November 13, 2012
Last entry, Mr. Karen and I had left Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii after three nights and one tsunami warning and checked into a hotel on the Kona side.
Day 5— Kealakekua Bay
We started the day with the breakfast buffet in our new hotel. It didn’t have as many options as the previous one, possibly because they put resources into an omelet bar, which was impossible to access without a long wait so no use to me. The restaurant also had sparrows flying around the dining room, hopping on the floor, and stealing food off of people’s plates when they were left unattended. Our main event this day was kayaking out to and snorkeling nearby the Captain Cook monument in Kealakekua Bay. I was concerned about this, as I hadn’t kayaked or snorkeled in quite some time, and only people with permits are allowed to land kayaks on shore in that area and we did not have a permit. As usual when I worry about stuff, it turned out better than I expected. The snorkeling was wonderful; we saw so many kinds of fish and coral I can’t even remember them all (and don’t have photos to remind me since I didn’t want to fuss with a waterproof camera). I would have taken at least one more turn swimming with the fishes if I hadn’t struggled so much to get back into the kayak from the open water; I ended up getting some scrapes and bruises that are still not quite healed even as I write this days later. I’ll need to lose some weight and build more muscle before I attempt that sort of thing again (or maybe try a different technique for getting in the boat; what worked for Mr. Karen with his longer legs was maybe not ideal for me). When we got back to the hotel, we had lunch at the pool bar and then spent some time swimming and lounging—we’re often so go-go-go on our vacations that hanging out in and by the pool felt a little strange, but it was oh so relaxing. After we finally did get out of our bathing suits and into proper clothes, we caught the tail end of the sunset from the hotel grounds before driving to a nearby town for dinner.
Day 6— Mauna Kea and Hapuna Beaches
There was no beach at our hotel, so we consulted guidebooks and decided since we were going to have to pack up and go somewhere anyway, we’d drive up north a ways to what some said was one of the island’s prettiest beaches, Mauna Kea (a.k.a. Kauna’oa). We got there early enough to snag one of the public parking spaces at the fancy resort and found a spot in the shade once we got to the sand. We’d brought our gear and found there was quite good snorkeling along the rocks that formed a breakwater to one side of the beach—not quite Captain Cook good, but much easier to access and not as crowded. Mid-day we walked the trail along the coast to Hapuna Beach, where we grabbed lunch and waded in the water before walking back to Mauna Kea. Mid-afternoon we rinsed off and changed into dry clothes to do some exploring further north. We saw our second Kamehameha statue of the trip in North Kohala, gaped at the scenery from the Polalu Valley Lookout, watched the sunset next to a cow pasture right on the coast, and had dinner in Hawi (we tried to have ice cream there, too, but that shop had closed by the time we got to town, along with most everything else besides the restaurant where we ate dinner).
Day 7— On to Oahu
We had one last breakfast buffet with the birds and wandered the hotel grounds before packing up and checking out. On the drive to the airport, we made detours to a nearby bay and a scenic overlook to fill our heads with as much of the Big Island as we could before we departed. The Kona airport is even more open air than the one in Honolulu; the only cool indoor space to be found was the single restaurant, which had signs posted that it was not a waiting room and seating was for customers only. We would have been happy to be customers, but the grill was not open when we went in, and the single employee sitting there watching tv was not volunteering when it might be open or indeed offering any indication that she actually worked there. No matter; we grabbed snacks from a newstand outside, where the very nice lady behind the register introduced us to the feral cat napping on a nearby bench. Soon enough it was time to walk through the gate (open air) to the plane (jetway? we don’t need no stinking jetway) to Oahu, which is where I’ll pick up the story next time.
Reminder: all my photos are going in this set on Flickr. More beaches! More lava! More flowers! More sock monkey!