...and so continues the ongoing saga of my boring FAQ
|So what does a person do besides dive when
Well, I can think of two or three other things.....
Let's see, hmmm... uh there's hiking, snorkeling , shopping,
fishing, surfing, exploring art galleries, eating (my favorite),
parasailing, paragliding, hanging out at a beach, whale watching, marathon
watching, golfing, etc. You could ride a submarine, rent a Harley,
visit the world's largest collection of major telescopes (unless it's
snowed out), check out active volcanoes (when the flow is right you can
walk to within feet of real flowing lava), walk through a rain forest,
walk through lava tubes, visit Hawaiian ruins....swim with dolphins or
kayak, boogie boarding, hunt turkey or boar, visit a coffee or macadamia
nut farm, check
out waterfalls and gardens...
All in all, I think you ought to be able to find something to do.
A couple of these things may require a two or three hour drive to the
other side. Warning- You can easily spend several weeks exploring
Here's several of our family about 10' from a real lava
Below are a few recommendations
If you haven't been in the water with a mask on your face while in
Kona, then you haven't seen all of Kona. Even for the non-divers,
this is a must do!
For beginners I have to recommend Kahalu'u beach park on Ali'i Drive in
Kailua. This beach has lots of fish in waters 3-5 feet deep.
It also has plenty of turtles (do not touch- they're protected) who will
ignore you while you watch them eat.
For those who are comfortable in water over their heads I'd recommend
highly "two steps" by the boat ramp at Pu'u Honua o' Honaunau
(Place of Refuge) about 30-45 minutes south of Kailua. It's a
protected bay with great corals, fish, turtles and the occasional dolphin
pod. There is a nice
national park right next door if you want to take a break from the water.
The snorkeling in this bay blew me away compared to the famous Hanauma Bay
on Oahu, which was a real let down for me after snorkeling Honaunau.
Arguably the best snorkeling in all of Hawaii can be found in front of
the Captain Cook Monument in Kealakekua Bay. It's only drawback is
access. There are no auto roads to the monument. It can be
reached by a trail (the trailhead is about 150-200 yards down Napo'opo'o road
across from 3 large palm trees) which is about 3 miles down to the
monument and seemingly much longer (and more difficult) on the way back up. It also can
be reached by snorkel charter boats from town, a very long swim from
Napo'opo'o beach or by kayak. I'd highly recommend the kayak route,
over swimming or hiking it, (there are a couple of rental places on the way from Kailua) as the
easiest and most fun.
This will kill a day! This is one of the few things I personally
feel everyone visiting the island should do at some time. From
Kailua I'd drive south and watch the terrain change. If you head out
early, take the time to check out South Point and the large windmill farm
you'll find down there. One quick must see on the way to the volcano
is Punalu'u beach just off the highway a couple of minutes. Punalu'u
is a black sand beach where the rare Hawksbill turtle's nest- there may be
turtles sunning themselves when you visit, keep a bit of distance
between you and them and enjoy.
Once at the volcano stop by the visitor center and check it out.
Definitely hit the lava tube and drive the rim road. There are
numerous other stopping points on the drive around the rim which are
interesting. The Chain of Craters road is quite interesting and goes
down to sea level. At the end is an information booth where they'll
tell you how far it is to the flow (if it's flowing at the time) and if
they've closed off access to it due to high danger conditions. The
picture up the page was during a period of activity in December '99.
We were basically told something to the effect of - The National Park
Service warns against anyone walking out to the flow, but, this is the
best activity we've seen in months and you'll want to see it. So, we
joined several hundred others in walking out across a mile of older flow
that evening- take a flashlight or buy one at the info booth if you are
going out near evening. The glowing lava can be an impressive sight
in the dark, but it's a long way back in the dark. I must warn you,
if they tell you to stay off the trail to the flow - by all means do
so. There were a couple of fatalities in the fall of 2000, and there
is always the risk of danger on this walk due to gasses, heat and
One note on this trip. Kona is warm and sees very little rain, on
the other side this may not be the case on any given day (there's plenty
of rain forest at the volcano) and you may wish to take along a pair of
long pants and a light jacket (the volcano entrance is at 4500', so it's
|The Hilo area:
If you have the time go ahead and check out Hilo. Hilo is north
of the volcano about a half hour or so. From Kailua I would do this
on a separate day and go north around the island. This will give you
a chance to check out Waimea, the Hamakua coast and many of the great
waterfalls and gardens near the Hilo area. If you have the time, do
make the detour to see the Waipio Valley (this could kill plenty of time
if you like to hike).