Written by MilwVon on 17 Sep, 2009
If you have read my other Kona, Hawaii journals you may have seen my reviews of Lava Java (Alii Drive in Kauila-Kona) and the Aloha Angel Cafe (Hwy11 south of Kona in Kainaliu). These two places have been mainstays on our dining list when…Read More
If you have read my other Kona, Hawaii journals you may have seen my reviews of Lava Java (Alii Drive in Kauila-Kona) and the Aloha Angel Cafe (Hwy11 south of Kona in Kainaliu). These two places have been mainstays on our dining list when in Kona and in fact, have been a much anticipated highlight!Dating back to 2005, we have been stopping at the Java Lava for a great Sunday breakfast on our first morning in town especially since we usually arrive late on Saturday evening, and haven't had time to go to the Safeway for groceries and we wake up rather hungry the next morning.When we arrived at Lava Java we didn't recognize the menu. It was approximately 10:00am and they had a rather limited "brunch" offering which was really pretty pitiful. No eggs over easy, only fancy omelets . . . no waffles . . . heck I don't even think I saw breakfast meats come to think of it. You may ask "Ok Von, what did they have?" and as poor as this is going to sound, the experience was so forgettable, I have forgotten!We went for the car and headed up the hill to Denny's which had a long wait and slow service. Once we were seated after an approximately 20 minute wait, it took 15 minutes for David to get a coffee. About 15 minutes later we were ordering and nearly a full hour after that, we were finally eating. I don't know how they screw up breakfast, but the Grand Slam was more like the big whiff!Thankfully we were right next to the Safeway so we stocked up on stuff for the condo including eggs, bacon, bread, cereal and milk. We were now set for the rest of our time in Kona, until check out on Saturday. Mmmmm Saturday . . . Alooooooha Angel baby!!!Ok so we cruise on up Hwy 11 towards coffee farm row. As we enter the small village where the Aloha Theatre is, we notice the different "look" of the front of the building but couldn't really place what was out of place. It was the sign . . . the beautiful Aloha Angel Cafe sign was gone. And what was worse? So was the cafe itself! YIKES.As we entered what used to be the entrance to the Aloha Angel Cafe, it was clear that this area was now only used as the entrance to the rest rooms. There used to be a large bakery case right at the door here . . . GONE. Replaced with a big door with a sign "EMPLOYEES ONLY!" What's with that?We went back out onto the front sidewalk to see that where the other restaurant used to be (the one that used to be open only for supper) there were a couple of tables occupied and people appeared to be dining. I then saw the sign overhead at the sidewalk entrance: Aloha Theater Cafe.As we entered, we noticed a couple of men who were working the place. The older of the two said he would be right with us, as he headed back into the kitchen. Given the amount of sweat on his brow, I assumed he was the cook.The other younger guy took us to an open (and clean) table. I make the distinction because there were many open tables and only two that had been cleared or were ready for new guests. It took a while to get coffee for David but he was finally taken care of and we ordered breakfast. And what a boring breakfast it would be. None of those large fluffy blueberry pancakes like Cathy enjoyed with me back in April 2006 . . . no home baked muffins like Ellie enjoyed on our first trip there in December 2005 . . . and argh to my chagrin, fried eggs that looked like they had been micro-waved or something. They looked dried out and chewy to me. To go with his yucky looking eggs, David had SPAM which he said was also overcooked and dried out.I ordered a ham & mushroom omelet which was more like scrambled eggs with a pile of stuff between the fold. The breakfast potatoes were overdone, approaching burnt but the toast was good :) Hurray for good toast! Never mind jelly however, as it took him some time to track down "the" basket of jellies that only had some brand X mixed fruit packets.All and all most disappointing especially considering it was by far, the most expensive breakfast we had experienced in our two weeks in Hawaii. Before we left I asked the older guy if this was under new ownership and he said no, that they had to close the other side down because of some construction going on, on that side of their building. Mmmm I don't know - - I cannot believe this dump was owned by the same people, or perhaps more accurately, run by the same people as our little Aloha Angel. When I pressed further, he reaffirmed "nope, all the same as before."I'm sorry NOT THE SAME AS BEFORE . . . this sucked and we will not be coming back I mumbled to David as we left. I miss the outstanding bakery items and the friendly ladies and young gals who used to work at the cafe. I also miss enjoying a good breakfast on our last day in Hawaii; the last meal we would have before heading out for our 14 hours of travel home to Wisconsin.This was the ultimate bummer end to what was otherwise a great vacation.Close
