This is our last full day in Hawaii and we decided to take another easy day. We decided to go snorkeling one last time. Tom tried to persuade me to hire some snorkeling equipment, especially some sort of flotation device, while we were in Kailua-Kona last night. I would dearly love to do it but I’m too scared. As I’ve said before, I am frightened of water and I know I would panic if I had to be in any water where the bottom was a long way away.
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But first of all we had breakfast. Our treat today was banana stuffed French toast. After breakfast we were given a short tour of the coffee farm. John showed us the old coffee barn. It is a tall, wooden building which has been converted into a bedroom. It’s one room contains a rustic queen bed with a mosquito net, a sofa and closet with a toilet. The shower is outside. It is really quite romantic and isolated and with a view of banana trees and an unobstructed view of the night sky. In our room we have no view of the sky at all as we are surrounded by tropical vegetation. The barn was originally used to dry the coffee beans.
John then showed us the coffee plants. The coffee beans are bright red and look like cherries. The skin is easy to peel back. Inside there is a soft pulp surrounding the white coffee bean. It achieves its dark brown color after roasting. Johnsie joined us and she pointed out pineapples, mangoes, starfruit, bananas and many more. If there was more time, we would have loved to explore thoroughly but being conscious that they had work to do we left them to it.
At Honaunau Bay the tide was much higher and a lot of the places on the rocks were taken. Also, to get to them, we had to wade through water. The regulars had already gathered and we sat within earshot of them. It was fascinating to here bits of their conversations. One guy, who had just returned from snorkeling, was relating his tale of spotting an eagle ray nose out an octopus from the coral and eat it.
Tom went in a couple of times and really enjoyed it. He saw lots of brightly colored fish but no turtles or dolphins. When the sun became unbearable we left the rocks and walked the short distance to Keoneele Cove with its sandy beach. It is a very small beach but plenty of room for us and there was just a mother and her small boy there, though later her husband arrived by kayak. I did venture into the sea but did no snorkeling. It was nice to sit in the warm water for a while. We sat there and ate a very meager lunch of the cheese sticks and biscuits left over from the day before yesterday and the banana cake from the beginning of the week.
We spent a good few hours there though just enjoying our last visit here this trip. I wonder whether we will ever make it back here. I hope so.
After a quick shower to wash off the sun block and to get the sand out of from between our toes, we drove into Kailua-Kona. We took our last walk down Alii Drive and back along the promenade towards the pier. Today there is another cruise ship out in the bay and the passengers were waiting for the boats to take them back to their ship. Nearby is the place where the Ironman Triathlon race will start next week.
Time for something to eat. Tonight we decided to try out the Kona Brewing Company but it was difficult to find without a map. We did spot it but walking to it was a different matter. After wandering round a small strip mall looking for a place to get through, we eventually found a gap and made our way round to the entrance. It was crowded, even though it was only 4 in the afternoon. We did consider sitting outside because the weather was so pleasant but we were put off by the smokers so decided on a table inside. Tom tried out the beer and ordered a pizza. I stayed with the iced tea and, as I wasn’t all that hungry, ordered a pupu, or more commonly known as a starter, for my meal of tomato, mozzarella and basil.
It was time to go back to the farm and start our packing. Our flight is tomorrow lunchtime. We have had a really great time here and I love it. We can highly recommend the Pomaika’i (Lucky) Farm B&B, with Johnsie’s fabulous breakfasts, as a place to stay. Our only negetive commet on the Big Island is that the rest of the food here is not that great. The restaurants have been interesting places to go to but the food has not been outstanding at all. Surely there are some nice restaurants.
November 09 2008 | Further Afield | No Comments »
The rain had stopped by the time we woke up. All the leaves were still dripping though.
We are going to take it easy again today but first of all there was breakfast. Today it was Baked Oatmeal. Now you know how much I like oatmeal but this is the first time I have ever had it baked and it was scrumptious. Must ask Johnsie for the recipe.
By 9 a.m. we were at the small cove next to the City of Refuge for another snorkeling expedition. We had stopped at the little market near the farm to buy something for lunch but the choice was extremely limited. There was dried and flaked cuttle fish but we decided not to be too adventurous. In the end we bought string cheese and Wheat Thins plus a couple of cans of drink. We still have some banana bread left over from Monday.
Not many people were at the rocks so we found a reasonably flat piece of lava rock to spread our mat and towels out on. This is considered one of the best snorkeling locations on the island, mainly because it is so accessible and also as it is easy to get into the water. It’s called a two step entry. Finding where the exact spot is can be difficult but Johnsie gave us good directions. Face the porta potties at the top of the beach and line up with the one at the far left. Turn 180 degrees and that is where the entry is. Or you watch where all the the regulars get into the water. If you enter from any other spot you are in danger of stepping onto sea urchins.
