After returning to Big Island from Honolulu, we spent our last three nights at a gay-owned B&B in Puako, which is basically just a dead end road along the shore in the South Kohala District, surrounded by swank resorts and plagued by what appears to be an explosion of new houses. It was a sleepy road, but I fear it may not remain so.
On our first full day there, Alicia & Norma took the day off to come play, so we drove down to the beach at the end of the road and spent a few hours snorkeling around a fantastic reef where we saw a ton of fish, including a couple different species of moray eels. Then we retired back to the B&B, where we spent an idyllic afternoon noshing and gabbing until they had to return home.
That night we drove up the highway a short distance to the Mauna Kea Resort for dinner. This particular resort is known for shining lights into the water in the evenings. This attracts plankton, which in turn attracts the manta rays which feed on the plankton. We did get to see a smallish manta circling about peacefully in the shallow water, beautiful and seemingly oblivious to its audience. At the restaurant we got a slightly chilly reception ("You're not staying at any resort?!") but they did deign to give us a table. The food was good, but horrendously overpriced. I don't think I'd go back.
On day two, Friday, we set out on a bit of a mission. David's friend Katharine, in whose condo we had stayed at the beginning of the trip, has also bought some acreage on the windward side of Big Island, in the Hamakua District near a state forest reserve. She had given us directions to go see the property, and asked us to continue her family's (still new) tradition of "marking" it, which we dutifully did.
Note the steers watching David. He managed nonetheless to overcome his performance anxiety.
Afterwards, we drove up the coast a short distance to Waipi'o Valley.
Much gets written about this valley in the guide books. It's a popular destination, there are all sorts of horseback trips and hiking tours there, and I have to admit that it's a pretty impressive spectacle - wide and lush with streams freefalling over sheer cliffs to the ocean below. Still, it's an inhabited valley, where people cultivate taro and other crops, and that just makes it more, well, tame. I'll take Pololu, thanks.
When we returned to Puako, we quickly changed to try to get in a dip in the ocean before dark. We found the nearby and now-famous "Beach 69", described by the guide books as "quiet" and "frequented by locals". The beach got it's name because the telephone poles used to be numbered and it was nearest to pole #69 (so get your minds out of the gutter). It was nice, but not much reef close in to shore. Plus the sun was getting low, which is generally prime time for shark attacks, so we only stayed in the water long enough to get wet, then watched to see if the tourist teenager floating on his bodyboard kicking the water would get eaten. He didn't.
Our flight home on Saturday didn't leave until 11PM, so before packing everything up, we got up fairly early and drove past Beach 69 to a more secluded beach nearby that our host described as "mostly gay" and "clothing optional" (we opted for, if you must know). There was a tour bus parked at Beach 69, which helped confirm our decision. At our chosen beach, the only people when we arrived were a pair of hippie chicks doing nude yoga on the beach (which begged the thought, How can she do that without getting sand in her....).
We quietly made our way past them to the water so as not to disturb, and I promptly smacked my toe really hard into a rock hidden in the swirl of the waves. I managed not to curse like a drunken sailor, even though I was nearly in tears, and was shortly rewarded for my restraint with the most incredible reefs we had seen on our entire trip. The corals were extensive and vibrant, growing on large lava rocks surrounded by wavy white sand, the water was unbelievably clear, and the fish were huge. I spent the entire time in sheer awe. The photos don't even begin to do it justice.
We spent enough time in the water that I had quite the sea legs when I stepped back onto land, but we made our way back to the B&B, packed all our things, then set out on the road to Hawi to visit Alicia & Norma once more (at Norma's clinic this time) before we had to come home. Alicia had recommended Thai food from a local vendor who sets up a tent under one of the big banyan trees on Saturdays, but we arrived too late and they had sold out. So instead Alicia pointed us across the street to Sushi Rock where we had amazing sushi and the monkeys had fun viewing the artwork.
Afterwards they insisted we stop at the banyan tree for a bit, 'cause what monkey doesn't love a tree?
Then we went back to the clinic, spent a little more time with Alicia & Norma, and headed out on the scenic route back to Kailua-Kona - over the Kohala mountains (where I think I could actually live - up in the clouds looking over rolling, emerald green pastures) to Waimea then down through the plains to the coast. We arrived in Kailua town in time to drop off the last of the disposable cameras for developing and get a cup of coffee at Lava Java before David had an appointment to get one of his tattoos touched up. Then we rushed to pick up photos and return our rental car and hopped on a plane for a long, exhausting trip home.
I did no knitting whatsoever while we were in Hawai'i, but it did help me get through a long, cramped flight from Phoenix to Boston, stuck in a middle seat and trying like mad not to let my claustrophobia get the better of me. I do, however, have 189 photos from our snorkeling outings that I have yet to scan in. I think that, rather than try to write more about this trip, I will post photos from time to time as I sort through them all. Vacation is over, I just got another pound of Junior roving in the mail, and although it's hot right now, Fall will be here before we know it.