Monday Mar 10, 2008

Hawai'i 2008 - Day 3 - White Sands, White Tents

 

Hawai'i Info Alert!! The Reid Guide to Making Kona Vacations Easier

KTA Supermarkets

Yays: Provisions of all sorts, as cheap as you can find on the Island (which isn't necessarily Cheap)

Boos: It's a Supermarket, not a Tourist Attraction

L&L Hawaiian Barbeque

Yays: Quick, cheap, authentic Hawaiian fast food (rice, curries, BBQ, etc)

Boos: We're not eating rice or chicken for a few weeks

Hilo Hatties Stores

Yays: Exhaustive selection of Hawaiian swag, chotchsky, alohawear

Boos: Rampant Hawaiian Commercialism

Border's Books in Kona

Yays: Huge selection of books to keep 11-year-olds and their Dads entertained

Boos: Said to have driven all the other booksellers off the Kona Coast

Using the in-room coffee-pak filters, dump the coffee, replace with local Kona Coffee, buy some distilled water at the store

Yays: Makes for an amazingly better morning wake-up

Boos: Yeah, the in-room stuff is free... but come on now, really..

Kuki'o Beach

Saturday... the jet lag lessening... the morning dawns sunny, and we decide to check out another snorkeling location, up north of the Kona Airport... Kuki'o Beach isn't all that well-known, and the snorkeling is wonderful, the beach is white pristine sand, and the coral relatively undamaged... we had a lovely time, and didn't overstay our time in the Sun...

Driving around.. exploring, hitting up Border's, L&L, then back to the hotel... deciding to attend 5PM Mass at St. Michael's, which we'd found on our last trip here... but when we got there, we see a large white tent in the parking lot.. turns out an recent earthquake led to the the condemnation of the building... so, Mass outside, with traffic noise and town noise and the tropical breezes and not a little sweating... different, to be sure...

Afterwards, a walk around town, and Grace's first experience with real Hawaiian shave ice (note, 'shave', not 'shaved').. three flavors on a snowball seemingly as big as your head (and, no, thank goodness, she didn't try to finish the whole thing)... 

Dinner at a nice little Thai place in the local shopping center, then another early night.


Sunday Mar 09, 2008

Hawai'i 2008 - Day 2 - Green Coffee, Green Turtles

OK, OK... I know you're asking yourself, "what? he can't blog in real-time?"... well, no, I can't always... but I am getting to it, with benefit of some collective recollections and notes and pics...

Although the day before was a long one, and sleep came quickly that night, we all awoke several times through the night, finally getting up around 5:30... the local roosters (hey, it's a mixed-used area, even if it is at the beach) weren't to greet the sun for another hour...

Now, then... some particulars on where we were, before I continue... we spent this entire vacation on the Big Island of Hawai'i (aka Hawai'i :), on the western coast, aka the Kona Coast... our hotel, the Keauhou Outrigger, lay about 6 miles south of the town of Kailua-Kona, on the beach itself... Google Maps and/or Google Earth might be useful if you decide to continue reading these entries...

This first day, we decided to treat ourselves to the buffet breakfast... this was to be the exception, not the rule, as we didn't really wish to be rolled out of Kona with overfull tummies and smaller wallets (buffets are convenient but expensive)... breakfast is served on a balcony, over an ocean tidepool... from there you can see colorful tropical fish, green sea turtles (more about them later), and other live ocean critters... the sun usually comes up over the hills to the east, while the ocean is to the west... mornings usually dawn cloudy and in the upper 60s [around 20C for those of you in the rest of the world]... all in all a pleasant way to start a day in paradise...

Our morning then shifted to the pool for a bit... then our first excursion of the trip... down the coast 10 miles or so to the Greenwell Farms Coffee Plantation... some of the richest coffee on the planet... all grown right there at around 1500' [450m] in the cooler hillside mists and sun... we saw coffee 'cherries' on the trees, harvested, drying, cracked open to get the bean itself... there were also fruit trees and chameleons on the grounds, free coffee tasting, etc... we left with some ground coffee for the room, green beans to try roasting ourselves at home, and dark chocolate-covered beans for the shear decadence of it all, especially later in the day, when the five-hour time difference hit us...

From there, we headed back north, into town, where we first hit Snorkel Bob's... now, you need to know that Snorkel Bob Cares... he does, and he says so on every snorkel kit he rents out... after securing three kits, we quickly hit the local Farmer's Market to check out everything from fresh fruit to puka shell necklaces to mu'umu'us... then a return to the hotel to change and head next door to Kahalu'u Bay Beach for snorkelling... a nice beach and some nice fish in the bay, but waaaaay overused, and as a result all the coral in the bay is dead... this bay needs some time to recover, but it doesn't sound like local governments will ever restrict access to allow this to happen.. clear waters, lots of fish, and, as usual, a couple of the local Green Sea Turtles (aka Honu)... these turtles are gentle, not too afraid of people if you're nice to them, and graceful as the flap and float in the water next to you...

Hawai'i Info Alert!! All the Hawaiian Islands were created as the result of volcanic activity... so, all the rock is volcanic rock (cooled lava), and any soil is the based on said volcanic rock... all rocks you see, even these at the beach, are rough, pointy, full of air holes, black...


After dinner and showers, we saw a party being held on the grounds down in front of our lanai (balcony)... turned out to be a going-away party, complete with hula dancers and authentic Hawaiian music... Grace even took some video with sound on her phone...

We didnt' last long that night, crashing around 8PM....

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