After all those months of planning, it's wonderful to be here and the vacation is shaping up to be as good as, if not better than we had anticipated! It's our first visit to the the Island of Hawaii but 4th to Hawaii. It's been a busy few days and I've finally found a few minutes to report back and thank all those who have helped so much with our planning...especially KK and Shea, plus everyone else who have so generously offered their help, including Wanderlust!
So far we've snorkelled at Makaiwa, Honokaope and Honaunau; with Honokaope being the clear winner for extensive reefs and number/variety of fish. Fortunately we had calm water on all 3 mornings, and this morning we had Honokaope all to ourselves for the first half hour. It doesn't get much better than having a beach like that to yourselves!
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau was great ... enjoyed both the ranger talk and strolling the grounds (very educational, and a beautiful spot with nice picnic grounds.) The Painted Church was definitely worth a visit, and a tour of Greenwell's Coffee farm exceeded our expectations (the coffee was excellent too, so we came away with a pound of their Estate Private Reserve.)
A drive along Ali'i Drive, a stop at Magic Sands Beach, and a stroll in town and out to the end of the pier was interesting, but also confirmed that our decision not to stay in Kailua Kona, but instead at a condo at the Mauna Lani (Fairways) was the right one for us. The ML resort is beautiful and the condo we've rented is really nice ... beautifully decorated, spacious and comfortable. We do miss having an ocean view (which we've had on all of our other Hawaiian vacations) but the amenities here, the beautiful grounds and the quick drive to such great beaches offsets the negatives of not having the view (plus we're headed to Maui for 2 weeks after our BI stay, so we'll get our ocean view fix then.)
We've signed up for a short term tennis membership here at ML (very reasonable rates), and we'll be golfing at the ML South Course tomorrow (also at rates that I was surprised at...expected them to be much higher). Yesterday we golfed at Waikoloa Village course - a warm up round since our golf season at home ends in early October and we're pretty rusty....hopefully we can play a respectable round tomorrow :)
We brought our golf clubs, tennis racquets, snorkelling gear and hiking stuff, so the baggage load was pretty heavy (2 checked bags each) but worth it to have our own equipment for a 4 week trip.
The drive up to Hawi and beyond to Pololu Valley was a beautiful one and we thoroughly enjoyed the Pololu Valley hike ... made it almost to the top of the second ridge (I think we were close to the top) but we did it late afternoon and with an eye on our watches, decided that going to that summit might make our hike too late. We lingered in the valley for a bit, tried out some of the swings and a hammock, and then back up (hiking poles were worth having here.) The road up to 'Iole and the church that had to be rebuilt after the earthquake was an interesting diversion ... wish we had had time to hike at 'Iole.
Still lots on our list, but we're half way through our Kohala Coast stay, so I don't think we'll complete the "wish list" ... have to save some for next trip.
We're really 'wowed' by the spectacular scenery and variety of places to visit here. We're heading back out now to enjoy more, so I'll try to post an update again when there's more to add. Sorry if this sounds disjointed ... rather than do a day by day report, I just wanted to jot down some of our highlights.
Thanks again to all those who have been so helpful with your advice and feedback!