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Lazying Around Town | Hawaii Vacation #1

We've gotten quite accustomed to flying to kick off a trip. That sounds rather elitist, but I assure you it is anything but; usually we're flying Spirit Airlines for something on the order of the cost of a single tank of gas. Roundtrip. That wasn't something we were going to risk for a little more than five hours over the Pacific Ocean, so at 10:00am on Christmas morning, we lifted into the air on one of Alaska's newest planes.

It was just before 2:00pm local time when we landed to sunny skies and the most pleasant 75°F temperature a Pacific Northwesterner can experience in the middle of winter. We grabbed our bags and headed to Avis, sure that we'd get to the 1-bedroom apartment we'd rented in plenty of time to enjoy much of the afternoon.

Two-and-a-half hours later, we finally had a car. We weren't the only ones forced to wait - Avis had clearly overbooked their economy fleet of Kia K5s - but we somehow ended up being the ones who waited the longest. Still, we were on vacation - so after only minor complaining - we threaded our way through the tourist trap that is the waterfront of Kona towards our accommodations, a bit further south. After struggling for a few minutes to open the door into our fourth-floor walk-up apartment, there was no question that we'd picked a winner.

We've never been right on the ocean before; our unobstructed view west was pretty dramatic.

With views like this, we were ready to relax. Looking out over the ocean, snorkeling, walking on the beach, finding a good place to eat, napping, and of course catching up on junk TV were all high on our list of strenuous activities for the coming week. Aloha goals.

Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park

We passed Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park (like a National Park but free?) on our way to Costco. Nestled along the Kona coastline, @mrs.turbodb had her copy of Hawaii, The Big Island out within seconds.

That was enough to get us - or probably mostly me - excited, and we decided that after indulging in a hot dog - because what else would you eat in Hawaii? - and unloading a Costco-sized-haul of Dungeness Crab, 2lbs of 13-15ct shrimp, and a dozen cake-sized chocolate chocolate chip muffins in the fridge at home, we'd head back to check it out.

No, sea turtles cannot fly.

Hidden in those ominous-looking lava fields are the innovations that allowed the ancient Hawaiians to thrive in this hostile landscape: fish traps, lava planters used to grow taro and other staples, plus the very ahupua'a (Kaloko and Honokohau) that give the park its name.

These traditional land divisions cut a wedge from mountain to sea, ensuring each community had equal slice of the bounty. Pure genius. There are also heiau, burial caves and petroglyphs. The 1160-acre park is sacred Hawaiian ground and it's said the bones of Kamehameha were secretly buried near Kaloko Fishpond.

Yet this national historical park is virtually unknown, even by locals, who associate Kaloko with Costco, located in the Kaloko Industrial Park across the highway. Sad, but true.

Hawaii, The Big Island

A rock-wall-lined-pool where native Hawaiians once gathered brackish water for drinking.

Heading toward the coast, the path wound its way through a lava flow. In fact, every path we'd take on Hawaii was on a lava flow, but being our first, this was intriguing, and we were both glad to have worn our sneakers, the sharp, uneven surface taking every opportunity to shred our footwear.

And then we arrived at the petroglyphs.

I've never seen a boat oar before, but it certainly makes sense here!

Dancing man.

Dancing man having a baby?

A quarter mile later, we popped out onto the coastline, following - for a short time - the Ala Kahakai Trail.

One of the more magnificent and scenic Hawaiian trails, the Ala Kahakai Trail follows the coastline paths of ancient Hawaiians. Extending over 175 miles, it begins at 'Upolu Point (northernmost point of the Big Island), and winds along the entire west coast to Ka Lae (South Point), before turning northeast to Waha'ula Heiau at Puna. Designated as a National Historic Trail in 2000 to preserve native Hawaiian culture and natural resources, the trail has been in continuous use since Polynesians first arrived on Hawaii Island more than 1500 years ago. As such, archaeological treasures, artifacts, fishponds and remains of ancient dwellings can be found all along its entire length.

