It took a full day of flying to get from San Francisco via Los Angeles to Honolulu, where the night was spent at an airport hotel with a small lounge bar and quite a nice pool. Dinner was Domino’s Philly cheesesteak pizza, unbelievably cheesy and soooooo good!
Then on to the Big Island, where the King Hamehameha beach hotel in Kona was home for a few days. The first evening was spent at the Kona Brewing Company pub, which served delicious fresh ahi tacos in an outdoor garden setting along with samplers of their tasty brews.
The first full day in Hawai’i started with picking up a red Camaro convertible from the airport. Time to let the hair fly loose! Then off around the southern tip of the island and up to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The two hour drive was slightly longer than expected but definitely worthwhile.
The first stop at a viewpoint on the north side of Kilauea calder and Halema’uma’u crater, which has been spewing forth deadly sulfur dioxide gases for a while now (due to this, about half of the ring road around the Kilauea caldera as well as the best viewpoints close to the crater were closed).
Next it was time to explore the Thurston lava tube, an intriguing natural formation born hundreds of years ago by a river of lava. The short walk to the tube entrance led through some lush green jungle areas where it was easy to imagine all kinds of ancient creatures lurking.
Then on down the Chain of Craters Road towards the coast to the site of the 2003 lava flow that cut off the coastal road completely. Standing on the hardened black lava and staring at the overrun roadsigns gave a real understanding of the unstoppable force of a volcano. It ‘s interesting to note that in traditional Hawaiian folklore, Kilauea is considered the home of the Goddess Pele. They’ve clearly understood that a woman’s wrath is not a joke.
After four hours of exploring the park, it was time head back towards Kona. On the way, a stop was made at Punalu’u black sands beach. The difference to a normal sandy beach was not just in the color, but also the feel of the sand: the bigger grains formed of lava mixed with little shards of coral and seashells was not that foot-friendly.
Kona was reached finally a bit after sunset. Being in the islands, seafood was again on the list for dinner. The chosen spot for the evening was Fish Hopper, which served up really tasty surf ‘n’ turf and grilled red snapper with an amazing risotto. After dinner drinks at Paradise Brewing Tap and Grill finished off the evening.
The second day started with a fresh breakfast at Island Lava Java complete with 100 % Kona coffee. Then time to pop the top down on the car and head towards the beaches. First up was Kahalu’u bay, where various colorful fish including the state fish, humuhumunukunukuāpua’a, were spotted along with some peaceful Hawaiian green sea turtles.
Snorkeling led to some rumbling stomachs, so lunch was due next. The convertible headed along the seaside road to Da Poke Shack for a Hawaiian treat, poke, which is basically raw fish cut into pieces and mixed with sauces and spices. Really good!
Then on to the second beach of the day, White Sands, where snorkeling was out of the question but wavesurfing was quite in. The sea was far from calm and a pair on sunglasses were sacrificed but overall it was fun to bounce around in the surf.
After a long day out in the sun, a good dinner and refreshments were called for. Sushi at Seiji’s with BYOB wine and beers followed by drinks and dessert at Fish Hopper were followed a couple beers at a fun local bar, the Dolphin Spit. The travellers actually managed to stay awake a bit past midnight this time!
The following day started slowly with brunch at Island Lava Java, complete with BYOB champagne. Then some beach time and lounging by the hotel pool: the perfect lazy afternoon. In the evening, a seafood dinner at Splasher’s and the last couple mai tais at Paradise Brewing were the perfect way to enjoy the quiet town.
The last day in Kona began with a morning swim and continued on to lunch at Kona Brewing. Unbelievably good kale salad! Then it was unfortunately time to head to the airport for the flight back to Honolulu for the final week of the trip. The end is near, but at least there is still a bit more island vacation in store.
Epicness of the deliciousness of food in Kona on The Scale of Epicness: