Sunday, May 08, 2016

Tropical Getaway

Aloha! Dan and I have returned from the Big Island of Hawaii, after our first visit six years ago. He went for a work meeting, and convinced me to take a couple days off for a long weekend. I flew in after work on Thursday. The flight was long and unpleasant, during which time I was regretting the trip. Landed after dark, then had to negotiate the car rental situation, which took far too long...then the drive....finally, I arrived at the resort where his meeting was ending. I had a mai tai before bed, and the next morning...

Morning view

Definitely a good idea! Went for a morning snorkel, saw lots of fish...and sea turtles! Then relaxed on the lounge chairs on the beach, under the umbrella for Dan since he burns easily. I went for another swim and saw a couple more turtles...or maybe the same ones...

Morning snorkel spot
Plumeria

We drove by the port and had lunch at Kohala Burger & Taco, fish tacos for me and an ahi burger for Dan, then shared our first shave ice of the trip with lilokoi cheesecake ice cream. We continued north and stopped at Lapakahi State Historical Park.

Lapakahi State Historical Park

After walking the trail and checking out the ruins, we continued up the coast to a viewpoint of Pololu Valley. There was a very steep trail to a black sand beach, which we did not attempt as I didn't have the proper footwear. Next time, says Dan.

Panorama Pololu Valley

We stopped at a beach park where several teams were preparing for an outrigger race to Maui! Dan chatted with them for awhile. Canoe talk. Then we sampled many flavors of macadamia nuts at Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company...including Spam and Kona coffee, but ended up buying just lightly salted nuts. We walked to the neighboring resort for dinner and saw a couple of nene, native Hawaiian geese on the golf course, and passed many fancy homes that looked empty. There was a beautiful sunset at dinner, although trees obscured the view. And then! We saw giant manta rays feeding after dark! At night the resort turns on lights over the ocean, which attracts plankton, and the manta rays come eat the plankton. They were huuuuge! It was amazing. We took the shuttle back to and enjoyed a drink by the pool. It was a great first day.

Mauna Kea sunset

On Saturday morning we went to a farmers market south of the resort, picked up some papayas, apple bananas, and dragon fruit. Then we drove to Kealakekua Bay, where we had kayaked on our last trip in search of dolphins, and did not find, much to my disappointment. This time we skipped the kayak and went swimming in the bay. The entry is a bit tricky, and we swam really, really far. We passed a couple who were floating on boogie boards (smart idea). I asked if they had seen dolphins, and they said yes and pointed farther out. So we kept swimming. Then we saw a couple kayaking who had seen dolphins earlier that morning. At this point I thought we'd never see them, AND I was getting stung by tiny jellyfish, so I was feeling somewhat dejected. But then! I saw them in the distance! I was so excited! We swam toward them, and there was a group on stand-up paddleboards. A gentleman let us hang onto his board to rest while we waited for the dolphins to approach. It was very nice of him since we had been swimming for a long time.The dolphins swam around and underneath us, it was so amazing! We even saw baby dolphins. It was incredible. After hanging out with them for awhile, we swam back to shore. Both of us were abuzz with excitement from the experience. And quite tired from swimming!

We passed Big Island Bees and stopped in to learn about their beekeeping and sample the honeys. There were some cool honeycomb sculptures in the tasting room too. And we saw a cute green gecko. I got a plumeria lei from a roadside stand by a plumeria orchard. It smelled soooo good. Then we sampled many Kona coffees at Greenwell Farms and went on their farm a tour, and it was an employee's birthday so we had cake with our coffee! I also spotted a giant hibiscus flower, in a color I had not seen before. Then it was time for lunch at the old Manago Hotel. We had eaten dinner there on our last trip. The dining room feels like it hasn't changed much in the last century, which is reassuring.

Hibiscus at Greenwell Farms

After lunch we headed back north, and drove on a super bumpy, curvy, partially paved road through lava fields to Kekaha Kai State Park. Finally we reached the end, an oasis of palm trees and sandy beach after all that lava rock. We found an entry point to get in the water and saw a couple sea turtles sunning on the rocks. There was one in the water too, who swam by Dan. We continued swimming along the rocks, looking at the schools of fish, until I saw a sleeping shark! We watched it for awhile, and then Dan said we should probably not continue in that direction. So we got out and checked out the tide pools in the rocks. And then! Dan saw a fish stuck in a little tide pool. He was able to remove the rock it was wedged under, and threw the fish back in the ocean. It was the Hawaii state fish! The humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa! Such excitement.

On the way back to the resort we stopped for hot malasadas by the roadside. I had mine with lilokoi jam. Yum. Back at the resort, we relaxed by the pool, enjoying a piña colada with the sunset and  Hawaiian music. It was very pleasant. Such a wonderful day!

Hapuna Beach sunset

Sunday morning was super windy! We walked to the other resort to see if the protected cove there was calmer. The beach is lovely, but it was just as windy. No stand-up paddle boarding for me. We went for a swim and saw lots of fish, but no sea turtles. Then relaxed in the shade (Dan's idea of sunbathing), drank the fancy water, and checked out the resort macaws.

Mauna Kea Beach

Hawaii 2016
  
Mauna Kea Beach 


Resort macaws

Then it was time for lunch! We shared a giant poke plate from Da Poke Shack, then went on the brewery tour at Kona Brewing Company. I saw another beautiful hibiscus at the pub, and we learned all their bottled beer is brewed on the mainland, in partnership with Widmer Brothers and Redhook. We sampled four tasty beers that are only available on the island at the end of the tour. Then walked across the street for shave ice at One Aloha Shave Ice. Yum!

Kona Brewing Company

Hibiscus

Lilikoi, guava & mango shave ice


The Original Kona Mudslide

Then it was time for another swim, this time at Waikoloa, where we saw some fish but the visibility was not great. Relaxed on the beach for bit, then Dan spotted a fish jumping in the lagoon, so we walked around it, then along the coast, on a trail of lava and coral. Saw lots of fancy houses and enjoyed the sunset. Last dinner on the beach at Lava Lava Beach Club.
Hawaii 2016

Monday morning we went for one last snorkel, and bid goodbye to the sea turtles, and saw a pufferfish too! Packed up, and it was time to go! Airport tip: There's a case of Tropical Dreams ice creams at the news stand! I had mango and chocolate coconut macadamia nut while waiting in line to board the plane. Hope we return again someday soon...