Tom didn’t go into the water straight away. We just sat on the rocks enjoying the atmosphere. It was so peaceful. We watched couples and groups of people arrive, stake out their patch of rock and walk down to the waters edge. There were no signs of dolphins or turtles today. A boat arrived around the headland and several of the passengers donned their masked and fins and entered the water.
Tom ventured into the water and paddled off. I read a bit and got acquainted with a small dog called Annie. Her owners had gone snorkeling and she obviously liked human company. As soon as she saw her owners climb out of the water she was off to greet them and I never saw her again.
Al and Cindy, another couple staying at the farm, arrived and sat near us. We chatted for a bit and they both then ventured into the water. When Tom return he said the fish were amazing. He also saw sea urchins but he stayed well clear of them. After a short rest, while I explored a few tide pools, he went for another swim.
It became really hot sitting out there in the sun. Of course I had slathered sun block all over every exposed part of my body and wore my new straw hat – complete with a flower I found on the ground, but still I caught the sun. At least I will be going home with a bit of a tan.
At 12 p.m. we drove the car into the City of Refuge car park and walked to the picnic area, carrying the cool box. It was lovely there. Lots of picnic table and coconut palms giving convenient shade. It was not very busy to begin with but by the time we left there was nobody else around.
After our spartan lunch of Wheat Thins and string cheese we took turns to walk down to the waters edge. Tom brought me back a small piece of coral. That, along with the piece of black lava from the vicinity of the volcano, will join my collection back home.
There were some lovely deep tide pools to investigate. I saw some reasonable sized black crabs scuttling around, some sea slugs and sea anemones. Lots of small fish were darting around in the pools as well. It’s mesmerizing gazing into the pools. Stand still for long enough and all manner of creatures come out of hiding. I also spent a long time just looking out to the ocean and watching the incoming tide.
We drove back to the farm at 2 p.m. for a shower and change of clothes. Then we sat out on our veranda reading and writing. The usual afternoon rain started at about 4 p.m.
At 4.30 we drove into Captain Cook for our evening meal. Tonight we ate at Pepperoni’s, an Italian restaurant next door to and run by the banana bread shop. The special was Baby Back Ribs. We had brochette to start with followed by half a rack each of the ribs. On the side were black beans, coleslaw and garlic bread. We would have liked a glass of wine to go with it but at the moment they didn’t have a liquor license. The person whose name was on the license had died and they had to reapply. We could have brought our own but as we didn’t know in advance we had to go without. Ice tea was our substitute. The ribs were quite good and there certainly were a lot of them.
It had just about stopped raining when we came out of the restarunat and we were back at the farm by 6.30.
October 26 2008 | Further Afield | No Comments »
The rooster had the grace to wait until 5 this morning before he started his calling. It sounds as if he is saying, ‘This is myyyyyyyy yard’.
We met the third couple who are staying her at the moment. Their names are Bert and Sumi and they are from New York, so there are eight for breakfast. Today’s hot item was called Praline Macadamia French Toast, It was bread soaked in milk and eggs, spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon and covered in brown sugar and Mac nuts. Scrummy,
Our first task today is to buy a hat for Tom. Yesterday the top of his head got burnt. As John said at the breakfast table – ‘Your scalp is blushing’. We drove into Kailua Kona. Johnsie said Longs Drugstore was the best place for Hawaiian gear so we tried there first. We were very disappointed with the choice there and were told that they have cut back on that clothes because, I guess, the season is coming to an end. Fortunately there was a Hilo Hatty nearby so we trotted of to find it. Lots of choice there of course and we ended up buying more than just a hat for tom. I also bought a hat and T-shirt. We also bought a pair of rubber sandals each and also outfits for Tom’s grandson Brady and my granddaughter Lissie.
We drove south again through the town center of Kailua Kona along Alii Drive, past lots of good restaurants. I thought we could go all the way back to Captain cook on the cost road but near the Kona Country Club Golf Course it became a private road. We turned around and found our way back to Highway 11, stopping at a lookout for a scenic view of the cost. We noticed this strange green fruit on a tree. One of the fruits with the skin peeled off had been laid out on a leaf. It looked like white jelly and had big seeds in the middle and smelt awful. I later found out that it was a Noni or affectionately called cheese or vomit fruit. Apparently the plant matures in 18 months and yields 4-8 kg of fruit a month throughout the year. It can be eaten even though it smells awful and tastes bitter. Another name for it is starvation fruit. It’s uses though are mainly medicinal, helping with a whole range of complaints from eye, skin, gum and throat problems to relieving psoriasis.
On the way back to the farm we stopped at the Captain Cook Bakery Co because we heard they do fantastic banana bread. We bought some sandwiches and drinks plus, of course, banana bread. We bought half of a straight banana bread and half of a macadamia and banana bread. Back at the farm we picked up a cool box and frozen water bottles, towels, fins and a snorkel mask before heading out again.
