Saturday, October 15, 2011

Part 2 of 2 - Blog Maui and Big Island Visit

Part 2 of 2 - Blog Maui and Big Island Visit July 2011
Click to enlarge...Picture of Paula Fuga, Mike Love and Sam Ites performing Stella Blues Maui July 2011
As promised in my last blog I want to introduce to you some beautiful music from Paula Fuga who is from the island of Oahu.  She did try-out on American Idol and unfortunately, did not get far.  You can see this audition on YouTube and listen to her on my video she is awesome!  Jack Johnson certainly thinks so and she now tours with him.  I felt it was a privilege to see her perform in the small venue in Maui.  Let me tell you, this woman can sing!  Her music is featured here in my NEW Big Island Video Our Experience: 
I included 3 songs from her “Misery End” CD which I purchased in Maui at her show.  Please support her music and buy it on-line.  I hope you enjoy my movie.

My time on the Big Island passed much too quickly.  I wish we had more time to explore and relax.  Talk about a whirlwind vacation!  I got my R&R in Maui prior to landing in Hilo.  We only had 48 hours on this island for our non-stop sightseeing tour, time was limited and we had a lot of ground to cover and people to visit.  I recommend you spend at least 5 to 14 days on each island if you can spare it.

We arrived about 9am in Hilo and immediately took in the sights and fell into the rhythm of the second largest city in the state of Hawaii and one of the wettest locations averaging 128 inches of rain a year.  Hilo is the capital of the Big Island (Hawaii) and is also home to the annual Merrie Monarch Festival, a week long event in honor of King David Kalākaua, who was nicknamed the "Merrie Monarch" for revitalizing the art of hula and bringing it back to the public domain.  The missionaries who arrived to the islands in the early 1800s suppressed much of the Hawaiian traditions and culture.  The hula was driven underground and was kept alive.  David Kalākaua is credited with restoring a new sense of pride in such things as Hawaiian mythology, medicine, chant, and hula when he came to power in 1874.  The Merrie Monarch Festival was founded in 1964 and has exhibitions and competitions that are considered the most prestigious of all hula contests.  This event attracts the best dancers in the world.  Visit this site to learn more:  Merrie Monarch Festival  

Isaac Hale Beach (click to enlarge)
We had lunch in Hilo and then visited a few beaches: Isaac Hale Beach Park, Kalapana, and New Kaimu Beach.  We eventually checked into our beautiful rented home in Kapoho.  We booked our place through Hawaii Holiday Vacation Rentals My friends started this company several years ago and recently sold it.  All the properties are beautiful and I like the people who work there.

I have traveled to the Big Island several times before and not much has changed.  I did notice that there appeared to be more homes built, but the community is still a small, quiet oasis nestled in the jungles.   We stayed on the East side of the island in Kapoho a place known for its 90 degree temperature tide pools.  These natural outdoor baths are created by interconnected thermal tide pools that extend 200 yards into the ocean.  The nearest town to shop and eat is Pahoa which is a 15 minute drive.  The downtown area is cute and very small.  You can drive from one end of the town to the next in less than 5 minutes and I’m not exaggerating!   We had dinner our first evening in Pahoa.  There are a few GREAT restaurants.  This I find amazing in that there doesn’t appear to be many choices and yet all the restaurants take pride in their food.  We dined at my favorite establishment Luquins Mexican Restaurant and it cost each of us $12 to $13 per person this included tax and tip.  The prices are reasonable on this side of the island.   The food at Liquins is OMG good!

My son and I wanted to come back to the Big Island to visit our baby coconut trees that we planted at New Kaimu Beach many years ago.  I don’t know if we found our tree exactly.  The beach had so many more trees than before.  We planted our trees approximately 9 years ago!  We also wanted to see the volcano and lava flow, but no lava was flowing on the surface this trip!  I thought it strange.  So, one less thing for us to see and do.  If you ever visit the Big Island make sure you take in the natural wonders of the active volcano and lava flow.  It is very cool to see the fresh molten lava river flow on land and melt into the sea.  It is amazing to see new life and new land being created right before your eyes. This is not an every day event.  A new island has already begun to form about 15 miles off the southeast coast of the Big Island named Loihi, its seamount has already risen about 2 miles above the ocean floor, and within 1 mile of the ocean surface. In another thirty or forty thousand years, a new island will exist where the Big Island of Hawaii currently rests.

I found this on the web if you are interested in the formation of the Hawaiian Islands and volcanoes:

I was told during this recent trip not to invest in a lava boat tour ride unless the lava is actually flowing into the ocean.  Do your homework first this will save you money   However, if you like the ocean and sight seeing from a boat you can take in the coastline and see dolphins etc.  The tours run whether or not the lava is flowing into the ocean.

