The Travel Lion Goes to Hawaii Part 2 Maui

It takes about 20-25 minutes to board the plane to Maui. It takes 20-25 minutes to deplane. All for a 20-minute flight. They had beverage service on this plane, with 4 oz. cups of water, the type with a foil seal on top. I really don’t see why they bothered for a 20-minute flight, but oh well, they did. We take the shuttle to the car rental place, get our car, and head off for the Four Seasons Wailea where we’ll be staying.  The valet takes our car, and tells us that the bellman will bring our bags to the room. We are greeted by a woman who gives us leis, tells us that she’s happy we are spending our anniversary with them, and asks how long we’ve been married. She’s impressed when we say it’s been 30 years. She asks us to wait about 5 feet from the front desk. She speaks to the clerk for a moment, and then I see her talking into her mouthpiece. The front desk clerk congratulates us on our 30th anniversary, and takes care of the necessary paperwork. He gives us directions to our room, and we walk down to the elevators. After emerging on the 4th floor, we begin an incredibly long walk to our room. My strides are about 4 feet in length, and it takes 207 of them to reach our room. As we walk down the long hall, it reminds me of The Shining.

008

The picture us crummy as the lights were always on, but this is the first part of our journey to our room! All the way to the end, then right for a quarter of the distance seen here!

The long walk is worth it, however, as our room here is larger in square footage than our 2-bedroom Boston apartment! We enter the room, which has walk-in closets along the entryway, and a secondary full bathroom. This empties into the dining area, which has a table with four chairs, as well as a small refrigerator, the mini bar and a coffee pot. There is a complimentary bottle of champagne on the table to greet us. The dining area continues into the living room area, with a large sectional couch, a 60-inch flat screen TV, and sliding doors that lead out onto a lanai, or outside seating area. We are on the garden level, and outside our room is a beautiful garden, with the ocean beyond.  We pass into the bedroom, which is enormous, and the main bathroom, with is nearly the size of our bedroom at home. The area outside the bathroom has bureaus and another walk-in closet. There are sliding doors in this room as well, leading out to a second lanai. The doorbell rings, and I open it for the bellman. He comes in, wishes us a happy 30th anniversary, and places our bags down.

IMG_20171014_152654324_HDR

The view of the water from the lobby level of the Four Seasons Wailea

001

Orchids are everywhere at the Four Seasons Wailea

After we unpack and settle in for a bit, we head down to one of the hotel restaurants, Ferraro’s for a late lunch. K has what she calls “the best Nicoise salad I’ve ever eaten” with fresh rare tuna, and I have a grilled Mahi-Mahi sandwich. The fries that accompany it are amazing. We walk around the hotel to get the lay of the land, sit and watch another amazing Hawaiian sunset, and retreat to our room. As we are tired and don’t wish to deal with driving anywhere or dealing with anyone, we get a very good room service dinner and hit the hay.

006

Sunset in Wailea

 

Saturday 10/14/17

We get up, have some coffee in our room, and head down to the beach for some snorkeling. The beach is already crowded, much more so than we’re used to in Bonaire, but the beach guy gets us some chairs, and we gather our equipment and head into the water. An example of the crazy service that the Four Seasons provides, is that they water down the sand at the top of the slope to the beach, so that you don’t burn your feet as you approach the beach!

There is some nice coral here, but not a lot of fish. We do see 5-6 turtles, however, and they are as mellow as all the turtles we’ve encountered in Hawaii. I am following one turtle with the camera around the left of a coral head, when I notice an enormous turtle swimming towards me from the right side of the coral. I immediately switch my focus to him, and I know it’s a male by the size of his tail, and start filming as he slowly moves past us. I get some great footage of him as he swims around us. K finds a nice white mouth moray, and we decide to head in and sit on the beach for a while. As we are exiting, K, with her fins in one hand, and mask in the other, is hit by a rogue wave, and I see her fins go flying out of her hand and into the water. At first, she is very upset, as these are her favorite fins, which we purchased in Bonaire just last year, but almost immediately, a group of people on the beach start scouring the water for her fins. Within a few moments, two different people come up with one fin each, and we thank them profusely.  Later a woman loses her sunglasses in the surf, and many of the same people start helping here look for them. I run down as well, as she was one of the women who found K’s fins. Before I can get to the water, however, she’s recovered them herself, and all is well.

001

Big Green Sea Turtle at The Four Seasons, Maui, Hawaii

009

Close up of his face.

003.

You can really see his serrated jaw here.

010

Here he is again, about a four foot shell from front to back.

 

013

The final shot of him as he swims away. Look at the size of his tail!

In the video below, you can see the first turtle that I followed, only to switch over to this large male. The second part of the video was a turtle at the Coral Garden, which we did later in the week. You can also see what I mean about the visibility of the water.

 

When we get back to our chairs, we find that they have placed fresh towels on our chairs, and have put a large cooler with ice water, with two plastic cups on the table between the chairs. I head up to the small beach kiosk to get some breakfast for us. As we sit, and enjoy the beautiful view, someone comes by offering us fresh pineapple on a stick. I didn’t know I wanted pineapple on a stick, but it turns out I did, and it’s cold and refreshing. A second employee comes by with cold facecloths scented with eucalyptus. I think I was made for the life of the 1%!  We do a second snorkel, but the visibility is worse than before, so we head back in and decide to check out the pools. They have three pools at the Four Seasons, a large all ages pool, a smaller pool made for kids, and a 21+ adult pool, called the Serenity pool. We’re not sure why they call it that, since the adults are all louder, drunker, and more obnoxious that any of the kids in the main or kiddie pools.

009

More orchids at the Four Seasons, Wailea

We sit at the bar and have some lunch, as well as some tasty Mai-Tai’s.  We split a burger and a crispy spicy tuna roll, both excellent. We swim around the Serenity pool for a while, then head back to the room to freshen up. We walk the grounds a bit, and head back to the beach for the champagne event they are having. We get some of the cheapest champagne at $27 a glass, foregoing the $250 a glass ($980 a bottle) Cristal Rose champagne. After that we go back to the room to change for our dinner tonight at Spago, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, and one of four restaurants at the Four Seasons.

Our waiter seems disinterested in everything, but we soldier on and order cocktails and dinner. We should have just ordered the cocktails, but the waiter seemed intent on us ordering our food as well. The apps arrive before our drinks, not a great sign. I have braised pork belly, and K has a hearts of palm salad. K prefers sparkling water, so we get a bottle of that. Knowing we’re paying a premium for the sparkling water, we try to make it last through dinner, so we don’t have to pay for two bottles.

Another server, oblivious to the bottle of sparkling water on the table stops by and promptly fills K glass with tap water. We both said “No!” as he started, but he poured it anyway. He apologized, and quickly returned, with a new glass for K, and second bottle of water. I’m hoping I don’t need to argue about paying for it when the bill comes. I have the tuna steak, and K orders a huge pork chop. The chop is so huge that I get about half of it to supplement my rather small portion of tuna. K has a dessert with banana jam (yuck!), and I have Kona coffee ice cream. Luckily, they don’t charge us for the water, but when you’re in a restaurant with those kinds of prices, I expect better service than we received. Oh well, back to the room, and to bed.

Sunday 10/15/17

About three weeks prior to our trip, I had started a new octopus tattoo on my left leg. I notice in the morning that the redness that started the day before on some parts of it looks worse, so I hit it with some Bacitracin ointment, pharmacists are always prepared, and we decide to stay out of the water for the day to help my leg. Tattoos must be kept out of pool and ocean water until they are completely healed, which I thought mine was, but I don’t want to take any chances. We decide to do some shopping today, so we head to the nearby town of Kehei for breakfast at Fred’s, a joint that my co-worker M had recommended. K has fried rice, and I get eggs, sausage, and potatoes. We continue up the road to Lahaina to do some shopping.

003

Fred’s in Kehei

The road to Lahaina is beautiful as it winds around the Hawaiian coastline. We arrive in town around the same time as a cruise ship, so the streets are packed with waves of humanity. We duck into a jewelry shop that K thinks looks interesting, and she finds something, and I add to my bone necklace collection with a nice carved manta. There’s a craft fair in a square with a giant banyan tree that is fabulous. Loads of wonderful arts and crafts. We buy a small Tiki painting. K sees one more jewelry shop across the street, and we get the last of her anniversary, birthday jewelry. I steer her towards the car to avoid any other jewelers, and we head back to Wailea.

004

Me in one of the many parts of this huge banyan tree

On the road to Lahaina we passed Leoda’s Pie Shop, and we vowed we’d stop for something on the way back. We did, and entered a fast-moving line, and a huge assortment of pies, savory and sweet. We opted for a coconut cream, and pineapple mac-nut pies. The pineapple mac-nut was fantastic. Great crust, and a light filling of pineapple with the nutty crunch of macadamia. Then I tried the coconut cream. This was everything you’d ever want coconut cream pie to be. Ethereally light, with a wonderful fresh coconut flavor, with toasted coconut on top. Perfection. We also had an excellent house made lemonade and unsweetened ice tea.

Close to the Four Seasons on the way back from Lahaina are The Shops at Wailea, and K wants to see what shops are there. She buys some souvenirs, and I get two more Hawaiian shirts, bringing my total to four. We head back to the hotel, have a drink and watch the sunset. We have the Four Seasons car take us to our dinner reservation. Dinner tonight is at Monkeypod, and we have our favorite meal on the trip so far. The cocktails, to start, are very good. Their signature mai tai comes with a lilikoi foam on top. I am sold! We share some great roasted chicken wings. I have tempura style mahi mahi fish and chips, which is awesome, but pales in comparison to K’s smoked tuna steak with jalapeno mashed potatoes. The beautiful tuna is lightly smoked, then seared, still raw in the center. Jalapeno peppers are roasted, then added to the mashed potatoes. Fantastic. We have another round of drinks for dessert, and call for the Four Seasons car to pick us up. We have an early call for a snorkel trip tomorrow to the atoll called Molokini.

