March 2013 in Kona, Hawaii
 
 

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I flew in from San Francisco on Wednesday for 2 weeks in Kona,.  My rental car was a brand new Red Jeep Cherokee.
 

Joel and Elaine arrived on Friday.  Our first stop was the Kona Costco where we saw these exotic orchids for sale.

We had a busy day today but didn’t get very far from our unit.  We started with a continental the breakfast by the pool for a presentation by the Rebecca from Expedia Concierge Service operating out of WorldMark.  She was very helpful in going over all the options with commentary about what activities were better or more suitable for our group. It rained while we were here under cover and stopped when we were through. 

After our obligatory Membership Vacation (time share) presentation, we walked down to the Farmer's Market and bought Mangos, Pineapple, Papayas, Tomatoes, and Avocados.  Then we had a very late lunch at Bongo Ben's restaurant.

 

  This is the view from the hillside above our unit at the WorldMark - Kona,

 

We will go to this hotel for our Fancy Hawaiian Luau.

 
Sunday in Kona

We were up early since there is a 3 hour time difference. We drove over to the house we will be moving to on Friday.  It is in a gated community.  The guard would not let us in, but he said we could walk through an athletic field in the back and in via a public access gate.  There is a beach with lava pools and the ocean beyond.  The house is located on the north edge of Kailua-Kona.

We drove on toward the airport in search of the National Energy Lab and the Sea Horse Farm.  We did find it and although everything was closed on Sunday, we could see what the hours were.  We drove on further through the barren lava fields that reminded us of Central Oregon. 

We ending up at a huge resort with Mariott and Hilton Hotels.  There are several shopping centers, The King’s Shops with Macy’s etc. and the Queen’s Market. 

We stopped at Queen's Market and walked around.  I stood under a water arch and got wet head!

In the afternoon we drove and walked to the "Once-A-Month" Art Walk.  They close Alii Drive (main road closest to the ocean) for this once a month event.  They were playing Beach Volley Ball right next to the start of the Walk. 

We spent a few hours walking along mostly looking.  We went into the oldest church in Hawaii - (Congregational), affiliated with the UCC.  The youth were selling fish tacos out by their entry gate.  It smelled soooo good it was hard to pass them by.. 

The street was lined with vendors and stalls.  I bought a T-shrit, a soap dish and a bag for my new tablet computer (big spender!!!)

Across the street was one of Hawaii’s historic palaces, and about the time we were passing by, they were starting a concert with a band playing Hawaiian music, hula dancers and soloists.  I neglected to say that just before we left our unit, someone hit a power pole and our lights went out.  It turns out that they were out throughout downtown, so most of the stores had closed.  The concert had to proceed without any amplification and the waves in the background competed.  Power was restored before the end of the performance.

We ran into a couple from Grand Ronde, Oregon and visited with them about Kona activities they had participated in.

 
Monday - Circle Island (all-day)Tour

We decided to book a tour for a drive around the whole island.  Hawaii is big, bigger than all the other islands put together, and we were in for a full day’s trip, sunup to sundown.  We began by heading south with our first stop at a tourist place for Kona Coffee.  The good thing about it was lots of samples of Kona Coffee which we were ready for.  Coffee grows fairly high up and we saw plantations. BTW, Kona coffee is selling for around $35/pound! 

  Another stop was for Portuguese pastries at a a place called the Southernmost Bakery in the USA!  We we could see out to the most southern point of the US.  The Portuguese doughnut is a raised kind without the hole.  Some are filled with stuff like strawberry goo.  We thought they were similar to the beignets we ate in New Orleans.  The locals had differing opinions about the best place to get them.

Stopped here for lunch.  "Charming"

We arrived at the black sands beach where we could see turtles.  This one was about 15-18” long, they looked exactly like boulders in the surf, but if you waited a head or flipper would come out.

 

After lunch we turned into the Hawai’i National Volcanoes National Park closest to Kilauea that is sending molten lava down to the sea.  We went to the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum overlooking the Kilauea Caldera.  The volcano area is huge, inside there is a molten lava area the size of a football field ... and growing.  If you were allowed to get close enough, you would see glowing lava.

The molten lava leaks out much further down the flanks of the volcano at places of less resistance before flowing into the sea.  There is a road around the caldera, but since people wouldn’t heed the warning to keep their windows closed to avoid the noxious fumes, some of it has been closed. 

