Captain Cook Napoopoo Kona

Three sleeps to go. Who says we are counting? The first thing we see this morning right out our window is a big cruise ship coming into dock. What a sight.

We pack up our backpacks again ready to move hotels. It is difficult to close and zip our bags. Everyone is loaded up. We have been really careful not to accumulate any extra stuff and to get rid of anything we dont need or are not using. When we left home our bags were already full and packed with near precision. Despite this, we still have managed collected a few things to upset the packing formation.

At our simple included breaky this morning we squirrelled away a few muffins and two egg sandwiches. Geoff and Bailey went to collect our hire car and off we set on our three day final hurrah to circumnavigate Big Island. There are some things on our wish list like swimming with dolphins, snorkelling, star gazing observatory, volcanos and black sand beaches. Let see if we find what is sold in the glossy brochures. The kids have become savvy to sales and advertising and know that things are only true when you experience it for yourself. Another useful life lesson from travelling.

By now the whole world knows the American Government is busy calling each other names and in shut down mode. So because of this all National Parks are closed. This effects us directly because the Volcano National Park is shut. It was a disappointment because we could not drive the volcano loop road. Once again grateful we made the decision to helicopter yesterday otherwise we would not have seen any live activity.image

Our first stop then was Black Sand Beach. This is a famous beach to visit on Big Island because of course it is black, and the giant Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are here. And there were plenty to watch closely eating seaweed. They clamber right over the reef and position themselves in what seems very awkward positions just to get in the right spot. They are just so tame and will come out to nap on the beach. The black sand is actually fresh lava washed onshore where the lava enters the sea from the lava tube we seen yesterday. What is interesting is that the sand is not broken down lava rocks. Its created that way when it flows into the ocean it fractures directly down into small particles. Bailey searched for small pieces of the semi precious volcanic green glass called Olivine. It looks like Peridot.image

As we drove further south the landscape was awesome. People living on old lava flows. It is a very harsh unforgiving environment. The rocks themselves are jagged and sharp as glass. Very old flow sites have some vegetation returning while other areas remain stark and barren. It really is a pretty amazing sight. Plus the fact people move back and carry on living. Lava has eaten up homes, whole towns and roads. And back they come and build again.image

The whole area we travelled through was surprisingly dry. Again we are shocked by the real Hawaii. It not what we imagined at all. The extremes in landscape are unexpected. Later our host Miles explains the diversity and complexities of Hawaiis weather.

We arrived in Kona and are staying above Kealakekua Bay near the little villiage of Captain Cook. It is the bay where Captain Cook was killed in 1779 by Hawaiians during a failed attempt to resolve the theft of one of Cooks smaller boats. Cook was killed on the beach and a large monument now stands in his honour. This is also a famous bay for snorkelling and swimming with dolphins. We could see bright yellow fish through the water.imageThe sunny day closed in with the late afternoon storm clouds arriving quickly so we headed for our B and B. We followed the directions through a skinny winding road across the steep lush mountain overlooking the bay. If it wasnt for the old lava and rocks poking out you may forget it was once a lava wasteland. Now its a tropical oasis. Our B and B is on a working coffee plantation. The kids were happy to spend time swimming in the pool, even in the warm tropical rain falling on their heads.

Hilo Big Island Hawaii

Oh the joy of it all… We woke this morning and in the new light of day we discover how close we are to the sea. We finally have found tropical lush green Hawaii on the Hilo ‘wet side’ of Big Island. Our balcony view from our budget hotel built on black lava is heaven. All night loud frogs chirped and they were overthrown by morning birds. There are also more Mongoose hanging around the gardens. Although an introduced pest they sure are cute.image

Then off it was to the airport for our BIG adventure of the day – hunting lava. We originally planned to hike in however the lava flow is too far to walk and the hike companies are not operating. So the only way to view Kilauea Volcano now is via helicopter.image

We had come all this way so chartered one for an hour. You can pick to have the doors off, we were all a bit nervous but it was super awesome. It was like our own live 4D movie, smells, heat, wind and epic close up views of the volcano park and current flow areas.image

Because we chartered the helicopter apparently the rules are more flexible and he can go lower so we can feel the heat and really get a good view. It was heart pounding jaw dropping stuff. The volcano is considered to be quiet at the moment, so the lava was slow and tame. image

We could talk to one another through the headsets and the kids were having a ball. Geoff and Gracie were in the front with Pete and Bailey and I were in the back. Our pilot Pete was great, taking us right around the neat spots. This included the current lava flow area burning into the forest, top of the current flow crater, lava tube and the last town eaten by lava. The whole area is vast, as far as the eye can see black and smoking.image