007

Lilikoi foam covered Mai Tai’s at Monkeypod

005

Sunset at the Four Seasons

Monday 10/16/17

 

We have an early morning wake up, as we need to drive a fair way to Maalaea Harbor where our boat is set to depart. The trade winds are howling, and we’re unsure we’ll be going anywhere today. We arrive at the harbor, park, and find the boat we’ll be taking. The captain tells us that he’s listening to chatter between fisherman and other boats on the waters, and a decision will need to be made whether we go to Molokini, or we even go out at all. We do depart on time, but we won’t be visiting Molokini, as the waves there are 5-6 feet, far too big to safely snorkel.  We set sail for the Coral Gardens, north of where we are presently. The trip out is a little rough with the twin hulled catamaran rocking out on the 5-6-foot swells. The Coral Gardens are in a secluded cove, and the water here, while a little rougher than we’re used to, looks manageable. One of the other boats from Maalaea Harbor is also there, Molokini being off the table for everyone today. The visibility is still only so-so, but there is lovely coral here. All the coral in Hawaii is hard coral, so we don’t see the purple tube sponges, or fan coral so prevalent in the Caribbean.

004

Green sea turtle at the Coral Gardens

017

Green sea turtle at the Coral Gardens

011

Green sea turtle at the Coral Gardens

 

016

Last one, I promise! Green sea turtle at the Coral Gardens

 

Over the course of the next hour or so, we meander about over the coral, we see four turtles at various depths, two of which come close to us, as other’s here have done. Though it’s expected behavior by now, it’s still thrilling. I was enjoying myself immensely when I saw something that incensed me. Coral is a living animal composed of thousands of tiny creatures living in a hard casing. They exude a slime over themselves to protect themselves from predators as well as viruses and bacteria found in the water. If you touch it, you may cause damage to yourself, and more importantly, you’ll cause major damage to the coral.  By exposing it to the environment, you can permanently damage the coral, and even cause the colony to die.

Therefore, I’m incensed to look down and see a snorkeler from the other boat at the bottom peering under a ledge, probably at a turtle, but I’m just looking at him as he’s clutching a small coral head with both hands, and his chest, to keep himself from rising back to the surface as your body wants to do naturally. I know he will have to come up, so I wait near where he’ll surface. K looks back at me and swims a little further away from me, knowing that I have to say something to him. He was more just “Oh well” than combative, when I told him he’d damaged and possibly killed the coral head he was clinging to, and asked him to not touch the coral in the future. One of the other passengers thanked me when we were all back on the boat.  It’s a fragile world, take only pictures, leave only footprints. We all get ready for the sail ride back.

If you don’t like boats, this ride was not for you. Waves were breaking over the sides of the boat, with the boat going up and down the six-foot swells. One woman looked concerned as the captain changed to a heavier jacket. He looked down at her and said, “Don’t start worrying until I put on a life vest.” It’s a crazy ride back, and the crew is working hard to keep us moving back to port, with the howling trade winds, and wild seas. We arrive safely, though it was far from the normally relaxing times I have on catamaran sailboats. We head back to the hotel for lunch at Ferraro’s, where we share a hummus plate with grilled veggies, and a prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan pizza. Afterwards, we get a cabana at the main pool.

Exhausted from the boat ride, I fall asleep in the shade of the cabana almost immediately. K enjoys the sun and reads, finally waking me up when she’s had enough. We head back to the room, but our keys are not working. A quick call on the phone in the hall, has someone come up, let us in, and come back very quickly with replacement keys, and apologies. We relax in the room and on the lanai for a while, until it’s time for dinner. Since we’re both still pretty spent from our sailing adventure, we just walk down to the Lobby Lounge in the Four Seasons. It’s very nice, and we have one of the best meals we’ve had in the hotel with tuna poke, fried goat cheese croquettes, and excellent beef sliders. We walk down to the waterfront to catch the end of a talk on navigating by the stars, and then it’s off to bed.

Tuesday 10/17/17

Happy Birthday K! We start K’s birthday with an excellent room service breakfast. English Muffin with peanut butter and a fruit plate for K, Corned Beef hash and eggs for me. Wonderful Kona cold brew iced coffee. K has a massage scheduled this morning, which gives me loads of time to relax, reading a bit and enjoying the ability to do nothing. I’m still trying to go in the water as little as possible for the rest of the trip, so we decide to drive south from the resort to see what’s there. We come across two spots that look promising for snorkeling, and decide to try them tomorrow.

We stop at a roadside stand where the brownest white woman I have ever seen sells us a couple shell bracelets. I guess when you sit out in the sun everyday in a bikini selling jewelry, you’re going to get a wee bit tan. The shells are small snail shells are she tells us they are almost unbreakable. She also has a few puka shells, which we learn are the inside top curls of cone shell, and the waves erode the bigger shell around them to reveal the puka shell inside. These are now quite rare and expensive. As we leave the area, we stop at a small beach called Makena Landing. We sit near the beach, enjoying the beauty and chickens, when a woman shows us a short path which leads to a much smaller, rockier beach. On this beach we see five turtles out of the water sunning themselves. Some are smaller, but several have at least a 3.5-4-foot shell length.

014

Chickens at Makena Landing

013

Five turtles on the beach at Makena Landing

We take a drive towards the airport to check out Tin Roof, Sheldon Simeon’s casual lunch restaurant.  We loved Sheldon on Top Chef, and his quick lunch counter food doesn’t disappoint. K has Mochiko chicken, a fried chicken in a sweet and savory sauce with rice, and I have the spicy ahi poke bowl with an added six-minute egg. We’ve read online that some people say it’s not enough food, and I can’t imagine who these people are, as we’re quite full afterwards.

We drive back and stop at the Shops at Wailea, as K wants to find a Hawaiian shirt for herself. We stop at the Tori Richard store, and she finds one she likes, and I get another one, my fifth. We come back to the Four Seasons, and K lounges in the hotel pool, while I have a drink or two at the bar. We head back upstairs to the room to relax and get ready for our big dinner tonight at Morimoto, one of the restaurants of Japan’s Iron Chef Morimoto. We get the resort car service to bring us to Andaz Maui where the restaurant is located. We walk down a series of steps that are beside a series of terraced pools, all the way to the bottom. There must be an elevator somewhere for anyone who couldn’t take all those steps, but there’s none to be seen.

Since we’re not well versed in Japanese cuisine, we opt for the expanded ten course omakase or chef’s choice dinner. We opt for the ten courses over the seven, as the ten includes a course that uses real Japanese wagyu beef. Before the meal begins, a server brings over a large slab of beef on a tray. This is the piece of wagyu that we’ll be getting a small piece of this evening. It comes with an official Japanese certificate showing the grade and classification. Wagyu is graded on a scale of 1-12, and classified as A1-A5. Only grades 8-12 are classified as A5 or the pinnacle of beef. This piece is grade 8, A5.  In the lower right-hand side of the certificate is a beef “fingerprint” which shows the fat distribution. This is what makes wagyu special. It is so marbled as to appear pink rather than red. I can’t adequately describe each course in detail, so I’ll just list them with quick thoughts.

Course 1: Toro Tuna belly tartare. Phenomenal fatty tuna belly served on a cold glass plate with accompaniments. The server must tell us how to eat it.

Course 2: Amberjack Hamachi -amazing

Course 3: Vegetables with an anchovy paste and garlic olive oil dipping sauce. The anchovy paste is not fishy at all, and the veggies are uniformly delicious.

Course 4: Egg custard with a steamed oyster with uni and foie gras. I loved this dish, but the steamed oyster is not to K’s liking. She did enjoy the custard, uni and foie gras which she normally doesn’t like very much.

Course 5: Intermezzo of herb sorbet to cleanse the palate

Course 6: Sushi course 5 pieces of sushi, tuna, shad, scallop, fresh water eel, and one other fish I didn’t write down. I enjoyed all the fish, except the eel, which I’ve never loved. K couldn’t eat the eel at all. The real revelation, though was the shad. It had a silver skin, and I was expecting it to be very strong flavored, and it was just mild, delicate, and wonderful.

Course 7: Muscovy duck with roasted veggies. Yum.

Course 8: Surf and Turf. At the beginning of the meal, the server asks us if there’s anything we don’t eat, or are allergic to. We don’t have any food allergies, but I hate bananas, and neither of us likes to eat octopus. Once you’ve experienced these amazing animals in the wild, you don’t want to eat them any longer. I won’t order octopus, but in this type of meal I’ll eat it. K opts to not have any octopus. We each get four thin slices of the wagyu, mine with octopus, K’s with scallop. Neither of us really loves scallops that are cooked, so she’s not happy about that, but the beef is amazing, even though with that kind of quality, I think having it as a carpaccio would be even better.

Course 9: First dessert, a French macaron with marshmallow and tropical fruit filling.

Course 10: Final course, a mélange of lime pudding, tapioca pearls, coconut, and mango. A fabulous way to end the meal.

Two funny stories to tell about the meal. We started late, at 8 PM, so by the time we got to course 5 or 6, the restaurant was basically empty, with just us and a table or two left. The waiter came by to ask that since it was our anniversary, and the restaurant was empty, if we wanted him to re-arrange the table so we could eat the rest of our meal sitting next to one another. I told him that we were happy the way we were, as it was our 30th, not our second. Lastly when we were almost done, and were the only people left in the place, the two older Japanese sushi chefs were breaking down their stations in the front of the kitchen. There was just an aisle and stools at the sushi bar that separated us. The guys in the back who were cooking the hot food were getting a little louder when one says “Yeah, I really wanted that trucker hat, but the guy wanted twenty-five fucking dollars for it and…” He’s stopped by a whack on the arm by the older sushi chef, who motions with a finger to lips “Ssshh!” and then points towards us. Chastened, the cook stops talking, and we don’t hear him again while we’re in the restaurant.

We slowly tackle the staircases back up, loaded down with food. The restaurant has called ahead to the Four Seasons to have the car come and get us. They may grow old as they wait for us to negotiate these stairs, but that’s what they’re getting paid for. We finally make it back to the street level, and are picked up and driven back to the Four Seasons, where we quickly fall asleep.

