While the sun snuck from out of the ripples of the Waianae coastline to breathe its warm breath of renewed life into the bleak world of haze, the Barefoot Hikers corralled as horses stampeding to the prospect of greener plains beyond the horizon. This proverbial horizon being beneath the waves of Electric Beach amidst the run-off waste water and likely irradiated fish and flora of this doubly crustaceous world. No, radiation leaks aside, this beach held secrets below its foamed caps that would leave us breathlessly searching for the source of its wonder. Another entendre caught, perhaps?

While the makeshift vanity off the back of my Ford Explorer lent some countertop space for my medley of chemical concoctions, the rest of the group went to work tying, loosening, fitting, chewing, twisting, and thatching equipment and gear into something superhuman for our adventure out to the wilds. Heavily applied with dense sunscreen and having suffered quite the burn from the numerous outings this past week, I made an effort to protect the thin layer of this scaly dragon skin now plucked away and revealing of its softer pink patches shred to ribbons by the ultraviolet flayings of an invisible whip; punishment for my negligence which would not be forgotten today. Another quick fastening of lotion to the extremities and with a nod to our small armada of snorkeling enthusiasts, the fleet made our way to the sandy shoals of Electric Beach to situate ourselves for the rush of cool water to come.

Diving groups, seemingly filled with a baker’s dozen or so of tourists and Haole brethren, filled the waterway in and out of the sweeping waves leading out into the open ocean where our destination lay. The view of the ocean was impeded by the large fence to our right held tucked within its thin walls the life of the beach; a torrent of bubbling, brewing, rushing water being pushed out from the electric plant across the street and into the ocean at a forceful joust against the whole of Poseidon’s calm. As we moved to position our own jousting stance to maneuver around the rocky coral and human alike, the few Barefoot Hikers who glanced a chance at discovery gripped on to snorkel, fin, and boogie board to surge forth into the break of the choppy waters.

The water caught you like a kitten run amuck with mother’s clinched teeth placed lightly around the nape. It was chilling and jarring with the beating waves pushing and pulling us as little more than a Raggedy Ann or Andy. The push would lessen the momentum gained from the paddle of fierce fins on murky ocean crests, but then shoot us out with enough force to double our solo effort in shame. With a new swimmer in the midst, the boogie board was fastened to our novice adventurer and the rest of the party harkened to the call of the boiling water no more than a hundred yards ahead. Below us, fish and dense coral floor decor gave way to sand and nothing. Twenty, thirty feet we saw between our fins and the bottom before the coral again populated the floor with the exiting pipes of the plant spewing warm water up to the surface.

In the warm water, the fish, turtles, eels, and other marine life were caught up in the comfort of their haven to pay any mind to the new visitors. Fish wove in and out of the openings in the orange, green and brown coral caps and iron mesh of man-made and dead animal remains. Schools of needlefish darted in search of prey, Lawiliwili convict fish struck out to capture food beads invisible to our human eyes. A giant sea turtle thought it odd that we would come to his home without food and sought to confront or ill-placed manners with a staredown and scoff of his obviously disgruntled face. He ducked in and out, around and about the group of seven before lifting his flippers to push off into the depths of the ocean far below and beyond our view. The water was still in turmoil and the paddling boogie board swimmer took to drifting out to the rippling stew of hit water jutting out to the surface. Had he gotten caught in this artificial current, this young man may have been recovered days later off the coast of Australia. With a tug and a hard frenzy of fin, the snorkeling Barefoot Hikers maneuvered and saved the man before his adventure out to sea. After a few more sea turtle sightings, a captivating starfish, some frivolous, fancy flickers of fine fish fashion, the exhausted crew aimed for the shore and made for the coast. Only having been in the water for a full 45-minutes, the fatigue was a shock for the crew who showed an abundance of highly athletic and fit individuals. Still, the cold and constant energy lost out in the deep blue war the most battle-hardened warrior. We brushed to shore for a rest and to reflect on an awesome day.

No dolphins arrived as expected, but their chatter and flipping shenanigans were seen and heard from a distance and near the tourist traps of large catamaran and sea expedition vessels laying just outside the boundaries of the buoys placed for diver and swimmer’s protection alike. Had we the nerve and energy to venture just the small distance out into dangerous waters, we would have made the next chance in a month of swimming with these chatty animals. The day was not lost on over-exertion and restlessly impatience over the lack of these jesters of the sea. We saw plenty, pictures and experiences were had by all, and the smiles rippling across faces like the waves stirring out in the ocean from the water pipes was a sure sign of success. Recommendations for more outings to this spot have been given, and I see no reason why Barefoot Hikers should not enjoy the island and the gift of paradise we all are given each day.