Why I Didn’t Run in Hawai’i (part three, the final part)

Hawaiian Islands

Hawaiian Islands

We finished our boat tour of the lava flow into the ocean, full of awe at the spectacle of being so close to flowing melted rock.  Rather than head back to Kona, which would be a two hour drive, then return again the next morning, we decided to spend the night at a bed and breakfast close to Volcano National Park, which would be our next big adventure on the big island.  This also meant skipping the Saturday morning run with the Big Island Running Company, which I had planned to do before realizing how tightly packed our itinerary would be once we got here.

We stayed overnight at the Aloha Crater Lodge, in Volcano Village, close to the entrance to Volcano National Park.  This is a small Bed and Breakfast in a converted house within the rain forest, with very reasonable rates.  They have five rooms, each with room for three to four occupants, and the breakfast is provided in-room, with a coffee maker and a small refrigerator stocked with milk, juice, cereal and fruit.  Being in the rain forest as it is, the room was very humid, but the bed was nice and comfortable.  Close to the lodge there is a lava tube, which is a large cave-like tunnel created by the flow of lava.  They give tours daily of the lava tube, but we decided not to participate, since we would be seeing the same thing on our bike tour of the national park.

Aloha Crater Lodge

Aloha Crater Lodge

We arranged for a tour of Volcano National Park with BikeVolcano.com, a company which offers several different bicycle tours of the park, although not every tour every day.  They require a minimum number of people signed up to do a tour, and one needs to sign up at least 48 hours in advance.  They also will ride rain or shine, since it rains often on this side of the island.  We were able to sign up for their shorter tour, although we really wanted the longer one.

Like any other national park, there is a nominal fee to enter.  We drove up to the visitors center, and had some time before our tour started to look at the exhibits and browse the gift shop.  Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park extends from the summit of Mauna Loa to the sea, with Kilauea being the active volcano.  Our bike tour company pulled up with their trailer to the parking lot.

Jaggar_sign_crop688

Photo obtained from national park service web site.

Naturally, the first order of business was for all the participants to sign a waver saying we wouldn’t hold them responsible if we fell into a volcano, or any other mishap.  We were driven up to the Jagger Museum, where we would see the giant caldera of Kilauea, which has its own name, the Halema’uma’u crater.  Thomas Jaggar was an M.I.T. geologist who started the study of volcanoes scientifically here in 1912, in response to the eruption of Mt. Etna in Italy in 1908, which claimed 125,000 lives.  The caldera is very wide, and has an enormous pool of lava churning in a central pit.  There is an impressive time-lapse video on the park website of the glow from Halema’uma’u as the sun sets, revealing the glow from the central lava lake.

vapors from Halema'uma'u

Vapors coming from the central pit of Halema’uma’u crater

At the Jaggar museum, overlooking the Kilauea caldera.

At the Jaggar museum, overlooking the Kilauea caldera.

Along the edge of the caldera is a hiking trail.  The tiny white dot in the photo is a sign warning hikers to not go off the trail.

Along the edge of the caldera is a hiking trail. The tiny white dot in the photo is a sign warning hikers to not go off the trail.

We had some time to peruse the exhibits on volcanology at the Jaggar Museum, learning about the difference between a shield type vs. a cone type of volcano, how volcano activity is monitored, how geologists collect lava samples (which can be tricky, and dangerous as we saw), and what makes up the airborne emissions from volcanoes  We were then directed to the parking lot and were assigned a bike.  The bikes were Sedona hybrid bikes, made by Giant.  They were adjustable to match our own frames, did not have toe clips, and were equipped with three front rings and seven gears in the rear.  They were set to the second ring in front, and their was a briefing from the tour guide regarding how to shift.  We would be riding on paths and roads around the park, and there were a few hills involved.  We got a chance to practice riding around in the parking lot before we set out.  Our guide was well equipped to give us our tour, as he was a graduate with a geology degree, and he had a special interest in volcanoes.  He also seemed to be very laid back, with long hair and a bright, easy-going demeanor.

Our guide in red, and fellow cyclists at one of the stops.

Our guide in red, and fellow cyclists at one of the stops.

We were taken by steam vents, down old roads partially destroyed by lava flows, and to other crater formations within the park.  One particularly interesting phenomenon is the lava tube.  These are long cave-like channels through the ground which are conduits for flowing lava.  They can be a few hundred yards long, or several miles.  They provide insulation for the flowing lava so it remains molten as it travels through the tube, eventually draining their contents out onto a lava field or into the ocean.  One of the most famous of these is the Thurston lava tube, named after the Honolulu newspaper owner who helped Jagger get his start studying volcanos, and who personally discovered this tube.

