Hawaii Vacation – Day 5, Snorkeling with Kona Ocean Experience, Lunch at Sam Choy’s, Kona Brewery, Waikoloa Petroglyphs

Day 5 – 12/30

We had an early start on Day 5. We were out the door around 7am for an 8am rendezvous with our tour boat driver/owner Bambi. Our destination was Keauhou Harbor, south of Kona.

We arrived at around 7:50 and started the search for a parking spot in the small, crowded, harbor. There was a lot of activity. Multiple tour boats, and fishing boats, were lined up to launch.

As we passed the ramp, a woman approached the car and asked if we were the Renshaw group. Answering in the affirmative, she asked us to hurry up and get on board. Her boats were holding the line of early launchers up.

I dropped off the gang and gear, and headed out to find a parking spot for the Silver Whale. I was lucky, and found a marina spot, straddling a large storm drain, that less adventurous drivers had shunned.

I quickly changed, grabbed my gear, and ran for the boat. ok, I hobbled like an old man, but I did it as fast as I could go. At the boat, we all boarded as directed, and we were soon on our way. We motored to a clear spot at the harbor mouth where Bambi, of Kona Ocean Experience, gave us a safety talk, we suited up in the provided shorty suits (some of us also used the snorkeling gear they provided), and headed north for a chance to swim with the dolphins.

Axel and Megan ready to take the plunge
Keauhou Harbor to Kona

Today the dolphins were all the way up at Kona Bay. It was easy to see as we approached. There were perhaps a dozen boats, all with people (back in my kayaking days, I would have said peeps) in the water roughly following the small (8 animals) group of dolphins, including a couple of youngsters that jumped out of the water periodically. Soon we were in the water with the rest of the peeps, looking to checking back in with mama duck as she pointed us in the right direction. Trying to find, and follow, the dolphins was work, and I have to say that after about 30 minutes in the water, I was ready to get back into the boat.

Keauhou to Captain Cook’s Monument

Soon we were motoring south towards our snorkeling spot near the Captain James Cook monument. On the way Bambi pointed out the sights on shore, talked to us about the boats, talked about her travel plans. She shared that the boats that they used were Navy Seal surplus hard-bottom inflatables with big diesel engines. They had bought the boats and refurbished them for use in their tour business. They certainly seemed liked seaworthy vessels.

The trip south was fun, Bambi, and her partner, crossing wakes periodically as we went south at speed.

We make the turn around the point into Kealakekua Bay. The Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park and the Captain James Cook Monument are both located in the protected northern side of the bay.

As we enter the bay, we are confronted with several other boats that have already disgorged their clients into the water. Bambi quickly gives us the lay of the land including instructions to stay in the water (we were not allowed on-shore), tells us the best places to snorkel, and adds that we need to be back in the boat in around 45 minutes. We broke up into 2 groups; Darwin with me, Gretchen with Megan and Axel. I will admit I entered the water without checking the time on my watch, so of course had no idea when we were supposed to get out.

The snorkeling was fantastic. The water was clear, and the variety of life was amazing. Darwin and I kept up a fairly steady pace going from the eastern edge towards the point to the west. There was some surge in the bay but not enough to worry about. I am sorry to say that I have no good pictures of the experience. But we had a great time. At the end, stuck my head up and looked around for Bambi and the inflatable. It took me awhile to locate it among the rest of the boats there.

Group photo post snorkel. Gretchen gets the most enthused award.

Soon, Bambi had all her peeps back in the boat. She pulled out a tray of fresh fruit as snacks, and we stopped eating long enough to take the group photo above.

The motor back to Keauhou Harbor was really interesting. Bambi is the daughter of a missionary and a Hawaiian and was raised on her family’s land right on the very shore we were currently passing by in the boat. The property was entrusted to her Hawaiian family by Hawaiian royalty (sorry I did not get which one). Her family takes the entrusted part very seriously. We stopped in several little bays/inlets where she told us stories of land we were looking at.

Bambi telling us stories and local history on the way back to Keauhou Harbor

Soon we were back at the harbor mouth where, it turns out, the show was not over. Seems like we were blessed with good luck today, because as we entered the harbor, we witnessed some people swimming and went over to investigate. It turns out that they were swimming with several manta rays that had decided to visit the harbor. We did not go back into the water, but the animals were clearly seen from the boat and swam under and alongside for several minutes.

Manta Ray circling the boat.

So back at the dock, we expressed our thanks, and said our goodbyes, and since it was once agin time for fashionably late lunch, we asked for her recommendation. Without hesitation, she said that we should go to Sam Choy’s about a mile from the harbor. So, lunch plan filed, we walked around the harbor to some cold (very cold) showers to wash the salt water off, and headed to the car to change, and head for lunch.

Sam Choy’s is up on a hill, above the harbor, with sweeping views of the coastline below. They had a good selection of beers for us to choose from, and we raised the glasses in a toast to the great morning we had with Bambi. The food was great. I think 4 of us had the special Poke salad. I really recommend going if you are looking for good food in the area.

Sam Choy’s

Axel and Megan had been wanting to visit the Kona Brewery, so that was our next stop. We hoped to be able to take the 3pm tour, but it turns out the you need reservations. So instead, we wedged ourselves into a table for two in the bar, and ordered beer. we were disappointed that they were out of several of the beers that were on the menu that we were interested in. But we finally made selections, and ordered a plate of chips and guac to go with. The beers were good, and we had fun sitting in the bar, people watching, talking and eating the chips.

Soon, it was time to head back to the condo. All of us were a little tired. However, this was our last night at the condo before heading to the volcano and we wanted to see the petroglyphs at the nearby Waikoloa Petroglyph Preserve. Once there, we set out for the short hike around the preserve. There were lots of petroglyphs but not a lot of interpretation. So we were left to our own imaginations.

Afterwards, we went back to the condo, rested, went to a quick fish and chips dinner, packed, and thought about getting on the road to the volcano in the morning.

Aloha. Thanks for reading. See you at the volcano.

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