All aboard the Mokulele Express! and Captain Cook, so near but so far

Published: June 23rd 2012
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20th June ’12 Maui to Hawaii – The Big Island

Well what an exciting start to our visit to the Big Island! We dropped the hire car off and when we were on the shuttle to the airport the driver asked us which airline we were travelling with, when we said Go! He just started laughing. He then said ‘have you flown with them before?’ yes we said, as we had from Kauai to Maui and ok it was a small plane (48 seater) but so what… he then went on about the high winds we had been having and said ‘oh you’re in for a treat’, we just looked puzzled. Our ‘terminal’ was a sort of a shed away from the main building and when we walked in there were only a handful of people waiting. The lady who checked in our bags seemed surprised we had arrived 2 hours before the flight – that was what we were led to believe we had to do, and then proceeded to weigh us with our hand luggage!! We had no idea why this was going on but she also let me weigh myself without my hand luggage and I really wish I hadn’t bothered!

So we settled in for the wait, then check in lady came over and said do you want to get the earlier flight, which we said yes to, she also said don’t worry about liquids in your hand luggage as there is no security…. All very puzzling, so 10 minutes before the flight was due to leave she called the few of us together and told us where we were sitting, we were row 4, still we didn’t get it….. it was only when we walked around the back of the building and saw the tiniest of tiny planes that we twigged!! The captain and his mate pulled the stairs down and we all climbed into the Mokulele Express – it was a 9 seater plane and looked like something out of one of the retro posters they have for flying to Hawaii. It was one line of 4 seats on either side of the plane behind the fold away door to the cockpit, with 1 seat on its own at the back!

The captain’s mate turned round in his seat and said buckle up, stay buckled up, the seats don’t go back, don’t use anything electrical but you can take photos! Then we were off, it was amazing, I took loads of pictures of clouds as we were flying just above them. We would have had incredible views of the volcanos on Hawaii if the weather had been better, but instead we just got a few tantalising glimpses of lava fields and coast line. 30 minutes later and we landed, we got off and walked round the other side of the plane where a couple of panels were lifted up and our bags pulled out – just like being on a coach!! We then walked through an open gate and were out!! Totally bizarre but totally great, unfortunately we were a long way from the main terminal and as we didn’t have a phone we had to get someone to ring the rental company for us.

Soon we were in our car and heading for Captain Cook – the name of the village/town we were staying in. We stayed at the Hotel Managua which was fine, we had booked a room on the 3rd floor as we had read the views were fantastic. However it was rainy hard and foggy so we
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Look at the clouds!
couldn’t see anything! By now Howard is feeling ill so we just stayed in the room, just as well the weather was bad.

Come 6pm I was starving so we went to the restaurant attached to the hotel – I say hotel as that is what it is called but it was more like a ramshackle collection of wings of rooms that had been added to over the years. The restaurant was a traditional Hawaiian diner, with the menu on a board and no frills. Not long after we got in the place was packed out with locals and there was even a queue going out the door! I ordered the house speciality – pork chops with onions and brown gravy mmmm, they were served with a large bowl of steamed rice and 3 small dishes containing pickled cauliflower, sweet kidney beans and a sort of coleslaw/potato salad, all of which was a very odd combination to me, but the chops were delicious! Howard had a bowl of chicken noodle soup – the old favourite for a bad stomach.

Later that night back in the room I decided to go out on the balcony for a sneaky fag ( I have now found out you are not supposed to smoke on balconies in Hawaii). I had just lit up when this black flappy monster started hurtling around the ceiling, at first I thought it was a bat – which was bad enough, then I realised it was a moth the size of a dinner plate!!!!!!!!! I was trapped!!!!! I couldn’t move!!!!!! In the end, realising there would be no help from Howard I just abandoned my stuff on the table, crouched down, yanked the door open and dived in the room. What a nightmare! It was a beast and the bloody thing stayed out there, flapping madly about for the rest of the night, grrrrr!

21st June ‘12

Today we decided to try and find Captain Cook’s Monument as it was supposed to be close to where we were staying. We drove down the windy road to Kealakekua Bay and to the wharf area where there is a small car park. People were sitting by the entrance and as we went in they asked if we wanted to kayak, luckily a car was pulling out just as we went in so we managed to get a
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Above a rainbow
spot, otherwise we would have had no chance of stopping at all.

We knew there was a trail to the monument so we headed to the beach area. The bay is really pretty but full of jagged volcanic rocks, the tide was in so there was no sign of any type of beach at all, but the water was full of people kayaking. We spotted the white monument right round at the far side of the bay but no sign of a trail anywhere.

When we got back to the wharf all became clear, one of the kayak guys told us that the only way to get there was by sea, either kayak or a boat trip. He said there was a hiking trail which ran from high up on the mountain and was very difficult and steep. Obviously he wanted us to rent one of his kayaks but he was very helpful and he told us we could moor up on the other side and go and see the monument, but at $25 per person and a 1 mile ocean crossing (when we have only ever kayaked once before) made us decide to wait and possibly do
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The Big Island Lava Fields
it when we had the right gear with us.

Subsequently after a lot of research we have discovered that this particular bay is renowned for snorkelling and people hire the kayaks to cross over to snorkel, the monument is just an extra for them and they spend the whole day out there. Added to this we now know that the area is Marine Life Conservation District and you can only land by permit and there are only 10 of these per day and you need to book a week ahead (checked out an organised tour and it was all fully booked). So it looks like we won’t actually get right up to the monument after all, so we will just have to make do with the photos from afar – a real shame but I blame all these bloody snorkelers! Don’t they know we are from the Boro and need to pay homage to the great man? Rather than wanting to look at a load of bloody fish!!!

Anyway here is a very brief account of Captain Cook’s death here at Kealakekua Bay……..

Captain James Cook is thought to be the first westerner to set sight on
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Big Island Lava Fields
the Hawaiian Islands, he spotted O’ahu and Kaua’i on January 18th 1778. Nearly a year later on 17/1/1779 he found his way to the Big Island. He anchored in Kealakekua Bay and at this time the annual Makahiki Festival was taking place. The Hawaiians thought he was the god Lono and welcomed him with a great feast.

On 4th February he left the Big Island but was forced to return a week later after a severe storm which damaged one of his ships. The Makahiki Festival had ended and the Hawaiians were now quite hostile. There was a series of small thefts from Cook’s ships and as a result of this and other ‘misunderstandings’ there was a battle during which Captain Cook and 4 of his sailors died.

There is much fuller and more detailed accounts of this but that is a kind of synopsis.

There is a small bronze plaque at the northern end of Kealakekua Bay marking the spot of his death (we have also read that this is now under water) and a 27 foot obelisk erected by his countrymen is close to it.

So somewhat gutted we carried on to the Hawaii
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Landing at Kona Airport, Big Island
Volcanoes National Park, where we are going to be staying for 2 nights.

Additional photos below
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Mokulele Express!

Isn't it cute?!
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Mokulele Express!

Note the open doors on the luggage compartments!
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Kealakekua Bay

Captain Cook's Monument

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