With sunset less than half-an-hour away at this point, we really should have picked up our pace, but that's an impossibility for me when there's a camera in my hand and for @mrs.turbodb when there's an ocean in sight.

Look a real sea turtle. Not flying.

Black-crowned night heron looking for dinner. Does not eat sea turtles. Or at least, not the fully grown ones.

I really liked the coloring and form of this driftwood.

As the last of the sunlight streamed in under the clouds, this little patch of grass celebrated.

South Kona Fruit Stand, Capitan Cook

We started the day the way we started every day - by eating a desert for breakfast. Specifically, we had a softball-sized chocolate chocolate chip muffin/cake. And by we, I mean "we each," because those are some of the best 100%-of-your-daily-Calorie muffins ever.

The view wasn't too bad, either.

Breakfast - because we weren't going to let too many Calories ruin our gluttonous vacation - behind us, we headed to Captain Cook for a bit of snorkeling. This turned out to be amazing as a pod of 80 or so dolphins happened to be in the area, and swam by us under water. Naturally, we got no pictures of this, because - as with every single time I've ever gone to Hawaii - I'd forgotten to look for any sort of underwater/waterproof camera apparatus until about 30 hours before our departure.

Then, it was off to our first farm stand of the trip - the South Kona Fruit Stand where @mrs.turbodb busied herself with buying one-or-two-of every single type of fruit or vegetable she could lay her eyes on, while I wandered around with my camera to take a few photos of the surrounding gardens.

Yellow hibiscus.

White hibiscus.

Palm tree trunk.



Ka Lae

This was my first trip to the island of Hawaii, but when @mrs.turbodb mentioned that she'd never gotten to visit Ka Lae - the southern-most point in the United States of America - when she'd visited 14 years earlier, I was totally game, since those ultimately meaningless, geographic landmarks are super cool to dorky nerds.

This windswept tree in a field of grass screamed Hawaii to me.

You can't get any further south than this light thing.

Actually,  we're slightly south of the light thing, but you can't go much further than this without getting wet.

Coral art. Does not fly.

Concrete tattoo.

Our trusty Kia. Was actually quite nice.

Sun, cliff, and clouds.

The truth is out there. (Actually, these dishes once tracked intercontinental ballistic missiles fired from California over the Pacific Ocean.)

Sunset as we headed home.

Around Town

Our most common activity was relaxing around town. And by around town, I mostly mean in our apartment. And by in our apartment, I mostly mean on a couch or lounge chair, with a view of the waves crashing into the shoreline less than 50 feet away.

Someone was working hard at vacationing.

I have no idea what type of lizard this little guy is, but I don't think he's a gecko. And he might not be a he.

I'd say that we 100% struck out on finding a good food place that we'd want to go back to. But these fist tacos looked good.

While waiting for our mediocre fish tacos...



The Whole Story



  1. Kenny
    Kenny February 5, 2024

    Nice to see you took a break from your norm and took your wife to the islands. I used to spend the winters in Nu’uanu, Oahu for several years and went to the big island a few times a year to work.
    Been to all the islands and taken helicopter rides on all of them. My son and I used to surf and fish, great times. Did you take a drive around the island? How about a helicopter ride?
    The island is growing each year as the volcano is still flowing into the ocean. When I flew over the volcano I could see the sulfur gas flowing westward and killing all the vegetation in its path. There is still one house that didn't get wiped out, the red roof house.
    We look forward to more of your travels!

    • turbodb
      turbodb February 5, 2024

      Hey Kenny - it was definitely nice to be able to get to a "real" vacation - or at least a more traditional one, where we spend the majority of our time lazing around!

      Generally we've gone/go to Kauai, which we call the Tacoma Zone, because we've found a place to eat there that is our favorite (or possibly second favorite) eatery in the world. We did the helicopter there - one of the "no doors" tours - over the volcano and island and along the Nā Pali Coast. Was a ton of fun, especially because I got to sit in the copilot seat!

