Not quite early enough to see the sunrise, but Chris and I got up with an alarm (gasp!) today to pack up our bags and head out early with our little sleepyhead for some snorkeling. After 9 days of mostly pool time, this mama was ready for some beach time. It was a 1 hr and 20 minute drive from our hotel in Waikoloa, down the shore to an area near Captain Cook (which for history people is the spot where Captain Cook was pushed off the cliff to his death). We actually opted to snorkel at a spot known to locals as 2 Step, for the 2 rock steps leading down into the water.
We stopped for some rental snorkel gear along the way, and made it to the snorkel spot which is also right next to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Park (say that one 3 times fast-ha!) We were able to park in the lot of the national park, as we were going to visit that afterwards, which was a good thing as like the rest of Hawaii, parking was pretty scarce at the snorkel site. Aly was even game to join us on this snorkel adventure, so we were excited to find out what she could see for her first time out.
Let me tell you, this snorkel site was amazing (the pictures really don’t do it justice). Chris and I both said that it was probably the best snorkeling we have done since Fiji, which has one of the most amazing reef systems in the world!! Right off the jump in spot, the reef extended all along the coast both left and right. We saw yellow tang, butterfly fish in many different colors, and triggerfish. We didn’t see any turtles this time, though they supposedly hang out around here. There are also dolphins and monk seals in the area, though we weren’t here early enough, and didn’t go far enough out to see these. After a few trips out and back in, Aly was super pumped by her first snorkeling experience and was so excited to tell us all about the different fish she had seen. I would say it was a success!
We walked back to the car, letting the sun dry us off along the way, and wandered into the Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park.
We grabbed the Junior Ranger booklet for Aly from a very friendly Ranger, and set off on the audio tour with our phone and the map. I loved the audio tour as explanations of each site really furthered our experience at this park. I don’t think any of us would have gotten quite as much out of it if we were just exploring on our own. Due to the warm (ie HOT as heck) temperatures, the volcanic rock all around us, and lack of much breeze, we were all sweating by the end and ready to turn in Aly’s ranger book. New badge (and patch!) in hand, we were ready to find some food.
Chris and I had been to the Kona Brewing Company location on Oahu, but since this was our first trip to the Big Island, we had never been to the main location in Kona. Plus, after all that swimming and walking around, we were definitely read for a nice cold brew. The food at KBC is really pretty tasty, especially their pizza. Aly made friends with all the birds on the patio-popping by for occasional bites of salad and pizza-and Chris and I stuffed ourselves full knowing we probably wouldn’t eat again tonight with the timing of our overnight flight back home.
Aly and I knew we wouldn’t leave Hawaii without one last stop at shave ice, so a quick search turned up a place with great reviews just down the road from us. ULULANI’S = heaven in a bowl. Even Chris, the self-proclaimed hater of cold foods (“because they hurt his teeth”) said that it was the best shave ice ever. This was not your average snow cone people. This was the fluffiest, softest shave ice I have ever had. I have never seen anyone take the time to shape the ball of ice quite the way they did (it involves chopsticks, poking into the ice and around the ice—no packing by hand here). Their syrups are all made using natural fruit juices whenever possible, and you can tell. No weird aftertastes, or that clogged feeling in the back of the throat from eating to much sugar! Oh, and I must mention the genius idea of the holes drilled into their table and bar tops to drop your cup into while eating! We will definitely be making a return trip here on our next trip to Hawaii.
Sadly, our vacation has come to a close. I don’t know if Aly, or myself for that matter, can pick a favorite part of the trip. I enjoyed just being able to relax, and wing it without overplanning anything, and most of all that it was with my two favorite traveling buddies. I was excited to see Aly get out of her comfort zone on this trip (see snorkeling above!!!) and find some new things to enjoy. I always have fun traveling the globe with Chris (navigating aside-ha!) and am already counting down the days until our next trip. Aloha Hawaii! I’m sure we will meet again!
Chris and I had both been to the Kona Brewing Company site on Oahu, but since this was our first trip to the Big Island, had never been to the original brewery location. And, after a lot of swimming and walking in the heat, we definitely needed a cold brew. The food at KBC is really pretty tasty, especially their pizza. Aly made friends with all the bi