Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 5 Wed Nov 10 KONA

Good Morning KONA!

Kona is located on the west (dry!) side of the Big Island of Hawaii.  In the Hawaiian language Kona means leeward or dry side of the island, as opposed to ko‘olau which means winward or the wet side of the island.
The volcanic slopes of  Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the Kona district provide an ideal microclimate for growing coffee.  Kona coffee is considered one of the premium specialty coffees of the world.

Up at 6am!
This was our earliest alarm clock ring all week long and this would be our busiest day spent mostly in the warm ocean waters swimming with the fishes!!

We were signed up for the NCL sponsored Body Glove Snorkel trip in the morning, and the NCL sponsored Snuba Discovery in the afternoon!

We were informed on Day 1 when we got all our NCL excursion tickets that this morning we must meet in the Hollywood Theater at 7am to gather with everyone on this excursion to get organized to disembark.

Kona is the only tender port in the Pride of America schedule of Hawaiian Island ports. 

Greg was well into the routine of stopping at the Cadillac Diner each morning for a cup of coffee in a to go cup...well we discovered this morning that the Cadillac Diner isnt open until 7am...the doors were still locked on our way from our cabin to the Hollywood Theater at 6:50am!!!

I snapped this photo as we hurried through the atrium on the way to the theater for our 7am meeting time.
They were on display advertising the animal towel folding class later this afternoon! soo cute :)

As luck would have it...other groups were taken before ours and the clocked ticked past 7am...the line to disembark the ship was moving rather slowly so we ran upstairs to grab that cup of coffee...and I snapped this photo of the Cadillac Diner...this is the only time I ever saw it empty!

We headed out the door, Greg with his beloved coffee in hand...and boarded the tender boat to be transported to shore.  The tender holds about 50 passengers and took about 10 minutes or less to arrive at the dock in Kona.  Here is a photo of one of the tender boats:

Our Body Glove boat was waiting for us at the same dock that we got off the tender boat and we went immediately to line up to board it for our snorkel trip!

We boarded with friendly greetings from the staff on board and headed up to the open upper deck and were pleased with the more open design of the seating and space above.  This boat also had a water slide :)  We were given our snorkel and mask upon boarding....fins were handed out later when we got to the place we stopped to snorkel.  Soon we were on our way heading out of the harbor...and I got a couple great shots of our cruise ship:

the above picture is interesting to me because it actually shows the exact spot we ended up going on the Snuba Discovery later in the afternoon this same day...we followed that bouy and rope line out of the harbor and then around the right past that rock wall along the edge of the coastline...only not on the surface...25 ft below!!!

I love this serene photo of the misty morning light
along the coastline with the white church steeple
pointing towards the blue skies above!

We headed out of the harbor and were delighted with a playful pod of dolphins following our boat!!! It was soooo amazing to see them in the wild like that and to see so many together at one time, there must have been about 30 all together.  The captain driving the boat slowed down to a stop and even turned around so we could all take advantage of this photo opportunity!!!  Greg also got some really fun video footage of the baby dolphin spinning and rubbing his back on his mama's...amazingly playful and happy :)

this above photo really gives you an idea how close to shore we were still when the dolphins surrounded the can see the store fronts along the seawall and the roped off swim area along the edge.

We then continued on to our snorkel destination...along the way we were served breakfast of muffins, bagels, fresh fruit and juice.  The ride was about 45 minutes and it got a bit rough and I was glad I took a dramamine when I woke up...some passengers felt a bit queasy but we were fine.  It was fun riding on the top deck...most of the time I was standing holding the railing for balance and face into the wind with my hair flying behind me.  When we arrived at our destination I snapped a few quick photos of the amazing coastline of black rock walls, inlets and caves with the waves crashing and rushing in and out leaving pools of water on the rocks illuminated by the bright tropical sunshine!  The sea water was soooooo blue!

We met a nice couple on the boat ride to our snorkel site from Pensylvania.  Dave decided to upgrade to scuba and Deanna was new to snorkeling so we told her to stick with us and she would be fine and have fun!  The crew helped everyone locate fins in the proper size from under the bench seating on the first level of the boat.  Then everyone headed for the stairs to get into the water.  If you were brave and courageous you could jump into the water from a ledge about 3-4 feet above the water.  I opted to ease into the water down the staircase!  The crew handed out noodles and other floaties for those who wanted them.  From our experience two days ago at Molokini I knew I didnt want one.  Greg led the way and Deanna and I followed and it didnt take us long to get away from the crowded area around the back of the boat where most of the swimmers seemed to hover.  We saw many of the same fish we saw on Monday, but the best part about this trip was that we had 2.5 hours of water time!!!  Deanna did great and Greg enjoyed diving down and pointing out various colorful fish to us and telling us their names.  I really enjoyed the peace and tranquillity of being underwater and the calmness that overcomes you.  I was completely comfortable with the swimming and snorkel/mask/breathing part.  I found I didnt use my legs/fins much...mostly floated and looked around and used my arms when I wanted to change directions for a new view. 


