Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Maninini'owali Beach (Kua Bay)

View from our room
Yesterday was our final day at the beach. We took full advantage of it. One of our goals this year has been not to repeat going to places we visited last year, except for Two Lady's Kitchen. There is so much to see on the Big Island that we could continue coming her for several more years and not repeat anything!

Yesterday we decided to spend the day at Maninini'owali Beach (Kua Bay.) The guide we have been using said that this was a lovely beach which was remote. "Powdery white sand and clear blue waters good for swimming. This is a top beach for fun in the sun and one of the most beautiful bays you will every see. Unfortunately, the new paved access road means this beach is often crowded." OK, so I have been to the Jersey shore and that is crowded. We assumed this beach could not be THAT crowded.

View of road through windshield.
Road sign on Park Access

We were correct. In fact, the beach was almost deserted. However, I am jumping ahead. The directions told us to turn off of the highway onto the Kekaha Kai State Park access road. We did and were very surprised because the road they said was paved must have been so 20 years ago because it was in terrible shape. We had to slowly creep along the road, even the four wheel drives were crawling along the road. It felt like it took us forever to reach the parking area. There were places along the road that were narrow, so we had to pull over to the side when a car approached that was leaving the area. It was one of the bumpiest rides I every experienced. Finally we reached the parking area!!!

View of beach from trail.

Green turtle resting on the beach
A second Green turtle swimming in the ocean
Barry in the ocean
As usual, we had to hike about a quarter of a mile from the car to the beach. There were actually two beaches in the area. The first beach we reached had people fishing with rods. I was not comfortable swimming around fishing wire and hooks, so we decided to walk to the second and smaller beach. I am so glad we made that decision. The second beach was empty. The best part was that a Honu, green sea turtle, was sleeping on the beach. We did not expect to see any Honus there. The biggest gift we experienced at the Maninini'owali Beach was swimming with the green sea turtles. Yes, there were green sea turtles in the water with us. No we did not touch them or interfere with them. We would be in the water and a turtle would surface near us, by lifting it's head. It was fun! Last year we swam with the tropical fish, but no turtles. We only saw the turtles at the black sand beach where it was too rocky to swim.

Maninini'owali Beach was more multicolored than white sand. In fact, non of the beaches I have seen in Hawaii have white sand beaches. I would call them beige.

Rainbow in the sky
When we left the beach and hiked back to the car we saw a mongoose, unfortunately it was too fast for me to get a photo. Getting back to the car was just part of the journey. We had to drive down the bumpy, crumbling, and pot hole filled road back to the highway. We crept slowly down the road. When we were a few feet away from the smoothly paved road right before the highway I noticed a rainbow. This was our first rainbow this trip. Last year we saw a couple in Waimea.

Barry and I returned to our room to eat left overs for dinner. Then we walked to the hot tub for our final night surrounded by warm water under the stars. This time the tub was occupied by a couple when we arrived. They soon left and we had the hot tub to ourselves for a while before a family and then a couple came. Even with all of this traffic I was able to get some time to float. There were even more stars in the sky this evening. I am not ready to return home!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kauna'oa Bay and Mauna Kea Beach

Yesterday was focused on water and warm temperatures. Our time was focused in South Kohala where it was 81 degrees and sunny. We seem to have a pattern, slow easy days after a very busy one. We spent the morning in the room. When we ventured out we saw wild turkey, goat and mongoose. Unfortunately, I did not get any photos of these wild life.
Ground messages

The Hawaiians have a tradition of writing messages in the black-lava fields with white-coral. They have been doing this for decades. I like this tradition. I see it as an art form, one that continually changes. The coral they us is recycled, because it gets used over and over again. As a result messages do not last very long.