Written by konaorbust on 24 Jan, 2007
We had the best experience without breaking the bank! You'll need a rental car but I would suggest a rental car for anyone going to the Big Island. Pick up a Kayak (there's lots of places to get one, we found great prices and service…Read More
We had the best experience without breaking the bank! You'll need a rental car but I would suggest a rental car for anyone going to the Big Island. Pick up a Kayak (there's lots of places to get one, we found great prices and service in town - Likana Lane I think). They had the snorkeling equipment and Kayak all for a great price and great service.Find your way to Kealakekua Bay, the kayak shop gave us directions to the Kayak launch, it's actually down from the actual bay. Napoopoo Beach is a landmark there. There will be some locals there to help you launch if you need help.Ask them about the wild dolphins and if they've been out that day. We went twice and swam with them both times. Earlier in the morning is the best. They are normally on the way to Kealakekua Bay. We were lucky to find other locals who simply swam (fins & snorkels) to the spot and helped us interact with them. We just took turn holding onto the kayak while the other swam about. Usually the person on/near the kayak could get great views. Take an underwater camera, if there's anyone else there with them ask them for advice... basically don't swim after them, keep you arms at your sides and relax, they'll be curious and come to you if they choose.The water is amazing; don't forget to soak it all up.If you're lucky to spend time with the local dolphins you might be ready to call it a day, what can top wild dolphins? Keep kayaking to the Bay, it's worth it. It's an amazing experience and worth the effort. Best part is that each person on a tour boat spends upwards of $100 each and they have a time limit. You can bring your kayak on the rocks at the Bay, go snorkeling and enjoy the sights.Your kayak has staps if you want to bring a small cooler or bag with lunch and drinks. We have pictures with our friends with our full spread and beers!Close
Written by divegirl78 on 18 May, 2005
So, 2 months in Hawaii--what’s a girl to do? Well, Hawaii has it all. Great beaches off the beaten track, active volcanoes, waterfalls, great diving, surfing, and just in case you get tired of the sunshine, there’s a snow-capped mountain to explore (but…Read More
So, 2 months in Hawaii--what’s a girl to do? Well, Hawaii has it all. Great beaches off the beaten track, active volcanoes, waterfalls, great diving, surfing, and just in case you get tired of the sunshine, there’s a snow-capped mountain to explore (but more about that later). This is one island that really has it all! Once you get past the pronunciations, there are some great places to discover.
The west (or Kona) coast is the hottest and driest, and further to the northeast (Hilo) is generally cooler and gets a whole lot more rain. The best sandy beaches tend to be the ones off the beaten track on the west coast--ones that require some serious 4x4 skills, a lot of nerve, and if you’re a girl, a sports bra to defy gravity. To the south, Manuka Bay is a gem, and you can camp out at the bay; it’s utterly beautiful. Word of warning: it’s a good 35 minutes or so off-road down some bumpy tracks to get there, but well worth the trip. There’s even a loo on the hill overlooking the bay that has to have the best view I have ever come across on such occasions!!
Head further south and go to Green Sands Beach, again worth the drive and yes the sand really is green. A little way on is South Point, the southernmost spot in the USA; apparently this is up for debate with some folks in The Keys, but I’m not going to argue. Not really a huge amount down here, other than the disused wind farm rusting away.
The Volcanoes National Park is definitely worth a trip, if you’re lucky the lava can be seen flowing on the surface. It’s a fair hike (about 3 miles) to the active vent from the road – make sure you take plenty of water, its seriously hot underfoot as well as the sunshine! The visitors centre has some interesting stuff, especially watching the needle on the Richter scale jump around when you’re standing on the same spot.