      Two more stories coming for this Hawaii trip; hope you enjoy those during these cold winter months!

    JOHN D MORAN February 5, 2024

    Nice break, interesting, always enjoy the tropical colors, and glad to see you get away from the "frozen north," as well call it out here in the desert where, currently, we have pouring rain. I like the idea of Hawaii & the culture but having spend 2 years in S.E. Asia as a paid guest of the U.S. Army (1960's) I have seen many things never had a strong urge to visit Hawaii but my wife wants to go so maybe this will get me to agree. Thanks against for sharing.

    • turbodb
      turbodb February 5, 2024

      Glad you enjoyed it John, it is a nice break from the frozen (or for us, "gray and rainy") north. Of the islands, I think we - on the whole - like Kauai better, since it's a little slower speed and more laid back... at least, the places we go on the west side of the island. But, there's something for everyone there it seems, and the local people are - in our experience - very welcoming and full of Aloha.

      A few things have probably changed since the 1960s as well 😉, so maybe you'll see something new. If you do end up in Kauai, I recommend going to the western side (where it's not raining all the time) between Poipu and Kekaha. We try to get a VRBO or AirBnB somewhere in there, and then we go to lunch every day at the Kaleheo Cafe.

  3. sk
    sk February 5, 2024

    I can make some recommendations if you head back to the BI. Surprised you didn't rent a Tacoma on turo and go trail hunting!

    • turbodb
      turbodb February 5, 2024

      Thanks! I mean, I'd still love some recommendations. We did end up using Turo for a day (spoiler: we got the lamest of all Jeeps) and did gingerly explore a dirt road in it before turning around b/c it wasn't a Tacoma 🤣.

      Had a great time on the island - the more "get out and look at stuff" is coming in the next two installments of the trip; this story was mosty about our lazying around the apartment we rented.

      Oh, and speaking of recommendations - if you have any for great food (non-poke, we aren't big on the raw fish) on the Big Island, I'd love to hear them - we didn't find any spots we thought were spectacular through the entire week of searching.

      • sk
        sk February 6, 2024

        I don't really have any *great* food recommendations. I do like the food (and beer) at Kona Brewing but it is usually super busy. The Punalu'u Bake Shop is a good stop for malasadas and the Naalehu farmer's market there is a guy who make excellent bread.

        Over in Hilo town I heartily recommend open mic night at Hilo Town Tavern. Lotsa fun.

        Kona side be sure to do a night manta dive or snorkel (I like Jack's Diving Locker for that but there are several others that do it). Also do a coffee plantation tour: Heavenly Hawaii is good or try Miranda's down by south point.

        At Pu'uhonua O Honaunau NHP the 'cultural demonstrations' are fantastic.

        We also had a blast doing a horseback tour of a ranch up near Waimea. Not Parker, but I can't recall the name.

        • turbodb
          turbodb February 6, 2024

          Awesome, thanks!

  4. Bill Rambo
    Bill Rambo February 6, 2024

    Only folks I know go looking for petroglyphs on vacation! he lā maikaʻi iā ʻoe!!

    • turbodb
      turbodb February 6, 2024

      LOL! To be fair, we weren't looking for petroglyphs when we started. As I mentioned, our destination was Costco (shhh!) when we passed the entrance sign for Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and decided to take a look.

      Low and behold - petroglyphs!

      So, I'd offer that the petroglyphs were looking for us, and not the other way around!

      Of course, once we saw these, we were on the hunt for more, so we're not totally off the hook for craziness on vacation!

      • Bill Rambo
        Bill Rambo February 6, 2024

        DB, you all are in one beautiful place! Enjoying your "change of scenery" pictures. Discover what you can and let us all see the finds!

  5. David Devoucoux
    David Devoucoux February 8, 2024

    Glad you are"getting away"!!!
    Love the pictures! I'm sure you are finding the scenery to be quite beautiful and a nice change from the desert you are used to and enjoy!

    Thank you for bringing back memories. Been there, done that and thoroughly enjoyed the islands...

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