Thursday, June 19, 2008

Exploring Hawaii and the Kona Coast

Pearl Harbor, Dole, North Shore

We all decided to make the circuit of the island the first full day we were on Oahu, starting with Pearl Harbor, continuing to the Dole Pineapple Store and Maze, then the North Shore, and finally coming around the island's eastern side and back home to the Hale Koa.

Hanauma Bay, Maka Puu, KimoZ

The next day Darrell and I struck out on our own to do some things that weren't of interest to my in-laws. First was snorkeling at Hanauma Bay then on to Makapuu, the first of two lighthouses we visited on Oahu. Lunch at KimoZ in Waimanalo and a quick stop at the Halona blow hole, then back home.

Pali Lookout, Byodo-In Temple, Polynesian Cultural Center

The following day we took the Pali Highway to the Nuuanu Pali Lookout for a spectacular view of the island. The next stop was the Byodo-In Buddhist temple, a beautiful replica of a 900 year old temple in Japan. We arrived at our main destination, the Polynesian Cultural Center, promptly at noon when it opened and had a great day, filled with the colors and sounds of Polynesia.

Waikiki Aquarium, Foster Botanical Gardens

Just one day left on Oahu before leaving for the Kona Coast. Darrell and I walked to the Waikiki Aquarium to see the fish and exhibits and then took the bus to the Foster Botanical Gardens. What a peaceful place, with gorgeous flowers, trees and other plants. Then we went back to the hotel for the dinner buffet and Hawaiian show later that night.

Diamond Head Lighthouse

The next morning we took a quick drive to the Diamond Head lighthouse for a last minute photo opportunity before boarding the plane that took us to the big island of Hawaii.

On August 6th, we took a short Aloha Airlines flight from Honolulu to Kona on the big island of Hawaii. This island is the largest of the chain, and also the newest. Our home for the next six nights was the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua-Kona. We had a free breakfast every morning and I fell in love with the bread pudding with cream sauce topping. That was a treat to wake up to every day.

The view on the left is from my in-law's room, ours was similar but a little more obstructed by the trees. The picture on the right is the hotel, the beach and the Ahu`ena Heiau, the temple of peace and prosperity built by King Kamehameha. The public pier is right next to the hotel and we watched the sportfishers coming in that night with the catch from the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament. It was fun to see all those gorgeous boats coming in, one after the other. After the excitement died down we walked thru town to the Kona Inn where we had a great meal, then we came back to the pier to see the last of the billfish being weighed in for that day.

The next day was the final round of the Billfish Tournament and we wandered around the pier at 4:00 PM to see who would bring in the final catch. A boat named Tara had a billfish on and was still fighting it when the call came to bring in the lines. We all waited for Tara to return to the dock and it was worth the wait when she arrived with the winning billfish of the tournament. A young Japanese man had landed the fish so, for the next few hours, he posed with his 697 pound marlin and with Miss Billfish. I'm not sure which one the men found more appealing, that fish or the beauty queen, but my husband, a true fisherman, seemed to drool a little bit more when looking at the fish.

The town of Kailua-Kona is much more laid back than Honolulu, more of a fishing village with lots of great shops and restaurants. But it was the diversity of the island that surprised me, there is so much to do. We enjoyed deep sea fishing, snorkeling and visiting all the fancy resorts above Kailua-Kona. But one of the best days we had was the circular tour of the whole island when we visited the Waipio Valley, Akaka Falls, Hilo and Rainbow Falls, the Nani Mau Gardens and finally the Kilauea volcano. That day we saw just about everything that the big island has to offer.

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