Sea Turtles and more at A-Bay

 Posted by on December 28, 2009  Comments Off
Dec 282009

     Anaeho’omalu Bay (locally known as A-Bay) near the Waikola Marriott is a protected beach known for its traditional royal fish ponds, lava rock tide pools and frequent  sea turtle sightings.   We found the sand here too gritty for sunbathing comfort (bring beach shoes if you go), but since it has public access and was walking distance from our condo  it was a great place for a quick sunset dip and our teen and tween found the sea turtles to be intriguing.   This is another in our posting about the 10 Top  Big Island of Hawaii adventures for families with teens and tweens.  Click the link for the full list.

A-Bay at sunset

A-bay is a great place for a sunset swim, particularly if you are staying in the nearby condos or hotel

Sea Turtles Frequent A-Bay

     Green Sea turtles, know locally as Honu, are an ancient and threatened species that can be seen at different locations throughout the island.  Unlike many wild animals, the Honu are peaceful and are willing to let you watch them from a respectful distance (i.e. 20 feet or more) for as long as you want.   To keep them healthy it is important not to touch them or bother them when they are resting.  

Sea Turtles rest on Big Island of Hawaii Beaches

Sea Turtles are often seen resting on the beach, but give them some space

     As mentioned in our earlier posts, the Honu will often pull up on the beach at the Place of Refuge and can be seen in the waters near Kealakekua Bay.   However, A-bay in the Kohala Coast Waikola resort area was our favortie sea turtle viewing location.   The turtles here will rest in the tidal pools, floating in the gentle tide of this protected Bay.   Several times while swimming near shore we had sea turtles approach us and swim along side.  

A Coastal Stroll

     When you lose interest in the turtles there is a beautiful, rustic coastal path along the several tidal coves that connect the Marriott to the Hilton.  There are also side paths out to the street that provide coastal access to the various condo complexes in the area.

Place of Refuge – History and Tidepools

 Posted by on December 23, 2009  Comments Off
Dec 232009

     This is another in our Top 10 Hawaii posts.   The Place of Refuge is a sacred historic site located on Honaunau Bay south of Kona and 4 miles North from Kealakekua.  In ancient times Hawaiian sacred laws, the Kapu, were harsh, and the penalty was frequently death.  If an offender could reach the Place of Refuge before being arrested, he would be set free. 

The wooden statues set the tone

Since the only undefended access was across a shark infested bay, few were successful. 

The Walking Tour

     The site offers a self-guided walking tour of restored walls, buildings and life size wooden gods.   The inner Great Wall 10 ft high and 17 ft thick.   Large green sea turtles, locally known as Honu, frequently pull up onto the beach to rest and sun themselves.

The sacred wooden statues at the Place of Refuge

Tidepools Hold Teen’s Interest!

     To be honest, the actual historic site was not real interesting to our teen and tween and after a short walk through the grounds they were ready to head out.  Given that the Refuge is a bit off the beaten path we had brought a cooler and lunch and took advanatge of the very attractive picnic area that is part of the grounds.  The tables are shaded with a delightful view of the ocean and lava rock tide pools. 

      It was those tide pools that held our kids interest!  They spent at least an hour climbing around the rocks and pools investigating.  

Tide pools held more interest than historic sites for our teen and tween

     The grounds also include a rustic 2-mile trail blazed in 1871, known aptly as the Trail of 1871.   A good snorkel spot, know as Two-Step, is located just outside the grounds. 

     As usual on the Big Island, bring sunscreen, lots of water and be flexible.  Having our own picnic and an easy going schedule that left us time to enjoy the unexpected tide pools made this a highlight of the trip

Family Snorkeling – Big Island of Hawaii

 Posted by on December 23, 2009  Comments Off
Dec 232009

This post is another in our Top 10 Big Island Adventures for families with teens and tweens.  You can also check our Big Island Overview for additional ideas! 

     Kealakekua Bay located south of Kona is a pristine, protected Marine Life Conservation District and is truly a snorkeling paradise.  It is also the location of the death of Captain James Cook in 1779.  A white obelisk on the shore marks his death.    

The Captain Cook Memorial overlooks beautiful Kealakekua Bay

The Bay abounds with marine life including a number of species that make coral their home.    

Turtles, Fish, Dolphins and More!

     We saw sea turtles, moray eels, and a wide range of colorful reef fish and schools of dolphins.  The Bay is usually calm and the water temperatures are comfortable.  The water ranges in depth from 5 to over 100 feet.

     In order to protect the environment very few boats are permitted to anchor in the bay.   Kayak and snorkeling gear can be rented nearby but be sure you understand restrictions on land access.  In order to protect the fragile environment the state limits where you can put ashore.  Strict rules are also in place to protect the sea turtles and dolphins and you are asked to stay a respectful distance from both.

Snorkeling Trip Options

     The site is accessible via a number of chartered boats that range in size  from the large, Fair Wind II catamaran party boat to small 16 seater zodiacs offered by such firms as Captain Zodiac.  We opted for the Dolphin Discoveries tour as it left earlier than many others and allowed us more time in the Bay before it got crowded.

Checking out the lava cliffs on our way to the Bay

     This was an adventure that the whole family really enjoyed.  Number One son opted to explore the Bay on his own, spending a lot of time watching sea turtles.  Hockey princess explored the whole Bay with mom and dad.  Most boat trips include all snorkeling gear and many offer extra flotation devices for those who are not strong swimmers.   Larger boats will offer a full lunch while smaller ones will offer just drinks. 

     The trip from Kona was beautiful and included views of cliffs pock marked by lava tube caves.  The spinner dolphin pod, including a baby, that followed us back to Kona was a special treat.   Bring sun tan lotion and a towel and be ready for a great day.  This is a MUST activity for families that enjoy the water.