Category Archives: snorkeling

Blue Hole (Santa Rosa, NM)

Blue Hole
~ Santa Rosa, New Mexico
~ http://santarosabluehole.com/ ~

In the middle of the New Mexican northeastern desert is a aqua dark blue oasis called the “Blue Hole”. It was also once called “Blue Lake” or “Aqua Negra Chiquita” as one of the seven sister lakes connected underground by a vast network of water sources that gives Santa Rosa its reputation of being a city of natural lakes. These are all part of the Santa Rosa sink – a popular watering hole, recreation spot, and tourism along historic Route 66 and old settlement days. The Sink became a National fish hatchery in 1932 and by the 1970’s became a Recreation Area and morphed into the Blue Hole Dive and Conference Center. It is a source of clear pure water that is a treasured natural resource – with 100′ visibility as the water continually renews itself ever six hours with a constant 62 degrees Fahrenheit and a constant inflow of over 3,000 gallons per minute. The surface is 80′ wide and expands to 130 feet diameter at the bottom. A circular bell shaped pool that is a spring and a sinkhole in one. As Santa Rosa is at a elevation of 4,616 feet above sea level, divers training in the Blue Hole have to use high-altitude dive tables to computer their profile and decompression stops while diving. Swimmers, cliff jumpers, and bathers enter above for free with sometimes no lifequards present.

The Blue Hole has claimed many lives which has forced the City to place a grate over the cave entrance at the bottom for safety. Even when they have opened the grate for expert divers to go in and map the caves, death was often the end result. March 26, 2016 – 43 year old expert California cave diver Shane Thompson became trapped and drowned while exploring the passageways. According to the Albuerqueque Journal in March 1976 two divers within a group of 10 university students were diving together and 21 year old David Gregg and 22 year old Mike Godard didn’t resurface and lost their lives in the caves. After multiple rescue dives, their bodies recovered. In 1979 it happened again, two other divers got lost and died in the caves, bodies recovered after multiple dives. This led to the closing of the entrance. There is a 1960’s-1970’s urban legend of another diver who got lost, and his body never recovered in the Blue Hole. Legend states his body was found naked and scraped up in Lake Michigan that somehow the Blue Hole and Lake Michigan was connected via underground caves and tunnels. However since all the other bodies were quickly recovered and scientists state its impossible for the tunnels to connect to the Great Lakes not only because of geology but a need for a continuous rock stratum to support such caves. There is also the impassible hydrological barrier of the Mississippi River that acts as a giant collection system not only moving surface water to the Ocean, but subsurface water to. The body would have to swim upstream to get to the Great Lakes.

Map of Blue Hole: http://santarosabluehole.com/map/santarosamap4000.pdf

Additional Reading:

  • According to Leanne 2012 “Diver deaths spawn rumors of underground waterway” website referenced 7/11/18 at https://accordingtoleanne.com/2012/12/06/diver-deaths-spawn-rumors-of-underground-waterway/.
  • NY Daily News u.d. “Expert diver died after getting trapped overnight navigating the dangerous Blue Hole caverns in New Mexico: ‘Everything went terribly wrong’ website refereced on 7/11/18 at http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/expert-diver-dies-blue-hole-caverns-new-mexico-article-1.2586285

Rated: 5 of 5 stars. ~ Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions, visited 6/26/2018. ~

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

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Narooma

Narooma
New South Wales, Australia

By far, my most favorite place in Australia, Narooma is a panoramic sensation for the beach enthusiast. Think the historic Highway 101 Coastal Oregon route meets the Bahamas and you have “Narooma”. The Aborigine suitably called this area “Clear blue waters” and nothing more could be true. Crystal clear waters. A town of about 3,000 and a strip of geological wonders along the beach, this captures the contrast of earth and water perfectly. The rocks found near Narooma include the Narooma Chert that dates to Cambrian times. There are also underwater remains of a submarine volcano with pillow lava offshore. The Island known as “Montague Island”, now a National Park and Wildlife Refuge, is 8 kilometers offshore from Narooma and was one of the islands sighted by Captain Cook in 1770. The island has 8 known rainforests on it. The area brought white settlers for timber, gold, and fishing. It was declared a port in 1884, opened its first school in 1886, and its first post office in 1889, and originally was only accessed via the sea. By the 20th century, it became a major tourist destination and boomed in oyster farming. Then saw construction of the first major bridge to be constructed on the Princes Highway, improving access by road. In 1937, industry boomed again with a local cannery opening its doors to process tuna and salmon which eventually saw a drought of salmon causing the cannery to close its doors. Narooma was also home to the annual Great Southern Blues and Rockabilly Festival held in October until it moved to Batesman Bay in 2010. Rating 5 stars out of 5.