We drove through a field of steam vents, stopping at two.  . 

We hiked through an area devastated by the 1959 eruption, and walked through a lava tube

We have learned that it is difficult at this time to see the flowing lava.  The choices are:  a helicopter ride ($550), a boat (not recommended since the water is rough), a cruise ship, a 14 mile hike on public lands over lava fields with no trail or a 5 mile hike through private land with a guide.  Probably it won’t be in our plans.

 
 

We drove on through the lush, tropical rainforest area of Hilo where they get from 200-400” of rain a year.  (And I thought Oregon's 58” was bad.)  Hawaiians love to exaggerate how many of the world’s climates they have.  They do have 4 of the 5 major climate zones and 8 of the 13 sub zones. 

After a big rainstorm, we emerged at Waimea to drive through parts of the Parker Ranch with all the cattle in the sunshine.  Our 300 mile tour ended. 

Postcards from Hawai'i:  March 22, 2013

We've had some busy days on Kona.

Yesterday, we were up early to go and change rental cars and pick up the other family members.  Philip and Barbara arrived first on a direct flight from PDX and were waiting outside the gate as we drove up.   Joel loaded them into the first van and drove on back to where we were staying at WorldMark.

 

A half hour later, Marcus & Bae landed on a flight from Albuquerque via Los Angeles. The plan was to stay one more night and then move over into a house just north of the main drag in Kailua-Kona. During the afternoon, there was time to do a little grocery shopping, rent some snorkeling gear and for Philip, Barb and the kids to try it out about 3 miles down the coast. All went well for them. We managed a quick supper before all the new arrivals hit the sack. It was already after midnight Pacific Time.

Helen, Ben, Barb and Marina

Ben and Marina

This morning, we got all our stuff together and packed it into the cars for the move. We weren’t supposed to be into the new place 4PMr, but when we called at noon, they said it was ready. We whipped right over and moved in.

The place is perfect: 4 bedrooms, a den, two screen porches, rec room with pool table, outdoor lanai, huge closet of snorkeling gear and a garage with 2 cars (we’ve been looking for the car keys to no avail). We were even greeted in the entrance hall with an arrangement of flesh flowers containing anthuriums and orchids.

Tom and Marcus

Tom standing in the open shower in the master bedroom.

The kids staked out the lower level with futons and big-screen TV. We think we’ll just throw down food and keep the door locked.

This afternoon we went to Costco to pick up a prescription for Bae. She has medication she needs to take that has to be refrigerated. In L.A. it froze in the fridge and was spoiled. Costco pharmacy worked it out so that her prescription was delivered to CostCo today and we could pick it up.

Papaya tree near St. Benedict's

Philip and Barb took their vamily back to the snorkeling area and then were going on to St. Benedicts's ... the historic Painted Church near the town of Captain Cookabout 30 minutes south of Kialua-Kona. Tom, Elaine & Joel had visited the Painted Church a couple of days ago.

Ben captured a green geccko outside of the front door! 

Special day tomorrow, stay tuned.

Over the Volcano:  March 23, 2013

Today Marcus, Bae and I booked a helicopter flight that went from Kona to the Kilauea Volcano to the east and to the waterfalls northwest of Hilo.  Here are some photos we took.

 

Tom and Bae

 Bae

 Marcus

The helicopter held six people helicopter (including Koji, our pilot.)

Kona Airport.

There are 5 volcanos making up Hawaii:  Kohala, Hualälai, Mauna Loa, Kïlauea, Mauna Kea.  (The sixth "Loihi" is located offshore).  These excursion took over Kilauea and specifically the Puʻu o vent

. We saw the orange lava entering the ocean and creating billows of steam.  (photo doesn't enarge.)

 

Honopu'e and Honokane nui Valleys, northwest of Hilo.  Lots of river and tall waterfalls.

Marina's 13th Birthday:  March 23, 2013

Tonight we celebrated Marina's birthday with a delicious ice cream cake!

 
 

In the kitche: Barbara, Andrew (Tom) left, Philip, Right.

