Monday, April 15, 2013

March 20 - Final Morning in Hawai‘i

Soon our vacation would be but a distant memory. Back to the routine tomorrow. Fun life would be subsumed by real life.

Waikoloa Sunrise

Leisurely we packed up, with coffee, tv, and leftovers. One last train ride to the lobby, then we drove to Kona for breakfast at Splashers.

Chunlin at Breakfast

The town was so familiar. It felt odd to be back. We ate breakfast tacos and a seafood omelet.

Mark in Kailua

After eating, we walked around town, shopping. Just another beautiful day in paradise.

Cruising under the Tree

Eventually, though, it was time to leave. We topped off the car's tank at the gas station. Chunlin bought a purple taro bun.

Alamo rental car drop-off. Shuttle van. Airport.

Waiting to Leave

Dark clouds descended the mountain. A few raindrops fell as we boarded the plane.

Boarding in Kona

Alaska in Hawaii

I wasn’t ready to go home as I buckled in, but we didn't have much choice at that point.

We took off and soon we were in the clouds and over the Pacific.

Goodbye, Hawai‘i.


Chunlin, Sad to Be Home

Saturday, April 13, 2013

March 19 - Back in Waikoloa

We traveled by Disney boat from the lobby to our tower. Hilton actually enlisted Disney's help for the design, according to our pilot.

Under the Giant Trellis

In our room we kicked back and started watching _Flight_. More clouds were outside than the afternoon the day before.

Two-thirds of the way through the movie, we hit pause and headed outside to watch the sunset.

Tropical Afternoon

Path to the Chapel

Seahorse Sunset

I selected the opposite side of the bay from the previous evening. We sat on a grassy berm, waiting for the day to end.

Sunset Bridge

Chunlin and Mark at Sunset

I let Chunlin use my small camera while I used the large one. The next photo is hers.

Waiulua Bay at Sunset

Meanwhile, I stared upward.

To the Moon

Eventually, the sun found the horizon.

Our Last Hawai‘i Sunset

The sudden darkness was always surprising to me, even though I knew it was coming. It made me miss the twilight of northern latitudes.

Streetlamp at Dusk


We then went back to our hotel room and finished the alcoholism movie.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

March 19 - Escape to Hapuna

Another sunny day in Hawai‘i.

Palms in the Pond

We strolled around the Hilton Waikoloa resort grounds, from one end to the other. They have a tiny zoo with some flamingos and nenes.

Whatcha Looking At

In the Grid

Hilton's Canal

Without much food, I was starting to crash but Chunlin was doing fine. We had breakfast at Water’s Edge. I had the buffet; Chunlin had the continental. Good omelet. Good baked goods. Not sure it was worth $29, but I was hungry.

Palace Lawn

We headed back to our hotel room and finished watching _Skyfall_. 10 o’clock. Time to relax. The waves just keep coming, but I can’t photograph them all.

When afternoon rolled around, I got itchy feet. We packed up, took the train to the car, and drove north to popular Hapuna Beach.

Hapuna Frog

We slathered on the sunscreen, staked out a patch of sand, and jumped into the ocean. It was cool and refreshing at first, but quickly felt warm as my body adjusted. Coming back out, I tripped in the shallow water on a random deep spot and performed a graceful faceplant on the sand.

Welcome to Hapuna Beach

Next time out, I belly-flopped into a vertical wave face -- slap!

Lots of people on the beach and in the water. Boogie boarders were catching waves. Once, I timed my jump just right so I managed to catch a wave without a board. I cruised on in to shore. Every other time a wave came in, I drank too much salt water. It stings the nose.

Chunlin in the Ocean

Chunlin kept her head dry, most of the time. I mostly didn’t get sunburned.

Hapuna through the Trees

And thus ends the tale of our day at the beach.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

March 18 - Waikoloa Tourism Quarantine

Out in the middle of a vast black lava flow with hardly a clump of grass, there springs an artificial oasis known as Waikoloa. There's not enough rain on this side of the island to turn the land green like Puna. The lava just sits the way it cooled decades ago.

Except down Waikoloa Beach Road. Past palm trees and flowering bushes and manicured lawns. Past shopping malls, hotels, golf courses, and condos. We eventually arrived at the Hilton.

Under the Hilton Bridge

The resort has multiple buildings strung together with a Disney-designed boat on a canal and a short train that runs right through the "lobby" building.

