Saturday, August 8, 2009

(Not So) Brief Hawai'i Chronology

This blog post captures the chronology of our 2009 Hawai'i trip. It's more like a what/where/when and is thin on narratives. Hopefully, I'll post more details later about some of the experiences we had. The trip began on Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 and ended on Thursday, August 6th, 2009.

Tuesday, July 28th
  • Brought Lliam up to Seattle and stayed overnight

Wednesday, July 29th
  • Got up at 4am to start our journey.
  • Flew from Seattle to Salt Lake City, to Los Angeles, to Kona
  • Upgraded to a convertible for our rental car :-)
  • Checked into the Kona Coast Resort, and were awed by the spacious condo with a full kitchen and balcony we got at such a cheap rate.
  • Went shopping for necessities, had dinner and crashed at 8pm.
Thursday, July 30th
  • Woke up early, had breakfast and went for a run down Ali'i drive
  • Went into town and rented some snorkel gear at Boss Frog's
  • Had our first snorkel at Kahalu'u beach - by far the best place we went:

    View Best Snorkel Beach in Hawai'i in a larger map
  • Went back into town and had a late lunch looking out at the ocean.
  • Did some shopping at the local outdoor market and bought some fresh pineapple, papaya, a Hawaiian shirt for Will and banana bread.
  • Back at the condo, made a yummy dinner of marinaded baked pineapple, tofu, chicken and veggies over rice and turned in early