This time we turned south. After a couple of miles we turned right on Highway 160 to Puʻuhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park, formerly known as the City of Refuge. Tom had visited here before but it was my first visit. There was a $5 entrance fee to the park but with the ticket we can come again and again as it lasts for a week. The City of Refuge is so called because in ancient times if a someone had been sentenced to death he could attempt to make the long and difficult journey to this place to seek asylum. He would then have to perform certain rituals, be absolved by the priest and he could make his way home again fully absolved of any sins.
The City of Refuge was a very sacred place and it still is to this day. There is an ambiance about the place which makes it very special. It felt very serene, with palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. We followed the map we were given at the entrance on the self guided tour around the park. There are two distinct areas – the royal palace and the commoners section – separated by a big wall. The park has been restored to show what it would have been like in ancient times. There are houses, canoes, storage areas, stone carvings and fish ponds faithfully reconstructed. A small bay had been roped off to protect the green turtles which pull themselves onto the beach to bask. Two were enjoying the sunshine while we were there. Where the lava beds meet the ocean there were lots of tide pools and for some time we hopped from rock to rock and discovered small blue crabs and various sizes and shapes of fish.
After our tour we collected the cool box, towels, snorkel and fins from the car and took a short, five minute, walk to the adjoining beech, which is completely separate from the park. While we were at the park we saw a lot of snorkelers out in the bay but when we arrived there were very few in the water. Somebody who was leaving told us that the current had changed and it was now dangerous to snorkel off the rocks.
We found a place to sit on a small sandy beach and Tom set off to do some snorkeling in the sheltered bay. I sat and watched him and also kept an eye on what was going on around me. There were a few snorkelers out with Tom. It wasn’t very deep and Tom never went out of his depth. Maybe I could manage to do that. I don’t like going out of my depth as I’m quite frightened of water. I did go snorkeling on Maui but I wore a flotation belt so felt safe. Here we have just have the equipment borrowed from the farm.
The tide was slowly coming in an eventually we will have to move. I noticed a small hole in front of me. Suddenly a tiny, sand colored crab popped up out of the hole and stood on the edge watching me. It sidled off to the side but the incoming water made it dash back into its hole.
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October 17 2008 | Further Afield | No Comments »
Today we are off on a week’s vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii. Last night we stayed at the Good Nite Inn just north of San Francisco Airport. We have found that it is cheaper to stay one night in a hotel and leave the car parked there while we are away than to park in the long term car park. Besides, we get to start our vacation a day earlier.
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Our flight is at 9.04 so we are up early and catch the 6.30 shuttle to the airport. The bus was full. Lots of people are off on vacation.
Everything goes smoothly at the airport. We checked in last night so all we had to do was to check in our bag. Even that was almost painless. The bigger hassle is always getting through security but even that was not too bad today.
Our flight took off on time – how often does that happen? For most of the journey we were above the clouds (or was it fog?) and could not see the ocean below us at all. Just as we approached the Big Island, the sky clears and we can not only see water but also land and two of the volcanoes. Coming into land At Kona was interesting. As we descended, we came closer and closer to the ocean and then over lava beds. Just as I thought we were going to land on the lava, I saw the edge of the runway and breathed a sigh of relief.
Kona Airport was charming. No sky ramps to exit the plane but the good old fashioned steps pushed up to the airplane and a walk across the tarmac. The hot, balmy air hit us. We entered the departure area but this was the most unusual one I’ve seen as there are no walls, just a roof to give some shade. Once through the departure lounge we came to a large open air square with a bas relief statue of lei makers and shops all around.
Tom was last here a good few years ago and he said that nothing much as changed. One big difference though was the luggage carousel. Back then the luggage was spread out on the ground.
Next stop, the hire car. This time we chose Hertz because we got air miles. Finding the car was a challenge but a friendly Hertz guy helped us out.
By the time we had driven five miles we were completely unimpressed with our rental car – a Chevy Malibu. To say it was clunky is an understatement and it had no acceleration at all. I guess we will just have to get used to it.
We stopped in the town of Kailua Kona to take a wander round and to grab a bite to eat. We chose the Fish Hopper near the King Kamehameha Hotel on the waterfront and sat at a window seat only there was no glass in the window. The view over Kailua Bay was fantastic. Time to kick back and chill out. Hey guys, we are on vacation.
It was wonderful to sit in the restaurant eating our Hawaiian burgers and drinking our ice tea and watching the world go by. Out on the bay were small boasts, jet skies, swimmers and surf paddlers. Holidaymakers sauntering up and down the promenade. Sparrows were hopping around on the floor and window sills, searching for crumbs. Tom put down a piece of bacon but they were more interested in bread crumbs. They came amazingly close to us to grab the crumbs.
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October 11 2008 | Further Afield | No Comments »