Tag: kayaking

By the bay

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008 | All Things, Travel

Papaya and gecko:

We rented a pair of kayaks from Kona Boys, stacking and strapping them onto the roof of the car for the 6-mile drive to Napo‘opo‘o Beach for our afternoon excursion into Kealakekua Bay. The Marine Life Conservation District is home to one of Hawaii’s most spectacular coral reefs and marks the site of English explorer Captain James Cook‘s first landing in Hawaii in late 1778.

With a little assistance, we set off from a concrete pier into the water surrounded by sheer cliffs. The mile-wide expanse is one of the most protected bays in the Hawaiian islands, with little current and few swells which made for relatively smooth kayaking.

Our guide at the rental shop had told us in advance to expect spinner dolphins in the bay. (Had he not, the first sighting of that swarm of fins circling our kayaks would have been a much more disconcerting experience.) Even so, we did not expect to see quite so many of the friendly creatures — several pods, nearly two dozen dolphins in all — leaping and spinning in the air as if for our entertainment. Amazing and delightful!

No photos of our near one-hour crossing, unfortunately: my camera was packed away deep in the dry bag, which in the end was a good thing as the rough surf at the ancient canoe landing at Ka‘awaloa made debarking the kayak a much trickier affair than embarking. Let’s just say that I became much better acquainted with these rocks than I would have liked.

At the north end of the bay, the well-developed reef slopes steeply from the shore to a depth of over 100 feet of pristine water, clear as glass, from which we spied jewel-like coral, myriad colorful fish, sea urchin the size of our heads, and even a squid or two. The best snorkeling of the trip.

When Captain Cook first arrived on the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), he was revered as a god — some natives may have believed him to be a returning form of Lono, the Hawaiian God of peace, agriculture and prosperity — but his subsequent visit in 1779 met with much less favor: a 27-foot white obelisk marks the spot where Cook was killed by Hawaiians on February 14, 1779.

So caught up were we with the marine life that we happily missed the deadline to return the kayaks that evening, opting instead to carry them along to our dinner at the gorgeous Four Seasons Resort Hualalai later that night.

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