We did a lot of crazy adventurous things in Hawaii, but I think for me this one trumps them all. On the Big Island, one of the coolest things you can do is a night snorkel/dive with the manta rays. If I’m not mistaken, Hawaii is one of the few places you can do it. Anyways, it’s usually quite an expensive feat, for snorkelers around $125—no guarantees that you’ll actually see any manta rays.
And how did we do it? Well, for free of course, with extra danger. Several people do swim out from shore once the commercial boats have arrived with paying customers and shine their bright lights below to attract the manta rays. We decided to take it one step more dangerous. If you leap off a short cliff from a certain part of the shoreline you save yourself at least 10 minutes of swimming.
We scouted it out during the day, finding the exact spot thanks to ShoreDiving.com and returned the next day under cover of darkness. Because I’m an avid scuba diver, I have a waterproof flashlight—our only savior for this escapade. We brought a boogie board and kick board with us as well to float with in case anyone got tired or panicked.
As I peer down off the cliff, the waves crashing hard against the rocks, in my mind I imagine a broken leg, skull, arm, etc. You may recall from a few posts ago the last time I decided to do something dangerous I needed stitches. Since the memory of having a limb bashed against rocks by water is still fresh in my mind, I look over at the BFF and shake my head. I can’t do this.
“That’s okay,” she says, pulling on fins and snorkel gear. She steps off the cliff with the confidence of Iron Man, splashing into the ocean below. We toss her down the boogie board so she can stay afloat without treading water. No sense in wasting energy. The second girl follows. As the third is getting ready I realize this is the moment of truth. Go or don’t go must be decided in this moment.
I’m terrified, but I know what I’ll be missing out on if I don’t go. “If you’re not going, I’ll need your flashlight,” says the third girl.
“Come on, Jae, you can totally do this!” the BFF calls encouragingly from below. “We’ll help you know when to jump!”
“I’m coming,” I tell the third girl and she jumps. With trembling hands, I strap my snorkel fins on, put my mask over my face, and step up to the ledge. Legs quaking, I wait for the call to go. “Not yet!” they cry from below. I watch the water crashing against the cliffs and try to focus on the possibility of seeing manta rays instead.
I step out and water surrounds me. Upon surfacing, I’m happily welcomed to the boogie board with the others, and we start our swim out to the boats already loading their snorkelers into the water. The board is a comforting security and my nerves from the jump calm quickly. The water isn’t as cold as I’d expected either, which is a big plus.
We make it over to the snorkelers and catch our first glimpse of the majestic manta ray. For those confused about the difference, sting rays are the dangerous ones, manta rays are gentle and I don’t think they’ve ever killed anyone. They open their mouths wide, somersaulting in the water, filling themselves with plankton attracted by the bright lights. Only one graced us with its presence tonight, but one is awesome enough.
After getting our fill of manta ray, we decided to head back before the boats left. I shined the flashlight ahead so we could watch for reef and we swam to shore. It’s a little tough getting out of the water, but we made it, thrilled with our somewhat dangerous, but free experience. We saw a manta ray! How awesome is that?!
I think I’ve mentioned before one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make writing-wise was to rewrite Shade. It turned into quite a revamp that I’m still in the middle of, but I’ve already seen changes that I really like and it’s been worth it. I knew it was something I had to do, but standing at the cliff of decision, I didn’t think I could handle going through so much work again on something I’d already poured years into. I took the leap of faith. I dared to be courageous, and it’s gotten me a much better story.
But something that helped me jump off those cliffs, both literal and figurative was the support of good friends. Just like I had a group of friends waiting below in Hawaii, I’ve got a great group of friends here online as well as IRL that have helped me move forward with Shade. Thanks to people like Daphne, Brian, family, the BFF, and my writing group I’ve been able to make the leap I needed to make and I think in the end I’ll get to see the majestic manta ray in a better story and hopefully success.
I encourage you to dare to be courageous. As in my other posts, dare to be creative, dare to press forward, dare to start this writing journey and see it through.
What have you dared to do lately? Were there any decisions you made over your WIP that felt like leaping off a cliff? Has it worked out better for you? Let me know below.