Looking into the Thurston Lava Tube.  Note the flat floor, from cooled lava, and the lava level marks on the side walls.

Looking into the Thurston Lava Tube. Note the flat floor, from cooled lava, and the lava level marks on the side walls.

We walked through a portion of this tube, about 100 yards, and exited up through a vent whole.   It is located within dense jungle growth, with steep crevices and sharp rocks all around.  We were told this tube goes on farther, but that section is closed to the public.  A side crater of Kilauea, Pu’u O’o, is the source of the lave we watched flow into the ocean, and it travels there through tubes like this one.

Typical of the ground around the lava tube, it is all crevices and rock with jungle-like overgrowth.

Typical of the ground around the lava tube, it is all crevices and rock with jungle-like overgrowth.

Discovering this lava tube originally would have taken some fearless exploration.  We also cycled to see a steam vent, where steam, not lava vapors, were coming up through a crevice in the ground.  Unlike the vapors from the lava, which contain all sorts of harmful airborne particles and gasses, this steam was just water vapor.  Interestingly, many people treated this crack in the earth like a fountain, and threw coins into it, I suppose, to curry favor with Pélé, the goddess of volcanoes, whose home is Kilauea.  It is considered tabu and a serious crime against Pélé to take anything such as volcanic rock away from Hawai’i.  A popular story told to us tourists is that the main post office in Hilo has a collection of rocks sent back by visitors who took them away, then suffered Pélé’s wrath.

We finished our tour on bikes looking at several other impressive craters, such as the “Ever-Smoking” Crater, with its numerous vents of smoke rising, and the Kilauea Iki crater, near the main caldera of Kilauea, where an eruption in 1959 reach heights of 580 meters (1900 feet) occurred.  A USGS film documenting the eruption was made, and is available in four parts on YouTube.

At a stop along the way, on our bike tour of the Hawaiian Volcano National Park

At a stop along the way, on our bike tour of the Hawaiian Volcano National Park

After finishing our bike tour, we headed back to the gift shop, naturally, where I picked up a refrigerator magnet showing lava flowing into the ocean, and a book on volcanoes, called “Volcano Watching, Revised 2010 Edition”.  It is short, but filled with well-written explanations about the science of volcanoes.  We then headed back to our car for the two hour drive back to Kona, along the southern perimeter of Hawai’i.  We stopped for lunch at a well known bakery and restaurant called Punalu’u Bake Shop.  It is known for its sweet breads, and for excellent sandwiches.  We also stopped along the road at an old cemetery, which had grave stones present from the late 1800’s forward.  The grave sites were notable for many above ground or partially buried stone containers of the caskets, presumably due to the difficulty of digging into rock.  Since there were a number of family members visiting relative’s graves here I did not take any photos.

Arriving back in Kona, we went to our hotel, for a bit of rest before our repeat trip to see the amazing dancing manta rays.  Sea Paradise, our manta ray tour company, has a guarantee (with asterisk) which states one gets a second opportunity for no extra charge if manta rays are not seen.  We were determined not to allow the letdown of the first trip discourage us.  Again, we headed back to the check-in office to sign the usual release forms, and to get our wet suits.  We then drove back to Keauhou Bay, waiting for the boat to load.  We had a beautiful sunset and also watched canoe racers practicing turns around a buoy.

Canoe racers practicing in Keauhou Bay.

Canoe racers practicing in Keauhou Bay.

