Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hawaii 2010 - Kona Coast

After our visit to the volcano, we had another full day exploring the area south of Kona. The sights we saw on this day were places Robert and I first saw on our honeymoon and wanted to revisit. We started out with a tour of Greenwell Farms. The farm produces Kona coffee, and also buys and distributes beans from many smaller local farms. They market and sell their own coffee, but a larger part of the business is distribution to companies all over the world. The history of the farm is interesting, and I love seeing how coffee goes from little beans to my daily cup!

Drying the coffee beans
The farm has some fruit plants and trees, and while they no longer grow produce for sale, they offer it to the visitors. We left with some bananas and fresh oranges. Just as we were about to leave, our guide pointed out two chameleons in one of the trees. They stood still long enough for us to get some photos.

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Our next stop was the Painted Church. The church was built in 1899 and features intricate murals painted by a priest.



After the church we made our way to Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, “The Place of Refuge.” There were several places of refuge located in Hawaii during the time of the kings, but this one was one of the most significant and has been restored by the National Park Service. Once again, Daddy’s Golden Access Passport came in handy and we got in for free.

When Robert and I made our first visit, we arrived near closing time and didn’t have much time to explore. Our camera also died after about 3 pictures, so we were glad we had the opportunity to take our time and see everything. The park gives such a vivid picture of what life was like for the ancient Hawaiians, and when standing on the shore watching the palm trees and the waves, it’s difficult to believe that such a peaceful place had such a turbulent history.






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We finally got a photo of the 5 of us, and I couldn’t believe that everyone was looking at the camera!


We saw all of the sites and then went to lunch at the Ke’ei CafĂ©. It wasn’t quite as good as we remembered it, but it was okay. We were all pretty tired by this point, and we headed back to the condo (after a shave ice, of course!).


Claire went down for a nap, and I grabbed the opportunity to head down to the pool. Beautiful pool, Mai tai and book in hand, views of the whales frolicking right off the shore – it was a pretty perfect way to end an afternoon!


Later that evening we brought Claire down to swim a little before bed. It was windy, so we would get cold as soon as we stepped out of the water, but Claire had fun – there were lots of laughs and giggles as she played in the pool with Mommy and Daddy. It was so good to see her get more comfortable and enjoy the water activities as our trip progressed.


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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hawaii 2010 - Volcano Day

January 19th was our Volcano Day - you can't go to the Big Island without a trip to Volcano National Park! The volcano is on the opposite side of the island from our temporary home in Waikoloa, and we debated staying nearby one night (when Robert and I first came to the Big Island on our honeymoon, we stayed at the Kilauea Lodge near the park), but with the amount of stuff required with a toddler and the time involved in unpacking and repacking, we decided to just make a day trip. It was about a two hour drive each way with no stops, and while it made for a long day, we felt like we made the right choice.

We left pretty early that morning (before sunrise), and as we were walking out to the car, Claire tripped and hit her head on the pavement. It was a scary moment for all of us, but she stopped crying pretty quickly and while she ended up with a large bump on her forehead, she was otherwise okay. Once our hearts stopped racing, we were on our way! Claire slept for a good portion of the ride, and we made great time, even with a short stop at Tex Drive In in Honoka'a for fruit malasadas and coffee.

When we arrived at the Visitor's Center, we found out that a portion of the main loop around the crater was closed due to a new vent opening. There was still plenty to see though:

Steam Vents

Steaming Bluff (you can see the gases from the new vent opening in the background)

Jaggar Museum and Overlook

Devastation Trail

We also walked through an old lava tube. Once we had our fill of exploring the park, we drove back into Hilo for lunch at Hilo Bay Cafe before heading back to Waikoloa. On the drive back, we spent some time at Laupahoehoe Park. This park was one of our most memorable stops on our honeymoon. It has spectacular views of the ocean, and the waves are truly something to behold. You really feel the ocean's power as you stand on the point and watch the waves crash into the rocks. The point has a sad history - in 1946, a tidal wave swept across the village that once stood on the peninsula, and 20 students and four teachers lost their lives. There is a lovely memorial, and it is a peaceful spot despite the tragedy.