Mauna Kea, the snow-capped mountain, was probably the highlight of my trip. After sitting on a beach in the morning, it seemed a little strange to be packing up the truck with layers of clothing, fleeces, jeans, and a hat whilst it was still 80 degrees or so. Driving across Saddle Road (or Straddle Road, as it’s known by the locals--everyone drives down the middle, thanks to some genius road engineering when they widened the road from a single track by putting about 6 inches of tarmac on each verge) isn’t as bad as the guidebooks make out. I’d half expected all kinds of phenomena to appear after reading tales of desolate landscapes and ghostly visions. I saw a few cattle, and that was the extent of my terror. Once you get to the visitor centre, it’s really advisable to stop and acclimatise yourself and to put on the jeans, three t-shirts, two fleeces, jacket, and hat you’d brought. Word of warning: it’s seriously cold up there, and the wind can really blow (check out the holes drilled thru the road signs on the way up to stop them from being blown over), and when it does, it’s damn cold. So no flip-flops, shorts, or bikinis. The sunset is incredible once you get up there (4wd definitely required); it really does leave you in awe, and the photos just don’t do it justice. On the way back down, if it’s a clear night, the star show at the visitors centre is worth a look. I even saw Saturn!
There is a good choice of bars and restaurants in Kona--for the love of god, branch out and don’t eat at Wendy’s/Taco Bell/McDonalds! The Brew Pub in Kailua, Kona, does the best freshly made pizzas, and the beer is pretty fine too. The Bangkok House Thai restaurant is a good meal. Happy Hour at Oceans is worth a visit--just dodge the chicken nuggets on the pupu menu, as I think the unanimous verdict was that it was a roadkill nugget, but everything else is great. The Sunset bar is right on the sea front and nice to go to once to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
Hawaii also hosts the annual IronMan Triathlon, and you see folks in training all year for this feat. I'm not sure whether to admire them or label them as crazy. I think it’s held in September, when thousands of competitors descend on the island. Perhaps a time to avoid if you have an aversion to lycra.
So, the verdict: Hawaii is great. The people are really friendly, the weather is constant, and there is so much to see and do. Where else in the world can you see rainforests, waterfalls, lava, beaches, and a snow-capped mountain all in one place? Admittedly, that would involve driving very far and probably breaking the speed limit, but you catch my drift.
Written by MilwVon on 24 Dec, 2005
Since we had to be checked out of our timeshare resort by 10am and our flight off the island wasn't until 6pm, we had a lot of time to kill but didn't want to get sandy or scuzzy on the beach. What a perfect day…Read More
Since we had to be checked out of our timeshare resort by 10am and our flight off the island wasn't until 6pm, we had a lot of time to kill but didn't want to get sandy or scuzzy on the beach. What a perfect day to go tour the coffee plantations on the Kona hillside!
The first one we stopped at was Greenwell Farms. Founded in 1850, this is one of the oldest coffee companies in Hawaii. Today, Greenwell is owned and operated by fourth-generation Greenwells. They provide a short walking tour that explains all that goes into that 1-pound bag of coffee. We got to see and pick coffee beans off the tree and learned how they process the beans and what goes into the roasting process. It's amazing to think that other local coffee growers are able to sell their "cherries" for just $1.20 per pound!! This company, as well as most other producer/marketers, buys coffee from other smaller local Kona farms. While at Greenwell, you can buy coffee (beans or ground) that is either 10% blend, 100% Kona (Greenwell plus other farms coffee), or 100% Greenwell Estate Kona. Prices range from $18 to $30 per pound. If you are planning to buy 5 or more pounds, be sure to pick up and use the coupon in the "101 Things to do on The Big Island" for a free handmade wooden coffee measuring "cup."
After leaving Greenwell, we headed down to Kona Joes, probably the most marketed Kona coffee in the region. You can't go anywhere without seeing Kona Joe signs and ads. They brag about being the Kona coffee choice of the rich and famous, with their product available in stores such as Macy's and Neiman Marcus. Prices were reflective of that, too. What makes Kona Joe's coffee operation different is that they have a patented "trellis" system of growing coffee. They say that adds to the quality and output volume of their coffee. We frankly couldn't tell the difference in flavor, so we didn't see the higher price being worth it. Their tour was also very informative, and if for no other reason, you should consider a stop here. They do all of their own roasting, making certain that they don't allow the toxic acidic fumes into the atmosphere that would later affect the sea life through acid rain that kills the reef. Kudos to them for being environmentally aware and taking the extra effort to protect marine life!
