Two days after my ziplining adventure, I found myself at the Fairmont Orchid Hotel for the afternoon. Sean had dropped me off there on his way to bring the kids in to gymnastics in Kona, and I was to go home with Stacy when she finished work.
I wandered through the main entrance and lobby of the hotel, trying to figure out how to get to the beach. It ended up being fairly easy to find, and the beach itself was very quiet. Looking up at the sky, I wasn’t sure whether it was likely to storm in the afternoon or not, but I decided to have faith in the usually guaranteed sunshiney days normally present on this part of the island, and set up at the beach anyways. Besides, it was still plenty warm enough out for me.
I spent a leisurely few hours reading magazines, enjoying the atmosphere, and snorkelling. At one point, I was out in the water with my snorkel gear and came upon a turtle. I stayed a safe distance away (though they are not dangerous, I have to say I was a little nervous) and studied him for awhile, then it struck me. What if there were more turtles in the area? I slowly looked to my right, then my left… and jumped when I noticed a turtle less than five feet away from me, looking me right in the eyes. I panicked unnecessarily and probably would have screamed if I hadn’t been in the water. The turtle started to swim closer to me and I turned around to swim the other way as fast as I could.
After some reflection on my actions while sitting on the beach, I resolved to head back into the water to find the turtles. This time when I came face to face with them, I kept my cool… and definitely found them very interesting.
Before long, Stacy had come to grab me from the beach and we made our way back to the house for the evening.
The next day, my uncle Sean took me out on his boat. La’a came with us as well, but Leilani had to go to school instead. We drove into Kona and took to the water from there. It was a very humbling experience to be out on the ocean in a little boat, with all the waves tossing you from side to side. We first made our way out to a buoy to do some fishing. Sean stopped the boat and dropped a line into the water, then handed me the rod. It wasn’t long before we got a bite and I fought to reel it in. Though I felt that it had been a lot of work to get the fish to the boat, it wasn’t a very big one. I guess it was bigger than those I am used to catching from a river in the Yukon (and it’s been years since I’ve done ever that), but it wasn’t very big for Hawaiian standards.
After catching a few fish, we took a ride south and came to the place where Captain Cook’s monument stands. This monument is a big deal because it stands at the location that Captain Cook first moored his ship upon the Big Island, and the location of his death is not too far off. For those of you that are not up-to-date on your Hawaiian history, (which is in fact, very interesting) Captain Cook is the guy who is credited with discovering the Hawaiian islands. He originally passed by these islands on his way to determine whether there was a Northwest Passage above North America, and he stopped to briefly visit Kauai as he went by. On his way back, Cook stopped at the Hawaiian islands to rest. At this time, he dubbed them “The Sandwich Islands” for a friend, the Earl of Sandwich. The first place he moored his boat on the Big Island was in Kealakekua Bay, where his monument now stands.
Legend says that when Cook first arrived, Hawaiians believed they were being visited by gods. Imagine from their perspective (as pointed out in my handy travel book, Hawaii The Big Island Revealed by Andrew Doughty and Harriett Friedman) “Kauaians were fascinated by what they saw: pointy-headed beings (the British wore tricornered hats) breathing fire (smoking pipes) and possessing a death-dealing instrument identified as a water squirter (guns)”. When Cook later moored his boat at Kealakekua Bay, he arrived during a very hectic time. The King of the Big Island had attempted to invade Maui and had failed miserably, and was now looting and plundering throughout the islands to make up for it. Cook’s physical appearance led the Hawaiians to believe he was the Hawaiian god Lono, who was responsible for the harvest and land fertility. To add to this assumption, Cook arrived during the Makahiki, which was a time where Lono would seize the land and bring life to it again. All public works would stop, and the land would be left alone for a period of time. At the end of the Makahiki, the Hawaiians would take the land back from Lono to make a living. Cook arrived at the beginning of this time period and pulled in to Kealakekua Bay, where legend said Lono would arrive – it is not wonder the Hawaiians mistook him for their god! He was treated amazingly during his stay with the Hawaiian people.
Cook took his leave at the right time, but a broken mast resulted in it being necessary for his ship to return to Kealakekua Bay for repairs. The Hawaiians could not believe that a god would let that happen to his own ship, so they became suspicious. A misunderstanding over a rowboat led to a battle between Cook’s men and a band of angry natives, and resulted in the death of Captain Cook. Once everything had calmed down, the Hawaiians were horrified that they had killed someone they thought was a god.
We stopped at this historic site, and I hopped in the water to do some snorkelling! It was a very good location for this, and it was crazy to be at the edge seeing fish and underwater life right there, and then look over and see the ocean floor just drop away into oblivion. I spent a good bit of time in the water there – don’t worry, no scary interactions with sea turtles this time! I’ve definitely discovered that I really enjoy snorkelling.
After I got back into the boat, a couple people on a kayak came by and told us there were dolphins just across the way. We went over to see them, and I was almost convinced to jump in and swim with them – but there were so many people around and it seemed that the dolphins were just trying to escape. We watched them for a bit and then had to head back to where we started our day.
We made it back to the house by dinner time, and I was exhausted, but it was definitely a very good day.
My favourite thing about today was Kealakekua Bay, partially because I enjoy snorkelling and partially because I enjoy history. Putting the two together make this place irresistible!