Train through the Lobby

Three stops to our hotel tower. We got a top-floor room with a view of Hualalai and a peek-a-boo view of the ocean. The palm tree resort spread out in front of us.

Hilton Waikoloa

What a place. Quite a different Hawai‘i than Hilo or even Kona.

Ocean Tower

It’s a tourist quarantine, you see? Tourism is a contagious disease, so Hawai‘i built this colony out in the desert to stop its spread. From what we saw around the island, the quarantine is mostly working.

Palace Portico at Sunset

After watching _Life of Pi_ in our hotel room, we hurried downstairs to watch the sunset.

Waikoloa Sunset Palms

The Sun Finds the Horizon

Sun between the Trees

And then we watched _Skyfall_.

Monday, April 08, 2013

March 18 - Kohala Coast

At the northwestern tip of the Big Island, we drove down the Old Coast Guard Road, aiming for the old Mo‘okini Heiau. This area of Kohala has short trees sparse among the grass and rocks.

Down to the Sea

Instead, we wound up at a rocky beach called Honoipu. The wind was at our back, for a change, as we stared out to sea.


It was nice not to have to worry about salt-water spray as I took photographs of the crashing waves.

From Hawai‘i to Maui

Turquoise water, Maui just off shore. Chunlin spotted whales breaching. Look at that one! It’s completely out of the water! Oh wait, that’s a bird.

Chunlin at Honoipu

Back up the hill, we found the turn-off toward the heiau, but a locked gate with a “no trespassing” sign dissuaded us from proceeding further.

Down the coast, we stopped at Mahukona Beach. It’s an old harbor from the sugar cane days, I believe, but now in ruins. Snorkelers floated on the shallow water. Little yellow fish hid from them.

Snorkelers at Mahukona

On the road again, we stopped at Spencer Beach and visited Pu‘ukohola Heiau, built by King Kamehameha. We sat in the small visitors center and watched a video and enjoyed the breeze.

Pu‘ukohola Flags

Pu‘ukohola and the Sea

Lovely piles of rocks.

The Heiau on the Hill

Our next stop was Puako, which isn't really a town. It's just a long dead-end road with many houses on it, paralleling the ocean. There are a few gaps for public access to the rocky shore.

Across to Holoholokai

Lava tidepools. A‘a and rope lava and smooth pahoehoe. Small waves, but they felt big for the tight gaps.

Chunlin on the Rocks

We saw sea urchins, sea cucumbers, tiny fish, three sea turtles, and a pair of eels.

Growing New

Life is hard on the dry side of the island...

Saturday, April 06, 2013

March 18 - Pololu Valley

We drove to the northern end of the island, hung a right near Hawi, and stopped at Kapa‘au.

Kapa‘au Trees

We visited the original King Kamehameha statue. It had a single lei, so there must not be a holiday nearby.


We moved on. Before we got to the end of the road at Pololu Valley, we turned off at Keokea Beach to use the restrooms.

Keokea Shore

It’s a rocky shore, but one young guy was body boarding. He would take short runs and then pull off quick before he hit the rocks.

An ambulance came down to the park, but the paramedics just leisurely watched the waves. I guess it was their break. Or were they waiting for the surfer to hurt himself?

Chunlin at Keokea

We got back in the car and shortly we were at Pololu Valley Lookout. Views of the cliffs up the coast.

Pololu Valley Lookout

We hiked down into the valley on a steep, hot trail. The hike would probably be cooler in the afternoon, but... oh well.

Chunlin on the Pololu Trail

At the bottom of the hill, the valley floor is a flat forest. Some campsites. Some “no trespassing” signs stopping anyone from walking upstream. We headed to the beach and sat, ate a snack.

Chunlin on Pololu Beach

A couple men were fishing to our left; I think they were the ones camping. To our right, a family with small kids. A quarter mile away, one surfer. Not many people on the large beach, but it was a Monday morning, after all.

Beach of Rocks

Near the cliffs, the beach is composed of boulders. It quickly transitions to cobbles, where we were sitting. Near the mouth of the river, the beach quickly transitions to sand. Pololu Stream (as the USGS map calls it) flows underground through the beach, a berm of sand and rocks, to get to the ocean. There is no inter-tidal zone.

Mark and Pololu Valley

Eventually, we decided we’d had enough and thus tackled the hot climb back up the hill. Water and shade are good.

Chunlin & Mark at Pololu

We returned to Kapa‘au at 11 a.m. Pizza time.