Tag Archives: snorkeling
February 13, 2012

PV018: The Good Time Resort

When we were planning our trip to Thailand last September, we knew we were going to stay awhile.  After traveling across four continents, we were ready for a break and our plan was to rent an apartment for the month of October. We had new two goals in mind: Resting and relaxing.

We asked our Facebook friends and Twitter followers for recommendations.  “If you had a month to spend in Thailand, where would you stay?”  We got all the answers you might expect: Party in Phuket, stay cheap in Bangkok, visit the temples in Chiang Mai.  After our downtime, we would go on to tour all of Thailand, so our ideal location for October would be a quiet, out-of-the-way place with a solid internet connection.  Perhaps one of those picturesque islands with the white sand beaches, plentiful coconuts, and some snorkeling hot spots…

We read up on the suggestions we’d received: Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Phang-nga, Koh Samui.  Advice from my ex-girlfriend had me worried.  She told me that, years before, she’d passed up Phang-nga (too touristy) for Koh Tao.  There, she had found a quiet spot on the back of the island where she could relax and interact with the locals, but still take in a little SCUBA diving if she felt like it.

But Koh Tao isn’t like that anymore.  She told us that since she visited, the island has developed into yet another tourist hotspot with ATMs and 7-Elevens on every other corner.

The Thailand of yesterday sounded just like what we were looking for, but I wondered if we’d even be able to find it.  We did, but not until much later…

We took the easy way out and spent our month in Karon Beach, on Phuket.  It wasn’t the island getaway we’d imagined, but it was cheap and we had our internet access.  Come November, though, we were ready to hit the road again.

We traveled with friends up into Laos, then parted ways and traveled through Vietnam and Cambodia on our own.  We were in Siem Reap, visiting the temples around Angkor Wat, when we sat down to plan out the last few weeks of our round-the-world journey.  I wanted to see Kuala Lumpur and Singapore before flying to Australia.  Oksana petitioned for one last week of beach time.  Once again, we found ourselves pouring over a map of Thailand, looking for the perfect island getaway.

And then, a funny thing happened.  I was skimming updates in a travel blogger’s Facebook group when I came across something another blogger had posted.  She wanted to know if anyone was interested in managing a Thai island resort for a year.  She went on to explain that the owners wanted to embark on a round-the-world trip of their own and needed to find someone to run their business while they were away.

I didn’t think much of it at first.  In fact, I didn’t even mention it to Oksana until the following day because managing a resort just wasn’t something I thought we’d be interested in.  But then I started thinking.  We were planning to spend a year working in Australia… why not Thailand instead?  And since we had to pass through Thailand again on our way to Malaysia…

When Opportunity is knocking, one should at least open the door to see who’s there. (more…)

September 13, 2005

Manta Rays

A manta ray skims over two divers.When planning a vacation, I sometimes waffle between wanting to have a thorough, scheduled-to-the-day plan versus one built completely on freedom and spontaneity. I usually opt for the latter. For instance, when Oksana and I decided to spend a month in Costa Rica, the extent of our planning was to buy a guidebook and book round-trip tickets to San Jose. Everything, including the hotel we stayed in our first night, was found after we arrived.

The same attitude that worked so well for us there, gave us some problems in Hawaii. After the first three days, we spent too much of our vacation time fretting about where we would stay. While I was never particularly worried, Oksana let the stress build up whenever our internet searches and phone calls for the next hotel dragged on too long. I can’t argue that it would have been nice to know, before we ever stepped on the plane, where we would be staying each and every night.

On the other hand, one of the best things about vacations is the unexpected discoveries. While at the B&B in Maui, we met up with a couple who raved about an exciting snorkeling excursion on the Big Island. Had we been locked into hotel reservations, we might not have been able to take advantage of their suggestion to pay for a night dive to swim with manta rays. As it was, we were able to plan our Big Island stay around that tour.

As soon as we checked into our Kona hotel, I called the company they had suggested, Big Island Divers, to get the scoop. $70 per person gives you a 1-tank night “dive” with sightings of mantas almost guaranteed. I asked if it was worthwhile to go as a snorkeler, and the woman on the other end of the line proceeded to describe the underwater wonders we would see. Prices seemed non-negotiable, despite the fact that we wanted to use our own equipment and wouldn’t need a tank of air. Still, it sounded good enough to reserve a spot for Oksana and me on their boat for the following day.

When the time came, Oksana and I drove to the dive shop. We paid for our trip, got fitted with wetsuits, and waited around while the rest of the divers on our boat readied their own equipment. We drove to the harbor behind the boat trailer and, once all 20 or so of us were on board, cast off just before sunset.


August 31, 2005


Molokini - Screen cap from a video shot from an airplane.If you go to Maui, you can’t miss Molokini. You can see the cliffs of the mostly submerged crater jutting up through the waves from Kihei and Wailea, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about all the free brochures that’ll inevitably pile up in your rental car.

Molokini, along with the Road to Hana and Haleakala, is one of the premiere attractions to the island of Maui. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

I wrote in my previous post about how Oksana and I managed to pay about $50 each for this “free” tour, so there shouldn’t be any need to rehash that part of the story.

Molokini promises much and delivers little, or at least it did on the day we went. We were told that the submerged crater was home to turtles, sharks, and all varieties of tropical fish. Even better, we would be able see all these things because the ocean’s bottom-churning waves exhausted themselves on the crater’s rim. Not only that, but most of the Molokini tours also included a stop at Turtle Town, a section of coastline along Maui that was jam packed with green sea turtles.

So we laid out the cash and waited our turn with eager anticipation. Just like good tourists.

August 23, 2005

Snorkeling in Maui

Just kidding! We shot this at the Maui Ocean Center!One can’t fly all the way to Hawaii and not get in the water. High on our list of things to do on our vacation was snorkeling. Tropical fish, turtles, dolphins, eels, sharks, octopus, and even whales; the guidebooks (and the ad-laden tourist magazines) promised all. The Spyglass House, a bed and breakfast in Pa’ia that we had booked online for our first three days in Maui, had inviting waters right out front. While the lava rock entry appeared slightly intimidating, I had a hunch that the rocky shores would harbor more underwater life than your average sandy beach. The owner confirmed that the snorkeling was good, but only in the mornings before the wind kicked up. Great! I was already thinking about myself as Magnum P.I., swimming in the lagoon, Hawaiian beauties all around in desperate need of swimming lessons… Only problem was that we didn’t yet have any snorkeling gear. (more…)