Friday, July 31st
  • Got up early and went for a walk/run, then had breakfast
  • Headed up to Waikoloa for a glass bottom boat ride. Missed the boat because we had trouble finding the place, so waited on the beach for the next ride. Saw lots of fish and a couple of sleeping turtles.
  • Grabbed lunch at a local market
  • Headed farther north to Hapuna beach where we attempted to snorkel (there wasn't much) and ended up swimming along the shore for a bit.
  • Lazed around the condo for the rest of the afternoon/evening and had leftovers for dinner.
Saturday, August 1st
  • Got up early and headed north for a horseback adventure at Paniolo ranch
  • Had a 2.5 hour open range ride at 4K foot elevation, with sweeping views of the ocean. We got to trot and canter a couple of times. Our horses even hit a gallop for a brief second.
  • Stopped for lunch in Waimea
  • Continued on to Hilo where we checked into Uncle Billy's Hilo Bay Hotel. This was definitely not a hotel we would want to stay for very long, although it did have beautiful gardens and was right on the ocean.
  • After checking in, we headed back up north to Akaka Falls state park. This short walk took us through lush rainforests, and the drive back to the coast afterward was picturesque in the evening.
  • On our way back to Hilo, we detoured on the scenic 4 mile drive, saw beautiful lush rainforest and coastline and passed by the Botanical Gardens and wanted to stop, but it was closed.
  • Back in Hilo, we had calzones for dinner at Cafe Pesto, a decent place that has non-seafood options.
Sunday August 2, 2009
  • After an underwhelming continental breakfast at Uncle Billy's, we headed to the Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo where we saw many species of birds, reptiles and small mammals, most of which were from South America and Madagascar. It was a worthwhile stop, especially since we got to see a white Bengal Tiger up close.
  • Our next stop was the Mauna Loa factory. Unfortunately, the plant is closed Sundays, so there wasn't much to see in the way of a tour, but we did partake of the gift shop, where we purchased an extensive collection of nutty confections.
  • About an hour out of Hilo, we stopped at a lodge for lunch in Volcano, just outside of Hawai'i Volcanoes National park. I wasn't impressed by my omelette
  • Thus began our tour of Volcanoes national park. We checked out the Kilauea caldera on Crater Rim Drive (or at least the part that was open), and made a brief sweep through the museum
  • Then we went on a 4 mile hike on the Kilauea Iki trail, which took us down into the crater of the same name. It was spectacular to see the old lava flows and layers of rock that had cooled.
  • We wanted to see the lava flows at the ocean, so we drove 20 miles down Chain of Craters road, only to find that the lava flow was not visible from that vantage point. The ocean view was lovely, however, with white sprays banging against stark volcanic rock cliffs
  • Back up on Crater Rim drive, we did a walk through of the Thurston lava tube
  • Our next stop was the southernmost point in the United States, aptly named South Point. We expected this to be a tourist destination, but it turned out to be a dirt lot at the end of a remote, unmarked, bumpy one lane road. There were locals fishing and camping there, and it very much gives you the "end-of-the-earth" feeling to be there.
  • We finally arrived back in Kona around 9pm that night. It was quite a long day!
Monday August 3rd, 2009
  • We got up somewhat early and snorkeled at our favorite spot again in the morning. The tide was out and I wasn't wearing fins because of blisters on our feet. It was very shallow and I had to be careful not to scrape my feet on the coral. We had another sea turtle sighting.
  • We spent most of the day lazing around the condo and recuperating from the very busy previous day
  • In the evening, we ventured out to town and saw the amazing sunset on our way.
  • We stopped at the Royal Kona Resort where a Luau was going on, and we "crashed" it by watching the entertainment for 10 minutes or so. It would have been nice to see the whole thing, as the stage was set with the ocean as the backdrop
  • Dinner was at Huggo's, which was as close as we got to my dream of dining literally on the sand. There, I got my obligatory umbrella drink (the only one with alcohol in it the entire trip), and I almost got lei'd, but we didn't have the cash to pay for it!
  • We had a nice stroll down the coastline after dinner.
Tuesday August 4th, 2009
  • Tuesday morning marked perhaps one of the most unique and memorable experiences of the entire trip: swimming with wild dolphins. This was nearly a 5 hour adventure along the Kona coast, run by Dolphin Discoveries, in which we literally tracked down wild spinner dolphins, jumped off the boat and swam with them. They were quite fast, so each encounter lasted about 2-5 minutes. Will and I were lucky, as we got close to them each of the 5 times we were allowed to jump off the boat and swim. After the dolphins, we got a bonus snorkel at Captain Cook. Will and I were somewhat underwhelmed, as we had already been spoiled by the abundance at "our" snorkel beach. We were about to head back to shore, when our skipper announced that there were whales breeching the waters within a mile of Captain Cook. So, we got yet another bonus of watching a herd of pilot whales from a fairly close distance.
  • We were pretty pooped after the big dolphin cruise, so we basically lazed around again for the rest of the day.
Wednesday August 5th, 2009
  • This was our last day in Hawaii. We had to check out of our hotel at 10am, and our flight didn't leave until 8:50pm.
  • After checking out, we did some shopping in Kona, and shipped all the stuff we had bought via USPS so that we wouldn't have to pay for checked bags
  • Later in the afternoon, we went to Crescent Beach, which is right next to the Honokohau marina, just north of the Kona village. We did see some different, more plain-looking variaties of fish, but again, weren't particularly impressed when compared with "our" snorkel spot.
  • So, we headed back to "our" snorkel beach one last time. We were glad we did, because there were two sea turtles feeding on the rocks just a few feet from shore. They were there for at least an hour, and we got to see them close up for quite a while. The tide was in this time, so it was quite a different experience from our previous trek.
  • After our last snorkel hurrah, we went back into town to return the snorkel gear. I broke off and went shopping again while Will showered and grabbed our luggage stored back at the resort.
  • Our last meal in Kona was al fresco dining at a Thai restaurant with an incredible sunset view of the ocean.
  • Then, it was off to the airport, over too quickly. Getting back home was roughly a 20 hour ordeal, as we left Kona Wednesday evening, only to return home Thursday evening. We were very happy to see Lliam again, and he had definitely missed us, but was in one piece.
This was an amazing first "real" vacation that Will and I have ever taken together in our 7 years of marriage (more like 12 if you count the time we were dating). We definitely want to do something like this again.

1 comment:

Sam Vaknin said...

If you are traveling to Hawaii then one of the best adventure you can do is swim with dolphins hawaii big island. It is an unforgettable experience.
captain cook snorkeling