Here’s our first view of the island of Hawai‘i, as our plane approached on Sunday morning, April 3. Snow-capped Mauna Kea is rising out of the clouds, with Mauna Loa behind it.

View of Mauna Kea from the plane

A week later, we spent Sunday evening waiting for our flight out of Kona Airport. (After a disastrous experience at LAX in which we arrived 2 hours ahead and got to the gate with maybe 15 minutes to spare, we showed up early for the flight home. But Kona’s much smaller and better organized, so it took us maybe 15 minutes to check in. There wasn’t even a line to go through security!)

Kona airport at night

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on our Hawaiian vacation. I’m sorry it took so long to finish it, but hey, I managed (just barely) to beat the 6-month marker!

On the same day as our whale-watching cruise (April 6), we took a submarine tour of Kailua Bay from Atlantis Adventures. The tour started at the Kailua pier, where a boat ferried us out to the submarine in the middle of the bay. The sub itself went down to around 80-90 feet by the end of the trip, and we got to see all kinds of fish and coral.

Fish below Kailua bay

It didn’t look nearly so blue to us, of course, since our eyes were adjusted to it. Continue reading

When we arrived in Hawaii, I posted this photo taken from our hotel room balcony:

View from hotel

What I didn’t mention was that that shot was carefully cropped. The view really looked like this:

Less artfully cropped view

Well, hey, we got the cheap rooms, so you kind of expect that. Still, there was a lot to see right on the hotel grounds. First of all, we stayed at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort south of Kailua-Kona. Outrigger had recently taken over the hotel, and they were in the midst of remodeling. They had to block off part of the parking lot for a couple of days in order to bring in a crane and replace the air conditioner. So I expect any review of the facilities themselves is going to be outdated within a couple of months.

The hotel grounds include a couple of heiau ruins, some tide pools, and a small garden area. Continue reading

It’s taking me longer than I thought to post all these Hawaii photos. North of Kona there are miles of old lava flows, the most recent of which were in 1801 (from Hualalai, the volcano above Kailua) and 1859 (from Mauna Loa, the second-higest peak on the island). Because the island is right in the middle of the trade winds, and has sizable mountains in the middle, the clouds all bunch up on the eastern side of the island, dropping several hundred inches of rain a year before stopping—rather abruptly—halfway across the island. The west side of the island, especially in North Kona and Kohala, gets closer to 10 inches of rain a year. That’s not far off, climate-wise, from Southern California. It also means that there’s not enough plants to break up a lava field in only 200 years, and large chunks of the coast look like this:

A‘a lava flow in Kohala (with coral graffiti!)
That’s not dirt, that’s rock! You may be wondering about the white bits. They’re a sort of temporary graffiti. All through this area, people have dragged out bits of coral to spell out messages ranging from “Hi Mom” and “Aloha Dolly” to “In Memory Of…” For some reason it’s almost universally good-natured. Katie’s got some interesting pictures. that we’ll be posting later.

Here’s a view of the coast itself. Continue reading