Wednesday 10/18/17

We decide to drive back south, and snorkel the secluded area we saw yesterday. The browned woman we bought the necklaces from yesterday had told us it was some of the best snorkeling on Maui. We park in a small lot near the beach, and walk down. Getting in the water is a little dicey, as the surf is heavy, but once we are in the area has lots of nice coral and fish. It is one of the few spots where we don’t see any turtles, however.

006

Orange Band Surgeonfish

007

Ornate Butterflyfish

008

Spotted Trunkfish

 

We head back to the car, and drive back to Makena Landing to snorkel. The visibility is as poor as any we’ve had, but K still manages to find a small white mouthed moray eel, and of course we follow a turtle about for a short while. The beach where we saw turtles yesterday is empty, but it’s before noon, and the sun isn’t high enough to provide warming yet. We head back to the hotel to relax for a while before our lunch reservation at Mama’s Fish House on the other side of the island at the beginning of the road to Hana. The road to Hana is nearly 65 miles long with 600 curves and 54 bridges. Due to the undulating nature of the road, it takes over 3 hours to traverse it’s 65 miles! We have already decided not to do this, as I don’t want to spend 7 hours nervously worried that I might drive off a mountain road. I say 7 hours, as you must come back the same way.

Luckily Mama’s Fish House is only a mile or so onto the road to Hana, and it’s situated well before the road gets too hairy. We arrive a bit early, to a well-oiled machine. Valets take your vehicle when you drive up. This is a free service, and it’s in place only to keep the traffic moving in and out at a good pace. We check in, but since we are a bit early, our table isn’t quite ready. We walk down to the beach that the restaurant sits on, and we can see a large turtle in the shallows eating. We watch him for a while, then head in to be seated.

015

The beach in front of Mama’s Fish House.

016

Mama’s Fish House

017

Tropical Flower arrangement at Mama’s Fish House

The restaurant has indoor and covered outdoor seating, and we are seated in the outside section. We have some excellent Mai tai’s and start our lunch with a trio of sashimi, ono, tuna, and onago. The onago is served with an onion jam. Our waiter tells us to eat it from left to right, as the onago is last, and is the sweetest, due to the onion jam. All three are fantastic.  Next are crispy mahi mahi tempura rolls, sort of a fish egg roll with tempura batter, also excellent. Next is the lunch special of papia (a local white fish) ceviche with lime juice, coconut, and mixed veggies, served in half a fresh coconut. Words cannot adequately describe how delicious this dish is, easily the best ceviche that I’ve ever eaten.

Next is an intermezzo of Mama’s salad which consists of mixed greens, nuts, strawberries, goat cheese, and hearts of palm. The final savory dish is beef tenderloin, sliced thinly, and tossed with an excellent sauce with tropical fruits, served in a grilled papaya half. We split two desserts, the Black Pearl, a chocolate mousse “pearl” with a lilikoi cream center, housed inside a sugar cookie scallop shell. It’s delicious, but both of us agree that the simple lilikoi crème brulee is far better, even though K generally disdains any crème brulee. Apart from serving the best Mai Tai’s we’ve had in Hawaii, this is by far the finest meal we will end up having on Hawaii.

018

Black Pearl dessert

019

Lilikoi creme brulee

After lunch, we see signs for the Haleakala Crater, and decide to check it out, spur of the moment. It’s Maui’s highest point at 10,000 feet above sea level. It’s a challenging road to drive with many switchbacks, and tight turns, and it takes us well over an hour and a half to reach the visitor center at 7000 feet. It’s raining, foggy, and very cold up here, especially as we are in t-shirts and shorts, and we use the facilities before asking the staff about the rest of the crater. The trip to the 10,000-foot mark, we’re told will take another 40 minutes or so, and it is supposedly clear on the top. Given how long it will take us to drive up, and back down the mountain, we opt to just head down from the visitor center.

Going down is much faster, and we head across the island to the South Kehei road to get back to the hotel. Though we’re not hungry, we realize we have not had any shaved ice yet, and we stop at a small shop on the South Kehei road to share a lilikoi/coconut shaved ice. We drive down to the beach and watch the sunset, sitting on the sand. It’s time to go, so we perform our annual toe dipping ritual to signify the end of the beach season. We head back to the hotel to get packed up and ready for our departure tomorrow. After packing everything, we have one bag with our clothing and other needs for the two days we’ll spend in San Francisco on the way back. Everything else is placed in the other bags, so that we only must worry about the one bag we’ll need.

002

Sunset at the beach on South Kehei Road

We had reservations for Duo, the hotel’s Brazilian style steak house for dinner tonight, but since we loved Monkeypod so much, we change our plans to eat there again instead. K has corn chowder for an appetizer, and I have shrimp and mushroom pot stickers. The special is a 9 oz NY Strip steak, and as K is “fished out”, she orders that. I’ve been dreaming about how good the dish K had when we ate here earlier, and I order that, smoked rare Ahi tuna steak with Jalapeno mashed potatoes. It’s just as amazing as I remember. After several lilikoi mai tai’s, I ask the server if the bartender can make me a Sazerac, my favorite cocktail. He says yes, and they do, but it’s not very good. Not the worst one I’ve ever ben served, but it wasn’t going to crack the top ten, either. We call for the courtesy car, and are whisked back to the Four Seasons for our last night in Hawaii. We crash into bed, not eager to leave tomorrow, but all good things come to an end. I do have one last thing to accomplish in Hawaii, however, and that’s to get the tattoo that I made an appointment for earlier in the year.

Thursday 10/19/17.

We get up and check out of the hotel. We stow our bags with the hotel, and head down to Kehei for breakfast. It’s back to Fred’s for a fortifying pre-tattoo breakfast. After a nice filling meal, we drive down the mile or so to Mid Pacific Tattoo in Kehei. They also have 2 other shops in Lahaina, but I wanted to come to the Kehei shop, because it’s much closer, but more importantly, because I really want to get tattooed by Desmond Alexander as he is a master of Polynesian and Hawaiian tattoo designs. After a brief discussion of what I want, he disappears into the back of the shop. I’m not exactly sure what he’s up to, but after 30-40 minutes, he comes out with a drawing for the stencil.

I am getting a Honu, or sea turtle tattoo in the Polynesian/Hawaiian style. The drawing is awesome, incorporating the traditional Polynesian fish hook design and the Honu. The first stencil is too small, however, and he comes back a few minutes later with a larger version. He has me stand, and he places the stencil on my shin. He looks at it a bunch, mutters under his breath, and then wipes the stencil off. He then reapplies it, slightly differently than the first time. He asks Kaib, the other artist currently in the shop to look at the placement. Kaib asks if he wants his honest opinion, and Desmond says yes. Kaib take a Sharpie, and draws a mark on the top and bottom of the stencil that is about 1/3rd of an inch to the left of where Desmond had placed it. “I see the center line here” says Kaib, and Desmond agrees, wiping off the stencil a final time before reapplying it to everyone’s satisfaction.

I have several tattoos, and Desmond is the quietest artist I’ve ever dealt with before. He never said a word, apart from “move this way” or “stand up for a moment”. After tattooing the stencil lines, basically only the outline of the turtle and hook, Desmond uses a red Sharpie to draw in concentric lines. He then free hands repeating patterns within each line. It’s amazing how he’s capable of repeating the same geometric figures without any sort of guide or stencil. He takes about three nearly silent hours to finish. I’m happy when he’s done, of course, as that’s when the pain stops! I was once told that tattoos should be painful, permanent, and expensive, if all of those three aren’t present, quality cannot be assured.

020

Last stencil, you can see the mark Kaib made on top

021

Stencil tattooed, drawing lines for free hand work

new tat pic 1

The completely healed piece, taken just a few days before posting this blog

 

After being wrapped up in Saran wrap to protect the tattoo, we head over to the shops at Wailea for lunch. We sit down at the bar of the burger place there, enjoy some burgers, beers, and Thursday night football at 2:30 in the afternoon. I could really get used to that. Our flight doesn’t leave until 10 PM, so we have a few hours to kill. We head back to the Four Seasons, where we can use the Hospitality suite, which has comfortable furniture, a TV, and men’s and women’s bathrooms, and shower rooms. After a while, it’s unfortunately time to drive to the airport, drop off the rental car, and get ready for our overnight flight to San Francisco. After passing through several layers of checks to ensure we are not taking any plants or animals off the islands we wait for our plane. When they call for First Class, we head up to the desk. The woman takes my ticket, looks at me and says “I see you’re in First Class. THERE ARE NO PILLOWS OR BLANKETS IN FIRST CLASS ON THIS FLIGHT!” I capitalize, as it was nearly screamed at me, as if it were my fault that these amenities were lacking. I don’t know, “I’m sorry we don’t have pillows or blankets tonight.”, or “Unfortunately, we don’t have pillows or blankets” would have been nicer, but obviously someone skipped out of customer service training at Virgin America. I mean why would anyone need pillows and blankets on an overnight flight anyway? We board and get seated for the six-hour flight to San Francisco.

 

Friday 10/20 and Saturday 10/21/17

Having flown from Tahiti to Boston in one day in 2011, we decide to wise up, and break up the flight on the way home, by stopping at our friend’s L & A’s house in San Francisco on the way back. Since we arrive so early, around 6:30 am, we Uber to L & A’s house in Noe Valley.  We stash our bags that we don’t need in L&A’s garage, as we don’t want to carry all of them up the 60+ stairs to their house.  We crash for a few hours, since it was tough sleeping on the plane without pillows or blankets, and then hang out with L & A, and their Portuguese Water Dog Pasteis. L makes us a wonderful dinner on Friday night, and on Saturday we attend a fund raiser at the YMCA in San Francisco where A sits on the board. Afterwards, we enjoy an excellent dinner with L & A, and some of their friends at a restaurant called The Morris. We get back to L & A’s quite late, and we have a very early wake up time tomorrow, as our flight to Boston leaves at 6 AM. I can’t get to sleep, and when we get up at 4 AM, I’ve barely slept a wink. We thank L & A for their hospitality and Uber to the airport. Thankfully there are pillows and blankets, so I can sleep for a while on the plane after breakfast and a Bloody Mary, and we arrive safe and sound in Boston. It was a wonderful trip, and while we may not rush back to Hawaii right away, I would certainly want to visit the islands again in the future.

