Hawaii- Kona on the Big Island

Trip Start Jul 24, 2008
Trip End Aug 25, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Thursday, August 14, 2008

On the Big Island of Hawaii, Let's meet the geckos, mongeese and centipedes.
Presumably this island was named Hawaii when James Cook landed here, but as the main centre soon moved to Maui for the whaling, and then later and presently to Honolulu on the island of Oahu, the fact that most people say they are holidaying in Hawaii but never set foot on the island of that name is a little confusing. Very generously, the local people have allowed their island's name to represent all the Hawaiian chain of islands, and instead simply call this one the Big Island.
And big it is. Some years back we came here for three nights to see the island. What a joke that was. We spent one exhausting day driving all round it (it can be done- just) and saw nothing. This time we allowed two weeks, based in Kona on the leeward side, and allowed three nights of this in the cute little village of Volcano, about more of which later.
The benefits of holiday home exchanging were immediately once again apparent on arrival at lunchtime, as we  already had directions for the game fishing boat harbour restaurant on the way into town from the airport- unbeatable value for fresh seafood.
We have borrowed Wes and Tina's little two bedroom, two bathroom town house on a lovely gated beachside community www.alohacondos.com/kksrc/ just along the coast from Kona, the main tourist destination on the island. The adjoining beach, while great for sunset watching with a cocktail is rocky and no good for swimming, but just down the road is a small State park beach famous for snorkelling and turtle watching, with an excellent swimming beach not far beyond that. More about turtles later.
Being here since the 1980's, the community grounds are full of mature trees, including heaps of flowering scented Plumeria (Frangipani) trees. A lovely complex of three tennis court plus a good sized swimming pool and free fast wireless internet access by the pool provide most of what we need from a holiday spot.
In fact the only thing we would have added was air conditioning, which would have been welcome at times as each day gets up to around 30c by mid-day, with some humidity.
Notable were the many cute looking mongeese (?mongooses?) around the grounds, seemingly imported to kill rats, but as tends to happen, they have now become a major pest and take native birds eggs. They are rather shy and thus most photos of them show a brown blur disappearing into the bushes, but imagine a brown ferret with a long thick tail.
The other immediately notable wildlife is the huge number of bright green geckos with red spots on (see photo) which seemed to live one to each branch, in each Plumeria tree. That's when they are not in your house, where they hang around the walls and ceilings usefully hunting flies, mainly at night. Love them, but just a bit of a shame they don't wear nappies until they are house trained. Another notable visitor to the house was the seven inch long reddish/brownish/black shiny centipede which wandered around the lounge floor while we sat with our feet on the table, just as we were going upstairs to bed. Knowing from my youth in Singapore that some are very venomous, and not sure if they could climb stairs, I was not game to try and catch it alive and rather reluctantly roach-sprayed it to death.
Anyway, back to our surroundings. The Kona/Koehau area is very upmarket, graffiti-less, nice and clean, and a short and very scenic waterfront drive from our accommodation has a lovely (although rather touristy) town which some would say was a mini Waikiki. Many nice eating places, with main courses ranging from NZ$10 to $35 before tips and taxes- a bit cheaper than back home, we felt. However, with a full and well equipped kitchen to play with, and almost unlimited choices of normal and convenience foods in the supermarket three minutes away we do a lot of eating at home, and even sometimes take packed lunches out.
A cost/benefit analysis quickly reveals that when eating at home we can afford the compensation of a not bad Californian White Zinfandel wine for around NZ$10 bottle.
In the next posting, face to face with seahorses and turtles.
Bye for now,
Richard (and of course Christine)
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