Both Greenwell Farms and Kona Joe are located just off Highway 11 and are easy to find. After our time touring these two coffee companies, we ventured up into the Kona hillside, where there are literally hundreds of small coffee farms, with coffee trees growing seemingly wild along the roads. Check out both of these coffee producers at their websites, www.greenwellfarms.com and www.konajoe.com.
Written by Malahini on 19 Jul, 2002
Solid rock! Hard and inhospitable! One would think so - about islands formed entirely of lava, welling up and flowing in layers to the ocean, across the ages. But, surprise:
There's lots of water, spurting from high cliffs and flowing from hidden springs - some…Read More
Solid rock! Hard and inhospitable! One would think so - about islands formed entirely of lava, welling up and flowing in layers to the ocean, across the ages. But, surprise:
There's lots of water, spurting from high cliffs and flowing from hidden springs - some along the shore and beneath the ocean's surface. In old Hawai'i, those who needed water could swim out to feel a cold fresh current and uncork an empty gourd to carry fresh water back to shore. It's like that in spots like Kahalu'u (means "Place for diving) and Punalu'u (means "Spring for diving") on the Big Island. Where did that water come from and how did it flow hidden beneath the lava?
The trade winds bring the moisture. They have the wide Pacific to draw it from. And when they reach Hawai'i mountains and rise to pass over them, the winds cool; the moisture condenses, and it rains abundantly. No, not along the coast, but in the higher elevations - where the tourists are fewer. So, on the side facing the trade winds, there's lots of water. On the downwind side, the reverse happens - and the landscape can be desertlike. Remarkable that it should be so on an island like Kaua'i which is only about 35 miles in diameter. But it happens especially on the Kaua'i volcano, Wai'ale'ale, which gets 40 ft. of rain annually.. That time worn volcano is only 5000 feet above the ocean - which is where there's still lots of moist air. (Haleakala, and Moana Kea are 10,000 ft or more and lie above the moist zone. They are desertlike).
Now the water is on the ground. So why doesn't it flow on the surface, like the rivers in the continental US? Well, the lava is porous and contains hollow lava tubes, like the Thurston Lava Tube in Volcanoes National Park. Consider how a lava tube forms:
Molten lava, flowing in a river down the mountainside, loses heat to the air above. Then, it skins over and the insulated hot lava below continues to flow. If lava flow is interrupted at its source, the tube drains - leaving a cave which may run for miles. Besides that: some lava (a'a) is clinker-like, allowing water to percolate through it.
I'll try to find and post some pictures of waterfalls and lava tubes later. But not all the photos are accepted by the RCI website, for reasons I don't understand yet.
Written by MilwVon on 24 Feb, 2007
You cannot go anywhere in Hawaii, and especially on the Big Island, without seeing these beautiful flowers. They come in many colors and varieties—over 200—and on both shrubs and trees. Attached to this review are several that we saw during our travels around the Big…Read More
You cannot go anywhere in Hawaii, and especially on the Big Island, without seeing these beautiful flowers. They come in many colors and varieties—over 200—and on both shrubs and trees. Attached to this review are several that we saw during our travels around the Big Island. What was really surprising was to find hibiscus just growing in the wild, along the roads as you venture out into the countryside.Out at Kona Joe's they had a lovely garden area with many different types of flowers including hibiscus. Many yards in and around Hilo also had plenty of hibiscus plants. At other public locations, we saw several large shrubs covered in flowers. At our timeshare property, there were several of the yellow variety. Amazingly, you would see the buds closed one day and the next, they would bloom into a gorgeous large flower.What many might not know is that the extract of hibiscus is known to have medicinal uses for such ailments as constipation, nausea, and bladder infections. Scientists in Taiwan are studying the effect on lowering LDL cholesterol and reducing heart disease.Enjoy the photos I've attached to this review. I especially loved the purple ones with the white centers. Their fluted edges and the contrasting colors really made them stand out as exceptional.If you love the hibiscus enough to want to take a plant home with you, there are several places around Hawaii where you can order them and have them shipped home. For me, I settled on a nice pair of earrings to match my Hawaiian floral dress. All of the local stores carry hibiscus jewelry...even the local ABC Store on just about every corner of every island of Hawaii.Close
Written by MilwVon on 25 Dec, 2005
You know, nobody ever really writes about the airline flight from the mainland to Hawaii, so I thought I would be the first! We flew from Des Moines to Honolulu, where we spent our first week of vacation. Then we flew from there via Hawaiian…Read More
You know, nobody ever really writes about the airline flight from the mainland to Hawaii, so I thought I would be the first! We flew from Des Moines to Honolulu, where we spent our first week of vacation. Then we flew from there via Hawaiian Airlines to Kona. We chose Hawaiian Airlines over Aloha only because they are a member of the "Sky Team Alliance" with Northwest Airlines, our preferred carrier for all air travel. For this trip, my husband and I used our frequent flier miles to fly first-class on NWA. What a treat! Sure, I've done the first-class thing around the USA (thanks again to NWA and their World Perks Elite Program), but it's nothing like what it is like to fly to Hawaii in first-class.
