Ignorance is Bliss – Snorkeling in Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach – known internationally as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. With dolphins diving within view, sun caressing the sand and making the ocean sparkle, and perfect waves for surfing or boogie boarding, what’s not to love? The beauty is all encompassing, creating a burning desire to explore it more. The idea of snorkeling through  such perfection was flawless. I imagined viewing colorful, tropical fish, coral, and new sea creatures. I grabbed my Promate snorkel gear and set out toward the water.

The Promate gear prepared me for adventure. The fins are durable and lightweight with an open heel design. The soft rubber foot pocket provides comfort and the easy to adjust strap has a release button. The Purge mask has a patented channeled skirt design that directs bubbles away from view and the buckles swivel and adjust. The snorkel has a patented upper valve that keeps water from entering the snorkel. When the dry snorkel is submerged in water, the patented hinged seal reacts to seal the snorkel, preventing water from entering. As you surface, the hinged seal swings open allowing air to enter. I was ready for hours of snorkeling with my patented gear and bubbling enthusiasm.

The water looked clear as I entered and it only took me a few seconds to submerge myself and get the fins on my feet. I pulled the mask over my eyes, put the snorkel in my mouth, looked around under water, and saw a massive stingray not far from a tiger shark. Now I’m fully aware that neither is man-eating and the chances of them coming near me were slim, but panic began to sink in! Didn’t Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter, die from a stingray? Wasn’t there a recent shark attack in California? Didn’t the surfer girl from Hawaii loose her arm to a shark? After taking the time to put on my wet suit, my mask, my snorkel, and my fins, I spent a total of 30 seconds basking in the glorious sea before making my way out of the water as quickly as possible. I’ll stick to riding the boogie board above the water, assuming that nothing is lurking beneath. Maybe I’ll save the snorkel set for playing in the pool.

I never thought I would be the type of person to enjoy tanning on the beach rather than taking advantage of the possibilities of the ocean, but ignorance is bliss and I’m happy to continue believing that the only marine life that exists around me is tiny, “Finding Nemo” fish.

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62 thoughts on “Ignorance is Bliss – Snorkeling in Laguna Beach

  1. Wow! Skydiving, bungee jumping, acrobatic planes, etc. I wouldn’t have guessed you’d balk at snorkeling. We all have different fears. It’s funny how what scares one person is easy for another. I gues now I don’t have to jump out of a plane? ( :

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    • You’re so right! I can easily step off a platform on the 108th floor and fall over Vegas, yet put a spider next to me and I have a panic attack. I get the same anxiety when my mind is not active in the water. I love the fins for body boarding and the mask and snorkel are great for playing in the pool with my sister, but I’m outside of my comfort zone in the ocean.

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  2. Love laguna beach…have been sporting a toe ring from sawdust art festival 21 years straight. My first cross country venture from FL…’to find myself and my place in the world’
    With your love for adventure, you still know your boundaries. And even that might shift a little being a mom now. Enjoy.

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      • I’ve been all over since Florida. Seattle, Orcas Island, Paris back to Orcas and now Hamburg Germany with an itch to be back home in the states… despite just watching M Moore’s ‘sicko’. The health care is pretty amazing in Germany. Are you going east coast New England or the south?

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  3. Lesley, loved the 30 seconds! Always enjoy your adventurous posts, and awesome pictures! Your stories create a feeling of being there! Engaging all senses! Thank you!

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      • The water is a weird place… not like you can stand up and run! Too many “freak” attacks! I would rather risk fun and adventure where I can see what is seeing me! Blessings! And thank you so much for visiting my site! You encouraged me to press on. My new site is moving forward. How do you like being a mom?

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        • Being a mom is like having Christmas every day of the week. Each day my daughter does something new and it brings me more happiness than I ever thought existed. I love her tiny little fingers and her soft coos. Life was never so full. 🙂

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  4. (: I can completely understand this freaking you out – the first time I went snorkeling I had the same reaction! It still causes me to jump when I see something larger – like a ray – anywhere near me (can’t say I’ve ever been snorkeling near a shark), but I actually LOVE snorkeling now. Hubby and I hope to one day be able to snorkel (or maybe even scuba) somewhere like the Bahamas. This gear sounds pretty great – thanks for the review! 🙂

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  5. Funny, or should I say, finny? Actually, leaving the water was probably prudent. Stingrays aren’t dangerous unless you, like Steve Irwin, are on top of them, just a few inches away, which makes them feel threatened. But if it really was a tiger shark you saw, they can be VERY dangerous. They’re known as the “garbage cans of the sea” because they’ll eat anything with no discretion and ask questions later. Or not. Inside their stomachs, researchers have found all sorts of inedible things like shoes, buckets, and a suit of armor. Most attacks in the Pacific can be attributed to tiger sharks. So you could say that tiger sharks are man eating, or at least man-part eating, like an arm or a leg. Tourists on a fishing boat off the coast of Maui once saw a group of tiger sharks attack a full-grown bull that had gone for an unfortunate swim. The largest tiger made off with the head, horns and all. They’re very aggressive.
    Aside from that….nice gear!