The drill getting into the boat was the same as last time.  We had to take off our footwear and place them in a container before boarding the boat.  We had a different crew this time, but they were just as energetic and confident as the last crew.  The captain, a young handsome guy who appeared to really enjoy his job, was back at the helm.  As we motored out to the viewing area, we were treated to the now familiar talk on manta rays, what they eat, how they are attracted to the plankton, and how the plankton are drawn to the lights.  We were offered tea or juice on the way out, and masks and snorkels were handed out.  Once at the viewing area, we pulled on our wet suits and prepared for the dip into the ocean.  I was a bit concerned that this would be another hour spent breathing through a snorkel in the dark, with nothing to show for it.  We marched down the ladder into the ocean, Kathleen and I, along with about twenty five other people.  This time, I was stationed at the end of the long floating device with the attached lights, next to one of the crew at the very end who helped keep the float in the proper spot.  I started my vigil.  Yes, the plankton, true to their nature, were amassing under the light.  I could see some fish swimming around in the deeper water, and under them were large lava rocks.  Time was passing.  Not wanting to miss the first glimpse of the undersea marvels, I kept my head down, listening to my breathing sounds as my breath passed through the tube.  One becomes consciously aware of one’s breathing in this setting, and instead of it being automatic, one starts to think about it.  I found myself needing to actively initiate inhalation, then exhalation.  Still, the plankton swam about but no manta showed his or her wide wings.  The crew had moved the barge around to the front of the boat, perhaps hoping, as I sometimes do while fishing, that by changing location we’ll get lucky.  I started to look for ways to distract myself, since I was getting cold, and my right shoulder, injured the week before in a fall in San Diego, was starting to hurt.    I started to name the plankton.  There’s Susie, Fred and George, there goes Samantha and Robert, and look, it’s Kealea and Hunahuna, native Hawai’ian plankton.  I followed the path of my little friends as they swirled and scurried about.  I noticed people had left their posts at the barge, and had made their way back to the boat.  Apparently, I was one of the last to hold out hope of seeing a manta that night, along with Kathleen, who, no doubt, was also determined not to give up.  The two of us, though, came to the same conclusion, no mantas tonight.  We swam around to the stern, but as we swam we noticed, no, not mantas, but a huge school of needle fish which were swimming all around us right at the surface of the water.  They made the trip worthwhile.  They have iridescent colors, swim within inches of one’s face and arms, but never come in contact.  They were quite a marvel, and we stayed in the water a bit longer to enjoy them.  We then got back in the boat, stripped off our wetsuits, gave back our masks and snorkels, and sat down for the return to the dock.  The hot cocoa provided on the boat was very welcome, as I was shivering.  We were disappointed, but not overly so.  Again, you can’t command these creatures, you can only try to lure them, and I know our crew did the best they could for us.  After getting back to our car and changing back to clothes, we drove back to our hotel.

The following morning was our last in Hawai’i.  Unlike many trips, the flight out doesn’t leave until late, in our case, 10:00 PM.  So we still had a full day to enjoy just wandering around Kona, not needing to get anywhere.  Kathleen got her henna tattoo freshened up.  I went for a swim in the cove in front of our hotel, with a rented mask, which cost only $5 at the beach side equipment rental.  I saw myriad numbers of incredibly colored fish, with patterns one might think were made up by Dr. Seuss.  In the afternoon, we went looking for a bookstore, the Kona Bay Bookstore, which was difficult to find by walking, as it was tucked into a semi-industrial area, as we later found.  Instead, we found ourselves at the Kona Brewing Company, where they give tours of their brewery and a free beer tasting.  The last tour that day was at 3:00 PM, and they had two spots left.  We signed up.  The brewery, which was started as a very small operation by a father and son in 1995, has grown to major proportions.  The brewery in Kona now only produces kegs, no bottled beer, and distributes it only to the other Hawai’ian islands.  They also sell beer for growlers (two liter bottles one brings to get filled) at their brewery and there is a restaurant on premises, which looked very busy while we were there.  They have partnered with breweries in Oregon, Washington and New Hampshire to produce the beer in bottles sold in the U.S. mainland and other countries.  After our tour, our group sat around two large round tables in the restaurant.  Fortunately, the tables had umbrellas, since it was raining, although we hardly noticed.  We had a great afternoon, sampling five of their various brews including a coffee stout made with Kona coffee, and chatting with our other tour mates.

Across from our hotel, the start and finish of the Kona Ironman Triathlon Championships.

Across from our hotel, the start and finish of the Kona Ironman Triathlon Championships.

Hawai’i has attracted numerous famous visitors, from all over the world.  Mark Twain traveled as a correspondent to Hawai’i, known then as the Sandwich Islands to non-Hawai’ians, and recorded his thoughts in letters back to the mainland.  Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, Amelia Earhart, and I’m sure, many other famous people, in the era before modern airfare (not to dismiss Amelia Earhart’s accomplishments), traveled the long journey by steamship to visit the Hawai’ian Islands.  Today, it is still a long trip to get here, but definitely worth the effort.

We left Hawai’i that night, having had an incredible adventure and a lot of fun.  I would enjoy going back to do many of the things we didn’t get to do on this trip, such as see sea turtles, do some volcano hiking, and maybe, just maybe, see a manta ray.  I also might go for a few more runs on my return.  We found the local people of Hawai’i to be very friendly and helpful, and they take very seriously the ecology and care of their island.

