Kona Coast, Hawaii, May 9-14, 2016

Sheraton Kona Resort, Keauhou, Hawaii, May 9, 2016

Our flight in from Phoenix was long and uneventful. When we landed at the Kona Airport I was surprised to see hardened lava right beside the runway. But this is Hawaii. Colorful flowering trees lined the highway to the Sheraton Kona Resort.

Jacque and I are both tuckered out from traveling. We’re missing a luau tonight, but not missing our sleep.

Sheraton Kona Resort, Keauhou, Hawaii:
:) Our room is quiet and comfortable.
:) Free parking, though it’s downhill and a block away.
:( Breakfast isn’t included ($30), and there’s no restaurant close by.
:) Free wi-fi is working fine.

American Airlines, which used to be my favorite, has turned into Nickel and Dime Airlines. They charge you extra to check your baggage, to get any seat that isn’t the worst, etc. When we arrived at the Kona Airport for our return flight we had to stand in line and wait for an hour before their agent arrived at the counter. They assigned Jacque and me seats that were not together, and did the same to other couples and families.

Once we were on the plane, other passengers were nice about changing seats so that couples and families could be together.

Sheraton Kona Resort, Keauhou, Hawaii, May 10, 2016

At our Pleasant Holidays briefing we were told that the best beaches are north of the airport, so that’s where Jacque and I headed. We took pictures at several of them, then drove on to Hawi, Waimea, and back to Kailua Village.

All the islands of Hawaii are volcanic. They were formed when plate techtonics dragged the Pacific plate northwest over a hot spot deep inside the earth. The ages of the lava flows which built the island of Hawaii can be seen by how much vegetation grows on them. Recent lava flows are bare, while the oldest of them are covered with rain forest. Grassland or dry forest covers the other slopes.

Hawi is a quaint little town. Highway 250 from there to Waimea goes up and over a pass through some ranch country. We had lunch in Waimea. Highway 190 is mostly downhill from Waimea to Kailua Village. Many flowering trees brightened the lower slopes, and there’s cactus. The prickly pears must have been brought in as decorative plants, but then their seeds got away.

Our week begins with a bright morning on Kailua Bay.
Kekahakai State Park, Manini’owali Section.
Volcanic rocks, beach, surf, and sun make a tropical paradise.
Jacque finds a winning photo-op in the shade.
The lava was full of bubbles when it hardened.
Plenty of color at Anaeho’omalu Bay.
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There’s a dense forest by the water’s edge.
Sea of dreams, and fishing.
Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site. Should the king be canonized?
The vegetation changes at Kaiholena.
Highway 190 goes by the Kahua Ranch.
Ted snaps a colorful tree along Highway 190. [photo by Jacque]

Sheraton Kona Resort, Keauhou, Hawaii, May 11, 2016

Our Grand Circle Island Tour started out sunny, then clouded up by the time we got to the Black Sand Beach. Rain was falling in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, even inside the Lava Cave, because the rocks are porous. The rain lasted through Hilo and until we got to Waimea. From there to the coast is cattle country. We heard a lot of history and legends from our tour guide. Got back to the Sheraton after dark.

Prickly pears were brought in as ornamental plants.
The Sheraton was built on volcanic bounders by the shore.
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Flowers brighten Keauhou Bay.
All of the Hawaiian Islands were formed by lava flowing into the sea.
Ted and Jacque at the Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.
Bridge over a chasm leads to the Thurston Lava Tube.
Rain forest in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Jacque, Ted, and Rainbow Falls.
Rainbow Falls from above.

Sheraton Kona Resort, Keauhou, Hawaii, May 12, 2016

In the morning Jacque and I enjoyed the Historic Keauhou Bay tour. Lili, our narrator, is a native who knows the spiritual life of her people. She ended the tour with a chant in Hawaiian expressing thanks for the bounty they received from the sea. Lili is writing a biography of her mother, who grew up here and has lived a remarkable life.

We liked Hawi so much that it was worth a return trip. After a tasty lunch at the Bamboo Restaurant, we drove back down the west coast of the island. Along the way we visited Lapakahi State Historical Park, site of an ancient seaside settlement, and Moku’aikaua Church, established by missionaries in 1820, the oldest church in Hawaii.

Keauhou Bay is a favorite place for kayaking.
Local color at Keauhou Bay.
Mountain goats look down at us on the road to Waimea.
Highway 250 climbs into the high country between Waimea and Hawi. [photo by Jacque]
Lapakahi State Historical Park is the site of an ancient settlement.
Moku’aikaua Church, established by missionaries in 1820, is the oldest church in Hawaii.

Sheraton Kona Resort, Keauhou, Hawaii, May 13, 2016

After breakfast Jacque and I drove south to the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. There we heard a talk by a ranger about the royal palace and the place of refuge of times past. Most of the audience consisted of two groups of young students who were able to sing their school songs in Hawaiian.

Then I took a picture walk while Jacque explored the gift shop. I met a fellow taking his father on the trail. The old man was feeble and had to walk with a cane, but his son really cared. I was so glad to take their picture together.

On our dinner cruise we saw spinner dolphins jumping out of the water. The sightseeing cruise took us down the coast with a fine narrator and a talented fellow singing and playing his guitar. Dinner was tasty. All we missed was a Hawaiian sunset – the sky was all gray and cloudy this time.

Ranger tells us about the royal palace and the place of refuge.
At Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, most of the wall remains.
Wooden ceremonial statues have been reconstructed.
Polynesian settlers reached Hawaii on outriggers.
The Painted Church has regular worship services.
Inside the Painted Church.
The flowers around here are many and varied.
Jacque and Ted at Ahu’ena Heiau.
Sightseeing cruise aboard the Kanoa II.
Spinner dolphins are hard to catch doing their thing.
Pele isn’t happy. You had better watch out.
Monument to Captain Cook.

South Kona Coast, Hawaii, May 14, 2016

South Point is the farthest south you can stand anywhere in the 50 states. A narrow road gets you there. We were going to see Papakolea Green Sand Beach, but they said you have to drive a rough road or hike a rough trail to get to it. So we headed over to South Point. All the folks there were young except for us. They have a steel ladder that you can climb down from the cliffs to the water. Taking pictures was good enough for me.

We drove on east to Whittington Park with its abandoned pier, then the black sand beach at Punalu’u. I was in luck this time: three sea turtles were up on the beach, just right for taking their picture.

Our return was by way of the Kahuku Unit of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, then Manuka State Park. After a seafood feast at Splasher’s Grill, we headed to the Kona International Airport.

Our first view of South Point, across lava flows from the highway.
Young people congregate at South Point.
The pier at Whittington Park — what’s left of it.
With the pounding surf, it appears the pier won’t last much longer.
Green sea turtle enjoys the Black Sand Beach.
When I’m here again I want to hike that trail in the Kahuku Unit of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Fancy leaf at Manuka State Park.
This stone isn’t rolling. It gathers moss.

Arizona Hike Pictures May 16, 2016