Wave coming in

Hitting the shore

Checking out the tide pools

Claire enjoying the park

We arrived back at the condo in time to enjoy the sunset from our lanai (patio) - perfect ending to a great day!


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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Hawaii 2010 - Last Days in Maui

We started our last full day in Maui down at the beach. Claire loved wading and watching the waves with Mommy & Daddy.



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Stopping for a snack break!



We cleaned up and headed into Lahaina for lunch and a little shopping and sightseeing. Mom found a beautiful necklace at one of the shops, and Claire got two pairs of Crocs. She couldn't wait to put on a pair and wore them out of the store.

The next day we went to the Kihei Caffe for a big breakfast before our flight to the Big Island. They had some small cups for water, and Claire was excited about drinking water from a "big girl glass." We practically had to wrestle it away from her when it was time to eat - the cinnamon roll french toast and fresh fruit were pretty enticing, though!




Our flight to Kona was short and uneventful. Somehow the stroller didn't make it on to our plane, but it was the least essential piece of baggage we needed (and they brought it to our condo the next day). We found out that a lot of people were coming in for a PGA golf tournament and realized that the nicer restaurants might be pretty busy, so I called and got a reservation at Roy's. We didn't have a lot of time, so we checked in, changed clothes, and headed to the restaurant. We had a fabulous meal and were all really impressed by Dad's ribs.


Claire did really well and looked super cute in her new dress


We turned in pretty early that night to get ready for our trip to the volcano the next day!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Hawaii 2010 - Mini Road to Hana and Paia

One of my favorite experiences on my first trip to Maui was spending a day on the "Road to Hana," which is the drive east along the coast from Central Maui to the small town of Hana. The main part of the road starts east of Paia and is only 36 miles, but on average, it takes about 3 hours to make the trip. Narrow, winding roads, single lane bridges, and gorgeous scenery - it's definitely something to behold, but not exactly a fun drive to undertake with a toddler (especially when you consider that you also have to drive back).

I wanted Robert and my parents to see at least part of the drive, so we woke up bright and early (check out that bedhead!) to get on the road.


There are lots of spots to stop and explore, but we had reservations for lunch and didn't want to upset Claire with getting in and our of the car too frequently. One stop we did make was at Twin Falls. The path to the falls was lush, and we enjoyed the walk even more than the falls, which were not running to strongly due to the lack of recent rains. We took our time examining the scenery and finished our stop with a fresh smoothie and banana bread from the juice stand at the head of the trail.




We continued on to a wayside park at about mile marker 12 to get to an overlook that I remembered. After taking in the view, we headed back to Paia for lunch at Mama's Fish House. Mama's is a famous restaurant in Maui - excellent seafood with even better views. We had a tasty lunch and walked out on the beach to watch the windsurfers. Claire's comfort level with the beach was slowly increasing - on the first day she didn't want to touch the sand, but this time she was comfortable walking on it. Maybe wearing shoes made the difference - who knows!





We took some time to explore Paia - I loved it. Quaint, with a fabulous gelato shop! My favorite was the lilikoi quark, which was passion fruit with goat's milk quark (a kind of goat cheese) from a nearby dairy. It sounds strange, but it was so good - creamy and tangy. Claire's favorite was any she could get on her spoon. She sampled everyone's choices multiple times. We also really enjoyed checking out Konrad's Ship Gallery and seriously considered walking away with a piece from the gallery. I told Robert that on a future trip, we'd definitely need to stay in Paia for a couple of days.




Dinner that night was pizza from a local joint recommended by the checkout guy at the grocery store (Shaka Pizza) - it was a good recommendation. Since Claire was getting more comfortable with the beach, we walked across the street to stroll the beach and take in the sunset. Claire had a blast wading in the water - look at those grins!