This is a photo of the cove we snorkeled in:

this photo is now my computer wallpaper at work
just love the colors and texture contrasts between
the rocks and the sea water!

The 2.5 hours seemed to be too long for most.  By the time I returned to the boat most of the lunch food was gone.  Greg was the very last swimmer to get out of the water...he was having the time of his life!
We made our own sandwiches and had the yummy crunchy hawaiian style potato chips with more fruit...the pineapple and papaya was soooo sweet and delicious. 

I took several shots of the coastline from our snorkel spot
in an attempt to capture the biggest wave splashing the rocks:

and we saw the Captian Zodiac boat zipping around the waters
hugging the coastline at high speeds!!

We also saw people doing dual parasailing:

and I think this was the glass bottom boat tour next to the submarine ride:

This is a photo from the Body Glove Boat as it parked next to where the Tender boats docked:

We thanked the crew for a wonderful time and lined up to return to the cruise ship on the tender boat. 

I snapped these two photos on the tender return ride to the ship through the window as we sat right in the very front just down and under the drivers seat:

We had time to stop by our cabin for a quick change and bathroom break...and to pick up our tickets for our afternoon excursion.  We then turned right around and lined up to get back on the tender to get back to the beach for our Discovery Snuba tour!  I opted to leave the camera safe in the cabin on the cruise ship not knowing where our belongings would be while we were underwater doing the snuba adventure.  All I brought was ship ID and a beach towel in a shoulder bag.

We docked at the tender dock and simply had to walk across the parking lot to the beach area for the Discovery Snuba adventure!

However we had an extra 30 minutes and had realized earlier that we accidently left our disposable waterproof camera on the Body Glove boat.  We asked for directions to their office since the boat was out on another afternoon snorkel trip.  It sounded like it was within walking distance but we werent quite sure when we saw the hill to climb up to the next light.  We asked a local fellow to confirm the directions given to us earlier by two other people including a postal carrier...and he simply offered to drive us up there!  He was a super nice guy and we sure enjoyed meeting him...he was in his work van and does graphic design and signs and was pointing out all his handiwork along the way to the Body Glove office.  He waited in the van with Greg while I ran into the office and explained our camera left behind.  They called the boat!!! The crew had it set aside for us and would meet us at the dock at 4pm when our Snuba class ended :) all is well :)

We were dropped back off in plenty of time for our Snuba time!

We started with 15 minutes on land learning how to use the equipment and go over various hand signals to use underwater.  Then we went into the shallow lagoon area for water time to practice breathing underwater with the regulator in our mouths.  It was already feeling a little bit scary and overwhelming and one fellow opted out of the dive because it was just beyond his swimming ability.  So our group consisted of just me, Greg and another woman from Seattle...and our diving guide instructor.  She was excellent...made us feel comfortable and safe and explained everything well and was very calm and reassuring answering all our questions.  She put on our weight belts and checked they werent too heavy or light.  Then we headed out of the lagoon holding on to the raft that floated our O2 tanks as the diving guide kicked and pulled us out against the waves pushing against us!

Once we got out into the open water, we let go of the raft and swam down under the surface.  It definitely took focus and determination to do the breathing and not freak out.  My mind was racing between "wow this is amazing!" to "OMG what if this regulator falls out of my mouth...its a LONG way to the surface".  Sometimes I would be focussed on the rhythm of the inhaling and exhaling...other times I would be totally blown away by the seascape of endless coral forests and colorful fish.  The guide took us further and deeper until we were at the end of our 25 ft hose and slowly we swam around and did a big loop and returned the same was we came.  We were underneath for about 30 some ways it seemed like it went by so fast, but in other ways it took forever for it to be over!

Back to shore safe and sound!
Got our camera from the Body Glove boat!
Back on a tender to the ship by 5pm...
Showered and got ready for dinner...we were ravenous after all that swimming!
We ordered A LOT off the Skyline menu tonight and shared everything:

mixed greens w/pear/goat cheese and candied walnuts balsamic vinegrette
crispy spring rolls
pumpkin bisque
(and always bread/dinner rolls on the table)

LOBSTER night :)
Duck (orange fav tonight)
Beef Wellington (a little rare for my liking...but delicious)

Apple Pie
Chocolate Bavarian
Creme Brulee

OK this is fun...the Brulee was soooo wasnt the typical brulee...there was a special layer on the bottom that was this amazing smooth chocolate mocha delicate and sweet.  I liked it so much I ordered another one to take back to the room...we put it in the fridge and ate it for breakfast the next morning!! oh yaaaaaaaa baby!!!

After dinner we were running late but went to the 7pm show in the Hollywood Theater called "Oh what a night".  It was a tribute to the Four Seasons.  It was four guys singing harmony and cheesy choreographed dance moves...the oldtimes on the ship LOVED it and gave them a standing ovation.  I was fine seeing 30 minutes of the show instead of 60.  We were in the front row and I was trying not to giggle at their dance moves ;)  It was pretty funny...

Then we went to the Mardis Gras Lounge for the Tribute to the Eagles.  We only listened to 2-3 songs and I was literally falling asleep sitting up in my we headed to our cabin to get a good night sleep!!

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