Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 13 Hanging Out with Dolphins and Whales

Day 13 was a relaxing day with some morning kayaking and an afternoon of playing in the ocean.

First up – the dolphins

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While it is a bit early in the season for whales to be in Hawaii we did spot one who gave us a glimpse of his/her tail.

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As we made our way along the Lahania Roads area between Maui, Lanai and Molokai, we passed an island/rock known as Kaho’olawe. The small round cave like openings are really pock marks where the US military used i to practice bombing.

Fortunately this practice ended years ago.

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The rocky surface provides great contrast with the green landscape of Maui.

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The afternoon was spent playing in the ocean,

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including the crew providing wake board rides with the skiff.

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Notice the giant cruise ship in the distance. No wake boards rides off the back of it.

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As with the trip to Alaska, the crew and fellow guests are the best part of the ”Uncruise’ Experience. While the guests come from various backgrounds and are various ages (mostly 50+, but not all), they seem to have a sense of adventure and respect of nature in common, which makes the trip more fun.

Both trips we have had have featured great crews who know a lot about nature, and their jobs, and strive to do their jobs with a great approach, and always a focus on safety (but not so much you don’t have fun).

Here’s to my fellow travelers and the Safari Explorer crew!

Tomorrow is our final day already.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 12 Part 2 Lanai Cat Sanctuary

For most of this trip I stayed to one posting per day, but for this day I had an opportunity for some different photos worthy of their own posting.

Lanai has had for a long time a feral cat problem. When one of the local people complained to the government, they said ‘figure out a solution’. She did, and the Lanai Cat Sanctuary was born.

It currently houses over 600 cats! They raise money by having visitors come spend some bonding time with the cats. (Full disclosure – I am a dog person, but it was indeed a strange and unique experience).

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 12 Lanai

Day 12 had us spending time near and on the island of Lanai. It is currently mostly owned by a software billionaire, but 2% remain in the hands of the local people.

We were parked for the day in the Mauele Bay.

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Before we started our day we had a private tour of the ships engine room with the engineer. For most people on a cruise in Hawaii this wouldn’t be high on the list, but it was for me – very cool.

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Twin 700 HP diesel engines (only one seen in this photo).

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It was a relaxing day for all.

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All of the crew of the ship have multiple jobs, including the captain – here explaining to the kayakers how to push off the boat and get started.

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Which they all successfully did!

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I opted for the skiff tour of the local geology. Note the mist coming out of the hole at the bottom center. There are numerous blowholes around Hawaii, basically small caves that the water is forced into where it runs out of space and come blowing back out.

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While one of the smaller ones we saw, it did creates rainbows.

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Our tour continued along the cliffs where there was clear evidence of the volcanic activity and subsequent abrupt movements of the earth that sheared off with dramatic results.

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The most famed geologic point was Sweetheart Rock. At one point there would’ve been a large arch here but that came down long ago.

As with many other locations like this, local lore has it that one person had forbidden love and threw themselves to their death, hence Sweetheart Rock.

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A local seabird (not sure what kind) coming in for a landing. It took him/her 4 tries!

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Eventually the kayakers returned.

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And everyone went for a swim. Most went off the back of the boat, but some of the more daring jumped off the 2nd deck, including this elderly woman from Mississippi!

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Our afternoon was spent at a cat sanctuary (enough on that for a separate post), and some time in Lanai City.

Lanai was a pineapple plantation before rich people bought the entire island. Our driver (Neal) had grown up on the island and worked the plantation before working in the motor pool.

He eventually started his own shuttle business and now has a fleet of 14 vans. Oh – he also plays music and showed us photos of him with Steven Tyler and Mick Fleetwood!

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After a tour of the town we returned to the beach for a sunset walk up to view Sweetheart Rock.

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Another Hawaii day – another Hawaii sunset.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 10 Zodiac Boat Tour and Historic Kona

Day 10 started out with a Zodiac Boat tour down the coast to another snorkel location. A Zodiac boat is a rigid hull, inflatable boat that can go very fast across the water, as Captain Bill demonstrated.

