A few people asked to expand on the full (long) day trip. We started at 8:00 am from Kohala, kayaked and snorkeled in the morning, ate at Super J's, went to the Pu'uhonua o Honaunau in the afternoon, then to Kalama's and Greenwell Farms, and returned around 7pm.
Morning Outing--Kayaking across Kealakekua Bay to the Captain Cook Monument
Kealakekua Bay is a very calm, very, very, VERY clear bay. It is where Captain James Cook became the first European to make landfall in Hawaii in January of 1778. There is a monument on a patch of land still officially owned by the British that marks where Capt. Cook landed, and another plaque where he "met his death" in 1779.
It is about a 1 mile kayak across the bay. Best to go in the morning, when the wind is down and the dolphins hang out. Here are some things to consider. And no, you can't 'just drive' there.
1) Use a licensed kayak organization. These businesses pay their taxes, keep records and take care to keep the Bay clean. Reward the good.
2) Get a landing permit. It's free and allows you to land your kayak legally on Captain Cook's monument. Not required, but in the interest of keeping the place clean and prevent over-crowding, again, do the right thing. On the smiting hand of the law side, if a park ranger asks for your landing permit and you don't have one, you're looking at a stiff fine.
3) Use the facilities at the dock before you go out, and don't litter. There are no facilities on the monument. It is generally considered Very, Very Bad Form to use the ocean as your restroom. Think about this--do you go fishing in your commode?
4) Snorkel away! It's some of the clearest, calmest water you will ever find. Kayaking gives you a lot more time flexibility, versus the boat ride to Molokini on Maui, and there are far fewer people than Hanauma Bay on O'ahu.
This was once a residence for Hawaiian chiefs as well as a "City of Refuge." In ancient Hawaiian society, if you had broken kapu (law) but managed to make it to Pu'honua, after being chased, through the surf, reef and very sharp lava rocks, you were granted asylum.
Some of the walls and stonework date back to around 1550. When you go to Pu'u honua, or any native Hawaii site, be respectful. Think of it like visiting a church. The self-guided walking tour takes about an hour. The park rangers are very knowledgeable and it was interesting to listen to their talks.
1) If you are up for more snorkeling, there is a good spot just outside Pu'honua on the right, but it's best not to launch from the park. Go around instead.
2) Get a brochure and take the walking tour. Stay on the path and make sure you have sturdy shoes or thick slippers because some of the rocks are quite sharp.
3) Don't take anything from the site (like rocks). Get souvenirs from the gift shop instead.
So that was Day 1 on the Big Island. A great beginning to our vacation!