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.

3616.jpg

 

 

Assisted by Chris, the first mate.

3617.jpg

 

 

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

3621.jpg

 

 

Despite being formed by lava, they were very colorful.

3625.jpg

 

 

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

3672.jpg

 

 

The snorkeling was great.

3592.jpg

3602.jpg

 

 

On our return trip we passed more sea cliffs

3689.jpg

 

 

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

3722.jpg

3724.jpg

3726.jpg

3732.jpg

3745.jpg

 

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

3766.jpg

 

 

We toured the Queens summer palace.

3768.jpg

 

 

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

3760.jpg

 

 

 

 

Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 9 Off the Kona Coast

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

3465.jpg

 

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

3473.jpg

 

 

A local parasail company had a steady business.

3475.jpg

 

 

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

3486.jpg

 

 

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

3489.jpg

 

 

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

3516.jpg

 

 

We were close enough to hear their exhales.

3531.jpg

 

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

3545.jpg

 

 

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.

IMG_6312.jpg

 

IMG_6338.jpg

 

IMG_6340.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

3066.jpg

 

 

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.

3080.jpg

 

 

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

3081.jpg

 

 

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

3089.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

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.

3170.jpg

 

 

This group had a very lively audience participation dance.

3138.jpg

 

 

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

3221.jpg

 

 

All ages participated.

3269.jpg

 

 

The final dance was a traditional hula.

3284.jpg

 

 

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

3323.jpg

 

 

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

3344.jpg

 

 

We even met the queens.

3099.jpg

 

 

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.

3348.jpg

 

 

 

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.

2833.jpg

 

 

A waterfall comes out of nowhere along the cliffs.

2850.jpg

 

 

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’.

2867.jpg

 

 

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.

2903.jpg

 

 

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.

2914.jpg

 

2922.jpg

 

 

Kapaau is a nice little Hawaiian town.

2923.jpg

 

 

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

2995.jpg

 

 

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

2990.jpg

 

2988.jpg

 

 

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

2980.jpg

 

 

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

3005.jpg

 

 

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

2997.jpg

 

 

The beans after the first step of processing.

2999.jpg

 

 

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

3019.jpg

 

 

 

Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 4 First Look at the Big Island

The Hawaiian Road Trip continued with an early flight to Kona. As with many things in travel, even getting there can be amusing.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:45 AM. About 6:15 they announced a gate change, so we moved down 1 gate only to look out and see the mechanics working on the front wheels of the plane. They changed the front wheels – 4 times!

Finally satisfied we were ok to leave the first passenger boarded – a shackled prisoner with a goofy smile being lead down the jetway by a policeman.

Thankfully the flight itself was short and uneventful, and after about 25 minutes we found ourselves on the Big Island.

About an hour south of the Kona Airport we arrived at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, a National Historic Park.

This park preserves a site where Hawaiians who broke a law could avoid death sentences by fleeing here as a place of refuge. By serving their penance, they could be absolved by a priest and set free.

1821.jpg

 

 

The site is considered sacred to native Hawaiians. Out of respect to the native Hawaiians, no activities occur within the park. It is a place for reflection and inner thoughts and peace.

1834.jpg

 

 

After leaving the park, we continued south along the coast. This area has for centuries been impacted by volcanic activity. Amazingly many of the houses are built on the lava flows.

1870.jpg

 

 

Our next destination was the South Point of the island. As we made the turn onto South Point Road, we stopped at a farm called Paradise Valley, where we met Raccine.

Paradise Valley is a small working farm where they have an assortment of Hawaiian specialties including Macadamia nuts, coffee trees, and banana trees (among many others), Raccine was more than happy to share with us an assortment of flavored nuts, and their specialty coffees. Later she took us on a tour of the farm.

1882.jpg

 

 

I was particularly amused with the banana trees.

1880.jpg

 

 

Finally we left (chowing down on the local chocolate and macadamia nuts), we made our was to the South Point of the Big Island. For those who have been to Key West and seen the ‘Southernmost Point in the United States’ marker, they are way off.

This part of Hawaii is on the same latitude as Guatemala. The point, as with much of the coast here, is from lava flow.

1926.jpg

 

 

While nearby the sea cliffs make an impressive view.

1913.jpg

 

 

People jump off he cliffs into the ocean!

1902.jpg

 

 

Many native Hawaiians feel their land and culture was stolen from them by the U.S. (very similar to the natives across the entire continents). We saw a number of signs stating – This is not the U.S., this is the Kingdom of Hawaii.

It should be noted that almost all of the people we met were very pleasant, receptive and welcoming, they just feel their land and culture has been hijacked.

1936.jpg

 

 

Nearby is the famed ‘Green Sand Beach’. I had read about this place before we arrived, so we made our way over to the parking lot at the top of a bluff overlooking the ocean.

As we walked across the parking lot there were old 4 wheel drive pickups that said ‘shuttle’. One of them asked us if we wanted a ride – nah I can see the ocean just down the hill.

With a total lack of preparedness we set off – only to figure out much too late it was a 3 mile hike across lava fields and dusty trails to get to the beach. To top it off I forgot water as I thought I was just heading down the hill.

1946.jpg

 

 

It was a long dusty hike to reach the beach. As we arrived one of the pickup shuttles was parked there. I told the driver I had 2 questions – first, do you do 1 way trips. Absolutely (whew)

Two – do you have any water for sale. Nope, but I can help you out. With that he opened his cooler in the back and handed me a cold beer! My new best friend.

With that cold beer I could finally enjoy the view of the famed green sand beach.

The ride back was insanely bumpy (almost so much I spilled my second beer).

1948.jpg

 

 

Safely back at the car we continued our journey, with our next stop being the Honu’apo Black Sand Beach. Thankfully it was only about 100 yard walk to the beach, and the sand was indeed black.

It was beautiful, and had an interesting somewhat coarse texture that felt good on the feet.

1996.jpg

 

 

It is also a turtle habitat.

2005.jpg

 

2010.jpg

 

Our first day on the Big Island complete, we headed to our hotel at Volcano National Park in preparation for tomorrow.