Pete says the current rift zone were the lava is escaping is right on a fault line. When he lined it up in the sky and we looked each way we could see the line of smoke and lava. Kilauea has been active now for about 30 years. Its the most active volcano in the world. Thats a long time spewing lava. Each day Big Island grows a little bigger thanks to Kilauea.image

On the way back Pete showed us a few waterfalls, then it was back to Hilo airport. We were all so tired. So tired that after lunch at the local diner I fell asleep on the beach flat on my back on the rocky volcanic shore while the kids swam. Now that is tired for someone who very rarely sleeps during the day. The kids had a bath when we got home from the black beach. It looked like someone cleaned a coffee grinder in there. The sand is course and jet black. image

Hilo Big Island Hawaii

Today was fly out day… so we packed up our condo and headed off. On the way we made one last stop at the lovely beach in the middle of North Shore to see the turtles once again. The weather has cleared up and the water is crystal clear. And the turtles turned it on big time. We could see anywhere from 2-6 right in front of us in about a foot of water eating bright green seaweed. We watched for ages as they ate off the rocks and drifted about with the waves in and out.image

It doesnt take long to drive from North Shore to Honolulu, is Island is so small. We stopped off at the pineapple plantation where we all went through a big maze. It was hot and dry. We are actually surprised how dry and harsh the island is when you drive around. There are only pockets of lushness. Coming into Honolulu it is even dryer and brown.image

We dropped off the hire car and walked to Waikiki for one last swim and some lunch on the beach. Then it was off to the airport to checkin and wait for our plane to Big Island. The flight is the same time as going from Geraldton to Perth. So you are no sooner up and its time to come down again.

imageIt was really cool to see Diamond Crater from the air. It is an impressive sight, the remnants from more violent volcanic times. We are glad now Geoff made us climb to the summit in the blazing sun last week. image

We arrived around dinner time and checked in. Our motel room at Uncle Billys is right on the water it is amazing. You could jump from our balcony into the sea. We are on the island that is home to the biggest active volcano in the world. This is what we came for. Excitement!

North Shore Turtle Bay

While the kids caught up on some journalling Geoff and I completed our bookings on Big Island for a hotel and hire car. Yay, thats our last plans made and they will see us out until we return to familiar Australian soil.

Its our last full day in Turtle Bay, so I really wanted to snorkel with a turtle again. We packed our beach kit and off we went to the closest beach at the resort. There are lots of Aussies around. All the ones we have spoken to come from the busy East Coast. We notice how obvious Australians sound when we are away from home. Its like we are fresh out of Kath and Kym or The Castle. We are so used to hearing Americans now Aussies stand out.

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The weather for the week has been similar each day. We wake to a cloudy or overcast sky, morning showers, then it all clears to a sunny warm day. At the end of the day to clouds return and it cools off with some rain during the night. Its the only place I have known it to be sunny and raining at the same time.

The snorkelling at Turtle Bay is nice enough. The coral has not been really flash in any the locations we have snorkelled, however the tropical fish are there. Some really neat ones we have not seen before, so that is always special. I was just saying to Geoff at the beach ‘we have the sun and the visibility now we just need a turtle’. And right there in the water in front was a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. We swam along with him for ages watching him eat off the reef.

imageGeoff and Bailey went for a walk along the beach and found a Monk Seal sunbaking. They hung out with him for ages then came back and got me for a look. We sat there enjoying his company and having a chat. We read some info on these seals to learn there are only 1100 left in the world. They are solitary seals and have their pups on the beach. They are on the critically endangered list and numbers are dropping 😦 He is malting too so we got to have a close look at some seal fur. He was pushing sand along with his nose and then sneezing.

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Tonight we pack up our camp a little and ready to hit the road in the morning. It was been a really special and most of all – relaxing time – here on the lovely North Shore of Oahu.

North Shore Turtle Bay

Aloha, chilling out today… Not much going on… but that is right hey? We are on vacation.

The kids practiced their new found survival skills to open a coconut and drink the water. At first let me tell you there were some harsh words exchanged through frustration. For anyone who has battled to tear off a husk to find the coconut. My advice to a cranky Gracie was this ‘the only way you are going to get that open is through cooperation with your brother’. And left it at that. Some time later they worked it out together through negotiating who was doing what and how to get it done with a butter knife. It happened, and with much joy they got the husk off, split it as taught with a stone, drank the water and ate some fresh. So if my kids are shipwrecked and get past the fighting, they will live.image

We packed up our gear and headed for the beach. The swell is still messing with the beaches and water clarity. Mid October marks the arrival of the surfing season so we are pushing good conditions for snorkelling.image