024

Golden Gate Bridge from Crissy Field

 

023

Pasteis (right), with his friend

025

Jack O Lantern I carved for L & A

karen with turtle

Taken on the Big Island K said I could use this picture of her and a friendly turtle! Aloha!

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Travel Lion Goes to Hawaii Part 1 The Big Island

The Travel Lion Goes to Hawaii Part 1: The Big Island

 

Friday 10/6/17 9 PM

One of my favorite musicians, Paul Weller, former leader of classic mod band The Jam, the eclectic, and divisive band The Style Council, and a widely varied solo career was about to hit the stage. After many years eschewing his earlier work, he’s finally begun to soften, and he played three Style Council songs, two Jam songs, and three encores over two and three-quarter hours. It was one of the best times that I’ve seen him over the years, and after a short bus ride home, we got to bed about midnight. Pardon the crappy video, we were in the back. Here Paul plays the Jam classic A Town Called Malice

Saturday 10/7/17

This made the 4 AM alarm especially disturbing, however. One trip, I’m going to insist that we don’t leave at the ass crack of dawn. I tire of it. The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that since this is our 30th anniversary trip, and we booked through an agent, we’ll be flying first class throughout, and will be staying at two very nice places. I’m intrigued to see how the 1% live.

Honestly apart from marginally better food, served on actual plates with actual silverware, booze, slightly less condescending attitude from the stewardess, and the glares of coach passengers, first class isn’t anything special. The one true plus in first are the seats. They are large enough to be comfortable for almost anyone, and can fully recline without incurring the rage of the passenger behind you. We arrive in Seattle on the first leg, and since we have an hour layover, we decide to check out the flight club, which our first-class tickets buy us entry to.  Nice snacks, comfortable seating with loads of electric and USB outlets for charging any of your myriad devices. And a bar. With free booze. And a large no tipping sign. I could get used to this.

The next leg ends on the big island of Hawaii, at the Kona airport. After a short trip to the car rental counter, we’re in a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which I hate, but SUV’s were all they had. The resort where we are staying, Mauna Kea was built by Laurance S. Rockefeller. You know you’re rich when you spell Lawrence, Laurance. It opened first as a golf course in 1964, and as a resort in 1965. At that point, the highway which zips right by the property was only a dream, and the only road available meant a 3+ hour trip to the airport by car. Remember the big island really is big. It’s approximately the same size in square miles as Connecticut, and all the other Hawaiian Islands would fit on it combined. Now it’s a mere thirty-minute drive north, and we arrive.

The local time is about 4 PM, but to us it feels like 10 PM due to the time difference. We do the best thing you can do, which is trying to stay up as late as you can. We admire the beauty of our room, particularly the bathroom, with its huge Japanese soaking tub, double sinks, and especially the shower area, without curtains or walls at the foot of the tub, with a giant rain shower head.  We look abound the property a bit, and head to the Copper Bar, a restaurant at the resort and get a bite to eat. It’s serviceable, the pizza being pretty good, but we’re just faking consciousness by this point. We make it until about 9 PM and crash, setting our alarms for 7 AM so we can get up and get ready to be at the nearby Blue Hawaiian Helicopter tour company by 8:30 AM.

 

040

Lower lobby of the Mauna Kea Resort

 

038

Buddha Statue at the Mauna Kea Resort

044

The ever present Plumeria flower

Sunday 10/8/17

There is a small coffee place that serves some food inside the hotel, and we get a couple egg burritos, some fruit, and coffee for breakfast. The burritos didn’t heat up enough and were stone cold in the center. I wish I’d gone back and had them reheated, but the line that grew behind me as I got my order had now grown to four of five people, and I didn’t want to deal with it. We ate what we could of the burritos and took our coffee with us for the ten-minute drive to the helicopter place. We were paired with a young Californian couple, and an older woman from Australia. They weigh everyone and assign seats based on that to evenly distribute the weight onboard. K and the Australian woman flank me in the back seat, as the couple sits up front with the pilot. After the obligatory safety checks and talks, we take off to the strains of the James Bond film theme. I cannot adequately describe with mere words the beauty of the island, the green expanses contrasting with the alien landscape of molten rock. Seeing the lava glow and spit at the Pu’u ‘O’o volcanic cone is something I won’t soon forget. The pilot remarks that it doesn’t always spew lava the way it’s doing today. It’s a two-hour tour, and for an hour, it was a wonderful experience. At the hour mark, however, I started to sweat, and salivate.  The movement, paired with the warmth of the closed in spaces was bringing on the nausea. I hate to vomit, and I knew if I could keep it together until we got back to ground that I’d be fine once I got into the fresh air. While I was trying that, I looked down to make sure the bag was nearby. For a while I thought it was going to work out. I felt awful, but I wasn’t in danger of losing my lunch. Just 20 more minutes, and I’ll be home free. But it was one last high angle turn into a gorge that did it. I leaned forward for the bag.

051

Volcanic cone at Pu’u ‘O’o

043

New land formed by the volcanic lava flowing towards the ocean

 

It was over quickly, and when the pilot checked on me to see if I was OK, I didn’t say what I thought of later, which was, “Well my breakfast sucked, so I wasn’t keen on keeping it anyway.”, instead I bleated a half croaked “yeah”, and went about double bagging said breakfast. During the worst part, the nice Australian woman was patting my knee and giving me concerned looks. K was bouncing around looking at everything, having the time of her life. I’m glad she loved it, but it’s likely my last time. We drive back to the resort and freshen up. Feeling human again, and now hungry, we head over to the country club restaurant for lunch. Tuna poke for K, and Opah fish tacos for me. Afterwards we do our first snorkeling of the trip, along the rock and coral on the side of the beach in front of our hotel. The first thing we notice is the visibility. Because there is so much sand here, the visibility on our entire trip to Hawaii is worse than what we consider poor visibility on Bonaire. It’s not insurmountable, but it’s a step down from what we’re used to. I love how there are fish we only see in the Pacific, different ones we only see in the Caribbean, and the few types that seem ubiquitous to all oceans.

001

A pair of Moorish Idols

020

Ornate Butterfly Fish

Our friends in San Francisco, L & A, have put us in touch with friends of theirs that live on the Big Island. We meet J & B at the Lava Lava Club, a restaurant at the resort where they live, Waikoloa. The restaurant is cool, and we have some great apps to share for dinner, poke, ribs, shrimp, and fries that come in a paper bag to which you add toppings and shake them up. We talk about various parts of the island with J & B, who are just lovely people. K & I are stunned as one of the most gorgeous sunsets we have ever seen is splayed out before us. J & B are nonplussed, but then again, this is their everyday backdrop.  We bid them adieu, and head back to the Mauna Kea. We walk down past the main restaurant to an area where they have a light shining into the water. The light attracts phytoplankton, which attracts small fish, both of which attract manta rays. There are two types of manta rays. These are not the type we saw in the South Pacific, M Birostris, but are the more coastal species, M. Alfredi.

045

Sunset at Lava Lava Club

041

Manta Rays from the shore at The Mauna Kea resort

Video below of the Manta Rays from the on land viewing platform

This species is smaller with the maximum size being up to 18 feet vs 25 feet for the deeper water M. Birostris. Both have distinct black and white color patterns, and the ones that swim around here, are especially small, only 6- 8 feet or so across. At various times up to four mantas swim in and out of the light, gracefully scooping up food into their mouths. These graceful, beautiful giants are completely harmless to humans, and we can’t wait for our night snorkel tour to swim with them tomorrow. Happy and exhausted, we head off to sleep.

Monday 10/9/17

We head over to Waikoloa Village to a place J & B recommended called Island Lava Java. It’s a funky little joint, obviously popular with the locals, that serves breakfast and lunch. It’s so nice to see linguica on a breakfast menu. The spicy Portuguese sausage of my youth was delicious, but the concept of eggs “over easy” was lost on the solid yolks that arrived. Ah well, ces’t la vie, and mahalo! We stop at a local supermarket to check out any interesting local specialties, and to pick up some stuff for our room. Afterwards we head over to a beach that our helicopter pilot Devin told us about. It has a Hawaiian name, Waialea, but the locals dubbed it Beach 69, because the road that leads to it is near the 69-mile marker on Route 19, and it is very close to our hotel.

After paying our $5 parking fee, we head down to a small, but heavily shaded beach, with large rock outcroppings close to shore, which generally indicate places to find sea life. Fish and other creatures feel, and are, vulnerable on large swaths of sand, so they avoid them. Only slender, fast, light-colored fish are seen over sand, as they’ve adapted to be harder to see there. The best way to see fish and other creatures while snorkeling is to go where they live.  The amount of fish here is impressive, with some large schools of yellow tang, and many other varieties. There are also some impressive corals. If the visibility were the same as Bonaire, I wouldn’t ever come out of the water, but it’s not and we leave both entranced by what we’ve seen, but lament what we could have seen had the water been clearer.

026

School of Yellow Tang

021

Red Pencil sea Urchin. These are everywhere!

002

Peacock Grouper

010

Orange Spine Unicorn Fish

024

Whitemouth Moray

We decide to stop back by the Lava Lava Club for lunch, both because we honestly enjoyed the food very much the day before, and we wanted to walk down the beach where J & B told us we’d be able to see turtles. K gets an excellent cheeseburger, and I get a combo cheeseburger of linguica and hamburger. We’ve been trying the local beer, and I have a Maui Brewing Coconut Porter that is very good. A lot of people drink Maui Bikini Blonde, a traditional American style lager, but K and I prefer the Kona Brewing Co Big Wave Golden Ale, which becomes our default beer.