First off, as soon as you board the plane, you are greeted immediately by a flight attendant with a mai tai. Yummy! Then after take off from Minneapolis, they began our dinner service (which was actually more like a heavy lunch). After our meal service, they prepared individual sundaes to order, which included vanilla ice cream with chocolate and/or strawberry topping. After a lengthy nap, they fed us again, this time a "snack" that was more like a regular lunch. Of course, it is all the free beverages (soft drinks and booze) that you wish to consume, but with an 8-hour flight, we chose to be more prudent (and I napped). The flight back from Kona to the mainland started on Hawaiian and connected in Honolulu to NWA. First-class service from Honolulu back to Minneapolis ("just" 7.5 hours back) included the same type of food and beverage services. Sleeping, however, was not optional on this overnight flight! The dude behind us snored for what had to be 2,000 miles! The comfort and space afforded you in first-class surely makes what would otherwise be a difficult trip more bearable.
My mother-in-law and sister-in-law also flew on our flight for the Hawaii/Minneapolis segments. They came in from Indianapolis and then hooked up with us for the rest of the trip. They said it was tight quarters in coach. Airfares were very reasonable for them, just $650 round-trip Indianapolis/Honolulu. Add another $138 for the Honolulu/Kona round-trip.
For my upcoming trip to Kona in April 2006, I paid $968 for a coach ticket (Des Moines/Kona) and then used 35,000 miles to upgrade into first-class. (A first-class ticket priced out at $2,600 at the time, and I didn't have enough miles to fly for free in first-class.) I'm not sure how much my friends are paying to fly for our April trip but will try to remember to update here when I find out. (They are traveling from Milwaukee to Kona.)
I will close by saying that I know all of the airlines are having financial challenges. Northwest is one of several currently reorganizing while under the protection of bankruptcy. I have been a loyal customer of theirs for over 10 years. While their general customer service by telephone and airport (gate) personnel has slipped considerably in my opinion, I find the air crews (pilots and flight attendants) to be professional, friendly, and attentive to the traveling public. I do not have any concerns or worries about continuing my business with them into the future.
Written by bgarver on 10 Jun, 2003
We originally planned to take a morning flight to Maui on this day, but when we tried to get tickets earlier in the week, we couldn’t. It was a three-day weekend (Veteran’s Day), and apparently everyone on the Big Island was going to Maui. So,…Read More
We originally planned to take a morning flight to Maui on this day, but when we tried to get tickets earlier in the week, we couldn’t. It was a three-day weekend (Veteran’s Day), and apparently everyone on the Big Island was going to Maui. So, we changed the name of the day to Clean-Up Day, and tried to see everything that we had missed earlier in the week. This was the day that Lori and I switched personalities. The resort aliens had gotten to Lori the day before, and she was more interested in beach time than anything else. I took over her role as Nazi tour guide and we headed out towards Hilo again. Our first stop was the Kaumana Caves outside of Hilo on Saddle Road. The caves were in all the tour books and we were expecting something a little more commercial, with tour guides, lighting, other people etc. Instead, we found some steep steps that took us down to the mouth of a large cave. It had been formed by the Mauna Loa eruption of 1881. There were no lights, no tour guides, and no other people. According to the AAA book, you could explore the cave for about half a mile. But we had no flashlights and couldn’t go in very far at all. We stayed for a few minutes, reading the graffiti scratched into the lava floor. Some of it dated back to 1914. We decided that on the next Hawaiian trip, we would pack flashlights.