Aloha Nō!

Hawai'ian sunset, Keauhou Bay.

Hawai’ian sunset, Keauhou Bay.

Why I Didn’t Run in Hawai’i (part one)

Hawaiian Islands

Hawaiian Islands

To be sure, I did run, and I’ll get to that, but certainly not as much as I had planned. Since we, being my wife and I, were already on the west coast for my daughter’s graduation, we felt, “why not extend our trip a few days, and have a real vacation”. We decided to take a trip to Hawai’i. Never having been there before, we decided to visit the “big island”, because of the opportunities for adventure. It took a bit of reading to find there are two main airports on Hawai’i, in it’s capitol Hilo, and in Kona. Yes, Kona, the home of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship. Kona is also the more touristy of the cities on Hawai’i, with more hotels, restaurants and bars than Hilo, and it is where we decided to stay. Our flight from San Diego took us eastward first to Phoenix, then we changed planes for Kona. We left San Diego at 6:30 AM, and arrived in Kona at 2:40 PM, a total of eleven hours travel time. It’s not a quick trip. The arrival in Kona, though, is other-worldly, though, as the plane descends over barren lava fields to the airport. Once on the ground, we we disembarked the old fashioned way, by a stairway rolled out on the tarmac. I felt like waving as I stepped through the doorway of the plane onto the stairs. The terminal itself is completely outdoors. No walls, just open air, with some overhead coverage for rain. Exotic looking plants and flowers were in abundance around the terminal. We collected our bags and rented our car without a problem. It was a short drive to Kona and to our hotel. We stayed at the Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. This hotel is built on grounds of the royal court from the time of King Kamehameha I. It faces a beach, a rebuilt temple of the royal residence, and a pier. The first room they gave us did face the water but was adjacent to a busy street and parking area. They were kind enough to move us to a different room which was much more what I had in mind, overlooking the beach and a grassy area surrounded by palm trees.

View from our balcony, King Kamehameha hotel

View from our balcony, King Kamehameha hotel

While we had investigated the various things to do on the island, we had not yet made any plans. So, once settled, we began making some reservations. This island is the home of the famous Kona Coffee, and we put visiting a coffee plantation on the list. Most dominant on the island are the two major mountains, both volcanos, and both reaching close to 14,000 feet high. The higher of the two, Mauna Kea, is the home of the largest observatory in the world. There are a number of zip line opportunities, through rain forests and over waterfalls. Hawai’i is known for the opportunity to see giant manta rays doing ballet on nighttime snorkeling boat trips. Of course, there is Volcano National Park. With five days to get this all in, it took a lot of calling, reserving spots, and adjusting plans when one tour was filled and we had to shift things around. While I had the job of getting us to the island and finding a hotel, my wife, Kat, handled most of the engineering of the schedule. I should add, all these touristy things do not come cheap. We anticipated that, and while there are plenty of free or reasonable things to do in Hawai’i, organized activities are expensive, but, as we found, very much worth it.

The next morning I awoke feeling frisky and ready to run. I got out at 6:00, which was no problem given Hawai’i is three hours behind west coast time. There are few roads on which to run, so I followed the path most of the runners in this area seem to take, which is along Ali’i road, which runs south along the coastline from Kona. The road is narrow, but does have a shoulder/bike lane, and there were other runners along the route. It is a beautiful route, since there are frequent areas where the waves crashing against the lava rocks are in view. Getting out early, it wasn’t too warm, about 74˚F, but it was very humid.  I ran out a bit past the 2.5 mile mark, then turned around and ran back.  The road is undulating, with a few hills of significance over that distance.

Ocean view while running along the Ali'i Highway

Ocean view while running along the Ali’i Highway

Another beach view along Ali'i Highway

Another beach view along Ali’i Highway

Big Island Running Company

Big Island Running Company

End of the run, quite sweaty.

End of the run, quite sweaty.

After running, I took a quick shower and joined my wife for breakfast at Honu’s, the hotel restaurant.  It is such a temptation to want to fill one’s plate with every tasty item available at hotel breakfast buffets.  I held the line at a made-to-order omelet, a mini Belgian waffle with coconut syrup and blueberries, loads of pineapple, and coffee.  I may have added a few other items as well….  After breakfast we headed out for the coffee plantation.  While there are several dozen on the island which give tours, we chose Mountain Thunder.  It had been featured on an episode of “Dirty Jobs”, and it was located high up Mauna Loa.  It also grows organic coffee, and seemed like a good bet.  We not only took a tour of the coffee growing and roasting operation, we arranged to roast our own organic Kona coffee.

