Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Sunny Side of the....Island! Kailua-Kona!

Heading along the southern edge of The Big Island from Volcanoes NP, we stop for breakfast at the Hana Hou Restaurant....the "Southern Most Restaurant in the U.S.A.  The pancakes and papaya are fantastic!

Great coffee...

Gonna miss this once we're back in the northern most territory!
Then it's a stop at the black sand beach we remember for turtles.  No one there....not a soul, nor a turtle!

Beautiful black sand beach at Puna'u lu'u
Well, "someone" is there!
Our drive takes us all the way into Kailua-Kona to meet up with an old Friday Harbor friend who happens to be visiting at the same time!  We have a great lunch, and then head up to Holualoa on the mountainside above Kona.  There we find our "Vacation Rental By Owner" coffee cottage.

Front steps to coffee cottage
Passion flowers!

Lime tree!!

Trumpet flowers!

Red flowers!

Yellow - Orange flowers!
Our eyes have a hard time taking in all the incredible colors and fragrances.  The flowers!  The limes....the avacodos...the gauvas....the papayas....the.....all of it!  Surrounded by beauty we settle into our cottage with ease.

Coffee beans....turning to coffee "cherry"....now.

This week is all about sunshine, warm water, not much for schedules and some far out thought that the best place to try a paddle board is somewhere in warm water.  We remember we've always wanted to get up to Mauna Kea and see what the mountain is all about...and then...what about the beaches...oh, and a swim with turtles?  A Friday Harbor friend gave us her sister's contact information and said....find her!

Picking fruit at Pamela and Yuan's farm.

We spend an afternoon with Pamela and Yuan at their house on the side of the hill by Kealakekua.  What gracious hosts!  It's fun to make an "island to island" connection.

New friends conected to old friends!

Pamela and Yuan gave us some great ideas about immersing ourselves in this side of The Big Island.  First we follow their advice and go looking for a special beach....Minini!

Here Steve finds a blue crab leg!  And the waves fill the shore and tidal pools reaching toward the water.

Never turn your back on the ocean!

Not like our crab legs at home!
We make some great meals in our coffee cottage by doing some grocery shopping for salad ingredients and then....fresh ahi to grill!

Prepared by Chefs Nan and Steve

Hard to beat this dinner!
We also follow insider information and head up to Mauna Kea for sunset and the star show.  This trip takes us back over the Saddle Road half way to Hilo and up to 9,000 feet at the Visitor's Center.  Yes, we brought our socks, down jackets, hats and gloves.  And we were thankful!

Just found sunset at the ridge!  Or cloud-set!

Freezing in the fog and cold air....but still in Hawaii.

The next morning we make sure to show up at the local Kona "kanakapili" which is Hawaiian for uke jam session!  This is a great group of folks who show up Thursday mornings to play ukes, calling out songs and flipping through their iPad to locate downloaded song sheets.  We sit down next to a woman who lived on Orcas Island most of her life!  Island to Island...that's how it goes.  She shares her music, her friends and an extra stool with us!

Strumming away in the back row

From Kona this day we travel back across the Saddle Road to revisit Hilo Guitar and Ukulele Store.  Ohhhhh....myyyy....

Ken at Hilo Guitar and Uke shows off this beautiful one with mother of pearl turtles!

How about the whale tale inlay on the top of this one?
No big purchases....yet...but lots of looking and playing.

Q. How many is too many ukuleles?  A. Just one more!

We wrap up the week with more beach trips.  One day we drive out the terrible terrible "road" to the beach at "the old airport runway."  It's fabulous!  And on the "A List" looms a paddle board lesson...and wait...we almost forget to swim with turtles!!  But...

Old Airport Beach
For paddle boarding we choose HYPR Surf and Paddle Board in Kona.  We find Ian to be an excellent teacher...with a video to point out some important points...and then land practice in paddling and, most important...how to stand up...with the motion of the ocean!
Instructor Ian gives Steve a lesson the the wall 

Ian teaches me how to stand from "table position"....
I'm not so sure about this...
You see how easy he makes it look?  I'm not totally buying the possibility of actually doing this in the water....and truthfully, my turn to practice standing up on land...with Ian shaking the board from behind (it's balanced on a rubber ball!!....you can't see that!)....was not a stellar preformance...but...

He's up!!! ...and going!
She's up...and paddling out to sea!
This sport (SUP) is a killer on the legs!  But what a way to get your core...and your legs...in shape.  I'd rather do this than sit ups.  I hear Ian shouting: "Nan, NAN...eyes up...look FORWARD NAN...the faster you go, the steadier you are....keep paddling"...and I begin my mantra....with shaking legs..."The faster you go, the steadier you'll be...the faster you go...." and it's true!

Awesome Instructor Ian....at HYPR Surf / Paddle in Kona.....this guy rocks!

Still...not to forget a swim with turtles.  The Honus have eluded us so far...no sign of turtles on beaches, or in the water.  Time is flying....it's Sunday.  Tomorrow we leave and after asking around we decide to snorkel the beach a little south in Kona.  There are lots of people on this weekend day.  There are fish...and there are....

Snorkel-er Nan

Snorkel-er Steve
We snorkel for about an hour finding amazing tropical fish, even in a beach area that's popular with swimmers / snorkelers.  So many many fish....

Hello Mr. Fish!!

Finally heading into shore and about to give up...Steve begins pointing and POINTING...at....YES! Honus!

Yo!  Mr. Turtle!
Underwater shot!  Just swimming by!
With a check off for "Swim with Turtles"....we head to Huggo's On the Rocks for our last night sunset happy hour.  It's a fabulous sunset....and a happy...hour...or two...

Mango Mango....yummy!

Loving the warm....perfect evening temperatures...and sunset!
A perfect goodbye to The Big Island....and I didn't even mention the Kona Coffee Fest with Saturday morning coffee tasting stroll in Holualoa....or the little Episcopal Church we visit in Kealakakua...or a wine tasting invitation from new friends, or a dinner and lunch with old friends...

Taste test #38??????

Christ Church Episcopal
Sitting in the Kona airport....we don't have the feeling this is our last trip to The Big Island...no, not at all.

Waiting in Honolulu to take us home.
SeaTac....after dark...way after.

Home to San Juan Island by the next day...we are greeted with a total communications breakdown.  No phones, land or cell...no internet...and an opportunity for the island spirit to pull everyone together and figure out how to make life work without technology.  Maybe it's time to head to Baja???