After lunch we walk along the beach that the Lava Lava Club sits on, to look for turtles. We’re walking along, peering into the water for turtles, when we come upon what I think is a dead turtle on the sand. Having always believed that sea turtles only emerge from the sea onto a beach to lay eggs or wash up dead, I was surprised when it blinked. We give it a large berth, and continue down the beach. After walking as far as we could with the tide conditions we head back. At this point we notice that a woman who we saw sitting on the beach, wasn’t staring off into space as we first thought as we passed behind her. She was sitting on the sand watching two turtles sunning on the beach. We’d completely missed them the first time since we were looking in the water for the turtles! It seems that Green sea turtles will haul out on beaches to sun in only a few places on Earth, including the Galapagos, Hawaii, and parts of Australia.  We drive back to the hotel to relax a bit before our big activity of the day, our night snorkel with Manta Rays!

048

Green Sea Turtle that we thought was dead!

049

More turtles on the beach

050

Final turtle. That’s what she was looking at!

There are several ways to snorkel with Mantas on the Big Island. The most common way is to go near the airport, where apparently dozens of boats dump hundreds of people in the water with little instruction while a multitude of lights bring the Manta’s prey. We went with the Manta Ray Advocates who previously worked at the airport, but have since decamped to the Mauna Kea Resort. A much more low-key affair, only six people go out each trip. We walk along the beach and into waist deep water where we put on our fins and masks. It’s a short swim to the light, and we line up about 10 feet from the wall looking down at the area it illuminated. At first nothing, then, out of the darkness, beautiful shapes emerge, swooping and diving gracefully below us. We watch as they swoop through the lighted area where the plankton are gathering, eating them by filtering them from the water. There are two of them and the feeling is pure exhilaration. To see these gorgeous creatures, in their world, so close is magical, partially spoiled only by some of the inexperienced snorkelers who ignored the instructions to keep your arms close by. Flailing about only scares the animals, and bothers your fellow snorkeler, stop it! After dropping off our gear, we head for a quick bite at the bar at the Copper Bar. We have a much better meal of warm olives, spicy Asian green beans, and Margarita flatbread. With warm memories of Manta wings beneath us we drift off to sleep.

The short video below gives just a taste of how magical it was.

 

Tuesday 10/10/17

We grab toasted bagels with cream cheese, fruit and coffee from the coffee shop, and head over to the Mauna Lani Resort where the boat the we have a snorkeling trip booked with, is docked. After a bit of confusion as to how to get in to the resort, we arrive and get on the boat with Captain Don, and mates Luke and Joey. There are nine total snorkelers on the trip, and we take off to a snorkel area known as Secrets. This is a great reef system, with nice live coral, and reefs that are deep as 30 feet, and as shallow as 10. We are the second and third people in the water, and we swim away from the boat, heading towards the reef. Less than 30 feet from the boat, on the edge of the reef, we see our first turtle.

Unlike the adolescent turtles we see in Bonaire, the turtles here are mostly fully grown, and have a carefree, unafraid nature that is remarkable. In Bonaire we see a lot of turtles swimming away, here they are just as likely to turn towards you to look at you.  The guys give us free rein to snorkel the large general area in front of the boat, and we try to go over as much of it as we can. Among all the many species of fish, we also see brown and spotted moray eels, puffer fish, and probably 5-6 other turtles, most with shells that would measure 2 ½ to 3 feet from front to back.

019

Green Sea Turtle at Secrets

030

Another Secrets Green Sea Turtle

033

Close up of Red Pencil Sea Urchin

011

Long-Nosed Butterflyfish

025

Moorish Idol

005

Green Sea Turtle

006

I could post a hundred awesome turtle pictures!

We head back to the resort, and K and I snorkel the beach out front.  There is an abundance of coral here in the slightly deeper water, and we see some phenomenal stuff, including a brown moray out swimming free, a Crown of Thorns starfish, and a small Spotted Eagle Ray, foraging in the sandy parts between coral heads. We head in, rinse off in the outside shower, and towel off enough to hit the restaurant for lunch. K has a BLT and I have striped marlin fish tacos. It’s back to the Mauna Kea to shower and drive up to Hawi, which J & B said had cute shops. In the first shop we go into, I find a vintage Hawaiian shirt that is made for me, black and white with turtles, and it’s my size! We stop and get a coco frais, a green coconut, that they hack with a machete to allow you to stick a straw in and drink the coconut water. When that’s done, they hack it in half and you can scoop out the cold coconut, that’s almost gelatinous in texture. We’ve loved these since we went to Tahiti.

022

Guineafowl or Spotted Puffer

009

Crown of Thorns Starfish, about the size of a dinner plate

007

Whitemouth Moray

028

Spotted Eagle Ray

We stop at a nice shop on the way back, and K gets a beautiful necklace as an early birthday present. We’re not hungry at all after our late lunch, so we go to the beach bar to have some drinks and nibble on their great garlic pretzels, watch the sunset, then walk down and watch the manta rays for a bit, and head back to the room. We have some snacks from the plane that we eat and watch a little TV before heading off to sleep.

 

Wednesday 10/11/17

This morning’s journey takes us south, past the airport to the National Park at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, also known as the Place of Refuge. Used by native Hawaiians up through the early 19th century as a site where one who had broken an ancient law, known as a kapu could escape certain death by fleeing to this sacred place, and having a priest absolve them of their sin. They would then be allowed to go free. The site has a volcanic rock wall that is 1000 feet long, 10 feet high, and 17 feet wide. It is entirely made by stone laid on stone without any mortar. This was to protect the Pu’uhonua from attack. The grounds abutting the site once was the home to several generations of powerful chiefs. The area has many tiki sculptures and totem poles, and is a fascinating look back into Hawaiian history.

046

A small part of the lava rock wall. The path leading to the gate is wide enough for a golf cart

047

Some of the many Tiki sculptures

042

Me, showing my affinity for the profane over the sacred.

We grab our gear, and leave our car in the parking lot of the National Park to go to the nearby Honaunau Bay for what we’ve been told is great snorkeling. Once we navigate entry, we see why there are so many people here. The coral is in great shape, right off shore, and there is an abundance of fish to see as we swim around. Towards the end of the snorkel we run into two smaller turtles, and like those we saw at Secrets, these are super chill and one surfaces right next to me to get air without a care in the world. I am used to moving my arm forward to get the GoPro, on the end of a stick, closer to what I’m filming. With these turtles, I find myself moving the camera closer to me to ensure it doesn’t hit them.  We stop back at the car to grab some clean dry clothes, and use the public bathrooms to our benefit to change out of our suits. We do a bit of shopping at the gift shop, and head out to grab some lunch.

035

Goatfish

032

Ornate Butterflyfish

036

I’ll never get over how close you can get.

We passed through a small area of businesses on our way to the Place of Refuge, so we decided to stop at a place that looked interesting called Rebel Kitchen. It became obvious they were having a problem with their credit card machine, so we walked about a quarter mile up the road to a laundromat to use the closest ATM. With plenty of cash, we head back to order. K gets an amazing Carnitas salad. A healthy portion of pork over an excellent green salad. I had a very good steak and cheese sandwich on fantastic bread. Add in some local IPA, awesome house made lemonade, and two cookies we split, a Hawaiian Ginger, and a Mac Nut and Lilikoi, and it was a fabulous meal. We learned two things with that last cookie. The locals never use the word macadamia, it’s always mac nut, and lilikoi, or yellow passion fruit, is amazing!

We decide to spend the rest of the day relaxing around the pool, taking advantage of the spritzing they do, where they spritz you in the face with mango scented water. It’s very refreshing, and so not us. They also come around with cold damp face cloths, which even when you’re in the shade, are quite nice. Afterwards, we walk down to beach, pull up two chairs and watch a rather pedestrian sunset, our first unspectacular sunset since we arrived. Off to watch the mantas from the walk again before deciding to just go to the Copper Bar again for dinner. It’s a hike in the car to get to any off-resort restaurants, and after 2 Polynesian Daiquiris at the pool, I probably shouldn’t be driving anyway! We get a fine prosciutto and arugula flat bread, those delicious olives, and a rather sad Caprese salad. Then it’s off to bed to get ready for our last snorkeling trip on the big island tomorrow.

 

 

Thursday 10/12/17

Though I won’t get breakfast burritos any more, the coffee shop can handle bagels and cream cheese, and the Kona ice coffee is outstanding, so we grab some of that and some fruit, and wait for the bus to pick us up for our snorkeling tour with Ocean Adventures. They’re running late, but eventually we are on the move with 24 other eager snorkelers. We drive north and depart on the Ayala, a nice catamaran. On the way out, the captain takes a detour from the route he’s planning, as boats are reporting seeing Spinner dolphins nearby. We soon spy two boats ahead of us, and in the water between, the telltale breaks of dolphins breaking the water’s surface nearby.

015

Spinner dolphin in front of our boat

We follow along with several dolphins riding our boat’s wake in the front, while others, near the other boats show how they got their name, as they leap out of the water, spinning wildly in the air. It’s spectacular. After watching for a bit, we turn south and head to where we’ll be snorkeling today. As we pull up to the mooring, K and I realize that this is Secrets, where we snorkeled Tuesday, just a bit more north of where we moored with the other boat. No worries, we know that it’s a nice spot, and we should see some cool stuff, including turtles.

Though the visibility isn’t as good as our trip here on Tuesday, it’s still not too bad, and we see all the usual suspects. We finally find a turtle and we follow him around as he eats on the bottom for a while, and are amazed again as he surfaces for air right next to us, oblivious to us. He swims around us at the surface coming so close to K at one point that I thought he was going to kiss her mask! After he descends, K says she’s getting tired and we start to head back to the boat. Suddenly, I spy a Spotted Eagle Ray on the bottom feeding in a sandy spot. As these are one of K’s favorites, we stop and watch for a while. K says she’s caught her wind, and we stay out for a bit longer. We start to head back, and see a different Spotted Eagle Ray close to the boat. K is surprised as I free dive down about 20-25 feet to try to get a better shot.  Finally, we get back on the boat. They’re serving a deli sandwich lunch, and we eat, have a few beers, and enjoy the boat ride back to dock.