Here is our bucket of 5 pounds of raw, organic Kona coffee

Here is our bucket of 5 pounds of raw, organic Kona coffee

Unto the roaster it goes.  This is a small roaster for the visitors.

Unto the roaster it goes. This is a small roaster for the visitors.

It doesn't take long to get the beans to the proper temperature.  There is a very narrow range between not roasted enough, and over done.

It doesn’t take long to get the beans to the proper temperature. There is a very narrow range between not roasted enough, and over done.

A wandering rooster with a tiki statue in the background, at the coffee plantation

A wandering rooster with a tiki statue in the background, at the coffee plantation

We found that growing and roasting coffee, at least here, is a very “hands-on” job.  The trees are very productive but take a lot of care and feeding, and as we discovered, donkey dung and the outer skins of the beans make for good fertilizer. The beans are picked by hand, since on one branch there can be many beans in different stages of ripeness.  The roasting, too, requires close attention to get the degree of roasting exactly right.  I’m sure at big operations this is all done without human intervention, but here, it was all done by well-trained and obsessive people.  In fact, we detected a note of competitiveness among the roasters, regarding who gets it exactly right.  Five pounds of raw coffee made four pounds and a bit of roasted coffee.  No doubt it’s the most expensive coffee we’ll ever buy, but looked at from the standpoint of price per cup, it still beats the local higher end coffee shop.

That afternoon, our next adventure was to head up to Mauna Kea, to go to the visitor’s center of the Mauna Kea (means “white mountain”, because it gets snow!) observatories.  The visitors’ center is at 9200 feet elevation, while the summit, with the telescopes, is at 13,796 feet.  We stopped at the visitors’ center and did not go to the summit, the drive for which a four wheel vehicle is recommended.  There are summit tours on weekends, when one can go inside one of the observatories, but during the week they are closed to visitors.  Many people do go up to the summit for the view of the sunset, but we decided to listen to the ranger’s talk at the center, and then do some viewing through the many telescopes they had set up.

Visitor's Information Center at the Mauna Kea Observatories.

Visitor’s Information Center at the Mauna Kea Observatories.  Note the winter coats.  It gets cold up here.

The ranger gave a laser guided sky tour once it got dark enough, and we saw the Southern Cross, alpha and beta centauri, and many other constellations.  We were able to get amazing views of Saturn and Jupiter through the telescopes, and a view of a star cluster called omega centauri, or “the jewel box”, because of the different colored stars.  After about two hours of viewing, and getting thoroughly chilled, we headed back to Kona.  The road to Mauna Kea is an adventure itself.  It is called Saddle Road, because it goes between Mauna Kea and Mauna Lea.  It is a very narrow, twisting, rising and falling road over bleak and dangerous looking lava fields, often with no shoulder, and with the occasional one-lane bridge.  There are signs posted regarding which car should yield when two approach these bridges.  It was challenging on the way to the mountain when it was still light out.  In the dark, it was scary.  We were told later that this road was built this way on purpose by the army, as a way to foil an enemy that might try to use it.  But, I have serious doubts about that story.

The next morning we planned to get in some snorkeling.  After another scrumptious breakfast at Honu’s (which is the Hawaiian word for sea turtle), we walked into town to rent some masks and snorkels.  Also, Kat was very interested in getting a henna tattoo.  She stopped in at Kona Henna Studio, where a delightful and artistic young woman put a very nice, temporary tattoo on her left shoulder.  I’m not sure if the side has any meaning, but it did look nice, and included a honu, which I requested.  Meanwhile, I went across the street to Boss Frog’s Dive, Surf and Bike shop to rent the gear.

The henna goes on at Kona Henna Tattoo.

The henna goes on at Kona Henna Tattoo.

Kat needed to let the henna paste dry, so she couldn’t go in the water right away.  But after a few hours she would be able to get it wet, once the paste fell off, as long as it was not in the swimming pool, since the chlorine would bleach it out.

