Honokohau Harbor, just 4 miles north of the well known Kailua-Kona, is a nice respite. Blasted out of solid rock, it is known as the safest place on the Big Island in heavy weather and also has the only haul out facility. Though created for commercial and fishing boats and lacking cruising amenities (no power hook up or showers and no permanent living aboard), it is wonderful that we can be here living aboard legally for 90-days per calendar year for super cheap (though we don’t yet know the exact price as they’re in a transition to an online system).
Our first day here we wandered around familiarizing ourselves with the immediate area. We asked lots of questions of Daniel, the DLNR Honokohau Harbor Master (it is not completely clear about regulations in certain areas, and everyone we talk seems to provide conflicting information, i.e. anchoring in Kawaihae…), the DAR (Department of Aquatic Resources), and Gentry Marine regarding hauling out and dry storage possibilities (there are currently 2 spaces available for a 33-ft boat). In search of a booklet the DLNR mentioned providing coordinates and information regarding the 175 free day use moorings around the islands (installed to reduce destruction of fragile coral) we found the marine hardware store and a surf shop that told us about a surf break within walking distance.
We meandered toward the surf break and stumbled into the Kaloko-Honokohau National Park (one of 3 on this side of the island). This park preserves the costal sections of two traditional ahupua’s (land divisions), each with sufficient resources to support its historical residents. Originally each division ran from the forested upper slopes of the volcano down through the lava flats all the way into the ocean and included ingeniously engineered fish traps, fish ponds, raised beds for crops and hand dug or natural anchialine ponds for drinking water. We walked a long loop starting at a beach just north of the harbor breakwall that had innumerable huge green sea turtles feeding placidly at the edge of the water then continued on along the coast past the surf break and finally to the recently restored Kaloko fishpond. The wall that separates the ocean and brackish water pond is amazing and the artistic masonry work, without the aid of cement, was described as “listening to where the rock wants to be”. From here we headed inland and walked a restored portion of The Kings Highway to the Visitor’s Center. We continued onward to close the loop home and stumbled on a boardwalk with a self tour booklet describing a multitude of enchanting petroglyphs and made it back to the beach we started from in time to watch the sunset over the turtles.
(Can you see the two figures in the left picture?)
Originally, we had planned to spend a few days in this area by taking a mooring in Kona Bay, but have been told they are all now privately owned and the DLNR manager of that bay to ask about availability is on vacation until next week. On the upside, Daniel told us we are indeed allowed to anchor there and not required to take a mooring as we had thought. So, our second day we decided to find our way into Kona to scope out the scene (although there is no bus here, we’ve found it relatively easy to hitch a ride from here into town and a bit more difficult to find a ride back). Kona feels a bit bigger than Hilo and in our wanders we found several grocery options (including our preferred KTA with good poke selection) and made our way to the pier, off which we plan to anchor. The cruise ship that is in port in Hilo on Tuesdays apparently makes it way to anchor off Kona on Wednesdays, which it happened to be, and the pier and waterfront were filled with tourists so we wonder what it looks like the rest of the week. Since we were in town, we searched out Bikram Yoga Kona, the only Bikram studio on the Big Island and took a 5pm class, our first in 8 months! It felt incredible; both of us have been missing exercise aboard and we are searching for a way to practice more yoga in this cruising mode. One of our (or at least Shawn’s) goals during our exploration of the Hawaiian Islands is to visit as many Bikram studios as possible from the boat. We hope to take at least one class from each of the 3 Bikram yoga teachers at the Kona studio over the next few days and Shawn is excited to guest teach.
Another small world story (the last being after having just met another young cruiser, Brian, in Hilo also recently sailed to the islands from mainland, we were pointed to look for “Brian of Kainani Sails” by Chris' grandmother who happens to live on the same floor as Brian's grandmother in Oahu. Turns out Brian and his father were also the contractors that constructed the addition on Chris' sister's house in Oregon a couple years back). Anyway, a couple days ago a guy walking by our boat stopped to chat. After a few moments we determined that he owned one of the sailboats we had seen while anchored in Puako and after a few more we realized he was basically family. We had been told to look for him by river guide friend Ariana's mom who had a close friend that had been cruising in Hawaii for over 25 years... We spent a nice couple hours of chatting with Michael during which we learned a lot about cruising around the islands and were then surrounded by the glow of “small world encounters” for the rest of the day.
Our current plan is to enjoy the mellow Honokohau, yoga, turtles, and maybe even some surf while we're here and then make the short hop out to the Kona anchorage to poise for another push south along this beautiful coast. Although it is warm, some days the clouds blanket the sky here most of each day and our solar system does not quite keep up, but luckily others the sun blazes through all day long and our battery banks fill up early. We look forward to resupplying with a few jerry cans of diesel, another load of fresh food and getting back out onto the hook again soon.