72 Hours in Kona, Big Island Hawaii

 

The husband and I yearned to get away from the humdrum of life and decided on an adventurous holiday on the Big Island with a pit stop in Pearl Harbor.

We flew into Hilo, drove South to Volcano National Park and then flew out of the Kailua Kona Airport.

Kailua Kona is all about the ocean. We spent most days in the water followed by romantic evenings snuggled up on our lanai watching the sunset.

Day 1, 6 PM

After a 2.5 hour drive from Volcano National Park along the southern coast of the Island, we reached our rental at the Hale Kona Kai and were immediately blown away by the breathtaking views from the lanai!

The husband brewed some hot chai and we spent the rest of the evening watching an incredible sunset. From our perch, we could see shoals of Yellow Tang and a sea turtle lazily munching away.

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Day 2, 7 AM : Snorkel in Kahalu’u

We grabbed our snorkels and headed to Kahalu’u Beach Park.

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The sheltered bay with shallow water makes it an easy snorkeling ground. At 7 AM, the tide was still in and there were just a handful of other snorkelers.

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We spotted sea urchins, tangs, surgeon fish, parrot fish and a whole host of other marine life whose names still elude us.

We spent a couple of hours in the water and came back to a group of ukulele singers at their weekly meeting serenading everyone in the park.

Day 2, 11 AM : Kona Coffee

After a quick breakfast, we headed to the historic Greenwell Coffee Farm to learn more about Kona’s famous (and expensive) coffee!

The farm has guided tours every 30 minutes – the farm has been operational since the late 1800’s, they purchase red coffee berries from hundreds of farmers all across Kona and that coffee is becoming a tough business with the wave of invasive pests and beetles destroying crops in Hawaii. For coffee aficionados, the tour also provides an opportunity to try different roasts and flavors of coffee.

Day 2, 5 PM : Night Snorkel with Manta Rays

Getting ready for our night snorkeling to view giant manta rays up close!

At 5 PM, we turned up at the Big Island Divers shop in Kona. They fitted us out with dive suits and fins. ( These guys definitely know what they are doing and I would highly recommend them!)

We then drove to the boat launch area. At 6 pm, a guide from the dive group gave us a short introduction to the trip – what to expect, the marine life and the Manta Rays. Bright lights put in the water attract tons of plankton. The Manta Rays emerge from the depths of the ocean to feed on the plankton.

Manta train + roll_Moment

We had great weather when we set out to the dive/snorkel spot. We cruised for an hour to the snorkel spot. By the time we got there, there were a couple of other boats and people already out in the water.

We got on our gear and dove straight in. We floated around a buoy which emitted light into the water. 2 minutes in and we saw a huuuuuuuuge manta ray coming straight at us. It did a barrel role as it fed on the plankton.

It was a mesmerizing sight to see these huge, gentle giants hover and somersault underneath us. One came up close and crashed into my fellow snorkeler.

We were in for a splendid night and witnessed a mating trail. There was one large female Manta Ray followed by a train of 6 hopeful males. The husband got some amazing shots of that night.

This was one of our most phenomenal nights on the island and the Manta rays hovering over those blue lights reminded me of something out of science fiction.

We got back to shore around 9PM and were greeted by a light drizzle. We went to bed dreaming of those Manta Rays…

Day 3, 6AM : Swim with Dolphins

After the close encounters with the Mantas, we woke up early and drove down to Keauhou Bay, the meeting point for our snorkeling trip to Kealakekua Bay.

After cruising in the water for about 20 minutes we spotted a pod of spinner dolphins. These dolphins were resting after a nighttime of feeding and hunting in the ocean. We swam in the water making sure to keep a respectful distance from these playful creatures.

 

 

We were thrilled when one of the dolphins leaped out of water and did a few spins before diving back in.

The husband got some beautiful videos as the pod swum gracefully by. Watch the videos with the SOUND ON to listen to the dolphins talking to each other!

 

After an hour of swimming with the dolphins, we got back onto the boat and headed to Kealakekua Bay.

Kealakekua Bay is a historic site where Captain Cook encountered Hawaiian natives. The Captain Cook monument is constructed at the site where he was killed by the natives of the island. This bay has some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii – the waters are deep and crystal clear with beautiful coral reefs and shoals of colorful fish. Because access is restricted there is very less coral bleaching taking place here. After swimming around for a couple of hours, we got back to the boat and headed back to shore.

We reached back around 12:30 PM and were greeted by the news that a 6.9 magnitude earthquake had just hit Kona!!! Because we were in the water, we hadn’t felt it!!!

The earthquakes were from the volcanic eruption in Kilueaua. We were lucky to have been so close to the volcano only the day before with lava flowing right by us!

Day 3, 4 PM : Farmer’s Market

We strolled to the nearby Farmers Market and bought some papayas, litchis, rambutans and longans……

The papayas and the longans are the sweetest that I’ve tasted.

Furikake Chicken @ Broke Da Mouth

For dinner, we headed to a local favourite – Broke Da Mouth Grindz – a hole in the wall away from touristy Ali’i Drive. I apologize for not taking any pics here but I was too busy stuffing my face with the Furikake chicken! It was so good that we came back here the next day!

Day 4, 10 AM: Pu’uhonua O Honaunau

Our last day in Hawaii, we decided to visit the place of refuge.

Years ago in Hawaii, you were punished by death if you broke one of the sacred laws (women were forbidden from eating bananas!!! ). The only way to save your life was to make your way to the place of refuge. Once you arrived here, a priest absolved you of your sins and you were free to go back to your old life.

We picked up one of the audio tours and strolled around the place. It’s quiet, serene and hard to imagine that Hawai’i had some brutal repercussions from breaking the law.

On our way back to Kona, we stopped at the famous South Kona Fruit Stand and splurged on some smoothies.

We headed back to Hale Kona Kai, said our byes to the resident turtle and packed our bags with a heavy heart……sad at having to leave behind this beautiful, exotic island.

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