For our next stop, we swung around to the other side of the Big Island to Kona. One thing I forgot to mention is that the prior evening was to include a sail-by of Kilauea to see the lava flowing into the ocean. However, other than a brief ocean entry in December, no lava has been flowing into the ocean for months.
Kona is well-known for two things – snorkeling and coffee. We were all over both of those.
First up was our snorkeling excursion. Kona is a tender port, meaning the ship anchors in the ocean and you ride in the lifeboats to the shore. Since we had booked the excursion through NCL, we got priority tendering. Otherwise, you would have to wait for tender tickets to find out when you can get to the shore. Or you could book a suite and get priority tendering, but we are not made of money. Yet.
The company doing the excursion was Body Glove, which you may have heard of before. It wasn’t an overly warm day, but the weather was beautiful. I confess, with just having learned to swim last year, I was a bit apprehensive about this whole thing, but I was looking forward to it. Our tour guides gave us the basics on the gear we would be using, which was very helpful. They also told us what is NOT the universal signal for “Honey, honey, bring the camera! There’s a sea turtle!” (waving one’s arms about like crazy) That will just get you towed to the boat and mouth to mouth whether you want it or not. :)
After about a 45-minute ride, we were at our spot. Now, I had done a bit of research on snorkeling, and I thought it would be in shallowish water. They told us we would be in 30 ft. water. What?! I successfully diverted a panic attack. As it turns out, there was no need for concern on my part because as I may have mentioned, I am buoyant as all get-out. Fat floats. With the floaty noodle they made sure everyone took and the salty sea water, I could barely stay on my stomach to look at the fish. My body kept trying to flip over. The only problem was that I just had a disposable underwater camera to take pictures, which required focusing through the viewfinder. If you read the previous day’s post, you already know what effect that has on me. I had even taken ginger before the trip. Still, bobbing on the ocean like a cork while concentrating on the tiny viewfinder made me a bit woozy. It was still a really neat experience.
The other thing I should mention is despite being near the equator, the water was not warm. They said it was about 76 degrees, which was still warmer than the ’82 degree’ swimming pool in Maine. (those Mainers are just hard-core; that’s all there is to that). But it was chilly. I was starting to get cold, plus the slight wooziness, so we started to make our way back to the boat.
Just then I saw it. They had told us what the universal “Honey, honey, bring the camera! There’s a sea turtle!” sign wasn’t, but they hadn’t told us what it was. Fortunately, I was able to get Ramblin’s attention without attracting a full-fledged rescue, and he was able to get video footage. (You’ll have to watch the whole thing to get to the sea turtle.)
Soon, we were heading back to the shore. We changed out of our bathing suits and prepared to wander Kona. The other ports were all very industrial and didn’t have much to see within easy walking distance. Since this doesn’t have the capacity for ships, there’s more shopping opportunities. First, we found a farmer’s market and got some delicious strawberries and pineapple. (no pictures – burp) Then we started hitting the coffee places. Coffee is becoming big in Hawaii, mainly Kauai and Kona. The difference is Kauai mainly uses mechanical harvesting where Kona’s harvesting is entirely by hand. The result is they can grade their coffee beans and give the customer some unique options. We got some Rainbow Roast from Cherry Hill Coffee, Extra Fancy from Country Samurai, and Peaberry from Kona Brothers. Only 4% of the coffee harvest in Kona will grade Peaberry.
Yeah, you can imagine the price on it. However, we got 1/2 a pound, and I can honestly say it is the smoothest coffee I have ever had the pleasure to sip. We also had time to partake of Scandianvian Shaved Ice. How is that any different from Hawaiian Shaved Ice? Quantity. This is a small.
It is the size of a softball. Medium is the size of a volleyball. Large, requiring an entire 10-pound block of ice, is the size of a basketball.
Since I was so woozy on the snorkel trip, I opted not to try any of the delicious-smelling lunch they provided. Seeing as how even a softball-sized shaved ice will not sustain you for long, we dined at the Cadillac Diner once we were back on the ship. It’s one of the free dining venues on the ship. Their fish and chips were quite tasty.
We’re not much on the activities on the ship, but that day we were actually back in time for me to take part in a ribbon lei class. I was the first one finished. Must have something to do with my mad knitting skillz.
And yet another evening of lounging and relaxing.