We continued on Saddle Road to the turn off for the Mauna Kea Recreation Area and began to drive up the mountain. The Lincoln was struggling. I had the accelerator floored, but we couldn’t go more than about 30mph. We made it to the Visitors’ Center, at an elevation of about 6500 feet, and were not unhappy to find that we couldn’t go any further without a permit. Lori was suffering from altitude sickness (I didn’t know there was such a thing, but there is) and I had no desire to return the car to the rental agency minus a transmission or something equally expensive. We had a much easier time driving down the mountain.
We took Saddle Road, which was very narrow at times, to Waimea. We weren’t sure if we could make it all the way across the island on Saddle Road, because one map showed a break halfway across, and another showed a lot of dotted lines. Fortunately, the Hawaiian road crews must have been busy in the last couple of years, because we made it all the way to Waimea, where we had been to the Parker Ranch three days earlier.
Waimea is also called Kamuela, to distinguish it from the town of Waimea on Kauai. Due to the proximity of the Parker Ranch, the town has something of a southwestern atmosphere. We ate lunch at a cowboy restaurant named Paniolo’s. I had the best hamburger in the world, and Lori again enjoyed Mexican food in Hawaii.
Again, Lori wanted to go to a beach, preferably the one at the Hilton Waikaloa, but I was the tour guide now. We stopped next at the Harriet M. Solomon Kamuela Museum, which turned out to be one of the best stops of the trip. It was more a private house than a museum, just crammed full of artifacts. A 72-year-old man took our five dollars and admitted us. Like the cave visit, we were the only tourists. There were relics from ancient Hawaiian times, heirlooms from the Iolani Palace, furniture from the old missionary houses, stuffed animals (not the cute kind, but the kind that come from the taxidermist and look like they’re going to bite you at any moment), clothes worn by Hawaiian royalty, and other things far too numerous to mention. Items were just placed inside display cabinets and on shelves, and there did not appear to be any attempted preservation at all. The place smelled like must and formaldehyde, but we stayed. After about two hours (no drive-by Hawaii on this one), we reached the end and talked to the old man, Albert Solomon, Jr. His father had established the museum and filled it with artifacts that he acquired over his lifetime. The Solomons were part Hawaiian, and their ancestors had served as kahunas to the Hawaiian chiefs. Mr. Solomon, Jr. had attended the Kamehameha schools, and was in the same graduating class as Don Ho. He immediately gained my respect with that comment.
Mr. Solomon, Sr. had died the year before at 90+ years. Now the widow and our new friend were attempting to sell the museum. Mr. Solomon, Sr. had been negotiating a sale for over $7 million before he died, but it had fallen through. Now the price had dropped to $2 million, and there were no buyers in sight. Lori and I expressed surprise that the Bishop Museum and the Iolani Palace were not interested. Mr. Solomon, Jr. said that they wanted everything to be donated to them. He said the Hawaiians claimed that the artifacts "belonged" to them. He told them that he was Hawaiian, too, and that his father had paid for every item in the museum. If they wanted the stuff, they could pay, too.
He then told us stories about when he was in the hotel business in Waikiki – how Peter Lawford had tricked him into calling Lawford’s wife a whore, and how Frank Sinatra had thrown a tray of sandwiches to the floor in a rage. Closing time was upon us, and Lori and I left contemplating many issues: how we could acquire $2 million to buy the museum, how we would sell a few artifacts in order to finance the preservation of the remainder, how we would involve an old college friend who was now a museum curator, etc.