027

Moorish Idols

023

Raccoon Butterflyfish and Yellow Tang

014

Guineafowl or Spotted Puffer

031

Male Saddle Wrasse

029

Whitemouth Moray

012

Hawaiian Whitespot Toby

008

Whitespotted or Stripebelly Puffer

003

Stocky Hawkfish

018

Turtle breathing

004

More beautiful turtle

 

After the van drops us off, K has a spa appointment, so I do a solo snorkel in front of the hotel, then go back to the room to watch Thursday Night Football at two in the afternoon! After K returns, we freshen up and head to the waterfront to watch the sunset. We have an 8 o’clock reservation for dinner at the main restaurant at the resort, appropriately called, Manta.

This is by far the best meal we’ve had at the resort. We each opt for the three-course tasting menu. K has a tomato salad, and I have ribs for our first course. We both order the amazing strip steak, cooked perfectly medium rare, and we finish with Kona coffee mud pie for me, and Kona coffee ice cream for K. Afterwards we go down to the manta light, and watch them frolic one last time. The weather reports don’t look good for Maui right now, so we’ll enjoy our last night’s sleep on the Big Island, and won’t worry about what we can’t control.

Friday 10/13/17

The plan this morning is to have a sit down nice breakfast at Manta, then have one last snorkel in front of the hotel before we leave, but the pounding rain is making the snorkel part less likely. We head down for breakfast, and K has an omelet, and I have some awesome house made corned beef hash with eggs, incredible coffee and lilikoi juice. It’s still pouring when we leave breakfast, so we forgo the snorkel and head back to the room to pack up for Maui. All the locals and business people that we have encountered during the week have told us that we are lucky to be leaving Friday, as Saturday is the Iron Man competition, and the highway to the airport is closed. This would mean we’d need to go the old, long route of 3+ hours, rather than the 30 minutes it takes us to get there. Not one of those locals had a single positive thing to say about the Iron Man. They felt that the participants weren’t nice, were messy, and didn’t positively impact the island businesses. They didn’t shop at them, and prevented others from reaching them during all the road closures. We were happy not to have had to deal with that mess, and were glad to board our inter-island flight to Maui.

037

Hula statue at the Kona airport

This concludes part one of the Travel Lion goes to Hawaii. Part two will be posted soon!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Bonaire Under Water 10/2016

Due to a confluence of issues, from my losing many photos and videos from this trip,  the purchase of a new computer, and the subsequent loss of the photo editing software I had been used to using, to my letting my frustration with these issues get to me, prevented me from writing the second half of my blog from last years trip. A friend of mine castigated me recently for not posting it and, as she may be one of only a handful who read every word, I took it to heart that while I wasn’t going to write my usual style of blog, I could at least post some of that week’s pictures (the new editing software works great), and make some sarcastic comments along the way. Let’s be honest, the pictures are why most of you are here, anyway.

DCIM100GOPROG0512988.

I think this is a school of mackerel scad.

DCIM100GOPROG0432905.

Baby Queen Angel at the Salt Pier

DCIM102GOPROG4114960.

Green Turtle on Klein Bonaire

DCIM101GOPROG2744238.

Green Moray Eel at Wakaya II (a dive/snorkel site in the Washington Slagbaai National Park)

DCIM101GOPROG2734234.

Mr. Eel again

DCIM100GOPROG0743150.

Close up of the face of a Peacock Flounder at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM100GOPROG0082650.

French Angelfish, probably at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM100GOPROG0262752.

Barracuda, not sure where we saw this bad boy

DCIM100GOPROG0823202.

A beauty, but it pains me when I see a Lionfish. This one was in Lac Bay. Lionfish are an invasive species, and are decimating reef fish populations in much of the Caribbean. Bonaire has taken a strong, eat them to beat them attitude, and they have far less of a problem than other places, especially the coast of Florida.

DCIM102GOPROG3754803.

Sand Diver at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM100GOPROG0603045.

A Forest of Christmas Tree Worms, Divi Flamingo

DCIM101GOPROG1683672.

Spotted Trunkfish at Klein Bonaire

DCIM100GOPROG0673085.

Spotted Moray eel at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM100GOPROG0152689.

Smooth Trunkfish at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM101GOPROG3244532.

Greater Soapfish at Tori’s Reef. It’s rare to see these during the day, mostly they are nocturnal

DCIM100GOPROG0733147.

Batwing Coral Crab at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM100GOPROG0763168.

Blackbar Soldeirfish at The Divi Flamingo

DCIM100GOPROG0873223.

Porcupine fish, or more commonly a puffer at Lac Bay

DCIM101GOPROG1813723.

Green Turtle at Klein Bonaire

DCIM100GOPROG0883234.

Another shot of the puffer free swimming at Lac Bay. 

DCIM100GOPROG0953268.

Grey Snapper? at The Divi Flamingo

DCIM100GOPROG0613047.

Tarpon at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM100GOPROG0723137.

Peacock Flounder at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM100GOPROG0973280.

Schoolmaster and Yellow Grunts at Tori’s Reef

DCIM100GOPROG1273454.

Stoplight Parrotfish at The Divi Flamingo

DCIM101GOPROG1623641.

Slender Filefish at Klein Bonaire

DCIM101GOPROG1933772.

Chain Moray Eel at The Divi Flamingo

DCIM101GOPROG2253948.

Reef Octopus with dinner at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM101GOPROG2334016.

Sharptail Eel at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM101GOPROG2904350.

Planehead Filefish? at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM102GOPROG3354571.

Spotfin Butterflyfish at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM102GOPROG3394593.

School of Palometas at Tori’s Reef

DCIM102GOPROG3544684.

Juvenile Cocoa Damselfish at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM100GOPROG1153390.    Juvenile Sargeant Majors at the Divi Flamingo. These guys are less than an inch long.

DCIM100GOPROG0372837.                                                  Spotted Filefish at Klein Bonaire
DCIM101GOPROG1953788.

Scrawled Filefish at Divi Flamingo

DCIM101GOPROG2794261.

Black Durgeon  (above) and Black Margate (below) At Wayaka II

DCIM102GOPROG3664751.

Male Hairy Blenny at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM102GOPROG3744796.

School of Goatfish at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM102GOPROG4265035.

Reef octopus at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM102GOPROG4385113.

Spanish Hogfish at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM102GOPROG4585229.

Puddingwife, note the fins of a Scorpionfish right below, at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM102GOPROG4465175.

Planehead Filfish? at the Divi Flamingo

DCIM102GOPROG3414604.

This one is stumping me, even though I know it. My book is not being any help.  

DCIM101GOPROGOPR4314.
Your humble author enjoying a great Bonairian view. I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief photo journey of the beautiful waters off the gorgeous island nation of Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bonaire 2016 Week 1

The Travel Lion Spends Two Weeks In Bonaire: Week 1

 

It’s been over a week since we’ve gotten back, and normally by now, I’d have written about half of the first week’s blog and would have combed through and readied 30-50 pictures for possible insertion into it. But my plans had a wrench thrown into them last Sunday evening, the night before Halloween. I accidentally deleted the entire first week of videos and pictures. 45G of great pictures and video of all the things we’d seen in our first week. Freaking out gave way to panic, gave way to acceptance, then resolution that in this day and age, something must be able to be done to recover the files. After using a free, highly recommended program called Recuva, I was able to recover 40 % of my pictures, and 60% of my videos, though there may yet still be an issue with those. There were three things I desperately wanted pictures of from that first week, and luckily, I did recover nice images of all three. Any videos will need to wait on my impending computer upgrade, as my current machine can’t handle the power needed for video editing.

 

Saturday 10/15/16

So with that over with there was an uneventful trip from Boston to Atlanta, an overnight stay there, and another 4 hour flight, before we’re touching down on our favorite island, Bonaire. Normally we don’t pick up our rental car until Sunday, but we decide to get it today, and head off to the Van De Tweel grocery store for supplies for the week. Our room at the Divi Flamingo includes a kitchen, so we usually do breakfasts, lunches, and the occasional dinner in.

 

We get lucky and score some of our favorite Wine Gums, the house brand, and plenty of the Wilhemina Peppermints for us and for gifts. We stock up on fruit juices to enjoy with our duty free rum, and a case of Amstel Bright. The Dutch love their luncheon meat, and the deli area is well stocked with hams, salamis, and chorizos. A few other staples, and, of course, some weird Dutch Lays chips, and we head back to home base. Parking is tighter since the Divi has blocked off the Casino lot for use only when the casino is open, and we have to park on the street, far from the entrance. A nice woman tells us to cut through the employee entrance, which saves us some precious steps, sweating while hauling groceries and beer in the Bonarian heat.

 

After unpacking the groceries, we get ready to get into the water, and do what we love to do here, which is snorkel, looking for as much diversity of sea life as possible. Almost every day, we snorkel the home reef in front of the Divi, known as Calabas reef. We’ll drift over the beginnings of the deeper reef that the divers visit, about 25-30 feet (7-9 m)of water, but most of our time is spent in depths of 8 feet (2.5 m)or less, sometimes as shallow as 2 feet (0.6 m). We mainly patrol an 800-1000 foot (250-300 m) or so area, stretching from just past the dive dock on the North side of the Divi property, to the dock where the Woodwind docks to pick up and let off passengers, just past the South side of the property. In the center, there is a large concrete slab, built on rocks. The slab provides the sun worshippers, or bronzers, as we were calling them, a place to have a beach chair and sit, lounge, and tan. The rocks that support it also supports a huge variety of fish and other sea life.

 

On our first pass of the end of the pier, and rocks, we spy a nice 5 foot (1.5m) tarpon cruise past us on our right. I turn on the camera, but expect to only get footage of him as he swims away. He fools us both, however, as he circles back, and passes us on our left.  I have the GoPro set to take video, and also pull a still frame every 5 seconds. This hopefully will mean less of the onerous task of finding still frames on the videos that are good, and pulling them from the video. This picture is the first of the three pictures that were most important to me.