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    • The lifeguard told me that it was likely a tiger shark but any type of “shark” is scary in my eyes, regardless if they are man-eating or not. I’ve always had a fear of what could be swimming around me. Most times it’s irrational but it exists non-the-less.

      Do you like snorkeling?

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      • Yes, I love snorkeling, especially in tropical waters. So many colorful fish and corals. In Micronesia I went out with some giant-clam farmers who were “planting” in the ocean some young giant clams they had grown in their pens. When you dive down and get a couple of feet from them, the little clams, well, clam up, shutting their shells for protection. The underwater world is fascinating. I know enough about sharks to know they are out there even when you can’t see them (which is most of the time). I’ve heard it said that we are terrified of sharks because they represent the possibility of being eaten alive—a primal fear. I have some good shark stories, but that’s for another time. Maybe a post.

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  6. love adventure somuch.. but still don’t have the time and enough cash to do that =(
    nice site you have here lesly =) i love it
    thanks for visiting my site engagement4you.wordpress.com

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  7. Oh, great! I envied you so much, but then.. I understand, really, when a thought start to come out you cannot hide it, it becomes bigger and bigger, ’til it fills all your visual.
    Come in Sardinia, it’s just beautiful, maybe a bit far… I love the sea, in every colour, dimension, dipness, but I’ve only known Mediterranean sea and it’s quite possible I’d be overtaken by ocean. This is a closed sea,very warm and small little fishes kiss your feet when you’re in the water, they’re big as a pendrive, and sometimes when there’s one a little bigger then the others I start trembling. I’m such a brave girl! But in the northern Sardina, a couple of years ago a boy died after a stingray. It happends I think. I’m positive my car is more dangerous then a shark, but I wouldn’t go by shark anywhere! 😉
    Have a nice day, I enjoyed reading you so much!

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  8. That’s self-preservation for you. I love snorkelling too, but I’d have done the same. Glad you’re enjoying motherhood and when your daughter is old enough, she can enjoy your adventures with you both.

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  9. went snorkelling at Laguna Beach on a California trip sveral years back. Just starfish, anenomes and smalll fish for me. A fabulous place and one of my life highlights

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      • I did a couple of trips in the 90’s. Went to a whole load of places in California, Arizona and Utah. Favourites were Santa Monica Beach, San Diego (La Jolla and Windansea Beaches), Mammoth Hot Springs, Lassen area, San Francisco (city and beaches), Sanat Cruz, Monterey Bay (Point Lobos) Big Sur coast and so the list goes on, love to go back

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  10. Tiger shark, disproportionate head, oversize jaws, agressive nature. I think I would’ve exited immediately. Wise decision.

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  11. LOL – reminds me of the time that we went to Discovery Cove in FL. Its a man made reef in Orlando, perfectly safe. My husband, son and I were having a great time. My 17 & 21 yr old girls were screaming and laughing at the same time. They were scared, but knew they were being ridiculous! Amazing how your brain works!

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  12. Ooh, I didn’t realize you were a new mom! Congratulations! That will put a new twist on everything. Somehow your self-preservation instinct becomes much stronger. Really, Tiger sharks aren’t good swimming companions!

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  13. I can relate to the part of freaking oneself out. When the movie Jaws came out, I went to see it with my sisters and cousins. We were up at the lake at the time (our parents had cottages on a northern Wisconsin Lake) and after the movie, we dared each other to go swimming. We were in the water less than 5 minutes before we hightailed it back out. Regardless that sharks are found only in salt water, the vision of that girl in the movie getting pulled down was just too much.

    PS – thank you for the “like” on my blog (http://thebackbedroom.wordpress.com). Much appreciated! I love reading about your adventures! How is the adventure of parenting going?

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  14. It is comforting to know you have some limitations. I don’t feel like quite the wuss now. OK, yeah, I’m still a wuss. 😉

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  15. And this is why I’m so thankful I grew up swimming in the Long Island Sound! 🙂 Sand sharks (not tiger sharks) will wander in the Sound occasionally. But they tend to be small and so far there are no records of shark attacks in the Sound. And you can forget snorkeling–the water is dark as mud so you can’t see anything that could potentially be swimming by (which is good in my case because I freak out as soon as I see the red lion’s mane jellyfish and the sting is painful!). California is great, but I’ll stick to my Northeast beaches :D.

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  16. I totally agree. My husband and I were traveling to Bora Bora and I promised him I would get scuba certified prior to the trip; he already was and was super excited about the waters there. I chickened out of the classes straight away just from the fear of not being able to breathe (in the training pool!). We went on the trip and settled for snorkeling and the first thing the guide did was pick up a huge stingray and put it on my husband’s back!! I immediately thought of Steve Irwin too. My husband totally laughed about it and it didn’t bother him at all. I can do snorkeling, but it does creep me out somewhat so I concur!

