Sea turtles have been around for about 180 million years. The Honu Green Turtle was listed as endangered in 1978, under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973.
The turtles almost seem to fly through the Hawaiian surf. In the shallows their shells blend in with mounds of lava. The turtles are huge and beautiful. For the ancient Hawaiians, Green turtles were a source of food, tools, and ornamentation. With the arrival of western culture, however, large numbers of green turtles were harvested for their shells and their meat throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
Honu green turtle population levels are estimated to be below pre-western contact, and probably pre-World War II levels as well. The Green Turtle is facing loss of its foraging habitat.
People are warned to maintain their distance from the Honu turtles, which you would think would be an easy task, but as people walk around the beaches and snorkel in tide pools, they can find themselves staring face to face with one of these fantastic creatures through no fault of their own. It's best to give them a wide berth if possible. Enjoy their beauty, but don't bother them or add stress to their lives.
Riding sea turtles is illegal. Fines for violating this law can be as high as $100,000. Turtle riding while intoxicated (TRI) is looked upon very seriously and may even include prison time if found guilty.
After leaving the black sands we were ready for breakfast. Most of the places we visited on our trip and the restaurants where we dined were recommended by our friends Donn and Debbie along with Randy and Sue. We only had toast before starting this adventure because breakfast was planned for Hanna Hou, the southern most restaurant in the USA.
This place was strictly a mom and pop operation, which is the what I look for when traveling. The place isn't fancy, but the food is excellent and the owners/staff are friendly.
As you enter the restaurant just inches into the dining room is a cooler/display case of pies and cakes. I went on point. I should have ordered and sampled a variety, but unfortunately, only selected one piece of pie to eat: Macadamian Nut Cream Pie.
We all sat down and looked over the menu. I chose a sandwich and a piece of the pie. Once we had all ordered breakfast, the pie was delivered to the table. I had missed the poster by the cash register stating, "Eat dessert first . . ." I passed the pie around the table starting with Debbie, who pulled it over in front of herself and attacked it protectively. The pie was excellent. Another statement on the poster read, "Pinch Yourself." I didn't pinch myself, but I don't think I was dreaming. The pie was delicious and I'm sure the other items were also excellent.
The restaurant was delightful as was the food. Everywhere in the restaurant were touches that made the place unique. For example, the salt and pepper shakers resembled hand grenades. Randy's omlett featured fresh avacado, which was an unexpected taste treat. Peg tried the French toast with Portuguese sausage, fried egg, and coconut syrup. I scored one of her sausages, but never got a chance to snag a bite of the toast and syrup combination. Sue tried the syrup out and enjoyed in too.
If the Hanna Hou was located in Tacoma, I would be there at least once a week. I love hashbrowns for breakfast, but Hanna Hou doesn't have them. Instead, thinly sliced potatoes fried and served. I had a plate of them and would eat them again each time I went there.
Like many restaurants on the island of Hawaii, the bathrooms are . . . well, not exactly primitive, but Spartan, well, no . . . perhaps primitive is correct . . . and getting there is part of the adventure. At Hanna Hou, you leave the restaurant follow a walk-way past a beautiful little garden with a hand-made pond. Peg made me photograph several of the plants. The restroom is best forgotten, but the beautiful walk-way lingers in my mind. Not everyone in our group visited the restroom, but that's their loss. Leaving the bathroom and garden I simply circled the building and met up with everyone else at the rental car out front.
The world is full of roadside attractions, like this two headed, long horned cow. These cows are part of a small collection at a coffee stand along the way. Joining the bovines are a donkey, a zebra, and twin bison.
The zebra seems so out of the ordinary that most people don't believe others who have claimed to see it. The menagerie, like many Hawaiian businesses are a great marketing and public relations tool, but, I just shake my head at chances blown by entrepreneurs who don't have signage, a website or even a business card.
Sometimes you have to really be looking to find roadside attractions. We were turning around in the parking lot of a coffee shop. Above the retaining wall, one of our group spied a wild turkey. I quickly got out of the car and took several photographs. Actually, there were two of them wandering around.
If I were a turkey and it was two days before Thanksgiving, I think I would be a little more careful where I strutted my stuff . . . or stuffing, anyway . . . but it was nice seeing these birds and seeing their stretched out wings as they searched for their own family dinner.
Our next destination was the City of Refuge. Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is located on the west coast of Hawaii and was our first introduction to the feel of Kona. The island has two distinct sides: the wet side and the dry side. The two large mountains of the island dump tropical moisture on the eastern side of the mountains leaving the western side with a dryer climate . . . a hotter climate. The City of Refuge was hot.
This site, up until the early 19th century, allowed Hawaiians who broke one of the ancient laws to avoid certain death by seeking refuge or pu'uhonua. Hawaiian priets could absolve offenders of offences against the laws. Tribal enemies could also find refuge here during times of battle. Nobles of Kona were buried on this site for hundreds of years. The last person buried here was the son of King Kamehameha I in 1818.
I've heard about bread fruit for decades, but had never seen one. This breadfruit tree was next to the second historic painted church we saw. While Peg, Deb, and Sue went to the church, Randy, Donn and I stayed in the car. The breadfruit was hanging so low to the ground it would have been possible to walk over to the tree and pluck one . . . but Donn refused to do it.
Supposedly breadfruit as a potato-like flavor, similar to fresh-baked bread. Early Polynesians found the trees growing in the northwest New Guinea area about three thousand years ago. They raised breadfruit almost everywhere they went in the Pacific. I later found three pieces of breadfruit in the Kea-au market, but they looked spoiled . . . but then what do I know. Perhaps, they were perfect. If only Donn had walked over and picked one.
Our next stop was Kailua Bay. We drove through town and then sought the Royal Kona Resort and the Don the Beachcomber Tiki Grill. Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt was the founding father of tiki restaurants.
After years of being called Don the Beachcomber because of his original establishment, Gantt changed his name several times: Donn Beach-Comber, Donn Beachcomber, and finally Donn Beach. If he had changed his name to Donn Irwin, we might have been able to drink free on the beautiful lanai in Kailua Bay.
As it was we were too early for Happy Hour prices, so we had fries and a few beers and moved on. You can't beat the view.
We visited an international market, where Peg found some nice art supplies and Donn saw a sprinting mongoose.
We looked over several restaurants and then decided to dine at a marina where Donn and Debbie had eaten before. For a mid-week evening, the bar & grill was fairly full. Like most places the grill was open to breezes to help cool down.
We got to see a beautiful sunset over the boats in the marina and drank a few beers.
I should have ordered the poke like Deb's. I sampled and it was wonderful. I ordered the pork chops and they were served overdone. A1 helped a bit. I don't know why some cooks find it so hard to fry a pork chop. Of course there were two things going against a perfect taste. One was that it was a thin chop and the second was that it was cut to resemble a hand, so there were little fingers of pork . . . each as dry as the other. Oh, well.
We left the bar & grill in a downpour. So much for wetside/dryside divisions of the big island of Hawaii.
After the restaurant we visited Costco looking for Thanksgiving menu items and then we drove back via Saddle Road, the pass between the two mountains of Hawaii: Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Because of a new Striker training force on Hawaii, the road going to the training center and therefore the road between the mountains, has been improved. The road is a little dark, but there are plenty of reflectors to show the way.