Tarpon at the Divi Flamingo

Tarpon at the Divi Flamingo

Bar Jack

Bar Jack

Porcupine fish or Puffer

Porcupine fish or Puffer

We see the usual assortment of parrot fish, tangs, French Angelfish, Scrawled File Fish, Smooth Trunkfish, Honeycomb Cowfish, and the multitude of small colorful fish that dart among the small rocks and broken up coral that forms most of the bottom. It is this amazing variety of life that one sees in such shallow water that always brings us back to Bonaire. That, coupled with the fact that there are many other places besides this that one can drive, pull over, get in the water and see other phenomenal sights and sea creatures.  We see an octopus in the same den we’ve seen them before. Hopefully we’ll catch him out hunting one day.

Juvenile French Angelfish

Juvenile French Angelfish

Spotted File Fish @ the Divi

Spotted File Fish @ the Divi

The first snorkel is deemed a success, especially with the tarpon being so close, and we have a couple Brights while we ready to go out to dinner. Without reservations for the night, we wander into town, and stop at La Guernica, a tapas place that we’ve eaten at, and enjoyed before. The food tonight, however isn’t nearly as good as on previous trips, and we decide to drop this place from our rotation.  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t the same quality or experience we’d had on two previous visits. This disappointment is allayed by a trip to Gio’s, the wonderful gelato shop.

 

Sunday 10/16/17

 

After breakfast we head out to do the home reef again, this time venturing a bit further south to the dock of Sebastian’s restaurant, where sometimes the remnants of tonight’s fish special have been tossed for the fish to devour. No such luck today, but we do see all of our usual friends. It seems we’re seeing more Scrawled File Fishes, and less Spotted Files, as well as seeing far more Porcupine Fish, or puffers as we like to call them.

Puffer and Smooth Trunkfish

Puffer and Smooth Trunkfish

 

After lunch, we hit the home reef again. When we get out to where we know the octopus lives, we find him in his den. It is quite normal for me to put the camera, which is mounted at a 90 degree angle on the end of a four foot stick, close to the entrance of the den, in order to get nice pictures of the tentacles and eye. In this case, however, the octopus didn’t just sit there, or retreat into his den, as they’ve always done before. Two tentacles shot out, grabbed my GoPro, and pulled it in as far as it would go, yanking my arm forward, where the cord was attached at the wrist. I pulled back with that hand, getting very little back, and getting yanked by my arm once more. In order to get some purchase, I placed one foot on each of the rocks that surrounded his den, grabbed the stick with both hands, and firmly pulled. It was a tug of war, but finally I felt him let go, and the camera came free. Luckily he didn’t mange to open the waterproof case of the camera, which would have ruined it. The camera, which was wrenched tight at that 90 degree angle, now was 180 degrees straight away from the stick. Wow, it was amazing to see just how much power that small animal could generate.

Before the grabbing.

Before the grabbing.

 

Dinner tonight was at Mezze, a new Middle Eastern restaurant that occupies the old home of the awful, and not at all missed Four Seasons restaurant. This new mezze (small plates) restaurant also has entrees. We opt for a bunch of mezze including excellent meaty hummus, sajuk sausage, tabouli, stuffed grape leaves, and a few other items.. Everything except one item is phenomenal, including the date and chocolate dessert. We decide we’ll come back next week, and try some entrees as well.

 

Monday 10/17/16

 

It’s K’s birthday today, and so I give her the reins as to how we’re going to spend our day.  The first order of duty is to get K some new slip on fins. The pair she owns has very stiff hard plastic fins, and she’s looking for something more flexible. When you enter the water directly from the shore in Bonaire, you need a hard soled dive boot, and fins that a boot will fit into and snap around the back of your heel. When we snorkel the home reef, or on the Woodwind, K prefers a fin that you wear directly on your foot, with no shoe needed. We find her a nice light purple pair.

 

That mission accomplished we set out along the long drive along the northern shore past such dive sites as 1000 Steps and Karpata. We stop and look at 1000 Steps, but the sea is a bit rough, and we decide to pass on snorkeling it. It’s K’s favorite type of snorkeling, being 25 feet (7.5 m) or more over the bottom peering down. I much prefer water that’s less than 15 feet (4.5 m) deep, so I can see things better, and be able to film them.  We do see a small turtle in the shallows swimming back and forth. We drive along until we get to Karpata. K has a sheet from a magazine that says that this is a great snorkel site, but she recognizes it as we arrive, and all she can remember was rolling around on that flat rock, trying to put on her fins. Nope, we’ll just look here as well. We reach the road’s end after Karpata, and normally, we would take the right towards Rincon. Today, instead, for the first time we go left to the Goto driving trail. This is a nice road that continues along the coastline towards the oil refinery, then right into the mountains, and around Goto Lake, where hundreds of flamingos reside, dotting the landscape like tufts of pink cotton. We continue on through the town of Rincon, and drive out near the airport to Windsock for our first snorkel. The visibility is sorely lacking at much of Windsock, but the area to the right of the pier is better, so we spend some time there. Mostly we snorkel over the deep reef, watching a tarpon cruise back and forth below us.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0919.

1000 Steps from the top of the stairs

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0958.

Flamingo on the shore of Lake Goto

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0947.

Lake Goto with flamingos

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0933.

The driving trail

 

We head back to the Divi, have lunch, and do another snorkel of the home reef. Notable sightings include a Webb Burr Fish and a Lionfish under the Divi dive dock. Lionfish are an invasive species, and Bonaire is on the forefront of both trying to eradicate them, and spreading the word of how good they taste. Eat them to beat them!  We get separated and K doesn’t get to see the beautiful Gold Spot Eel that I do. Their head and body look like a Sharptail Eel, but they have these beautiful gold spots. We find an octopus sort of out of his den, sucking a snail out of it’s shell. Anyway, we finish up in the water, get ready for dinner, and head over to Sebastian’s for K’s birthday dinner. The food is excellent as it was last year, but last year they didn’t know how to make a drink that was on the menu, this year, they ran out of limes, so I could only have one caipirinha. I am somehow alcoholically thwarted each time I eat at this place! Almost every night we take a walk in the dark around the dive dock. It’s well lit, and you can see the needlefish swim along the surface. Tonight, however was really special, as a small Eagle Ray came up from the depths, broke the surface and swam back down. We never saw it again, but we made sure we did that walk every night after that!

Octopus eating a snail

Octopus eating a snail

Webb Burr Fish

Webb Burr Fish

Gold Spotted Eel

Gold Spotted Eel

Puffer

Puffer

Tuesday 10/18/16

 

K starts to feel like she has a cold coming on. She does, and it persists throughout both weeks. The less said of it, the better. Today is our first trip on the Woodwind, and we are both very excited. Always a highlight of every trip I’ve taken to Bonaire, the Woodwind is a catamaran sailing ship that is owned and operated by Dee, an amazing woman who’s passion for her work is evident. We will be doing a three stop snorkel trip, and because two of Dee’s crew have called in with the flu this morning, it’s up to her, Captain Ciggy, and Alejandro, the professional underwater photographer, to keep an eye on the 18 people or so that are on the trip today. Luckily Dee knows us, and she knows she doesn’t have to worry about us. The Dutch girl next to me (the family doesn’t speak any English), has a bull’s-eye rash on her leg. I hope they’re going to have that looked at.

622

The Woodwind at the dock, ready to board!

623

The Woodwind’s sails

The first stop on the trip is on the southern end of the island where the reef is deeper. It’s nice to see how all the coral and sponges are in such better shape here, than on the mainland. K and I spot a turtle in the depths, we follow for a while, we’re in the back, and no one else saw it but us.  The second stop is my favorite, as it’s over a very shallow reef, 4-8 feet (1.5-3 m) deep, and you can really see the coral and sponges up close and personal. You do have to be careful to not kick anything with your fins, but if you just lie flat, you never have an issue with that. Dee swims towards some squid, so that they scoot right under us as they evade her.  We see another turtle here, but he’s in the real shallows, where you’d certainly damage something if you swam into them.

Squid at Klein Bonaire

Squid at Klein Bonaire

Butterfly fish

Spotfin Butterfly fish

At the third stop, I’m parallel with Dee when I look down and see a yellow glob on a coral. I think Frogfish at first, but as I’ve only seen them in aquariums and photos, I’m not 100% sure. Dee free dives down to it, and makes circles in the water to indicate where to look. When she gets to the surface she tells us that it is, indeed a Frogfish. Well he’s about 20 feet (6 m) down, and while I’ve free dove that deep with the right type of fins, I’ve not been able to go that deep with my regular ones. I wasn’t planning to, but as I see Alejandro snapping off shots, I know I’ll need to buy his pictures for the Frogfish picture alone. He takes great photos of both the sea life, and the people on the tour, out of the water and in. I’d prefer more sea life, less snorkelers, but many people really want pictures of themselves. We also see some more turtles in both the deeps and the shallows.

 

Yellow Frogfish at Klein Bonaire Photo by Aljandro

Yellow Frogfish at Klein Bonaire Photo by Aljandro Guttierrez  www.athoyo.com

Green Turtle off Klein Bonaire

Green Turtle off Klein Bonaire

Green Turtle off Klein Bonaire

Green Turtle off Klein Bonaire

We also find a fully grown female Hawksbill turtle who is just resting on the bottom. Most of the turtles we see in Bonaire are adolescent and are not born there, but come from other places in the Caribbean and Atlantic. This adult female was born here, and has come to lay her eggs. The nesting season ends in January, but it’s winding down already. Alejandro also gets a nice shot of her, so I don’t have to rely on my poorer shot.  We have the traditional Chinese food and dessert that Dee serves for the trip back from Klein Bonaire, and we’re happy, another perfect trip on the Woodwind.  We head back, go to the store to get a few more things we’ve decided we need, and relax on the porch of the room, drinking Brights, watching the sunset, and having dinner in.