On the way back, we found ourselves close to Hawi, and couldn’t resist resuming the search for the birthplace of King Kamehameha. We speculated that the small lagoon covering the dirt road might have dried up by now, and we returned to the tiny airport and started up the road. Sure enough, the puddle had diminished in size, and the Lincoln crossed it with a great splash. Unfortunately, we had only driven about 30 more feet, when we came across another puddle, even bigger than the first one had been originally. We left the car in the road and continued on foot. I was determined and full of energy, but Lori became disillusioned after she slipped in the mud, drenching one foot completely. Before long, Lori began to slow her pace, asking if we couldn’t just assume that Kamehameha was born somewhere in the general vicinity. But I was determined that I would not be bested by some two-bit tourist trap, and the hike continued.
After we had walked for about a mile, I saw something in the distance that looked like it might be our goal, but it was just another heiau. A little further along, I found a sign showing that the birthplace was ahead. My pace quickened. I couldn’t even see Lori when I looked around anymore. Finally, after another fifteen minutes, the birthplace of King Kamehameha appeared suddenly like an oasis in the desert. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. In reality, of course, it looked just like any other heiau, but it did have the sign in front proclaiming that the greatest Hawaiian king had been born there. Lori caught up, I took several pictures, and we started the hike back to the Lincoln. The sunset was spectacular, and I suspect that King Kamehameha was beaming down at us from Hawaiian heaven. We returned to Kona, ordered take-out and did some laundry. Now that we had found the birthplace, we knew we could leave the Big Island with no regrets.
We christened this day Waterfalls Day. We drove to Hilo, on the other side of the island, stopping first at the Laupahoehoe (pronounced low (like cow) pa HOY hoy) Beach Park. This place had been hit hard by the 1946 tsunami, wiping out a school,…Read More
We christened this day Waterfalls Day. We drove to Hilo, on the other side of the island, stopping first at the Laupahoehoe (pronounced low (like cow) pa HOY hoy) Beach Park. This place had been hit hard by the 1946 tsunami, wiping out a school, and killing 24 students and teachers within minutes. There was a monument to them, and their ages ranged from 36 years to three months. The park itself was beautiful, or as accurately described by the Hidden Hawaii book, "hauntingly beautiful."
After the park, we stopped at the Laupahoehoe Train Museum. It was a tiny little place, staffed by a very talkative volunteer named Diana and her dog Hoku ("Hoku" means "star" in Hawaiian, and the name is shared by one of Don Ho’s daughters). The train system was originally built for the sugar cane plantations, and traversed the coast of the island. It had been very costly to build, with the many necessary bridges. The 1946 tsunami ruined so much of the track and bridges, particularly in Hilo, that it was discontinued, and trucks took over the work of the trains. Most of the track and train cars were converted to scrap metal, but some farmer was outraged by this, and hid the engine and one of the cars in one of his fields. Many years later, he donated them to the train museum.
After the train museum, we stopped at the World Botanical Gardens and Umauma Falls. This place was still under construction, but the falls were beautiful, as were all the flowers and other plant life. We continued the waterfall motif at Akaka State Park, where we saw the majestic Akaka Falls, and the somewhat less impressive Kahuna Falls.
By the time we got to Hilo, we decided that although we had seen some good stuff, the day was lacking something. Lori decided we needed to do something spectacular to cap off the day, so she called Island Hoppers and arranged for us to fly over a volcano in one of those little Cessnas. Our pilot was named Mike. He didn’t look very old, but he said he had over 500 hours of flight time logged, so we went up. Well, we would have gone up anyway, but I felt a little better about it, knowing he had that much experience. We flew over Kilauea where steam was billowing out of the crater, then flew over the same area we had hiked across on Monday to see the lava flowing into the sea. We also flew over Rainbow Falls, and a macadamia nut farm. The views were breathtaking, but we were both feeling ill. We eventually landed safely and Lori and I managed to keep our lunches down.
On the way back through Hilo, we did a drive-by of the Naha and Pinao stones, sitting in front of the library. According to legend, whoever could move the large Naha stone would be king. Naturally, our old friend Kamehameha moved it while he was still a teenager. The Pinao stone was supposed to be an entrance pillar to an ancient Hawaiian temple that stood on the same site as the library.
We returned to Kona, and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Tres Hombres. This was the best meal of the trip so far, and Lori remarked on how we had to come to Hawaii to find good Mexican food. Thus far, we had dubbed the Big Island "The Land of Bad Food."
In Hawaii, the state’s first female governor was elected.
