President Obama Enjoys the Calm Before the Storm

(Jon Garcia)

ABC News' Stephanie Smith reports:

The first family left their lush rented, vacation home this afternoon to visit one of their favorite spots in Oahu - Hanauma Bay - a well-known cove popular with snorkelers and scuba divers.

Hanauma Bay is a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park and, according to, it houses "a diverse population of marine life and a large, rich coral reef."

The bay floor is actually the crater of an ancient volcano and is closed to the public on Tuesdays.

The Obama's released four green sea turtles in the bay, according to the White House. The turtles have distinctive markings and microchips in their rear flippers so they can be identified if they return to the bay. Jeff Pawloski, curator of Sea Life Park, which is the only place in the United States that raises green sea turtles, said all four are 18 months old and can live up to 50 years.

President Obama has remained low key and out of sight since he arrived in Hawaii Friday after having fought a tough battle with Congress to get the payroll-tax cut extension. But his respite will be short because he is expected to return to Washington next week to face a grueling re-election campaign.

Before his return, Obama is expected to ask Congress to increase the debt ceiling Dec. 30, raising it to more than $16 trillion.

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