Our first view of the Bay and Beach from trail
Next view of the Bay and Beach from trail
Kauna'oa Bay and Mauna Kea Beach
We spent the afternoon at the beach, Kauna'oa Bay and Mauna Kea Beach. It took us a while to find the beach because it was about a quarter mile from where we parked the car and the trail was not well marked in the beginning. The guide said that Kauna'oa Bay and Mauna Kea Beach is "the most visually perfect" because it is crescent-shaped and blanketed in powdery white sand with calm, clear, shallow (under 10 feet) water.The water was wavy, but not too strong. Barry and I had fun bobbing in the ocean in the waves. I love the Hawaiian ocean.

Waves at Kauna'oa Bay and Mauna Kea Beach

As usual we ended our evening in the hot tub. This time I was able to float because we had the tub by ourselves for a while before a family from Wasilla, AK joined us. As I floated I looked up at the sky which was filled with stars for the first time this week. Earlier it has been too cloudy to see the stars, but not tonight! We have only one more night in the hot tub. I am really going to miss the 98-103 degree water!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More Hawaiian Adventures - Exploration of Western Coast

Driving in the clouds
Yesterday was another day filled with adventure. Barry and I were in temperatures that ranged from 62 to 86 degrees, and a variety of climates that were sunny, cloudy, misty and rainy. We traveled from the east side of the island to the west to achieve all of this. As usual, we began our day in Waikoloa where it was 86 and sunny. We drove through Waimea where we were in the clouds and rain into Hilo and then the rain forest and waterfalls. Yes, the waterfalls! We finally got to see them.

Inside Two Ladies Kitchen shop
We stopped in Waimea to mail postcards and get gas. I was surprised at the line for the post office. There was a line just to drive into the parking lot, so Barry dropped me off and avoided the line by getting gas. After he picked me up, we drove through the clouds and rain to Hilo. We did not take the scenic route because it was slower and not as beautiful in the clouds. We did drive it last year and enjoyed the views then because it was sunny. Instead we drove through the rolling hills covered with grazing cattle and horses.

Strawberry Mochi
Signs on Two Lady's Kitchen door
Hilo was our first stop on the Western coast. We went to my favorite place in Hilo, Two Lady's Kitchen where we purchased their wonderful mochi! This year they have a new product, grape. We bought the grape, strawberry, peach, blue sweet potato and passion fruit. I wish we had mochi in Philadelphia!! I couldn't wait to return to the car so that we could eat our strawberry mochi. It was as delicious as I remember from last year.

Waianuenue (Rainbow) Falls
After eating our mochi we headed to the waterfalls. I did not realize that it can be fun visiting waterfalls in the rain. In fact, it rained during our visit to all four falls. The first one we visited was Waianuenue, Rainbow Falls. We did not see a rainbow because there was no sun. It was still beautiful. The falls have an 80 ft cascade. We were able to walk up to the top of the falls where there were gigantic banyan trees. As we were walking around at the top of the falls we were lucky to see a beautiful green bird drinking nectar from the flowers in one of the trees. I was even more fortunate to get a picture of the bird in the tree before it flew away!! If you look hard enough you can see the bird on top of the pink flower. He is green on top with a white under belly. the bird also has a white circle around it's black eye. Hope you can find it! He is well camouflaged.
Banyan Tree

Hawaiian Bird in Tree
Our second stop was up the road to see the Pe'epe'e Falls, Boiling Pots. Once again it was raining, but this time hard enough for us to wear our raincoats. These falls are four separate streams falling into a series of circular pools. The cascading water swirls and foams in the pools giving it the name "boiling pots." Even though it was raining, clearly it was not hard enough for the water to fall hard enough for us to see it churn in the pools. It was still beautiful!
Pe'epe'e (Boiling Pots) Falls

