The family flew to Hawaii for 10
days over Christmas. We decided to fly to the big island for 2 nights
to see the volcano, then fly on to Kauai for the rest of the
trip. This way we got a mini-adventure at the beginning of the
trip, then we could do as little as we liked for the rest of the
trip. Plus the way our airfare worked out, the stopover on the
big island was essentially free, since flying directly to Kauai was
going to cost significantly more than flying into Kona. While
Hilo airport is much closer to the volcono than Kona, no one flies into
Hilo from the mainland anymore.
Saturday December 22
we flew from San Jose to LAX, then from LAX to Kona. We arrived
at Kona at dusk. We named our own price and got rooms at the
Royal Kona Resort. The surf was huge, and the hotel was right on
the water. The Royal Kona was a bit dated but fine.
Sunday morning we drove all the way around the south end of the island. I was surprised to see lava flows on the southwest side of the island - I had no idea that Mauna Loa had been that active in recorded history.
We saw a sign for
black sand at the Panaluu County Beach and quickly pulled over.
The black sand was cool, but the green sea turtles were an unexpected
We had lunch at the Volcano House in the National Park. The only active volcano is Halema'uma'u Crater in Kilauea. We watched it in the distance during lunch, then got our picture taken in front of it.
CJ and I decided we wanted to go on a hike. The Ranger recommended the Kilauea Iki trail.
That night we ate at
the lively Pizza Hut buffet in Hilo. We had again named our own price,
this time getting the Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. We didn't get
to see Hilo in the daylight, other than the airport.
Lydgate Park is about a 10 minute walk north on the beach.
I wanted to see Tunnel's Beach, site of Bethany Hamilton's encounter with a Tiger Shark on Halloween 2003. Tunnels and nearby Ha'ena beach were both closed due to high surf. We could see surfers out at Tunnels perhaps 1/4 mile out, but I can see tiny images of surfers in the distance on big waves at Mavericks back home so this was not at all exciting. CJ and I walked from Ha'ena beach park to the point at Tunnels. After we got back the kids got fresh coconuts. The parking lot at Ke'e beach was packed, so we headed back to Hanalei for lunch. We ended up at L&L Hawaiian Barbeque - I was the only one who had experienced L&L before. Afterwards we snorkeled at Anini Beach. Anini is one of the very few places it is safe to swim or surf when the surf is high. We all saw green sea turtles while snorkelling, which was very cool.
Beach, with Ni'hau island in the distance
Friday decided to see
the west side of the island. It was much drier and warmer than
the north or east sides, and it wasn't very entertaining. I
wanted to drive up into the mountains to see Waimea Canyon, but the
weather didn't look very good and I can see clouds at home for
free. We had lunch at La Spezia in Koloa, then went on to
Poipu. Poipu was perhaps the third spot on the island that would
be safe for snorkeling, but it was small and so full of swimmers you
could almost have walked across it. We quickly decided we liked
Kapa'a much better than condo infested Poipu and headed back to our own
Saturday was Robby's 17th Birthday. For his birthday Robby decided snorkel at Anini again, then have lunch at L&L again.
Shave Ice Paradise
The trail to the completely forgettable Fern Grotto.
Later we all drove to Wailua Falls
On Tuesday, our last full day on Kauai, I decided to hike a bit of the Na Pali trail. I couldn't talk anyone else into going with me. I arrived at the trailhead at about 9am, just in time to snag the last spot in the parking lot. The trail is quite slick since it is never in the sun, and it rains here frequently. I hiked perhaps 3/4 of a mile until I got to a decent spot with a view up the coast. Others nearby pointed out the whales breaching in the distance perhaps a mile offshore. I quickly saw a few breaches - it was cool, but the whales were too far away to see. All I could see was a big splash of whitewater. I stayed at this spot watching the whales and enjoying an incredibly view for perhaps 45 minutes before turning around and heading back.
Later we all went to the beach again.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014.