We wake up early today, as we have a 6:45am appointment at the Honokohau Harbor for Captain Dan McSweeney's Whale Watch tour. We had some e-mail contact with these folks arranging the tour, and I was very happy with their friendliness and service, so I've got high hopes for the tour itself.
...And boy, does it deliver! The first hour was a little slow, with us cruising around the deep water without much luck. We do see a pair of beaked whales briefly, but they dive beneath the waves for one of their hour-long submersions, and none of us want to wait for that long, so we begin heading back toward shallower water.
At that point, we see some whales surfacing, so we head over to that spot... and find ourselves in the middle of a pod of what had to have been 25-30 pilot whales, surfacing, spouting water, then diving again. We drift silently, amazed, as the whales float all around us. There was a white tip reef shark swimming amongst the whales as well, but it didn't come close enough to the surface to get a good picture.
We were a little late to see any humpbacks , as our tour was on April 28th and the humpbacks finish their nursing cycle and head back up toward Alaska around mid-April. We decide that the next time we come here we'll try and arrange for a trip in March or earlier in April. At any rate, we will definitely be back. Back to Hawaii, and back on a boat with Captain Dan.
After the trip, I pick up a CD of humpback whale song and a ball cap, and Lucie splurges and plunks down money to adopt a pilot whale (all proceeds from whale adoptions go toward McSweeney's "Wild Whale Research Foundation", a charitable nonprofit foundation created to research whales and dolphins and help their environment). She decides to name the pilot whale "Silverfin"... we'll be receiving the official certificate in a few weeks.
(And that, folks, is one of the reasons I love her. One of many.)
After we get back on dry land, we head on up the Queen Ka'ahumanu highway north along the Kohala coast. We see a sign for fresh malassadas, so we stop by a small roadside stand and order some. We have a small wait -- they don't make 'em until you order 'em -- and by the time our order is ready, there's a fairly large number of locals in line behind us. Looks like we stumbled across a secret locals' hot spot.
We attempt to reach the Kekaha Kai state park, but it's an unpaved lava road that doesn't get along very well with our poor rented Sebring, so turn back and continue heading up the coast -- looks like snorkeling will have to wait.
We also try to check out "A' Bay" (officially called Anaeho'omalu Bay, which is why it's shortened to A' Bay), but it's smack dab in the middle of the Waikoloa King's Shops and we're scared off by the pretension. We continue on up the highway.
The next stop is the Mauna Lani Resort (where Les, from the Waipio tour, works.) We attempt to stop by the Holoholokai beach, but by the time I'm able to finish reading the sign with the beach's name, we're a quarter mile past the thing. We move on.
Up next is the Hapuna State Park. The beach and the water here are simply beautiful -- white sands, clear blue waters, and about a hundred thousand people in front of us, trying to reach the water by climbing over the hundred thousand other people lying on the sand. We shrug and head on home, content that at least we were able to visit the second most popular -- and the deadliest -- beach on the Big Island.
We stop by the Kamuela Deli in Kailua for a loco moco plate lunch (I'm really starting to love those things, I gotta tell ya), and then head to the Royal Kona to relax until dinner, when we head down to Don the Beachcomber's restaurant downstairs. I have some tasty poke tuna and a glass of Reisling for an appetizer; Lucie has the macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi she's been wanting since we got here, and I have a pepper crusted ahi.
The chairs aren't as comfy as the ones by the bar, but the view is just as amazing, so we have our drinks for the evening at the restaurant (a mai tai for us both, and a mango daiquiri to share) before heading upstairs.
I reply, "because then I would have had 'kukui, kukui, kukui for coconuts!'"
She just sighs, and I giggle myself to sleep. Sometimes I crack myself up.