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  17. from one landlubber to another…I was living in Boca Raton, FL during grad school and was about neck deep in water (not exactly the fastest get-away situation to be in) when something very large and very black swam by 5′ away. my friend and I did as much panicking as one could do neck deep in water (it was mostly eye and mouth-related panicking) and did all we could do…just watch ‘it’ swim by. as it continued down the beach (it turned out to be a manta ray according to a life guard that we talked to later) we knew exactly where it was because of the ripples of panic that cascaded up the coastline. it was like watching a wave at a sporting event, kids hollering and bolting for the safety of the sand. crystal clear water would have helped the situation but alas, all anyone saw was the Giant Black Thing. pretty funny and memorable to feel so totally helpless. congrats on your successful blog and what seems to be a charmed life. and now you have a little one on the way i think i read. good luck with that too. you think sharks are scary, parenthood is a whole new ballgame sister. 🙂 you’ll be awesome because you already are. cheers

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  18. Lesley, Ha, 30 seconds, I’d be with ya on that……maybe a bit warmer in August. Hawaii is my favorite place for snorkeling…warmer water and colorful fish, with dolphins, manta ray, turtle, or hearing the sounds of whales underwater. When Mike isn’t biplane flying or roofing he enjoys snorkeling off Catalina, but too cold for me.

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  19. I, too, saw a giant stingray once–in the Bahamas. It was in relatively shallow water–zipping along right smartly in my direction. I turned to skedaddle and suddenly felt like l was in one of those slo-mo bad dreams where you are trying to run really fast…but can’t. I tried to depart the area as fast as I could, all the while yelling to my sisters, who were on the beach, “A RAY! A RAY!” They just stood there, waving and smiling at me. I found out later they thought I was just frolicking in the beautiful Bahamian waters yelling “HOORAY.” Fat help they would have been. I always imagined the headlines, “Sisters Cheer, as Girl Fatally Attacked by Stingray.”

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  20. I think you should give snorkeling another shot! More than half our planet is water, but it seems like a whole different world under the sea. I’m guessing you probably saw a leopoard shark and not a tiger shark, as tiger sharks are huge and not extremely common in the shallow waters of southern california. Leopard sharks look similar in that they have striping patterns on their back, but they are much smaller (largest is probaly 2m? most are smaller than that, maybe one meter or so) than tiger sharks which range from 3-5m when they are mature. Also, leopard sharks are extremely common in laguna beach and all along the shallow coast of socal. stingrays are minor, unless you mess with the giant ones like mr. Irwin did. Try again! Southern California is still my favorite place to dive in the whole world!
    ps. If you did see a shark, especially if it really was a tiger shark, you should report it using the link below; they keep track of all shark sightings in California to do research! http://www.sharkresearchcommittee.com/pacific_coast_shark_news.htm

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  21. WOW! Good on you! One has to know and realize ones boundaries. I did notice that once having children I dare less. It must be the animal instinct. They have to stay alive while having their off springs around to feed and defend them, therefore risk less. Unless it is for their children’s interest, of course.

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  22. Loved your post. 30 seconds that is awesome! Sorry that you were not able to enjoy the beauty of the underwater world. It is amazing. But, I totally understand your apprehension. I experience some of those fears in other endeavors that you partake in, so I guess were even thus far. Not that we are keeping tabs. You are moving, in two days? I thought you loved CA. Sorry to see you go, I remember in one of your blogs mentioning the east coast NC? Good luck with the move. I did the cross country move twice. No more. Thanks for sharing your adventures and safe travels to your new home.

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  23. Writing from a very grey, very cold, very rainy London, I feel a little bit warmer ! I’d probably stick with the ‘ignorance is bliss’ ideal with snorkeling, too…from the safe haven of the sand with a cheeky beer !

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  24. 3 Reasons I will never go snorkeling:

    1.) Sharks

    2.) Sharks

    3.) Sharks.

    My thought is, if I go throughout life without getting eaten by a shark, I win.

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  25. Give it another chance, really. Diving and snorkeling are awesome sports! It gives you a sense of freedom that nothing else can. Check Erin’s message again and take comfort out of it. Sharks by the way are fascinating creatures, for fun you should research the subject a little. I too was a little sceptical, but after reading up on the subject I learned that most sharks are harmless.
    But if you do give up on the snorkeling, I’ll be happy to take over your gear 🙂

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  26. Love your awesome adventures! Although I must say I share in your fear of the creatures of the deep. Too many “Jaws” movie flashbacks for me to get comfortable enough to even swim out, catch a wave and boogie board to shore!

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  27. What you saw was a leopard shark, which has the same mouth a sting ray does. No large, sharp teeth. Speaking of sting ray, the one you saw would have to be large enough to have a barb in its tail, which would be long enough and strong enough to pierce through to your heart. May rays are not even sting rays. No reason to be afraid. Now, if you were pestering the sting ray or lets say you accidently step on it, the worst case scenario is it may sting you in the foot, drawing a little blood and obviously stinging.

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