The next day was our last full day and long drive adventure to soak up what we could.  Our goal was to drive to Kona and then take in the stars on top of Mauna Kea.   During our journey, we did come across Punalu’u a black sand beach.  There were so many turtles!  It is important you do not get close to the turtles and please never touch them.  They come ashore to rest and sleep.   Then off to Kayak by Captain Cook’s monument for the fun of it.  It is a place where dolphins are seen frequently.  However, we kayaked late in the afternoon so no dolphins were to be seen.  If you want to see the dolphins you should go out early in the morning.  Many years ago, I swam out to the dolphins. It was a wonderful memory and experience to swim with them in the wild in their natural habitat.  Dolphins are curious creatures and swim close to you and they make a distinct clicking sound and squeak.  The dolphins use echolocation or biosonar.  They will swim close to you where you can touch them, but here I go again, you shouldn’t.  They seem to be curious about us humans as we humans are about them.  I want to add, I do not like the idea that some of these creatures are held captive in a pool for display.  They should be free as long as they are not recovering from an injury or illness.  Anyway, I digress…since we were kayaking late in the afternoon we did see a bunch of jumping fish breaking the surface of the water.  From a distance I thought they might be dolphins.  But once we got close I could clearly see it was a lot of large silver fish, I told the kids to stay in the Kayak because maybe something was something feeding on them and not necessarily the other way around.  A week earlier there had been a shark sighting in this area.

click to enlarge Huggo's click to enlarge
After our kayaking adventure, we drove further south to Kailua-Kona for our one sunset dinner.  We wanted to find a place that had live music overlooking the ocean.  There were many places that fit the bill.  We discovered Huggo’s.  This was my first time dining there.  It is a casual ocean front atmosphere with live music and they even had a hula dancer.  It was a great find.  I was more tempted by the location and then pleasantly surprised by the great food, drinks and entertainment! 
Downtown Kona (click to enlarge)
downtown Kona at sunset (click to enlarge)
I was the time keeper and tour guide for the group.  I had to keep us on task.  After our lovely sunset dinner by the ocean I reminded everyone we had to wrap it up so we could make it to the top of Mauna Kea to view the stars.  This was a new experience for me as well and I knew we had to get there before 10pm closing time.  I really love the town of Kailua-Kona and wanted to linger but time was ticking…We left Huggo’s at about 7:20pm to drive up to Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain on Earth 13,796 feet as measured from the sea.  Astronomers and scientist love the observatories here.  We visited the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station located 9,300 foot above sea level.  We were prepared and packed our jeans and sweatshirts because it was CHILLY on the mountain!  I also purchased a kauva chocolate bar to keep me alert while driving and it worked!  The visitor station is open from 9am to 10pm daily and it is free to the public.  They have plenty of telescopes for the visitors to use.  But we could not really figure them out.  It was best just to look into the heavens with the naked eye.  We arrived to the visitor center at 9:20pm.  We just made it!  I would have been bummed if they closed the doors before we got there.  We were going up the mountain in the dark and used almost ½ a tank of gas in our rented minivan.  Traveling downhill we coasted and did not use an ounce of gas.  The breaks got a good work out though.

This is one of the best places in the world to view the cosmos where there is virtually no light pollution.  I was blown away by all the stars I could see on top of Mount Mauna Kea.  The big dipper was so close that at first I could not see it due to the competing star light.  There were so many twinkling stars and planets scattered on this black velvet canvas.  Talk about a blanket of stars!  I don’t even think that expression does justice to what we visually took in our one night on top of this mountain we were so close to heaven. Never have I seen so many stars before in my life.  Oh and to see the milky way with the naked eye was incredible.  The big dipper was huge you could almost touch it!.  We also saw many shooting stars during our short visit.

Mauna Kea is also known as one of the cleanest spots in the world, free of pollution because dust particles and pollution stop climbing when they meet the inversion layer, an atmospheric boundary of warmer air at 11,145 feet above the clouds.   

After the star gazing, back to our Kapoho home.  I was a little bummed that we could not enjoy the beautiful house we rented simply because we were never there.  But we had a great, clean, beautiful and comfortable home to sleep in and the two nights we were there we were welcomed by a chorus of crickets, geckos, frogs, and not sure what else that would sing in unison at about the same pitch and a gentle breeze kicked in moving around the palm leaves.  One night we had a steady rain that added to the soothing orchestra of nature’s song.  I loved it and if by magic was lulled into a peaceful sleep.
View from our rented home in Kapoho (click to enlarge)

Kathy McCartney

MauiVision Rentals and McCartney Fine Art