We drove along the coast, looking for the passageways to the best snorkeling beaches as recommended by Boss Frog’s.  About thirty minutes drive down the coast we headed for Honaunau Bay.  We found our way to the bay, but wound up in a National Historic Park, where snorkeling was not allowed.  We were directed back to the road we came in on, but missed the turn for the cove.  Instead, we wound up on City of Refuge Road, a four mile long, single lane (that’s right, just one lane, not two, and traffic goes both ways), road along another bleak, sharp-rocked lava field.  Turning around was not an option.  I was starting to think that, aside from a few main roads, driving in Hawai’i is a huge driving challenge.  We finally reached the end of the road, where it joined with another which took us back up (about a thousand feet up) to the main highway.  It took looking back at the map later to realize where we had gone wrong.  Instead, we headed north, to check out other possibilities.  The walkways to the beaches are marked as public access walkways, but often there are no areas to park, and the hike out to the water can be a few miles.  We finally found our way to a beach near the Honokohau Marina, north of Kona.  The walk to the beach was a challenge, and the beach itself was tiny and rocky.  But, I was able to get in and see some beautiful fish.  No turtles, though, even though this beach is known for them.  The water was uncharacteristically pretty rough.  Getting in the water was no problem, but getting out, I needed to find my way to the least rocky egress in order not to get hurt.

Formerly known as a lifeguard tower, at Honokohau beach.  I think this was put up with tongue in cheek.

Formerly known as a lifeguard tower, at Honokohau beach. I think this was put up with tongue in cheek.

The sand and palms at the little Honokohau beach.

The sand and palms at the little Honokohau beach.

Testing the water, in a sandy spot.

Testing the water, in a sandy spot.

Our search for an ideal snorkeling experience did not turn out as we hoped.  The next time we are in Kona, we’ll know how to get to the “two step” beach at Honaunau Bay.  That evening, though, we had plans for another expedition.  Kona is well known for night time viewing of manta rays.  In fact, the guy at Boss Frog’s said if we see the Mauna Kea, see lava, and see manta rays, we’ve done the big three items on his list of the best of Hawai’i.  We arranged to go out with Sea Paradise tours, for the boat ride out to what they call “Manta Ray Village”, out of Keauhou Bay.

Awaiting darkness in Keauhoa Bay, before boarding the Hokuhele for our trip to see mantas.

Awaiting darkness in Keauhoa Bay, before boarding the Hokuhele for our trip to see mantas.

The boat trip is a short one, only about 20 minutes.  One checks in at their office about an hour before the trip, to sign the inevitable legal release and get fitted with a wet suit.  Everyone shucks their shoes before getting on the boat.  As they motor out to the spot, one of the hands on the boat gives a brief lecture about manta rays.  It turns out they eat only plankton, can be quite large in size with wing spans up to 14 feet, and will often turn flips as they eat up the plankton.  The plankton are attracted to the lights attached to a boom, similar to moths being attracted to light, which then pull in the mantas  The boom is a long contraption with floats and attached lights.  The thirty or so members of our party were provided  masks and snorkels, and led down a stair into the water.  We were directed to line up along the boom, with our hands outstretched on the boom and a “noodle” float under our feet to keep us suspended, so we wouldn’t touch the mantas.  It was a bit eery being out in the dark water, with only the light from the boom shining down.  True to our captain’s word, the plankton massed under us, their tiny bodies in constant motion as their cilia propelled them.  After watching and waiting for about thirty minutes, while all those delicious plankton cavorted like a Vegas stage show, no hungry manta rays wanted to show up.  We gave it another twenty minutes.  A woman opposite me on the boom had a very large underwater camera, the type professional divers use, but it was of no use that night.  Before the hour was up, we were all back on board the boat, stripping out of our wet suits, and trying not to be upset that we had not seen a single manta ray.  The captain and crew were very nice, and assured us that this is a rarity.  In fact, they had just seen several mantas the night before.  One let slip that their hit rate for mantas was 88%, so one in eight trips is a dud.  No matter.  Kat and I realized that these are wild animals and cannot be commanded to show up.  The company did allow us to sign up for another trip, which would be two days later.

After disembarking, we headed back to our hotel, then went out for a late supper.  We wound up at a Thai restaurant which was okay, not great, but did know how to make a passable green papaya salad, although the papaya was not really green, more ripe.  We then walked back to our hotel, passing along the sea wall where the waves splash over onto the sidewalk, tired from a very active, if not so productive, day.  The next morning, we needed to get up very early for the trip to the other side of the island, and our first encounter with a zip line, which will be covered in part two.  Stay tuned….

Daytime view of the sea wall and the Kamakahonu Bay

Daytime view of the sea wall and the Kamakahonu Bay

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