August 29, 2004
Day 2, Sunday
I woke up, wide awake at 4:30 AM (7:30 in LA) just in time to see the full moon setting over the ocean. It was hard to capture with digital camera and no tripod. The neighbors were up and taking pictures too by 5 AM. I made the Kona coffee (really good), and tried to lure David out of bed. As the sun came up, there were dozens of different types of birds out on the little lawn below the lanai. Some were yellow, some had bright red heads and black bodies, and some looked like small sea birds. I watched an outrigger canoe row by, got the binoculars out and saw that it was all women, hauling ass! What a gorgeous morning.
As I was making breakfast, we saw some splashing far out in the water. There were two swimmers out there, but then I noticed something leap out of the water. A flying fish perhaps? No, a dolphin! And not just one dolphin, but an entire pod of dolphins frolicking in the ocean. There were probably 2 dozen of them and they spent at least half an hour giving us a Sea World worthy show. Most likely, they were spinner dolphins, given their small size and the fact that they were leaping and spinning out of the ocean with wild abandon. Apparently, Spinners are the only dolphins who do that in the wild. At one point, part of the pod took off and raced from one end of our view to the other, arching out of the water every 50 feet. They were so fast, they easily outpaced all the rowers in the water. The boogie boarders just ignored them.
After breakfast, we walked over to the Royal Kona Resort to see about getting tickets for their Luau. I was going to book the tickets online before we left, but I hesitated, and they raised the price while I did. They used to offer a significant discount if you book in advance, but it seems they no longer do. Nor do they if you book directly though the hotel. However, I found an ad in the freebie magazine "101 things to do in Hawaii", where they offer $22 off per couple, so I called the number on it and made a reservation for Monday night. We've never been to a Luau on either of our other trips to Hawaii, but this time we thought we'd give it a shot.
From the Royal Kona, we walked into town to check out the weekend Farmer's Market. It's quite small, but has a few local produce vendors, one who sells nothing but tropical flowers, and the rest who sell local crafts. We bought a white pineapple for $6 with the promise that it would be the sweetest pineapple we've ever tasted. It was so hot, after about ten minutes we were both drenched in sweat. We continued northward, walking through the Kona Inn shops, hoping for cool shade and got sucked into a timeshare booth. Here's a warning; beware of the "activities centers" offering "2 for 1" deals or free luaus. The real deal is that you have to sit through a 90 minute presentation for a timeshare and in return, you get a free luau and 50% off other activities. This can be a good thing, if you are willing to give up precious vacation time and you have the fortitude to withstand the hard sell. We decided we didn't want to give up any time and that we wouldn't be doing all those activities after all, so we didn't bite. I think I would have considered it more if we were going to be here longer. We wanted to do the Mauna Kea Observatory trip and that's $150 per person. The snorkel boat is $99 per person, so it can save you a lot of money. I just didn't want to give up a morning in return for it and feel guilty for saying "no" to the person selling the timeshares.
In the town of Kailua-Kona there is a church from the 1800's and right across the street from it on the beach side is the Hulihee Palace built in 1838. King Kamehameha lived here when he was in the the area. It's filled with his possessions and furniture from the era and is now a museum with a $6 entrance fee. On the verge of dehydration and heat exhaustion on the way back to the condo, we stopped at the Dairy Queen/Orange Julius and got a big, yummy, refreshing Orange Julius. After our walk we returned to the condo for a rest and lunch.
Went out for our first snorkeling trip around 3 PM down to Kahalu'u Beach Park, considered one of the best snorkel locations in the state, and the best place to have a chance to see giant sea turtles. It has parking, rest rooms, picnic areas, gear rentals, and food trucks. What little "beach" there is, is made up of coarse grained black and white sand. Because it was Sunday, it was crowded with families. There are quite a few rocks out in the shallow area right as you enter the water and I had a hard time getting over them in my SCUBA fins. We saw a big sea turtle right away, but I kept being knocked into the rocks from the waves and it wasn't fun. After a while, we found our way over the rocks and swam around for a bit. The water was really churned up and visibility was low but we saw some interesting fish and more turtles. I was having a hard time with my mask leaking, and when we couldn't see the turtle 5 feet in front of us, we decided it was time to go. As were were getting out, David, in his best authoritative teacher tone, admonished two little girls who were trying to touch the turtles. There are signs posted everywhere warning people not to touch the turtles, it's not only dangerous for the turtles, it's illegal. In the process of getting out of the water, I managed to lose my snorkel. David went in to find it, and managed to step on a turtle he could not see, who then, rightly so, turned around and tried to bite him on the toe. Talk about ironic justice! Fortunately, he still had on his reef shoes but he still felt so guilty afterward for stepping on the poor thing. My guess is the turtle survived just fine.
Back at the condo we cut open the pineapple and I have to say, it is one of the sweetest pineapples I've ever tasted. We ate half of it in one sitting, saving the rest for tomorrow.
For dinner, we walked back into town, all the way to the King Kamehameha hotel. I don't know if it was the heat, but for some reason, neither of us was very hungry and nothing on any of the restaurant menus seemed that appealing. We wound up at Huggos on the Rocks where we could just have drinks and appetizers. This restaurant is an offshoot of the main restaurant next door (Huggos) and is right to the north of the Royal Kona Resort. It sits right over the ocean and they have a live music trio playing a blend of jazz and Hawaiian music. We ordered the local brew, Long Board Lager (a little bitter for my taste) and an order of Ahi Poke. Poke is small cubes of Ahi tuna, raw and dressed with soy sauce and a little chili oil. This was really tasty (turned out to be the best poke of the trip) and a surprisingly large portion for $11.50. With the beer, tax and tip it was $28.
last updated on 11/14/04