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Assisted by Chris, the first mate.

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As we made our way down the coast we stopped by some sea caves.

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Despite being formed by lava, they were very colorful.

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We arrived at the bay where the snorkeling occurred. It is the bay where Captain Cook met his demise.

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The snorkeling was great.

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On our return trip we passed more sea cliffs

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Along the way we encountered a group of ‘Spinning’ Dolphins, as this series of photos illustrate.

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After returning to the boat, we made our way back to Kona one more time for a historic tour.

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We toured the Queens summer palace.

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Finally it was time to return to our home for the week.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 9 Off the Kona Coast

Day 9 was somewhat uneventful, with a cruise up and down the Kona coast.

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The trip took us past a number of interesting looking hotels and other buildings

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A local parasail company had a steady business.

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There has been significant growth along the Kona coast over the last 20 years.

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All of the coast is built up with hotels, condos, and multi million dollar houses.

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On our return we came across a group of small whales.

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We were close enough to hear their exhales.

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They tracked south along the coast for a few miles before we lost sight of them.

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As we returned a group of dolphins came along side the boat, but all I had was the zoom lens, so close ups it is.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 8 Kona Coffee Festival

As noted previously the Kona region is famous for their coffee. Each November they have a festival to celebrate this, as well as the local culture.

Our emcee was a hoot, sort of a Hawaiian Cheech Marin.

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In addition to the coffee there were other activities occurring, including a lei making contest. The judges were very thorough, checking for stitching and display.

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All were beautiful and very different from the stereotype that you see in the media of the ring of flowers.

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There were numerous coffee growers offering samples, as well as educational displays.

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The highlight was the entertainment though. We saw a number of dance performances.

The region has a number of immigrants from Japan and the Philippines, which is where these ladies came from.

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This group had a very lively audience participation dance.

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Many of the dances were similar, yet unique in their own way.

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All ages participated.

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The final dance was a traditional hula.

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Afterwards they posed for a group photo. Hang loose dude (the hand gesture)!

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Once the dances were complete a Hawaiian guitar band took the stage. They were very talented.

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We even met the queens.

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But it was time to catch our home for the next 7 days, a small boat that will take us to new adventures. But first another great sunset.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 7 North Big Island back to Kona

Day 7 started out with breakfast at Ken’s House of Pancakes – enough breakfast we didn’t have lunch. When in Hilo, stop at Kens 🙂

About an hour north of Hilo we arrived at Waipii’o Valley Overlook. The valley is 2000′ deep, with great sea cliffs just beyond.

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A waterfall comes out of nowhere along the cliffs.

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Hawaii has a number of micro climates, with the landscape looking very different. Once we passed Waimea (Cowboy Capital of Hawaii), it all of a sudden switched from rain forest to ‘Central California hills’.

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Our next stop was one of the highlights of the island  – Polulu Valley Overlook. With a bit of a hike down and toward the ocean, the view south was stunning. I realize after 7 days there are a lot of ‘cliffs and ocean’ photos, but this is one of the best spots.

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The town of Kapaau is famous as the birthplace of Kamekameha. It is celebrated with a statue of him. Legend has it that this statue was made for placement in Honolulu but it was lost in a shipwreck, so they made a replacement.

Locals in Kapaau believed it was karma as they felt Honolulu should not have the statue since he is from their town. The original was recovered from the sea and sent to Kapauu.

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Kapaau is a nice little Hawaiian town.

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On the way back to Kona we stopped at the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Factory.

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Some of their processing is located here where you can check out people preparing the nuts.

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We left with plenty to last us the rest of the trip.

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As we neared Kona, we headed 3000′ up a mountain (and from 86 degrees to 67 degrees) to the Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation.

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Kona is famous for their coffee, and this nice small family business gave us a tasting and a tour.

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The beans after the first step of processing.

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The coffee trees are grown on top of lava shoots, which provides the unique chemical balance that makes Kona coffee what it is.

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