Once you leave town to the East, things become quickly suburban. Evidently, the more affluent side of society resides here. Some beautiful mansions and houses are built around Diamond Head, then urban complexes like the ones you'd find in Southern California.

{moszoomimglink:Hanauma Bay}Once you cross the artificial lagoon of Hawaii Kai, with its huge number of New Homes with New Home Smell, you'll start seeing what most people want to see when they fly to Hawaii: unspoiled land. Actually, one of the first attractions on your way is one of the most astonishing ones: Hanauma Bay.

Hawaii Kai ends in a hill that leads to a cinder cone (to your left). A large parking lot to your right tells you you are at an attraction site. Park there and go down the hill. You'll have to pay for entry (I didn't have to back in the days), and the crowds may overwhelm you - but it's definitely worth it!

Hanauma Bay is the remnant of a crater whose East wall collapsed as a result of wave action. What you'll see is a steep circular wall that opens up to the ocean; a shallow bay with turquoise water; a reef that cuts across the center of the bay; and a thousand snorkelers reveling in and around the reef, to see the closest thing to a live-in aquarium you could imagine.

{moszoomimglink:Not easy without a flash}It is amazing to see all those species you know from your zoo or aquarium at home. The colors alone will make you think you are in a psychedelic dream, the yellows and blues and greens dancing around you, unafraid. You'll have to watch not to step on the coral reef, since that dies quite easily when used as a stepping stone, resulting in death to reef, to fish and finally to the fun of the bay.

You can hang out with the thousands of people on the bay. There is a beautiful walk that goes around the North end of the beach to Toilet Bowl, a fun sight when the sea is not calm. A lava shelf was ground thin by the breakers, which caused a hole to form. Water flushes in and out with the waves, looking amazingly similar to the real thing. People actually sit and wait for the water to push them up and suck them in. Don't do it if the sea is too rough, or you might actually get syphoned off into it.

Just a few feet from the bowl is a smaller hole. As I got there the first time, a guy was tentatively kneeling in front of it, looking quite scared if you ask me. He wavered and tried, and finally (and to my utmost surprise) jumped head first into the hole, barely twice his size. He was gone for good, I was sure, suicidal at best. But then a noise came from the sea, and the guy was back to life. Evidently, this hole was part of a lava tunnel not unlike the Toilet Bowl, one that led to the sea and allowed the temerary to be sucked in and out easily.

I didn't try. Next time, when you are around to take a picture, I might think about it.