Leaving the rainforest and volcanoes behind, we traded our backpacks for fins, goggles and paddles on the Kona Coast. There is a world of difference between the east and the west coasts of the Big Island. One side is wet and verdant; the other side is dry and volcanic.
We moved our base to the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort on the Kona Coast, a two-hour drive from Volcanoes National Park. The Sheraton is situated on an ancient lava flow at the entrance to Keahou Bay, and is perched dramatically on black lava cliffs amid 22 green acres of oceanfront gardens.
Paddle Power Makes a Splash with the Dolphins
At the Napo’opo’o Pier we met our guides from Hawai’i Pack and Paddle who outfitted us with everything we needed to kayak and snorkel in the bay where Captain Cook is said to have landed in 1779. We paddled past steep cliffs dotted with ancient burial caves of the Hawaiian royalty and then glided onto the hard lava rock shore to explore the Captain Cook Monument. The Cook monument, which sits on land owned by the British Government, is a small square encompassing about 400 square feet and accessible on land by a long, rugged trail, or by boat. The bay is touted as one of the best snorkel spots on the coast. We spent hours, face planted in the clear water of the lagoon, snorkeling in the kaleidoscopic world of the marine sanctuary.
On the return trip across the bay we caught a momentary glimpse of dolphin fins between our kayaks and the shore. Moments later the dolphins surfaced close to us and then as furtively as they arrived, they disappeared into the depths of the Pacific Ocean. www.bigisland.org
Hawai’I Pack and Paddle