Our first full day on the Big Island was Sunday. I made an omelette and Jill had toast, then we read for a bit before heading over to the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort. Jill had booked us massages, and we got there a little early as she wanted to catch the shuttle afterwards to pick up the steak and sausages we’d forgotten the day before (we’d called them when we got back and realized our mistake) plus a few other goodies (mainly wine). We enjoyed the steam shower we had before the main event, then she went to get a hot stone massage, and I went outside to relax to the sounds of waves crashing against the rocks and 80 minutes of bliss.
Jill was off on the bus, and I walked down to Keahou Bay, then back to the condo where I worked on a blog entry and sorted my pictures. Once Jill got back I made lunch – salami on toast for me, turkey on toast for her. We relaxed in the afternoon and read, then I made a salad and grilled steaks in the evening. Unfortunately due to the light restrictions it looked like I was cooking pork chops, but I managed to guess about right.
Monday I made eggs and Jill had toast again, then we were picked up by Enterprise (waiting for their business hours saved us nearly 2/3 the cost of renting a car). We ran a couple errands, spent some time at Starbucks (the only free wireless I could find), then came back to the condo where Jill made sandwiches and we changed. We headed back into town for our 2PM pickup by Mauna Kea Summit Adventures. We had to stop in Waikoloa to pick up more people, then started driving. The whole ride was moderately to severely bumpy, but after a couple hours we arrived at the Mauna Kea visitor’s center. They issued us parkas, then we headed out and got our dinners, made by Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill. I really enjoyed my Kho chu Jang beef ribs with rice, and Jill liked her Teriyaki Chicken.
After dinner, we saw the rare Silversword plants, then got on the bus and headed up to the summit. We stopped a little before to put on the parkas, and that’s when I found out that 13,000 feet above sea level without a lot of time to acclimate really hits you hard. When we got to the summit, Jill stayed in the van. I got out, but soon just sat on the ground to take pictures.
The sunset was spectacular, and we stayed until it was completely down. Then we headed down to near the visitor’s center, where they had a private spot for stargazing and 2 11″ telescopes. The last time I was on the Big Island (8 years ago) I saw a lot of stars when I was sitting watching the lava after dark, but this put anything I’ve ever seen in the wild to shame. It was like being in a planetarium, but real – and incredible. We were both tired afterwards, and slept most of the way back.
Tuesday we had talked about taking the early two stop boat snorkeling adventure with Dolphin Discoveries, but decided to do the afternoon one stop instead. We were glad of that when it was only in the 60s at 8AM, and we had some cereal then headed up to Mamalahoa Highway, where we stopped at the Kona Le’a Plantation, home of the Holualoa Kona Coffee Company. We took a short self guided tour, then the nice ladies inside showed us the roaster, answered our questions and happily rang up our purchases. One more stop at the store and we were back with just enough time to change, then walk down to the bay for our pickup (the nearby location played a big part in our choice).
We had stopped to see a sea cave when Jill thought she saw a whale blow. We headed out towards the ocean, and sure enough we saw flukes of two humpback whales, and our captain dropped a microphone over the side and listened to whale song. We didn’t have a lot of a time, so we headed to our destination, Kealakekua Bay, which was just fine, as we saw another humpback whale in the bay. Once we got to the actual snorkeling, we saw a lot of fish and I saw a ray of the wall of coral, but it wasn’t the highlight of the trip. After we got out of the water, we saw two humpback whales in the bay (including one barely 20 feet from us), as well as a school of spinner dolphins. No pictures though as I didn’t bring my camera – probably a good idea as we got plenty wet on the way back. This afternoon at the condo, they had a giant bucket of mai tais and appetizers, as well as hula dancers. It was fun and entertaining, and the littlest dancer looked very similar to Jill’s oldest niece. Soon I’ll grill some sausages for dinner then we’ll rest up for our big trip around the island starting tomorrow.