Akaka Falls
Kahuna Falls
Our final visit was to the Akaka Falls State Park where you can see several water falls, but is famous for two specific cascades, Akaka and Kahuna. It was now pouring rain, but we were there and did not plan to return to the area again this trip, so it was one of those rain or shine moments where we went forward without the shine. The Park has a ten minute loop trail that takes you to both falls. The falls are surrounded by such green lushness. There were many beautiful flowers. I only took a few photos of the flowers because I wanted to limit the amount of rain that landed on my camera. I was not prepared for the amount of rain we received on that hike. Next time I will need to bring a waterproof case for my camera so I can take more pictures. We followed the recommendation to see the Kahuna falls first. They are located at the lower end of the trail and have a 400 foot drop. We then hiked up to the Akaka falls, the more popular one because it was crowded. Their cascade is 442 feet. I think their popularity was not the extra height, but the level of visibility. Kahuna Falls is nestled further back in the landscape and because of the 400 foot drop you can not get very close to it. Akaka is easier to see. However, our challenge there was the clouds and torrential rains. Many people were huddled in the little shelter by the falls trying to stay as dry as possible.

One of the cattle ranches in Waimea

The Hawaiian Cowboy (Paniolo)
Commemorative boot for 2008 Centennial

 After we left the falls, Barry and I decided to drive back to Waikoloa. We were soaked (well the parts that were not covered by our raincoats.) On our way there we stopped for a second time in Waimea to pick up some food for dinner. While Barry went into the supermarket I took a few minutes to take photos of two landmarks, a statue honoring Hawaiian Cowboys and the Waiomina Centennial. The first cattle arrive on the island in 1793. They were a gift for King Kamehameha I. King Kamehameha III needed to bring Mexican horseman to help subdue the wild cattle that were plundering the island. These horsemen taught native Hawaiians their skills. In 1908, four Waimean Paniolo (Ikua Purdy, Archie Ka'au'a, Jack Low and Eben Low) were the World Champion Steer Ropers in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Wyoming. 

Upon our return to Waikoloa we prepared our dinner, Barry had Hawaiian steak while I ate Ahi, Yellowfin tuna. I do not eat red meat or pork. I usually do not like fresh tuna, I really enjoyed the Ahi. I am glad that I tried it this year. Barry enjoyed his grass feed beef too! Once again we ended our day in the hot tub. I did not float this time because there were several other people in the tub (mini pool.) Also, I burned my thumb on the oven rack while I was cooking my fish so I had to keep my right hand out of the hot water. My thumb is feeling better with the help of Aloe and liquid Advil.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lapakahi State Historic Park and Waimea

Cloudy day in North Kohala
One of the ways I know that I am getting older is by the amount of time it takes me to recover from physical challenges. Yesterday both Barry and I moved slower than we expected so we did not get out of the room until the afternoon. Our 4 mile hike to the Green Sand Beach used more of our energy than we expected. So we did not have time to go to the falls. Instead we drove to northern Kohala and spent time at the Lapakahi State Historic Park. It is a coastal park that was a remote fishing village 600 years ago. The Lapakahi people eventually left the coast to become farmers who traded their crops for fish. The Park is 262 acres of stone walls, house sites, canoe sheds and fishing shrines.
Sign at entrance of Lapakahi State Historic Park
Historic House

Chair and table made from Palm tree

Stones used for salt making
Barry taking photos

The Well that provided drinking water until late 1800's
The weather like the day before was a mixture of rain and sunshine. We have experienced more rain during the day this year. Last year it mostly rained at night, however, we were here in January then. I wonder if this year is just rainier or it rains more often in March. Barry and I left sunny Waikoloa and drove to cloudy North Kohala. It was raining when we arrived at Lapakahi State Historic Park. However, knowing Hawaiian weather we decided to go ahead on our hike because the sun would be out soon. We were right. We enjoyed our mile hike around the State Park. We were able to see historic houses, an empty well, hollowed-out stones used to make salt from sea water, rock shelter and many other things used by the Lapakahi people.