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Outrigger Hotel – Kona, Big Island, Hawaii


Outrigger Hotel, Kona

Outrigger Hotel
* 78-261 Manukai Street, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, 96740 * Toll-free U.S., Canada, Guam: 800-959-5662 or local: 808-322-9625
* http://www.outrigger.com/hotels-resorts/hawaiian-islands/hawaii-big-island/outrigger-kanaloa-at-kona *

A beautiful, elegant, and spacious resort located on 18 acres of ocean-front lava rock beach that overlooks stunning Keauhou Bay. The hotel and resort is encircled by well groomed gardens that create a nice private space with tall coconut palms, tropical blossoms, soft grasses, and lush lauae ferns. Inside the hotel are roomy condo units with open-beamed ceilings and spacious covered balconies with breath-taking views of the sea. Condos are available in 1 and 2 bedrooms, or a 2-bedroom with loft units. Each room is breeze cooled with ceiling fans, though some units have air conditioning upon request. Free wireless internet is available in the lobby, swimming pool area, and other areas of the resort. The hotel is home to three swimming pools, five barbeque grills, two tennis courts, connection to the Kona Country Club which has a 36-hole golf course, and is connected to a public beach which is well-known as a spectacular snorkeling site on Kealakekua Bay as well as the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Histori Park. Resort requires a two-night minimum to book a room and a three-night minimum on U.S. holiday weekends. While I did not stay at the hotel and only visited the resort during the day – I was impressed, even though I thought it was rather expensive. Cannot comment on staying in the condo-rooms, but the resort was A+. Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.


Outrigger Hotel, Kona

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Pu-ukohola heiau National Historic Site / Kohala


Big Island


Pu-ukohola heiau National Historic Site / Kohala

Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site is located right off to the side of the infamous Outrigger Hotel. It is a National Register historic site that preserves the ruins of one of Hawaii’s most major native temples. The temple existed from the time that Kamehameha I took control of northern and western Hawaii in 1782 and was attacked by his cousin Keoua Kuahu’ula who controlled the eastern side of the island. Eight years of fighting through to 1790, this temple was built to gain the favor of the war god Kuka’ilimoku in order to assist in the conflicts. The temples name means “Temple on the Hill of the Whale” because it was built on an older 1580 temple, by hand, with no mortar, in less than a year. Red stones were professed to be transported by a human chain about 14 miles long from the Pololu Valley in the East. The ship “Fair American” was captured in 1790 with a surviving crew member named Isaac Davis after the incident at Olowalu, who became military advisors to King Kamehameha teaching his army the use of muskets and mounted cannons giving defeat to the invaders. The temple was finished in the summer of 1791 measuring 224 x 100 feet. The battle took place in 1791 when the temple was finished and Kamehameha summoned his cousin Keoua Kuahu-ula for a peace treaty which resulted in a surrender after losses in the Battle of Hilo and the volcanic eruptions that destroyed many troops. His soldiers were sacrificed to the temple. Today the site is blocked off as there is believede to still be bones buried at the site. Just offshore from the temple is Hale o Kapuni, an underwater structure dedicated to sharks. There is a visitor center on site, as well as an interpretive trail, even though entering the temple itself is not permitted. About 170 feet west of the temple are the ruins of the earlier Mailekini Heiau which was later converted by John Young into a fort to protect the harbor. The site became a National Historic Landmark on October 15, 1966.

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Kealakekua Bay Historical Park and Beach


Kealakekua Bay Historical Park across from Captain Cook, Kona

Kealakekua Bay Historical Park and Beach
Kona, Big Island, Hawaii
A great little cove across from the ever-so-famous Captain Cook Cove and diving hotspot on the Kona coast, Big Island, Hawaii. It is located roughly 12 miles south of Kailua-Kona. The area was settled over a thousand years ago so is dotted with ancient temples, archaeological and historical sites serving as a historical district and marine life conservation district. This little park is a great set-in for doing kayaking, scuba diving, and some deeper water reef snorkeling as well as swimming with dolphins. While the dolphins weren’t out when we were snorkeling on this 8th of August in 2009, I’ve heard that it is a popular place to chance the encounters. The parking lot is small and parking is not so easily obtained, but its secluded. There is a small park with picnic tables, restrooms, and a place to relax, with a decent beach and the reefs to explore. Spinner Dolphins are the most common swimmers in the area as they come to the area to rest, feed, and nurse. About 180 acres around the bay is designated as a State Historic Park (1967) and is part of the National Register. The area has a very intriguing history, focusing on the Hikiau Heiau Luakini Temple at the south end of the bay with its burial grounds, the Pali Kapu O Keoua (forbidden cliffs of Keoua) and its associated burials, the village of Ka’awaloa (north end of the bay) where Puhina O Lono Heiau was built with royal residences, and the Kava plant. The name of the Bay comes from “Ke ala ke kua” meaning “The God’s Pathway”. The first European visitors in the area was in 1779 via Captain James Cook and his ships the Resolution and Discovery in January. Later that month he performed the first Christian service on the islands for a crew member that had passed. He was welcomed during January, but his return in February saw conflict. A skirmish took place where Cook was struck in the head and stabbed – leading to his death. Many battles ensued in the area through the years. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.