Adult female Hawksbill Klein Bonaire photo by Alejandro

Adult female Hawksbill Klein Bonaire photo by Alejandro Guttierrez  www.athoyo.com

Wednesday 10/19/16

 

A vicious overnight thunderstorm rips through, causing one of the two sets of stairs on the dive dock to break away from the dock itself. There is also a wind reversal which brings in high winds aloft, high surf, and rain. The seas were far too rough to snorkel comfortably, and the sediments on the bottom would be so stirred up that the visibility would be bad anyway. We decide to drive around the island, taking in the nice road that leads south towards Lac Cai, back through the central road, and out of town towards Rincon on the roads we normally travel back from Rincon on. We are going this way, as the Bonaire Cultural Center in Rincon is on this side of the road. We decide that since we’ve always wanted to stop there, the weather isn’t conducive to snorkeling, and we have the time, to check it out.

666

The stairs have come loose from the dive dock!

 

The center is housed in the second oldest building on Bonaire. It contains several excellent and informative exhibits about the indigenous people, the slave trade, the local land animals, bats, and birds, and the tools that the Bonarian people would use for their basic living needs. I bought a CD of traditional Bonarian music, and we drove over to Windsock near the airport, as the Cactus Blue food truck was there, and they were advertising that they had Lion Fish sandwiches. We stopped and shared a Lion Fish sandwich, and a Kite Burger, fending off two aggressive iguanas, who obviously get fed here a lot. This behavior is exactly why I’m not in favor of feeding wild animals. They get aggressive towards people who do not feed them. Lunch was excellent, even with our reptilian interlopers.

660

Cactus fence outside the Bonaire Cultural Cenetr

 

 

647

One of the many exhibits at the Bonaire Cultural Center

661

Cactus Blue Food Truck

659

Donkeys on the road to Lac Cai

662

Iguanas want your lion fish burger!

We headed back home to hang out at the pool until dinner. We call Pasa Bon Pizza for a pizza, the owner hails from New York and makes an excellent pie, but they weren’t picking up the phone, so either they were closed when they were supposed to be open (island time), or they were slammed and stopped answering their phone. In either case, it was their loss, and we had dinner in.

 

Thursday 10/20/16

 

This morning after breakfast we head out to snorkel at the Eden Beach Resort. One of the best things about Bonaire is that since the marine environment is a national park system, the resorts can’t stop you from entering the water and snorkeling in front of their property. You can’t use their docks or beach chairs, but they can’t keep you out of the water. We love Eden Beach, as this is where, in previous years, we’ve found some Yellow Headed Jawfish living in the shallows. We start swimming, however, and it’s pretty obvious fairly quickly that either Hurricane Matthew, which skirted by a week before our arrival, or the previous night’s storms had driven a huge amount of loose coral over what was once a mainly sandy bottom with some small rocks and broken coral. We searched for a while in the area the Jawfish had once been, but to no avail. We swam down towards the resort, where they have rock piles that they’ve been trying to grow coral on. It’s a success for all the fish that swim about them, but there’s far less coral on them now than there was even two years ago. We do spy a large Spotted Drum Fish in the rocks.

Spotted Drum Fish

Spotted Drum Fish

French Angelfish Tango

French Angelfish Tango

We continue to snorkel back towards where we went in, and I noticed that K wasn’t near me, I looked back and found her floating over something, with her arms crossed, a sure sign she’s found something cool. She looks up and sees me coming towards her,  and starts to gesture for me to come closer. As I approach, she points down, and I see something I’d never thought I’d see in 8 feet (2.5m) of water, a Queen Angelfish. These magnificent fish, are K’s favorite, and we generally see them in 25-30 feet (7.5-9m) of water, where you can’t photograph them unless you’re diving.  Here was a full grown specimen, close to a foot (0.3m) long, just swimming around and underneath a rock ledge. This picture is the second of the three that I really wanted to recover. The two videos I shot of this fish are also really important to me. I still don’t know yet if I recovered those or not. As we were leaving the water at Eden Beach, two Honeycomb Cowfish, usually very shy, were staying quite close to us, with one showing off his blue hue, and the other the dark greenish color they usually show. We stop at the beach bar for a few Brights, and the young woman bartender gives us 2 Bonaire Regatta Koozies that fit Brights perfectly. We thank her, and use them for the rest of the trip. Great karma at Eden Beach.

Queen Angelfish in the shallows at Eden Beach

Queen Angelfish in the shallows at Eden Beach

Honeycomb Cowfish in regular and blue variations

Honeycomb Cowfish in regular and blue variations

Peacock Flounder

Peacock Flounder

Blue Honeycomb Cowfish

Blue Honeycomb Cowfish

We head back to the Divi for a quick snorkel out front, but the visibility is still pretty bad from last night’s storm, so we head in and get ready to go to dinner at one of our favorite places, Donna & Giorgio’s Italian restaurant. As usual, I get their amazing lasagna, and K gets a mind blowingly good marinated pork skewer over risotto. A large group of  obnoxious American divers spoils the evening a bit, with their loud conversation and sense of entitlement, (five checks for six people, really?) but nothing will spoil our memory of seeing that Queen Angel, and we toddle off after dinner to try the new ice cream/gelato place, Luciano. It’s tasty, but Gio’s has nothing to worry about.

Sand Diver at the Divi

Sand Diver at the Divi

Spotted Moray

Spotted Moray

Pink Tipped Anemone

Pink Tipped Anemone

Mature French Angelfish

Mature French Angelfish

Friday 10/21/16

We eat our usual breakfast, coffee, scrambled eggs with chopped onion pepper and chorizo and cheese. Toast, fruit juice and sometimes fruit. I want to go to a place called Yellow Submarine, which is at the end of a long road that eventually comes right through the downtown with businesses on the left, and the ocean on the right as you head south. There is a lot of small boat traffic, but most of them have left already by the time we arrive, park and get in. There are a lot of ledges in this area, and normally there are a lot of eels, one of my favorite things to see and photograph.

 

Immediately as we enter the water we see two tarpon swimming nearby. We have already seen more tarpon on this trip than on any trip we have been on before. They circle around, check us out, then take off, then repeat. It’s fascinating behavior.  The storms have forced a lot of broken corals into the ledge areas here as well, and there are fewer eels and fish under them, as there is less space. We still see some eels, especially this one nice big Spotted Moray. Nearly as big as they get at about 2.5-3 feet (0.75-0.9 m) , he almost posed for the camera. I hope I recover some of the video from this encounter, and while it’s my least favorite of the three pictures that I really wanted to make sure I recovered, I’m still glad I have at least one decent one. I show K a baby trunk fish that I’ve found. They look like a small polka dotted ball with tiny fins. The picture is blurry, but I had to include it anyway. It’s probably only half an inch (1.2cm) in diameter. As we leave we see this tree that has dozens of flip flops, Crocs, and other footwear hanging from a tree. We head back home, drop off the car and gear, and head into town to do some shopping.

Tarpon at Yellow Submarine

Tarpon at Yellow Submarine

 

Big Spotted Moray Eel at Yellow Submarine

Big Spotted Moray Eel at Yellow Submarine

 get name of fish

Striped Mullet

DCIM101GOPROGOPR2127.

Flip Flop tree near Yellow Submarine

DCIM101GOPROGOPR1805.

Your author enjoys his Amstel Bright at an Eden Beach bar

Shopping completed, we have some lunch and relax a bit, as we’re going to do a night snorkel tonight before dinner. After a short nap, we arise just before sunset to do our night snorkel. K likes to do these only at the Divi, as we’re so familiar with the territory. We mainly stay around the stone pier and the southern side of them to the Woodwind dock. The most fascinating thing about night snorkeling is the sheer difference in the kind of fish one sees vs. the day time. The Spiny Lobsters that hide among the rocks all day also come out, seemingly everywhere along the rocks of the pier. While the sun was just setting we see a Sharptail Eel hunting in the rocks. You often see these during the daytime as well, and the ones we see are usually about 18 inches (45 cm) long.  Many times you see daytime fishes just hanging under a rock ledge, sleeping. We do a few passes, and it’s pitch dark in the water. We get out and get ready for dinner.  As we leave we pass by a number of street parties, a curious custom on Bonaire. Nearly every night, but especially prevalent on Friday and Saturday evenings are these street parties, gatherings of 4-20 people with barbeques, food, drinks, music, and laughter. It’s always nice to see and hear.

DCIM101GOPROGOPR2160.

Sunset from the water

Tonight we’ve decided to try a island institution for the first time, Watta Burger. Our first trip to Bonaire was in 2009. This blog chronicles our 6th trip there. Watta Burger is one of a number of restaurants that have been here since we’ve been coming, but there is a healthy turn over of places. Watta Burger serves a serviceable burger, with excellent fries, beer, and I much enjoyed my Dutch snack, Bitterballen. Though not to K’s taste, I love the Bitterballen. Basically a thick roux or gravy made with sausage, made into a ball then breaded and deep fried. It’s crispy on the outside, and thick savory sausage meaty gravy within. You dredge them in mustard. K looks at me in disgust. It’s a texture thing for her. I love them!  We stop at Gio’s for dessert. Blood Orange! We walk back home and walk down to dive dock. As we leave we pass the casino, and when the doors open, you smell that distinctive casino smell. A mixture of cigarette smoke and desperation.

 

Thus ends week one. I will continue this soon with week two.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bonaire 2015 GoPro Pictures

Having finally figured out how to take still images from my GoPro video footage, I can finally show pictures of some stuff that I only had video for, and can show higher quality stills than my other camera can usually take. I hope you enjoy them.

gofix4

Tarpon near Divi

gofix5

Green Moray at Lac Bay

gofix8

Six foot barracuda at Windsock

gofix11

Arrow Crab @ Divi

gofix12gofix14

Two shots of a Rock Beauty @ Tori’s Reef

gofix20

Golden Chain Moray @ Divi

gofix23

Trumpet Fish @ Divi

gofix1gofix16gofix18

Three shots of Yellowheaded Jawfish @ Eden Beach

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bonaire October 2015 Video #2

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bonaire October 2015 Video #1

Here is a Youtube link for the first in a series of short videos that I will be posting from footage I shot with my GoPro in Bonaire in October 2015. I have attempted to do some narration. You may have to turn the sound up to hear it well. I am working on that issue.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment