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Published: February 8th 2015
Day 20 – Jan. 30, 2015 – Port of call: Kona, HI on the Island of Hawai’i – Weather forecast: partly cloudy – temperature: 75°F/24°C – actual: 84°F/29°C and sunny down at sea level but later in the morning up on the mountain the clouds descended on the peak
Today we were required to use the tenders once again as there is no deep-water pier for docking on this side of the big island.
Once ashore we met up with our drivers and the two twelve passenger vans that we would be using on our four-hour shore excursion entitled: Kona Coffee, Gold Coast & Cloud Forest Adventure. The official description stated that on the slopes of Hulalalai Volcano we would enjoy a 1¾-hour walk through a 70-acre tropical cloud forest sanctuary. Then enjoy a tour of the Mountain Thunder Coffee Farm, plus a scenic drive to the Kaloko Honokohau National Park for a guided walk to view the ancient ‘heiau’ (sacred temples) & petroglyphs carved by the native Hawaiians.
The guides opted to change the order of the program so our first stop of the morning was at
Kaloko-Honokōhau National Park, which is situated along the shoreline. Native Hawaiians have inhabited this area for centuries. One of the highlights of our visit was a walk, by means of an elevated boardwalk, through one of the lava flow areas where petroglyphs had been carved on the flat surfaces. The petroglyphs spanned a historical period of over a thousand years and include the depiction of a flintlock rifle.
Following the guides down to the beach we came across two sea turtles, which were well camouflaged. Until they either raised their heads or moved their flippers you could not distinguish them from the lava rocks around them, unless you spotted the patterns on their shells.
From the beach the guides also pointed out the fishponds that the Hawaiians used to trap smaller fish from the open sea then raise until they were large enough to eat. The ancient Hawaiians were strong believers in living with nature and would not do any open sea fishing during certain seasons when the fish were breeding thus helping to maintain a strong fish population at sea. Beside the ponds was the remnants of an ancient ‘heiau’ or
On the beach the guides pointed out a large reconstruction of a thatched structure open at both ends, which was used to protect the men of the village while they constructed a dugout canoe.
Back at the vans the guides handed out bottled water, soft drinks and snacks before we ventured up the mountain slope to the cloud forest. This morning was a rarity according to the guides, as the clouds had not encapsulated the mountaintop. Usually be mid-morning and for the rest of the day the top of the mountain is obscured from view by clouds, fog or at times by ‘vog’. ‘Vog’ is a local term that refers to the combination of fog with airborne volcanic ash, and since the big island has very active volcanoes ‘vog’ is a regular occurrence.
After a 20-minute drive up the mountainside the drivers pulled over onto the side of the road in front of the trails leading up through the Kona Cloud Forest Sanctuary. A retired professor of botany privately owns the sanctuary. The gentleman purchased the property 30 years ago and has tried to reintroduce a forest on what
had previously been clear-cut and used as a cattle ranch. Both Brooke and I looked uphill at the trail and wondered if it would be too taxing for her, but in the end, aided by walking sticks, we tackled it to no ill effect.
At the end of our walk we were treated to a stop at the Thunder Mountain Coffee Farm, a small facility on the mountainside, where they gave us a complete tour of their facilities and provided us with samples of their rich Kona coffee. The coffee producers explained that the USDA has assigned four grades to their Kona coffee and no matter what the grade is even at the source Kona coffee is expensive.
On our return to the harbour we boarded the tenders for our short trip back to the Veendam where we had our lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon reading.
In the evening we were entertained by Barry John, an accomplished juggler and comedian.
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