The second day in Hawaii stretched before us and this time we would be spending it in Kailua-Kona, also on the Big Island. Kona proved to be the Hawaii we imagined! On disembarking our lifeboat that had tendered us to shore, we found ourselves on Kailua Pier, smack-bang in the middle of a gorgeous coastal town, Kona. A relaxed village with a electic assortment of restaurants, souvenir and knick-knack shops colorfully mingled with lush green trees. Amazing trees with tangled, knarley trunks, and coconut trees dangling green coconuts. We had arrived too early for the excursion we had booked, and so decided to spend some time taking a walk and relishing the summer sun and cloudless sky. Almost immediately we arrived at a Victorian style villa signposted as being Hulihee Palace, originally serving as the Governor’s official residence, and later becoming King Kalalaua’s summer palace. Unfortunately it was packed to bursting with tourists, so instead we amused ourselves with walking the lush grounds, and following a wall made of lava along the back of the property that separated the grounds from the sea. Basking in the beauty of the area and getting ready to pose for a photo of the two of us, we were taken unaware by a wave that crashed into the wall, spraying us with water. Wet and comfortably cooled, at this point it would have been impossible to wipe the smiles from our faces.
After seeing enough of the knick-knacks for sale we made our way back to the Pier to await the excursion we had booked. It wasn’t long before we were ushered aboard a 24 foot Zodiac Ocean Raft. Sitting on hard black pontoons with one foot hooked under a floor rope to keep us from falling out, we flew and bounced over the waves as we sped along the Kona coast. A Pirate skull-and- crossbones flag flapped in the wind behind us, as the woman beside me screamed long high-pitched screams stopping only to take another gulp of breath. The ride was amazing! Martin was grinning ear to ear and discovered quickly that travelling at these speeds made wearing a hat completely impossible.
Our captain, Andy, was kind enough to warn us when to hold on tighter as he tipped the boat almost vertically on its side taking sharp corners and showing off. Occasionally he would pull us in close to the cliffs and slow down or stop to tell us tales of the history of the area or the geology of the multicoloured volcanic rock, soil and lava tubes that made up the coastal cliffs, with his deckhand, Tetau, occassionally jumping in to add andeotes of his own. We were fortunate enough as we made our way to Kealakekua Bay to see dolphins swimming just ahead of us, their fins occasionnally breaking through the water and enciting squeals and the clicking of cameras from everyone on board. One dolphin took to jumping clear out of the water and spinning in the air, over and over, trying his best to claim a shot at fame.