Aloha and Mahalo – Day 1, Kailua Kona, Hawaii

Phil and I landed in Kona around 8 pm local time last night, but after a long day of traveling our bodies definitely were reassuring us it was 11 pm back home. We learned quickly about “island time” with all the lines at the airport and rental car company, just trying to get to our house in the hills of Kona. IMG_4700

Not until this morning did we realize the beauty that surrounds us in the house we’ve rented on the hill. We have a clear view to the ocean, which is about 5 miles downhill, as the crow flies. Our showers are all outdoors, evidence of the year round tropical weather. Even now as I write this, rain is pouring, but the temperature could not be more ideal.

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The rest of the family woke slowly; we all sat around the table on the patio eating pastries and drinking Kong coffee as we discussed our bucket list from the trip. Our group is from up and down the west coast. Phil’s aunts, uncles, and Grandma came from Washington, one of his cousins from the central coast of California, another from Northern California, his parents from San Bernadino county, California, and ourselves from Orange County, California. Since we all came in on different flights, breakfast this morning was the first time that we could sit down and make a plan for what we wanted to accomplish. The vote was unanimous, though, today we would take it easy, adjust to “island time” by staying local.

Our first stop was Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation, where we took a free tour to learn how coffee is grown, picked, sorted, stored, roasted, and bagged. The tour itself was fairly short, but full of interesting information. With tantilizing free samples, we left with an armful of coffee, tea, and chocolate covered “peaberries.”

At 3,200 ft above sea level, fog and a light sprinkle rolled in while we were at the plantation. The temperature was a lot cooler than we expected, and several of us wished we have brought a jacket. As we descended the mountain, though, the clouds broke and the beach beckoned with warm sunshine.

After a quick lunch break at the house, everyone packed up the cars and headed down to the closest beach to our house – the Ai’opio Fish Trap, which is a part of Kaloko Honokohau National Historical Park. Parking on the north side of the marina, we made a short walk down to the beach. We read reviews that raved about sea turtles, but I was actually still surprised to find one right on the beach as soon as we got there.

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Please stay 20′ away from the sea turtles – I zoomed in to take this picture.

We explored the cove a little bit, finding that while there was plenty of sand, there was also a plethora of lava rocks which were very rough on the feet. Phil and I waded out into the deliciously warm water, then got brave enough to swim out into the middle of the cove. Phil could walk most of the way, even at high tide, but I had to swim a fair amount. We made it out to the center, cutting our bare feet on a few rocks, but well worth the trek to watch another sea turtle finding it’s dinner in the middle of the fish trap.

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Worn out from our swim, we joined the rest of the family to explore the city. On the drive in, the clouds opened up, dampening future plans to explore more outdoors. Grandma had heard of a confectionery selling chocolate covered macadamia nuts, which they labeled “Donkey Balls.” We headed to the shop, and plied with more free samples, the family picked up a few, at least for the novelty.

Now, feeling like the day is much later than it really is, and the rain pouring down still, we’re prepping to make dinner at home, and continue to enjoy “island time.”

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