Sunday, December 18, 2011

Aloha III

After a wonderful week on the island of Oahu we flew to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island, Hawaii. From the moment you arrive you can tell this is a different place than Waikiki, as you walk down steps and across the tarmac to get into the terminal rather than walk through a Jetway.

We were greeted with live flower leis as we missed this in Honolulu because we had been bumped and arrived late. This picture is "inside" the airport that has no roof except for a few areas of the waiting rooms. The weather here is very different than Oahu. Because of the high mountains it became overcast almost every afternoon, but the temperatures where still perfectly warm.

This is the main area of Kailua-Kona with the Royal Kona, our hotel, on the far right. The church steeple is one of the oldest on the island and the yellow building with the green roof was the summer home of the king. The town was a neat mix of shops, bars and restaurants to cater to all the tourists. We arrived the day the Steelers were playing and we found a neat place to sit outside to watch the game while over looking the beautiful Pacific and an incredible sunset. A big down note is I lost a cap and had to go to the dentist who said the tooth was too far gone to replace the cap. Bad news, but it caused me no discomfort so I can wait until we return to the mainland to deal with it.

Readers know I have this thing about driving to the "end of the road" and on this island there are many places you can do that. This wind blown tree is at South Point, the most Southern spot in the USA. Nearby was a green sand beach which turned out to be a much farther walk than we were prepared for (we were in sandals) so we only got to see a little bit that had blown off the beach.

Some of the animals we saw. Bottom is a green sea turtle and one of many goats that roam free on the island. Top is an Hawaiian monk seal and a huge barracuda that the guy caught deep sea fishing from the top of the cliff at South Point. The fish was almost five feet long.

This is typical of much of the coast on the Big Island. There are very few natural sand beaches as the island is so young compared to those to the north. The monument marks the spot where a crewman from Captain Cook's ship was buried in 1779. Cook is credited with "discovering" the islands and was eventually killed by those he discovered.

Looking down into Pololu Valley. The weather here was very different than Oahu. The island is dominated by high volcanic mountains and there are all of the worlds 13 climate zones, except Arctic and Sahara Desert, within just a few miles. We drove to the windward side and were greeted with a tropical rain like we have never seen. They get over 200 inches of rain each year. We sat in the car for a half hour waiting for the rain to slow enough so we could get this picture. Most of the time we could not even see out of the window. All this rain makes for a thick tropical forest with many flowers.

The lava from the volcanoes has created new land all over the island. Here you can see the black land where the lava flowed into the ocean. There are many places on the leeward side of the island where the land is just the black remains of the flows that have happened in the last few hundred years. This side of the island only gets about 6 inches of rain a year so it takes many, many years for anything to grow on the new land. You don't see this on the other side because with all the rain vegetation quickly covers the new land.

There are three National Park Service Historical sites on the island devoted to the history of the native Polynesians. We visited Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park the site of a compound for the ali'i, royal chiefs, that was know as the place of refuge. It was a place where no blood could be shed and where a person who violated Kapu, the scared law, could get a second chance if you could make it there before being captured. In our travels we always like to explore the history of the local area.

Just a few scenes from around the hotel. The fish pond was in the center of our building. There where always many different kinds of boats including a couple of big cruise ships that visited for a day. One morning we had breakfast on the lanai including mimosas we made with our complimentary bottle of champagne. While we explored a lot we did just kick back a couple of days to enjoy the beautiful weather. We really indulged ourselves one day with a couples massage compliments of a gift certificate from from Rick and Denise. Here on the Kona Coast even cold blooded Nanc never wore anything except shorts for the entire stay.

We did not attend a luau here because we had done one on Oahu, but we did get to see them cooking a pig from start to finish. Top is the pit and the rocks being heated up. (They cheated and used propane.) Bottom is the pig with the hot rocks stuffed inside and covered with huge leaves. Finally, it is all covered with wet burlap, buried in dirt and cooked for several hours. While I did not get to taste this one, the pork I did have was wonderful.

We even set the alarm for 4AM so we could get up and watch the lunar eclipse. It was really neat seeing the moon turn red and then start to come out of the shadow of the Earth. The Big Island is a great place to see the stars because they have strict light pollution laws to ensure that the observatories on Mauna Kea have a great view of the universe.

This is Panalu'u Black Sand Beach. It is a very strange sight to see the black sand and the clear blue water. The black sand is the result of the lava that has eroded over many years. There will be more black beaches many, many years from now as more of the lave flows are pounded into sand by the waves.

The steaming Kilauea Caldera in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. One big thing we wanted to see was the lave flows of this volcano. You can see the glow of the lava here at night, but most of the flow is in an area that is now outside the park. We scheduled a helicopter ride where we would fly over the flows and be able to see them during the day. Unfortunately, the weather on the windward side of the island did not cooperate so this was all we got to see. We did not even spend much time here because we were in a hurry to get to the airport only to learn the flight was cancelled. This was the only real disappointment so far in what has been a fabulous trip.

We did take a short hike in the park including walking through an old lava tube. There are old lava tubes all over the island, but this one is lighted. This is the only time Nanc had to wear a light coat because it was chilly inside the tube. Hawaii is a wonderful place to see how the real power of nature is shaping the land and environment.

1 comment:

Jim and Bobbie said...

What a wonderful blog post!!! So informative with well composed photos. Good job. Thanks for sharing.