MT and I went to bed on Saturday night with a plan to get up early and go to a snorkeling area that we had heard about that wasn't far from Honolulu. MT told his family that we would be leaving around 6 AM to get there and if they wanted to go, to meet us in the lobby. I told MT I'd go with him even though I don't snorkel. I hate to pass up an opportunity to see stuff, plus MT needed a buddy. No one else wanted to go, so we headed off to Hanauma Bay.
Traffic was light on that early Sunday morning and we got to Hanauma Bay quickly. There were very few cars in the parking lot, so it was easy to find a spot to park. A ranger greeted us at the entrance and told us that since we were there so early, we didn't have to pay to go down to the beach. (There is a $7.50/person fee usually.) The ranger told us a little about the area and sent us on our way.
We were up on a hill and looked down at the Bay. It's pretty spectacular:
This photo was taken on our way back up. When we got there, the sun hadn't fully come up over the hill we are standing on, but I think this photo shows the place off the best.
We walked down a pretty steep hill and got down to the beach. There were not many people there yet, just a few SCUBA divers in wetsuits and some hard-core snorkelers. The water was a little chilly that early in the morning. MT would not be stopped, though! He quickly put on his fins and mask and got right in the water. I sat on the beach, kept my eye on him, listened to music and did a little reading. Not too much reading, though. I couldn't take my eyes off the view.
MT snorkeled for about 45 minutes or so. I think the water temperature kept him from being out there longer. He said it was a nice snorkel. He saw lots of fish and the visibility was very clear. I could tell he felt better and I was glad we took the time to come out to Hanauma Bay.
Remember how I said we walked down a steep hill to get to the beach? It was a steep climb getting back up the hill, let me tell you! There is a shuttle from the top that will take people down the hill for $1, but it will cost you $1.25 to get back up! I bet they could charge $2 for the ride up and people would pay it! The shuttle wasn't running when we were there (too early). We stopped about half-way up (I was panting!) and I took this photo:
When we got back up to the top, there was a long line of people waiting to pay to get in and the parking lot, which has 300 spaces, was nearly full. There were people waiting for us to leave so they could have our spot. I'm glad we went so early. It worked out really well.
When we got back to the hotel, we had to get ready to leave Honolulu. Our checkout time was 11AM, and our flight to Kona wasn't until 3:30, but the car rental place said to be there two hours before our flight to bring the car back. So we just checked out and went right to the car rental/airport. That was silly! We returned the car with no problem or delays. The bus to to terminal was completely full and the airport was super-busy. It took awhile to get through security. I got patted down there because of my knee. I couldn't believe a big airport like Honolulu didn't have the x-ray where you put your hands over your head and show TSA all you got. Once we were through security, though, we had gobs of time to sit there in the terminal before our flight to Kona. And wouldn't you know it, if we'd arrived at the airport around 1:00 or 1:30, there were no lines at security and everything was really mellow. SIGH.
The flight from Honolulu to Kona was about 45 minutes long, short and sweet. The flight attendants gave us some delicious juice and then we landed. We got right over to the Alamo rental place, got another Chysler Town & Country minivan, packed everyone and everything in and started our 25 minute drive to Waikoloa.
The countryside was not what I pictured Hawaii would look like:
There were miles and miles of lava fields and looming over it all was Mauna Loa, the massive shield volcano. It's huge. I never saw the top of it the whole week I was there because it was always covered with clouds. And Mauna Loa is not the only volcano on the island. In the photo above, those hills you see in the background are the lower part of the volcano. It just goes up from there. I have more photos of Mauna Loa that you'll see in the coming days.
We stayed at the Waikoloa Beach Resort. There are several lodging options there, including the Marriott, the Hilton and the Outrigger condos. We stayed in the Fairway Villas condos. We had two, two-bedroom condos. MT, T and I stayed in one condo and the other two couples stayed in the other condo. There was a bit of a "thing" when we got there: the unit we were supposed to stay in had been flooded, so we were given a condo at the Beach Villas. Those were closer (but not close) to the beach. It was really nice, but it was pretty far from where the others were staying, so we only stayed at the Beach Villas for a couple of nights before moving up to the Fairways Villas. I didn't like the Fairways Villa condo as much as the Beach Villa condo, but it was nice enough. It was three bedrooms and two baths. Plenty of room. The lanai was nice and the view of the fairway and Mauna Loa was good.
That night we went over to the Queens' Marketplace to find some dinner, then we went to our condos and that was the end of the day.
I hope you all had a great weekend. See you tomorrow!