Also in Hawaii, Lori and I began our version of Kamehameha Day. After first stopping at the airport and discovering we couldn’t get an early morning flight to Maui on Friday for our planned little…Read More
In Hawaii, the state’s first female governor was elected.
Also in Hawaii, Lori and I began our version of Kamehameha Day. After first stopping at the airport and discovering we couldn’t get an early morning flight to Maui on Friday for our planned little junket, we visited the Pu’ukohola Heiau Historic Site. A heiau (pronounced HAY-ow, I believe) is basically a fortress made of stone. This particular one was built at the direction of King Kamehameha the Great, and it was dedicated with human sacrifices in 1791. Kamehameha had received a prophecy that if he built a heiau at this particular location, he would rule all the Hawaiian islands. The prophecy was evidently accurate.
After Pu’ukohola, we made our first attempt to find King Kamehameha’s birthplace. It was described in Lori’s Hidden Hawaii book, and was designated on several maps, but we simply couldn’t find it. The Hidden Hawaii book said you reached it by driving toward a tiny little airport outside of Hawi. We drove down a one-lane road through farmlands and cow pastures, and finally found the airport. There was a dirt road near it, but absolutely no signs for King Kamehameha’s birthplace. We tried to drive up the dirt road, but there were huge mud puddles stretching all the way across, and we didn’t think the Lincoln could make it. We tried to approach from the other end, but the road was closed off, and all we could find was a monument dedicated to some Puerto Ricans who landed in that spot. I don’t think it was even a real monument – it looked like something that had been put there by the descendants of the Puerto Ricans who lived in that area.
The search was putting us behind schedule, so we finally gave up, and proceeded on to Hawi. There we found the Pololu Valley and walked down a very steep path to find a breathtaking view. Well, Lori walked farther down than I did. Frankly, I was getting a little tired of walking down all these steep paths. I didn’t mind walking down, but somehow, we always had to come back up.
Also near Hawi, in Kapaau, we saw the statue of King Kamehameha. We had seen basically the same statue in Honolulu last year. In 1880, the statue was lost en route from Italy to Honolulu, when the ship it was on sank somewhere in the South Atlantic. Fortunately, it was covered by insurance, and a replica was produced and shipped to Honolulu. Years later, the original statue was actually found in a junkyard in the Falkland Islands. Someone figured out what it was and sent it to Kapaau, not far from King Kamehameha’s alleged birthplace.
From Hawi, we continued to the Parker Ranch (225,000 acres) in Waimea and rode in a horse-drawn wagon, driven by a loquacious old cowboy named Isaac (are all cowboys loquacious? Or have I just read too many Zane Grey novels?). In any event, Isaac was from East Tennessee originally, and used to ride on the rodeo circuit. He became disillusioned with his home state after Dolly Parton made it too commercialized.
Isaac told us all about ranching in Hawaii. Hawaiian ranchers only raise cattle for the first year, until the cows reach about 1000 pounds. Then they ship them to Vancouver and other places, where other ranchers purchase them, fatten them up, and sell them for meat. The reason for this practice is that there is always grass in Hawaii and no hay. It is too expensive for the ranchers to import hay to fatten up the cattle. So the cows are only grass-fed until they are old enough to be shipped out.
There were no cows in Hawaii at all, until an officer in the British Navy gave four longhorns as a gift to the King in the late 1700's. They multiplied and ran wild, causing major problems for the Hawaiians, until John Parker domesticated some and helped to hunt and kill the rest. They brought in vaqueros to teach the Hawaiians how to be cowboys, or "paniolos." Years later, the Parker Ranch is still operating - over 55,000 head of cattle, and only about 14 paniolos to do all the work. Ironically, the name of the British officer who brought over the first cows was Vancouver, and that’s where the cows are now shipped. Well, I thought it was funny, anyway.
We also visited the Parker Ranch museum and watched a boring video about ranching. Isaac was much more interesting. Then we hurried back to Kona to attend Captain Bean’s dinner cruise. It was all you could eat and drink. There was not much in the way of vegetarian fare for Lori, but we made up for it in Mai Tai’s. The entertainment was decent – Polynesian music and dances – and the ocean was beautiful.