Everyone had a swim, sun loving laziness and snorkel. We checked out a few different beaches and breaks. We visited Halewa again and this time found the cool Main Street. It is very touristy, but old school islander bali touristy, which is fun and nice. The kids checked out how to put a hole in a conch to turn it into an islander horn. We will do that when we get home now to our big one. A earthy resonate sound of the sea calling. What is it with shaved ice? Its big here and we seen one line with 20 people out and into the carpark! So of course, we had to try it too! Really, its snow with flavour on top…image

Me and the kids talked to Mum and Trevor on Viber, how cool is that! Across the sea we can talk just like we always do. It is not long now until home so we know we all have much to catch up on over long cups of tea. Not much else going on… Well it was like this, home, showers, bourbon and coke, chips, journals, movies, dinner, movies then bed.  Mahalo…

North Shore Turtle Bay

We started our day with a walk to the beach and to visit the Banyan Tree. We didnt know what this was, however it was on the trail map as a must see. It was a lovely walk through coastal jungle and tamarisk trees close to the beach. We walk past lots of tropical plants growing wild that we folk buy from Bunnings! We also past lots of very old concrete pillars now overgrown to learn later on they have something to do with the WWII bunker on the cliff edge. Similar to stuff we have seen on other Oahu view points. Geoff reads a bit more history on Pearl Harbour. Radar officers also stationed at Turtle Cove reported the planes arriving and they were fobbed off as being returning US planes. Had some of the warning signs been taken seriously it may have prevented some of the carnage in one of the worst wartime disasters.image

The Banyan Tree and others around it were fun and interesting. Awesome climbing trees. The kids could climb up easily and swing off the vines. They say parts of Lost and Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed at this location. You can see why. Its a rare intriguing sight.

We had a swim before returning back to our condo and got ready to head off to the Polynesian Cultural Centre for the day. I booked a family package that included the Village, Hawaiian dinner and show then Theatre show.

The Village was like cultural adventure world. It takes you through all of the Islander peoples who inhabit Polynesia. It was really interesting and very well done. Each island had their own area, activity, customs and costumes to share.image

Gracie and I wove a palm fish in Tonga while Geoff and Bailey threw spears, we rode a canoe through the village lagoon, we learned dancing and games in NZ, played ancient games in Hawaii, watched the Rainbow Pageant in the lagoon, ate coconut damper, had a fish, did some dancing and drum playing in Tahiti, Geoff made fire with sticks in Samoa while we all loved learning how to open a coconut and climb a tree.image

Each village had traditional grass homes, fires, canoes, decorations and stuff like that to see how they traditionally lived. We also watched a really cool 4D Imax movie taking us through the natural magic of the Hawaiian Islands including the ocean, cliffs, lush mountains, waterfalls and Volcano park etc. 4D is really cool. The seats move, water squirts in your face and mountain smells waft up into your nose.image

We went to the huge dining and show hall for a traditional Hawaiian dinner. Out of hundreds of people we were sat with a family of four from Sydney who have also been on a big travelling adventure, so it was fun sharing stories of what we have seen and done, having just been to many of the same places. The food was simple like fish, chicken, beer and pork. The piggy was cooked in a traditional ground fire. We ate while we watched Hawaiian dancing and entertainment.image

The evening theatre show was amazing. It was called Ha Breath of Life. One of the most spectacular shows we have seen. It was a journey through a boys life from his birth to the birth of his own son. It was a moving story taking you through how each culture deals with things like birth, growing up, initiation, marriage, battles and the natural circle of life. It reminded us of the disney movie The Lion King. The dancing and costumes were just amazing. The fire show was out of this word. Far out, they are all so so talented.

North Shore Turtle Bay

The day started out overcast so we took the chance to hang out in our golf side apartment and enjoy the serenity. We watch the odd golf buggy ride past. Bailey likes watching them hit the balls and see if they get it in the holes.

Both kids took the time for more school work and their ferocious love of reading. I estimate they have read 20 books each.image

Geoff and I are researching and making plans for Big Island. The pressure is on now as the dates are ticking on by and home is not far away. We still have a few things we want to see and do. Really, it is all icing on the cake now.

We headed to the beach for the afternoon, still overcast with little passing tropical showers every now and again. We snorkelled for ages with a big Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. It was really special he was so close we could touch him and he didnt care one bit. Continuing to munch on rock seaweed and float about with the current.

imageWe lazed on the beach reading our books and watching the kids play. Gracie seen a new weird little animal and called us over to check it out. We waited and out he came again darting in and out of the bushes checking for food scraps. We asked one of the resort workers and she said it was a Mongoose. It looked like a brown ferret, long and slender with red eyes.image

It got a bit cold as the stormy sky closed in with another shower so we packed up and headed home. We enjoyed a lazy late afternoon into the evening reading books and watching movies. Mmmm, vacation.