Revisiting "The Big Island"
02.11.2009 80 °F
Last night we set sail from Maui, bound southward for the Big Island again, this time on the west (dry) side, to the Kona-Kahlui area. The Hilo area on the east side, where we were docked on Monday, is one of the wettest places on earth. In contrast, Kona is dry, dry, dry. Few beaches in Kona, just lots of black lava coast getting pounded relentlessly by high surf. As the land rises up away from the coast, it becomes perfect for growing coffee. You've heard of Kona coffee I assume?
While the Robinsons toured Hawaii's largest cattle ranch (Parker Ranch) today, Cindy and Steve took a zodiac boat tour of the coast. For those of you unfamiliar with zodiac boats, they are large, inflatable craft powered by big outboard motors, capable of delivering high speed and thrilling rides as the passengers sit on the side, hanging on for dear life!
We've all been seeing lots of humpback whales this week, and today we got up-close looks, as our zodiac captain maneuvered close (but not too close) to the giant mammals. A mother with a newborn alongside her. The captain says the calf we saw today couldn't have been more than a few days old.
Finally, after a high-speed ride (upwards of 40 mph) of 15 miles or so, we reached our destination - a protected bay perfect for snorkeling. This bay is also quite historic - it was here that the famous English explorer and discoverer Captain James Cook was killed by Hawaiian warriors. A monument was later erected by the British to commemorate the spot and the event.
It's easy to see why snorkeling enjoys such popularity in warm-weather destinations like Hawaii, the Caribbean, Florida, etc. It's dead simple to do, and the underwater views are astonishing. All you do is float and watch the little fishies below, swimming among the coral. Ominous-looking sea urchins are everywhere also. No warnings are needed about not touching these fellows!
The ride back was fun. The captain stopped often to point out various features along the coast, including a lava rock formation that the ancients believe was the face of the goddess Pele. See the "eyes?" (old lava tubes in which molten lava once flowed).
The trip was exhilirating but tiring. Cindy and I will probably take the night "off", sitting in the room and reading, enjoying the sound of the water through our open balcony door as we knife along to our next destination, Kauai, the "Garden Isle".