We got to the hotel and our first impression was that there we were the only guests, a fact that has since been borne out as only a slight exaggeration. The recession has hit the islands hard. It is a gorgeous hotel, on sprawling immaculate grounds. With very few guests. We got a great package deal to come here, the hotel almost being a throw in. But we are eating cheaply off grounds.
I hadn't been to the Big Island for several decades and a marriage ago, being a Kauai snob, and I am surprised at how wonderful it really is. Lots to still discover. Leslie really liked the area above Hilo. We always thought that if we won the lottery we would buy the second house at Kalihiwi but would have to consider the big island as well. Guess I will have to buy a ticket one of these days. Can't win the big one if you don't buy a ticket...
The first day we sought out breakfast and ended up at Pine Tree, a local's cafe with great coffee, banana pancakes with haupia butter and a side of corned beef hash. We then drove down the coast line to Kealakekua harbor and were talking to some locals about this and that. Suddenly Hawaiian Swat officers appeared from everywhere, blocking us in. I expected Dog the bounty hunter and his skanky crew at any second. The officers were serving a bench warrant on some bloke. We managed to extricate ourselves and drove to the Greenwell Coffee Farm, the ancestral home of one of my friends and clients. We traveled to Honaunau, where we visited St. Benedicts, a gorgeous old painted church with the beautiful statue in the cemetery.
We spent the rest of the day tooling down the coast, taking all the unknown side roads we could find and visiting the charming little towns.
Drove the long ride back to the Kohala Coast in the dark.
Second day we started off the day by driving to upcountry to Waimea, the old cowboy town. Breakfast of mahi mahi and eggs and then Leslie and I drove to the Waipio lookout. It started raining pretty hard and we couldn't hike down to the bottom, as it was both slippery and fogged in. We drove to Akaka Falls and Hilo, stopping often to take pictures of the lovely waterfalls and scenery. Lots of little hikes in the forest.
Leslie and I stopped at the cool little town of Honamu. She went into a shop that sold crystals and I hung out and listened to a hawaiian slack key player playing his koa 12 string on the sidewalk. An older guy eating his lunch near bye started to sing harmony and I recorded it with my phone. Really beautiful.
We then drove out to the volcano, walking the lava tube and looking down on the smoking crater of Kilaeua. Circled back to Kona and ate at Jackie Rey's excellent Ohana Grill and then back to the hotel.
Today was a chill day, starting off at the beach in Puaka. Then we went to the Mauna Kea hotel, sister hotel to the Prince. We drank Lava Flows by the pool and took a nice swim at the beach, which has been red flagged all week with very large waves.