Frozen Pig Snout
Limu Kohu
After our time at Lapakahi State Historical Park Barry and I drove to Waimea. 2670 ft above sea level, Waimea has rolling hills, large green pastures, cattle, ranches and cooler weather, it can turn from sun to rain very quickly.  Last year we saw a rainbow. Parker Ranch, Hawai'i's biggiest cattle ranch founded in 1847 is located in Waimea. One of the things we like to do in Waimea is go to the supermarket. I always find interesting items. This year it was pig snouts, turkey tails and Limu Kohu. While we were in the supermarket I was looking at items in the Ethnic Food section and Barry was massaging my back. I woman passing the aisle said to Barry that she was next. Needless to say, he was surprised and did not know what to say to her.

Once again we ended our evening in the hot tub. This time we were joined by a couple from California and a gentleman from DC. We exchanged information about different sites. We stayed until after the pool closed. Barry and I did not get back to the room until after 10:30 PM.

I am looking forward to the many adventures we will have in the next few days on the Island!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Hawaii 2012 - Back in Paradise - Papakolea Beach

Scenic view hiking to Papakolea Beach
Barry and I had a wonderful day on the Big Island yesterday. Our morning began when we heard a load knock at 6:30 AM. We thought it was someone at our door, but they were actually at our neighbors. Since we were up so early we decided to visit Papakolea, the Green Sand Beach. We drove south along the Kona Coast from Waikoloa to Ka Lae (South Point). On our way we stopped at the Kona Potato Chip Factory. During our drive we saw wild turkeys, a donkey, zebra and North American Bison. When I saw the donkey and zebra I told Barry and he asked if "the zebra was really a donkey in prison." I love my husband! No, it really was a zebra. I saw the animals because we passed the Three Ring Ranch Exotic Animal Sanctuary in upland Kona and they were visible from the road.

Waves crashing on the rocks
Papakolea Beach lies at the base of Pu'u o Mahana, at Mahana Bay. The only way to get there is to park the car at the end of the paved road and hike or ride in a 4WD vehicle. Barry and I decided to walk the two miles into and out from the beach. When we parked our car a gentleman asked us if we wanted a ride (for a fee of course.) We had decided we would walk so we did. It took us one hour and 40 minutes, but we got there and had a chance to take lots of photos along the way.

It was a very pleasant walk. The Trade Winds were blowing and the views of the ocean were breathtaking.

Pu'u o Mahana
When we arrived at  Pu'u o Mahana, Barry and I ate our lunch as we pondered if we were going to climb down and then back up what the guide book described as the "steep and dangerous descent down the cliff side." It was steep and dangerous. When we stood at the very top we were blasted by sand, which was not pleasant. Barry asked if we would get in trouble for taking home the sand that was stuck in our skin. We decided to climb down the cliff and walk on Papakolea Beach. As we were walking down, some people who were walking up warned us not to swim in the water unless we wanted sand to end up in unusual and unpleasant places. I decided to just get my feet wet mostly because the guide book advised us not to swim because "the surf is often rough, and swimming is hazardous due to strong currents." Happily Barry and I climbed safely up the cliff and hiked back to the car.

Papakolea Beach (Green Sand Beach)
Barry standing on Papakolea Beach

Waves at Ka Lae
Wind blown Tree
When we returned to the car we decided to stop at Ka Lae before driving back to Waikoloa. Barry and I spent some time walking around the area last year and watching people dive off of the cliffs into the ocean. This year I was determined to walk to the southern most tip of the island, which I did! The Trade Winds were so strong that they created some incredible waves in the ocean. You can see the strength of the winds from the trees and the fact that most of them are permanently bent to the side.

When we returned to the hotel we ended our day by spending time in the hot tub. The water was warm and bubbly. The hot tub was large enough for me to stretch out and float. Since Barry was the only other person in the tub with me I did. I floated on my back. It was wonderful being weightless and surrounded by warm bubbling water. It was a fantastic way to end the day. It also made my muscles happy. I felt a little stiff after sitting in the car for almost two hours.

I am looking forward to our next adventure. Our plan is to go to the water falls.