Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hawaii Part 1: Big island

Seaside resorts and beach front hotels are big parts of tourism industry.  Most people who love beaches also love water sports.  I don't. I simply do not feel at ease when i step into water. But i like beaches. That was why i was super excited when i secured a trip to Hawaii.  By the way, did you know that the "W" in the word Hawaii is pronounced as a "V"?  Hawaii is the newest of the 50 states of America, it is also the only island state of America.  Population 1.4 million, it ain't big.  Big island (Hawaii island) is the largest but not the most populated island.  Oahu is the most densely populated island, where Honolulu is.  Our flight from Auckland to Honolulu took 8.5 hours.  There was something funny about departing Auckland on a Friday night but arriving in Hawaii on the same Friday but early in the morning.  That was after 8.5 hours in the air.  It felt like we were time traveling, backward.  The photo above was taken from the plane, capturing sunrise over the pacific ocean.  From Honolulu airport, we took another inter-island flight for 30 minutes to the big island.  We were traveling with a whole plane full of US marines.  I later found out the US army has several training camps in Hawaii.  Upon arriving at our destination, we were a bit annoyed to find that one of our checked bags got "randomly selected" by US custom for security check.  They forced open and destroyed our lock, claiming that they could not leave it intact because we did not use a TSA approved lock as recommended.  Whilst we understand they were just doing their job to keep themselves safe, we couldn't help but felt just a little violated.

I hired a car without GPS, feeling oddly confident that it would be easy finding my way to our beautiful resort.  It turned out the main road was closed for the Iron man triathlon.  After a few detour turns, i was lost. Driving on the right side of the road certainly did not help.  After pulling over to ask for directions, we got there in the end and were glad to find that our resort was actually quite nice.

Mauna Kea beach is said to be one of the top ten holiday beaches in the world.  It is about 45 minutes drive from Kona airport, on the west coast of the island.  The white sands on the beach are very soft and fine.  With the tropical climate, the sea water is always nice and warm.

Eventhough i am not very fond of water, i had a go at body boarding.  After getting hit by a few waves, drinking some sea water, i kind of got the hang of it.  It was quite fun.  Another thing the Mauna Kea resort is famous for is its beautiful golf course.  Par number three is a famous one.  It is famous because of how challenging it is.  See the photo below and you will know what i mean.

The resort is fairly big.  There are walking track along the beach where you can go for a little hike.  I did not have my DSLR with me all the time.  One thing i learnt from the trip was you have to stay away from your camera in order to really enjoy the resort and the beach.  I wasn't too keen to leave my camera on the sandy beach anyway since my D90 is not weather sealed.  There were times i came cross places i wanted to photograph but had no camera with me.  Thank god for iphone.  It is at times like this you you realise how capable the 8 megapixel camera is in your iphone 4s.  The two photos below were taken with my iphone 4s.

No holiday is complete without good food.  There are three main restaurants in the resort, one of which was on the beach.  Every week they hold a seafood buffet called the Clambake dinner.  US$90 gives you all the seafood you can eat.  I have never had so much big fat lobsters in one meal before.  The ambience  at dinner wasn't bad too.  Warm sea breeze brushing your face, the soothing sound of waves coming to shore, live acoustic music, candle light and a bottle of chilled Hawaiian beer.  Bliss.

The two photos above were shot under very dim lighting (no flash) at ISO beyond 2000.  That kind of ISO in a crop sensor camera like D90 is a recipe for noise.  You can see it.

We have also tried some local food at another restaurant within the resort.  The one below is called Loco Moco. Essentially and burger patty and egg served with rice and mushrooms.

There was a small shopping mall nearby.  We drove there for dinner as we got tired of eating at the same resort restaurants after a few days.  I was impressed with the pasta served at Romano's macoroni grill.  I had garlic prawn pasta, which i found very tasty.  One thing i didn't manage to get use to was the "compulsory" gratuity of at least 15%.

Our stay at Mauna Kea was very pleasant and relax.  We could have used another week there but it was time to move on.  Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog.


  1. as always, enjoying reading your blog, very informative yet interesting

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