Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Big Island Days 12-15

Day 12, Wednesday, Nov. 14. Here’s the cruise ship docked near our condo. One left Saturday night and this one arrived during the night.

They do things a little different in Hawaii in regards to plastic bottles-they’re deposit bottles. They have what they call a Transfer Station. This is for garbage, recyclables and deposit bottles (water and other drinks). Also, here there is no recycling pickup. They just started it in Oahu a couple of weeks ago. But the deposit bottles you have to collect and take in yourself.

We went exploring the northwest coast today using our guidebook as our guide. The first stop was Mauna Lani Resort. All the beaches on the islands are public so even resorts have to have their beaches public. What they do is put up signs that the lounge chairs or whatever are for their guests only. This one was gorgeous, with ancient Hawaiian fishponds still being used by the resort. Here is one surrounded by palm trees and the wooden gate that lets in the smaller fish but prevents the bigger fish from leaving. 1621 1623

We walked an historical paved trail showing lava tubes where there was evidence that natives lived here from 1500 to 1700.

The golf course shows the lava in the foreground. There are some sand traps here but mostly they’re lava traps!

We then drove down to Kiholo Bay where we followed a trail along the beach. We saw some big green turtles, black crabs, a kite surfer and a couple of really nice houses. It was pretty but not as nice as Mauna Lani Resort.

Day 13, Thursday, Nov. 15. Today we went back to the Place of Refuge to walk the 1871 Trail and go snorkeling at Honauau Bay.

We gassed up for $3.53!!

The 1871 trail was an interesting self-guided walk (with a brochure) through 3 ancient villages that stretched from mountain to sea. It ended at a sandy picnic grounds. It was a beautiful setting with palm trees and then lava down to the ocean. (No pictures. Left my camera in the car!)

The guidebook said that a short walk from the visitor center is a great snorkeling place. We saw lots of different kinds of coral and lots of different fish but today the water was a little murky and there weren’t nearly as many fish as we saw at Capt. Cook Monument. We were spoiled by that place.

Have you ever had a seahorse wrap his tail around your finger? This afternoon we had a tour of Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm. It’s the only seahorse farm in the world. It was started by a couple who realized about 10 years ago that seahorses were endangered. The Chinese use them for herbal treatments and people want to buy them for their tanks and then they die. So they started this farm and sought to educate people.

We saw tanks of different ages of seahorses, fed them sea monkeys (brine shrimp), learned about their behavior, and got to have one wrap its tail around our finger. What cute animals! The male is almost constantly pregnant and doesn’t like to be held. The very enthusiastic biologist had names for these seahorses. They raise these to sell directly to people. It was really interesting! Within a few months they’ll start breeding a seahorse called a sea dragon that looks like it has seaweed growing out of it. Here’s a male (left) and a female (right) in tanks. Becky’s holding 3 year old female, Goldy.

Tonight, we went to our first luau at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. It was great food and entertainment. Before a buffet dinner they had different learning stations: make a fish from a palm leaf (my activity), learn the hula, get a maori tattoo, and learn how to open a coconut. After a delicious dinner with lots of choices (the pork was yummy), the entertainment included a history of Hawaiians, a number of songs by the emcee and hula dances with male and female dancers. Great fun out on a point in downtown Kona overlooking the water. It’s so nice to be able to do things out in the open air.

(It’s so weird to see ads on TV for Christmas where they show snow. We just can’t relate! It was up to 86 today with lots of sun.)

Day 14, Friday, Nov. 16. Today was so much fun kayaking over to a snorkeling spot.

We first took a walk about 1/2 mile towards Kailua-Kona and visited the Hulihee Palace. (Keith Kaneta, the realtor in Amherst, has this family name somewhere in his ancestors.) It was built in the early 1800's by the second governor of Hawaii for his summer home. It was damaged in Oct. 06 by an earthquake and they had to keep people out of the top floors. But we could watch a video of its history and how each room should look. It was right by the harbor wall and must have been quite some place in the 1800's!

We rented a 2 person kayak from Aloha Kayak Company in Kealakekua for a 1/2 day. At first they said the rental was from noon but we wanted to be in the water by then so we just arrived about 11:15 and fortunately there was one available. We then had to drive Hwy 11 to Napo'op'o Road to the Kealakekua harbor. We had our towels, camera and snacks in plastic grocery bags that we put under bungee cords. We started paddling out and about 5 minutes later I realized we didn't have our snorkel gear!! So back we went and then set out again. The water was a little rough but no whitecaps. It was strenuous but exhilerating. We paddled almost nonstop for about 30 minutes over to the Capt. Cook Monument where we had taken a snorkeling trip on Tuesday. And today it was sunny! (There are sometimes pods of spinner dolphins in the bay but we didn't see any.)

We were anxious to get in the water with our underwater camera. It actually was a little more murky in a couple of areas but we saw and took our 27 pictures of beautiful Hawaiian fish. Here are a couple of pictures from that camera. The small yellow fish are butterfly fish and the long yellow one is a trumpet fish.

(We try to stay connected to the world by listening to NPR whenever we can.)

Day 14, Thursday, Nov. 17. We had to fly out of Hilo on the east coast so we packed up and said goodbye to the Kona Coast. It was beautiful, warm, and sunny here.

We took Hwy 11 to 19 and then 190. This time it was a morning trip through that area so it was sunny and just looked nicer.

It was a 2 hour trip. Before we got into downtown Hilo we checked out Waielele Falls. It wasn't very big - maybe it hadn't rained that much.

In Hilo we parked downtown and walked around. We stopped into what looked like a storefront but was really a museum about the coast and marine birds and animals. It was really well done and we learned a little more.

We wandered around a farmer's market and found a van selling delicious and inexpensive Thai food for lunch.

When we first arrived 1 1/2 hours early for our Aloha Airlines flight, to make sure our luggage made it with us, we were the only ones in the lobby. Spooky! We had fun playing cribbage while we waited.

An hour after arriving in Honolulu we got our Hertz car rental. Too bad they didn't have an economy car. We had to take a 2008 Camry with 500 miles. Nice car! New sleek control panel.

We wandered around Chinatown but found a lot of stores closing. When we found a retaurant open we ordered take out.

We headed for Kuhio Beach in Waikiki to see a hula show at 6:30. After finding parking and walking 1/2 mile we arrived at the beach and found a place to sit and eat. We couldn't see much but we enjoyed the music.

We stayed again with the same couple, George and Mary Ann Wyman, in Kailua, that we stayed with when we first arrived in Hawaii. They're very nice and we enjoyed talking with them.

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