United States [April 2007] – Day 4

Following on from a more pedestrian Day 3

Friday 6th of April

Today was our R&R day hanging out in the local Kona region.  No big trips in the car, and as we were flying out of the Big Island the next day – just a leisurely day.

Day 4 – Kona Region

In the morning, before we ventured out, I took a few photos from around the resort before we decided to head out for breakfast.  The previous few days, we’d had breakfast at the resort – but we were up later and missed it on this day.

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So I took Toni out and she “enjoyed” her first ever breakfast at a Denny’s.  That done… we explored the local area.  You can see from the map above, we weren’t that far from the resort, and we had to be back in the afternoon as we had a round of golf booked.

We had a look a the “Hulihee Palace” which had been fairly badly damaged by an earthquake in 2006 – just over six months prior to our visit.  The entrance fee was a princely $15/pp and access was limited to the downstairs floor only – so we decided to move on.

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Hulihee Palace / Hale Halawai Park

We found our way south, at Hale Halawai Park which features a community hall, and a bright feature wall pictured above.  Just south of the park was another interesting building which we’d driven past a few times – the Wyland Galleries of Hawaii.

Wyland Galleries of Hawaii / Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Next to this modern waterfront building was a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant, so we decided to have lunch.  The food was fine, and the atmosphere was laid back.

After we’d eaten, we hit a few more shops in downtown Kona – one visitor’s centre featured a large Macaw who was quite friendly.  They also had a large 3D map on the wall outside which was a little damaged, but really illustrated the volcanoes well.

Visitor’s Centre / 3D Map of the Volcanoes

I went shopping at Hilo Hattie’s which is a local chain, and purchased a straw hat, a real Hawaiian shirt (made in Hawaii) and a plastic pretend ukulele so I could participate in a Hawaiian-dress themed event on the weekend.

We eventually drove back to the resort and got our golf gear ready for 18 holes of golf on the Kona Country Club’s Mountain Course.  The most obvious and striking thing about the course is that most of the holes are framed by old lava.

Kona Country Club/Mountain Course [Photo: http://hawaiiteetimes.com]

Shanking a ball left or right would have the ball bounce very randomly – and in my experience, many times back onto the fairway!  Although this led to some pretty amazing unintended shots, and although the ball ended up with a decent lie, the lava would wreck havoc on any ball unfortunate to land on lava.

We had a fairly respectable round before finishing up mid-afternoon.  The course was very nice and well maintained, although a little pricey by comparison to Australian courses.

After we had returned to the resort, we did our final bag packing and checked out of the resort.  We were almost ready to fly out, but there was one more thing to do..

We found or way to a coffee plantation up around the Captain Cook area called Kona Blue Sky Coffee.  The plantation had fruits, cocoa plants and coffee plants obviously.  We were shown how coffee beans are grown and roasted, and also how decaffeinated coffee is produced.

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Kona Blue Sky Coffee Plantation / Cocoa

Kona contributes the peaberry bean:

When we pick our kona coffee (by hand) most coffee cherries contain two coffee beans nestled face to face. That’s why coffeebeans are flat on one side. But, about 3-5% of coffee cherries hold just one small oval-shaped bean instead of two flat-sided beans.

These small oval beans are called "peaberry" beans. Peaberry kona coffee is rare simply because nature makes it so. Out of every 100 bags of Kona coffee produced, only 3-5 bags will be Peaberry.

..and it produces very nice coffee.  Naturally, we bought and brought back to Oz a decent amount of Kona coffee.

Once we had finished at the plantation, we ate dinner at a local sports bar not far from the resort, before returning to the airport (refuelling and returning our hire car) and then making our return flight to Oahu.

[ Mike, Haidi, Toni, Rob, Paulo, Don and Paulo’s girlfriend]

We made our connecting flight in Oahu and hooked up with some of our new co-workers who were also transiting to Lana’i on the same flight.  When we arrived in Lana’i, some of our bags were missing and we had to wait half an hour for the next flight to bring our missing luggage.

We boarded a hotel shuttle and found our way to the Four Seasons Lana’i where we were checked in and called it a night.  Toni had by this point discovered that she was coming down with a dose of a cold or flu, and needed to rest.

The next day, we had time to explore the resort.

Continued – Day 5.

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