2023 Mar 31 | Big Island of Hawaii - Kona snorkeling, manta ray night snorkel

Normally we don't pay for flight upgrades, but since you can't pick your seats on Southwest, we paid extra to be Business Select to be in the first group of people. That way we could ensure we got good window seats to get pictures coming to the island.

Not only did we get in the first group, we got the first two spots.

Ogii at the front of the line.

However, the ticket agent make Ogii combine her three bags into two; she counted Ogii's small purse as a bag, so we had to stand aside while this family went first while Ogii stuffed her purse in her backpack. So we weren't actually the first ones on the plane.

It actually worked out better, though, because we probably would have sat in the very first seats, and those not only have no seats in front of them to put your bag under, the first few overhead bins are full of the crew or emergency stuff, so there's absolutely no where to put your bags in the first seats. We were just a couple rows back and had seats in front of us and also overhead bin space.

Ogii busy taking pictures while everyone else sleeps.

Me busy taking pictures while the guy beside me watches a movie.

San Francisco from San Jose.

The Golden Gate Bridge.

A container ship.

Ogii watching a movie on her phone.

Flying over the northern coast of Maui.

The Haleakala volcano runs down southeast corner of the island.

The observatory at the top.

A closer view.

I like how the clouds roll down both sides of the volcano.

The southern coast.

You can see the islands of Kahoolawe to the left, Lanai in the middle, and even Molokai far in the back-right.

The coast of the Big Island.

Plane shadow and boat.

An abrubt divide between lush golf course and, well, nothing.

The airport is kind of in the middle of nowhere.

You have to fill out these forms every time you fly in to Hawaii, and new visitors always miss the "NONE OF THE ABOVE" checkbox at the bottom. Last time I missed it and the flight attendant gave me the form back to check it. I didn't remember exactly where it was, but I knew it was there, so after searching a bit, I found it.

And we're in Hawaii!

Looking back toward the plane.

First stop is the gift shop for fresh leis.

Normally they're in the shop; these were in a fridge outside of it, semi-hidden behind some boxes.

Nothing is going to stop us from getting our leis, though.

Good thing we got them there, too; this flower shop past security is closed.

Welcome to Kona!

Time to get lei'd.

The leis we got in the past were either red, which were pretty but didn't smell much, or yellow, which were less pretty but smelled good. These had both.

A topographical map of the island. There are six total volcanos. The northern ones are all dormant; only the southern two still erupt at times.

Gotta get a convertible.

Top down.

Second stop: Walmart, to get some ziplocks to put the car keys in while snorkeling. The parking lot was almost completely full; it's a busy place.

Walmart has fresh leis, too. Good to know in case the airport is out.

Some optometrists there. (Although the Walmart in downtown Honolulu closed, so it might be a precarious job.)

I was only in Walmart for a few minutes, I only grabbed a bag of ziplocks, and by the time I got back to the car, Ogii had managed to fill every single hole with stuff.

Very Hawaiian car.

Selling tools on the side of the road.

Lifted pickup.

It would be nice to live on Sea View Circle in Hawaii.

Beautiful gate.

Our first stop was Kahalu’u Beach Park for snorkeling.

They have some instructions on snorkeling.

And surfing.

Google said there was a food truck there which we planned to eat at, but it wasn't there, only this guy who seemed to live in the parking lot.

So we went to this little mall nearby for lunch instead.

I wanted something authentic, but we were hungry, so I guess a chain restaurant will have to do.

A variety of food.

The birds like the droppings.

Beautiful flower.

We ran into the pharmacy next door for some drinks. I've never seen boba in a can.

Sea animal crackers.

I like macadamia nuts, and I like onions and garlic, but I don't know about both together.

I do like chocolate covered macademia nuts, though, especially sea salt dark chocolate.

Time to test out our waterproof phone cases.

Make sure to seal it all around. The new phones nowadays are semi-waterproof, but I'm sure they don't like salt water.

Sea turtle resting area.

Ready to go.

Me going in.

Headed out.

And there are some fish.

A lot of fish, in fact.

Many colorful ones.

All different types.

A lone yellow in a bunch of striped ones.

Two yellow.

Ogii coming out.

A few people selling pictures and such.

A tree with many trunks behind some palm trees.

Beautiful view from up in the hills.

Lots of green vegetation.

The next stop was Kealakekua Bay.

There is snorkeling here, but it seems you have to take a boat across the bay to the other side, so we skipped that.

Fun mailbox.

Colorful house.

A long, skinny road.

When traffic came the other way, you both had to squeeze over to the side.

Old vehicle by the side of the road.

Another one up on rocks.

There are always rain clouds somewhere over Hawaii, and always sun a few miles away.

Next stop was Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. There were a bunch of goats there.

Cute black and white baby goat.

Big goat eating leaves higher up in the tree.

Video of the goats.

Old huts.

With old boats inside.

And old sculptures.

Wooden sculptures of gods.

Lava seaward.

More lava.

Lava this way.

Forest this way.

Tall palm trees.

A game board.

Another relief map of the island.

The old culture.


Uh oh; which silver rental Mustang is ours?

Across Honaunau Bay is Two Step Beach, where you can snorkel.

They have a big lot for paid parking.

But there was still some free parking available.

Some step-like rocks into the water.

Make it easy to get in.

There were many fish here, too.

A long one.

A bunch of different ones.

Me snorkeling around.

Sea anemones inside rock.

Fish above them.

I love these black fish with neon stripes on the back.

A huge group of yellow fish.

A flower floating in the water.

Me with it.

Striped fish.

Ogii watching from the shore.

A video of snorkeling there.

Coming back in.

Another big group of yellow fish.

A nice loading area.

A lot of people sat on the rocks and picnicked.

Locals chatting, snacking, and smoking cigars.

Speed limit (1)5.

Many colorful flowers by the side of the road.

A video of them.

Another beautiful view from the hills.

We decided to eat dinner at Korner Pocket.

A local sports bar. It seems this is where a lot of older white retired people hang out.

Shiny octopus.

Prime rib.

Ready to eat.

They had live music.

And an outdoor seating area.

Where you could watch the baby chickens run around.

Some people playing soccer.

Is that 84 miles to the volcano, or to a town named Volcano? I guess it is actually a town.

We went to Keauhou Bay for our snorkeling tour. It started to rain, so we waited in the car for a few minutes. Usually the rain will be over in ten to fifteen minutes, and that was the case here.

Headed out to the boat.

We went to this area because the light from the hotel attracts plankton which attracted mantas.

Which in turn attracts tourists like us.

The tour guides hook UV lights to the bottom of surf boards, and then we hang on to the rope strung along the top.

All of the different tour groups get together in one long chain.

So we got onto the end of the chain.

Looking down for mantas.

A video of some mantas right below us.

We stayed at this AirBnB.

There were a bunch of cats wandering around we had to stop and pet.

Our room.