Taking it easy:  Ben, Helen and Marina

Computer central

At the table:  Ben, Marina, Helen, Andrew and Bae

Marina the "Birthday Girl"

 

On the Beach

Helen, Andrew, Marian and Ben have been to a bunch of beaches ... snorkeling, swimming and riding boogie boards.

Andrew, Helen, Marina and Ben trying out the boogie boards

Andrew and Helen

Swimming with the Manta Rays

Tonight's excursion (Sunday) was a swim with the Manta Rays.  We drove just a few miles north of the house to the the Keauhou Pier/Marina - to Neptune Charlie's boat.

The experience was done after dark.  Bright lights attract plankton on which these gentle animals feed.  They have no way to harm humans (no barbs, teeth, etc.)

We joined a group of about 15 others on Neptune Charlies boat.  We sailed out of the marina and north along the coast and joined about 12 other craft.  We got fitted for goggles, snorkels, wet suits and waited for the sun to go down.

Slowly we slipped into the water and swam to one of 2 little rectangular rafts.  We held on and looked into the water below. We had red glow sticks attached to each snorkel which created an interesting view when you raised your head out of the water. 

The captain was Glen.Vicky and Dwayne led the swimmer/observers (us).

On Neptune Charlie's Boat Captain Glen and Dwayne

At the watch site.

Another "manta" boat.

Andrew, Joel, Bae and Marcus trying on the snorkels

Marina, Helen, Barb and Tom

Marina getting into wet suit.

 

 

Each raft had a bunch of strong spotlights shining down.  At first we didn't see anything besides the rocks on the ocean floor.  We heard someone way "Okay times up.  Head for the boat" and were so disappointed to not have seen any mantas.  However, it was directed at another grou.  For us the spectacle of the night was just beginning.

In the light we saw columns made up of tiny of plankton and soon the giant mantas came to feed.  They would swim in vertical circles, feeding.  They came closer and closer to us ... even brushing against us.  We couldn't appreciate how large they were ... more than 15 feet across.  We watched them for 45 minutes.

Now we can check this off of our bucket list!

The Luau (Monday)
Monday was Luau night at the Kona Royal Hotel, not far down the beach from where we’re staying. We had a good time seated next to the stage.

 

We enjoyed such delicacies as poi and lumi lumi not to mention the pig from the pit.

The kids held up fine although they had had a busy day at several beaches bogie boarding. Despite the sunscreen, a few places missed were pink.

 

The stage show began after dark and featured dances from a variety of Pacific islands culminating in the fire dance by a truly talented guy.

 

The House  at Kona Bay Estates

Location: Kona Bay Estates, Kailua-Kona, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA (WALK TO KAILUA KONA VILLAGE IN 10 MINUTES. ) : House, 4 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths (Sleeps 8-10) Our private luxury home is located in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. This three story home is ideally located in a private gated and guarded community within walking distance to town and is 100 feet from the beach.

This newly built home includes a pool, numerous lanais, garage, and a view of Kailua-Bay.If you have never been to the Big Island, we are on the sunny side of the biggest island in Hawaii with the clearest blue water in the world. We have 80% of the Hawaiian land mass with 20% of the people. If you stay in the resorts at the north end of the island you will be isolated and miss all the diversity of activities and fun dining in Kailua-Kona village.Kona Bay Estates is an exclusive, small, gated community with a security guard who patrols the neighborhood. The community is located on a rare lagoon with a sandy beach known for being safe for children, and which is usable year-round. (Other beaches are sometimes unusable because the sand washes offshore in the winter.) Kona Bay Estates is adjacent to community tennis courts, soccer fields, and the public gymnasium with a large pool.

Keiki Beach Hale, built in 2003 with 5,000 square feet of living area, includes a large master bedroom with its own lanai, a walk-in open shower and large tub. The master bedroom also has its own TV and a King size bed. Two other bedrooms, one with king size and one with queen size bed, are located on the third floor as well.The main floor includes a large modern kitchen with granite counter tops, bar, sitting area near kitchen, dining area on the enclosed lanai, living room, and a second large family room on the back lanai. There is one additional bedroom with a king size bed on the main floor as well. There are a total of 3.5 bathrooms throughout the home.The lower floor level has an entertainment room with half kitchen with sink/microwave/refrigerator, and large screen TV. There are two sofa futons which can be used for additional sleeping. This room opens to the pool and has a full bath.