Sunday, June 1, 2008

My summer vacation pt. 2 (Big Island, Hawaii)

Allowing just enough time before we had to check out of Volcano House, we took the Chain of Craters road from the Caldera down to the Petroglyph Trail. We did not have enough time to proceed beyond the boardwalk to see more of the petroglyphs. Would have needed more than the two hours we allotted to the entire trip.

On checking out S.O. discovered that he had lost his room key card. He thinks he may have dropped it at the petroglyph parking lot, a ½ hour drive away, so we paid the $20 replacement cost. If you happen to notice a credit card sized piece of plastic on the road there, please return it to Volcano House. They promise they will refund the fee if it is returned.
Hawksbill turtle at Punaluu Black Sand Beach
We took road 11 south to get to Kona with a rest stop at the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach (where we saw lots of hawkbill turtles in the water and one sunning on the beach) and lunch at the Hana Hou Bakery, the southern-most restaurant in the United States. My review can be found at

In Kona we stayed in a condo complex (Kona by the was recommended by an old boss.) The condo (unit 309) was good sized. One bedroom, two bathrooms, a complete kitchen and a washer and dryer. Of course a lanai with an ocean view. Suggestion, even if you don’t intent to use the dishwasher, check it right away. I discovered on our last morning as we were rushing out that the prior occupants had loaded it with their dirty dishes and never run the wash. Solved the mystery as to why I couldn’t find some things in the kitchen.

One afternoon we took the Mauna Kea Summit trip offered through Hawaii Forest and Trail. A well organized and fun trip. Two vans, each holding eight passengers, head out from Kona to arrive at the summit of Mauna Kea in time for sunset. Along the way is a dinner stop at about the 6,000 foot level to help acclimate to the elevation. We spent about an hour at the summit (over 13,000 feet, parkas provided) in time to watch a number of observatories rotate and open in preparation of the night's work, and a spectacular sunset. We then headed down to the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, at about 9,000 feet, for bathrooms, hot chocolate and star gazing. The trip ended at about 11 p.m. We got some good tips on where to eat cheaply in Kona from our guide Chuck.
Mauna Kea summit preparing for sunset shots
One morning we took the Fair Wind II catamaran out of Keauhou Bay for a morning of snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay. Great snorkeling. Review of the excursion can be found at:

One of the highlights of the trip was going to the Sheraton Keauhou Bay at night to the terrace off the Crystal Blue Terrace bar to see manta rays feeding. The resort shines a light into the ocean which attracts plankton which in turn attracts the manta rays. The night we went there were two snorkelers in the water with the rays shining bright flashlights into the water. There were four manta rays feeding around them.

Purchase and read cover-to-cover the Wizard Publications Big Island Revealed.
Bring along a soft-sided insulated cooler. We froze water bottles and packed our lunch sandwiches in it daily.
Find out if cruise ships will be in port and plan accordingly. The port areas and popular sites will be crowded.

What we’d do differently:
We’d spend more time in Hilo. We’d upgrade to a car with a trunk so we wouldn't have to worry about leaving our luggage in the car as we moved from one location to another. I would purchase and bring along my own prescription snorkel mask.

Some of my photos are at:

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