You may wonder how this could be possible, since I wrote the entire book myself and I created all the images for it out of my own photos.
The thing is this:
The burden of proof is on me.
In other words: You can create an original work and it can bear no resemblance to anything else that has ever been created before. But if someone has a copyright on something similar (say the image of a flying spaghetti monster that I did NOT use) then they can report you. They do not have to prove that you infringed on their copyright.
1. Robert Henderson contacts Amazon and tells them that he reported my book in error, and asks them to please release it.
2. I hire a lawyer to prove that the work is original and protected by parody law, and they force Amazon to release it.
Now as you know, I spend most of my time writing or volunteering. I don’t have money for a lawyer. So here is what I am asking of you, my fellow humans:
Write to Robert Henderson and ask him to contact Amazon and straighten this out. I have already written to him myself, but I have not gotten a response. However, maybe a few more voices will change things.
His e-mail is: email@example.com
What he needs to do to resolve the matter is write to BOTH:
firstname.lastname@example.org AND email@example.com
He needs to tell them what he admitted to me in private, which is that he reported my book in error, and that he rescinds his report of copyright infringement.
Please download the book and read it. Give it to your friends and ask them to read it. Spread it far and wide because I put my heart and soul into my books and having them be censored like this is so painful for me. I would mean the world to me if you could help out.
And e-mail Bobby because he already admitted he made a mistake in reporting my book, but if he doesn’t take the next step and tell Amazon that, it will be years before I can get my book back from them.
If any of you snorkel or dive, remember that you can always share your data with a reef monitoring project and help advance science.
I want to talk to you today about how to take pictures for reef monitoring, how to label and make notes on those pictures, and where to send them to. Hopefully some of you will find this interesting, and you’ll want to spend some time helping our oceans!
If you plan to do so, there are a few things that you want to remember:
Overall shots of the reef are more important than close-up pictures of fish or coral. The main thing that NOAA is doing is monitoring overall coral health and counting various animals/corals. For this, wide shots are best.
Make notes on the depth the photos were taken at, and of anything else that may be relevant. Remember to think like a marine biologist and note things like: The number of animals sighted and if it is higher/lower than normal, the amount of litter, any invasive species such as the Crown of Thorns, and an estimate of the water temperature. All details matter because they put the data in context (data out of context is less useful.)
You’ll want to submit the data on a flash drive with your name and contact details, and make sure to say whether or not you want credit by name if they use a photo you took for something.
Find the local NOAA office in your area and go in person, or mail the flash drive in. If you cannot find a local office, you can always do a Google search for reef monitoring in your area.
Example: I live on Guam, which is part of the Marianas Islands. So if you type in Marianas Island Reef Monitoring, you get Eyes of The Reef (which is our local outreach program by NOAA.)
If you are in the Hawaiian Islands, The Marianas Islands, or anywhere that there is coral, you should think about sending your pictures to a reef monitoring project. Even if you only go on vacation to one of these places, remember that science is about the aggregation of data and looking for patterns, and more data is always better than less.
I have been helping to share data with the Eyes of the Reef project that NOAA has in Guam for years. It’s just a drop in the bucket when you look at how big the reefs are and how many reefs there are, but every little bit helps.