Coral reef pictures
Kealakekua Bay Historical Park across from Captain Cook, Kona

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Volcano National Park


Big Island

Volcano National Park
Volcano, Big Island, Hawaii
One of Hawaii’s most notorious and famous National Parks, “Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park” was established in 1916 as a National Park, a International Biosphere Reserve in 1980, and a World Heritage Site in 1987 to demonstrate the history and living geological experiene of volcanism, geology, and techtonics. It covers the creative process of land masses, the science of volcanoes, migration, and evolution of land from the sea. It also covers the complex history of Polynesian travellers and their inhabitation of the Hawaiian Islands. The protective boundaries of the world’s most active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa provides dramatic and creative volcanic landscapes in action. The National Park encompasses over 520 square miles of land for science, outdoor recreation, and preservation of nature and geology. It is a thriving mecca for observation, tourism, scientific study, hiking, and camping opportunities covering diverse environments ranging from the ocean/beach landscapes, lush tropical rainforests, arrid/barren deserts, and icy mountainous peaks. It hosts active volcanic eruption sites such as the Kilauea Caldera, Pu’u ‘O’o vent, and the Eastern Rift Zone. Historically, Kilauea and the Halema’uma’u caldera were considered the sacred home of Pele and traditionally were the location of offerings/sacrifices of gifts to the Goddess. A 1970 explosive eruption demolished a war party in the area killing men, women, and children leaving imprints of footprints in the lava that can be found in the desert. The first European visitors to the volcano were English missionaries William Ellis and American Asa Thurston in 1823 contributing greatly to the written word, publications, poems, literature and art that focused on the area that is now a National Park. More tourists were attracted to the area in the 1840’s settling entrepreneurs building hotels in the area from 1891 to 1904. In 1903, William R. Castle proposed the idea of making a park out of the area. In 1908 Thurston entertained James Rudolph Garfield, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior at the time, as well as a congressional delegation in 1909. By 1911, Governor Walter F. Frear drafted a bill to create “Kilauea National Park”. Boundary disputes stalled the idea, but by 1916 House Resolution 9525 signed by Woodrow Wilson made “Hawaii National Park” the 11th National Park in the United States. In 1960 it was split from the Haleakala National Park that it was a percentage part of. By 2004, an additional 115,788 acres were added to the Park (formerly of Kahuku Ranch) creating the largest land acquisition in Hawaiian history for 21.9 million dollars. A major explosion on March 19, 2008 sent debris over 74 acres damaging the Halema’uma’u overlook. A 1,100 ft lava tube on the park grounds was named after the Thurston family as “Thurston Lava Tube”. Several other hotspots of interest were developed in the Park such as the 1790 Footprints, the Ainapo Trail, Kilauea Caldera Crater, Puna-Ka’u Historic District, Ainahou Ranch, Volcano House, Whitney Seismograph Vault No. 29, Wilkes Campsite, art galleries, Thomas Jaggar Museum, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Bookstore, Gift Shop, Kilauea Military Camp, and the Visitor Center. Directions: The main entrance is located off the Hawaii Belt Road in Volcano, Big Island. From the Hawaii Belt Road, one used to be able to take the Chain of Craters Road past several craters to the coast near the town of Kalapana, but recent lava flows and eruptions have demolished the roads near the coastal zone. The park is one of America’s best National Parks. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.


Halema’uma’u Crater / Kilauea Caldera

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Wai’opae (Kapaho) Tidepools


Waiopae Tidepools

Wai’opae (Kapaho) Tidepools
near Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii * http://hawaii.gov/dlnr/dar/coral/mlcd_waiopae.html *
The Wai ‘Opae Tidepools is one of the hottest snorkeling areas near Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. It resembles a barrier reef. Its a protected Marine Life conservation district. The southern half of the tide pools were placed into this district by a community initiative to protect this fragile ecosystem. Apparently the area was previously pillaged of its marine life until it became protect. It is still open to the public to snorkel in and appreciate. No commercial activities can be done in the area without a permit and nothing that can compromise the ecology. The area is a fish nursery so is also abundant with young fish. A shallow basalt ridge on the seaward side of the pools causes waves to break but also allowing excellent water circulation by northeast trade-wind generated swells that support the life in the reef. Inside the tidepools is a maze of pools that weave around for the snorkelers to swim through. Lots of fish and coral. There are also closer to shore on the right hand side, cold water springs that flow into the area. Directions: Drive south from Hilo on Hwy 11 (Hawaii Belt road) to the intersection of Hwy 130 (Keaau-Pahoa Road) and veer left. Follow until intersects with Hwy 132 (Kapoho Road) and turn left, follow 132 til it ends, with a hard right onto Hwy 137 (Kapoho Kalapana Rd). The last road is Kapoho Kai drive – turn left here and follow road to its end, turn left, and around the bend, nestled to a small housing community called “Vacationland”, you’ll see a small parking area on the righ side of the road. There are no facilities. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.


Waiopae Tidepools

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