I figured I had better get the last of my 2012 vacation photos up before the year is over.
No trip to Kona would be complete without some snorkeling at Kahalu'u beach. This is the beach that I learned to snorkel at when I was a kid. When I was little I was afraid to put my head under water so my parents would have me float on a boogie board and just hang over the edge with the snorkel mask to look at the fish. It quickly became one of my favorite things to do.
Kahalu'u is an interesting place. There are several sacred and historical sites on and around the beach, but it is also one of the busiest beaches in Ktown. It isn't a sandy beach, it has a pebbly texture and lots of lava rock. It is a great place to learn to snorkel because it has a man made breakwater that surrounds most of the beach and keeps the worst of the ocean swells out.
This is one of the best places on the Kona coast to see honu (green sea turtles). Unfortunately a lot of the coral is dying off and the fish aren't as plentiful as they used to be, but there is still a lot to see. The day we were there the water was a little murky, especially in close to the beach, but we still managed to spot sea turtles, eels, and Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, as well as more yellow tang than you could ever hope to see in one place. It gave me a good excuse to test out my new point and shoot camera which was advertised as being waterproof down to 14ft. It actually worked, not super well, but it worked.
|Uhu (blue parrot fish), Na'ena'e (orangeband surgeon fish), Laui Pala (yellow tang)|
|Spot cheeked surgeon fish|
|Honu...camouflage, you're doing it right.|
|Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (reef trigger fish)|
|A'ha, (needle fish)|
|Na'ena'e (orangeband surgeon fish)|
|Tang and parrot fish|
|Black and red sea urchins.|
|Lau hau (4 spot butterfly fish), and brown surgeon fish.|
|Humuhumu'ele'ele (black triggerfish), and a spot cheeked surgeon fish.|
|Blue parrot fish, and Ha’uke’uke ‘ula’ula (slate pencil urchin).|
|Kihi Kihi (moorish idol). These guys are really shy and it was hard to get a good photo of them.|
|Black triggerfish, yellow tangs, and a Manini (convict surgeon fish)|
|Hinalea'aki'lolo (yellowtail coris wrasse)|
|Red parrot fish|
As we were swimming out towards the breakwater wall, Sandee pointed out an eel but I didn't understand what she was trying to tell me since we were underwater and I was trying to get my camera to switch modes. (Yet another moment where I wish ASL was a mandatory language study in American schools) I didn't realize that I had accidentally turned on the video function and was recording, but I was glad I did. Watch until the end of this video:
Then I took this picture:
And then I freaked out because it came out of its hiding place and swam RIGHT.AT.ME. I am not afraid to admit that I squealed like a little girl and then swam away like I was being chased by sharks. But hey, at least I got a cool photo.
Kahalu'u is also a popular spot for beginner surfers. Just on the other side of the breakwater they can get some gentle waves without having to paddle too far out.
After snorkeling I took dad for fish and chips at Mahi's Beer Battered Fish N' Chips (Thanks Scott and Sandee for finding that for us!). Then I met Sandee and Scott at the Kona Brewing Company for dessert and this lovely portrait courtesy of Sandee.
Later that night Sandee, Scott, and I drove to Mauna Kea. I had packed my owl hat especially for this occasion. We donned as many layers of clothing as we could and headed up to the mountain. The visitor information station at the Onizuka Center was packed with tourists and telescopes. We stopped so that Scott could chat with some of the employees there about the best places to shoot starscapes. I wandered over to the waiting area and took photos of this sign:
|Damn sneaky invisible cows|
When we reached the summit we tried to to be as quiet and respectful as we could. Not only is the summit of Mauna Kea considered sacred to many Hawaiians, it is also home to 12 major observatories and we didn't want to disturb their work. Scott set up his tripod and camera and set to work photographing the observatories and the night skies. I put my point and shoot on a post and used the longest shutter speed I could find and this is the result...
|Stunning, I know.|
After 10 minutes of pacing back and forth and trying not to accidentally walk into Scott's shots (he was using a super wide prime lens), I decided it would be better to wait in the SUV. It was only marginally warmer than outside but I could lay down comfortably on the backseat and stare at the sky out the window, because I'm lazy when it comes to my star gazing. I thought I had worn enough clothing but I underestimated how cold it was going to be at almost 14,000 ft after the sun went down. I had on an undershirt, tshirt, long sleeved hooded tshirt, leather jacket, shemagh, hat, gloves, jeans, and running shoes...and I was FREEZING...but it was totally worth it.
The next day was the last day on the Big Island for dad and me. We walked down and took a tour of Hulihe'e Palace. It was severely damaged in an earthquake a few years ago and had been closed for renovations but had recently reopened to the public.
|Hulihe'e palace entrance.|
|View from the lanai at the rear of the palace.|
|The back of the palace.|
The rest of the day was spent doing a little last minute shopping and a lot of last minute packing. We did finally manage to get a photo of the four of us together. Dad and I left for the airport just half an hour after this photo was taken, and yes like a baby I cried when the plane took off because I didn't want to leave.