Lava, Surf, Seahorses and More -- Tuesday, 2/16/16

Another wind-advisory day, gale-force winds blowing gangbusters and every bit as strong as yesterday's!

I thought we might be able to swing a visit today to Waipio Valley, the Valley of the Kings.  Though one of the most remote regions on the Big Island, various possibilities are available once there, as in hiking or tours by ATV, horses or narrated wagon ride.  I called one outfit early and the guy I spoke to said, "You know we're only giving tours on the rim, don't you?"  Nope, I didn't know.  "Yes, somebody in the valley has Dengue Fever."  I thanked him and hung up.  Never mind.  Scratch that.  We formulated Plan B.  

We booked a tour at Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm!  The tour didn't begin till 1 pm, so we piled into the Town and Country Minivan to scope out more of the coastline.  Just north of the airport, we turned in at a sign for Kekaha Kai State Park.  The pavement ended 100 ft later.  The ocean didn't look too far away.  Wrong.  We curved around and around great piles of lava.  Let me tell you that driving on the pot-holed lava rock seemed endless before we reached a parking lot.  Kudos to Jimmy for braving it!

I took these pics while the vehicle was bouncing on the alleged road (but this is not the road).
They barely smoothed the rock out before opening the road to the public!  Yikes!

With the strong winds, the ocean is very turbulent, but it makes for fabulous photos! 

We didn't hang around too long, since we needed lunch before our tour began.  In case we ever return (ya never know), we marked this park as a good one to explore.  There's a beautiful stretch of beach that's sandy, not rocky, with picnic tables and rest rooms.  If the water is calmer than today, there's snorkeling and swimming.  Maybe they'll fix the road in the meantime?

I've been meaning to comment on the minivan.  We'd reserved a full-sized car, a sedan, to rent, but they were fresh out of cars.  For no extra cost, we could have "the minivan out there," so we took it, despite the gray color (same as asphalt).  Boy howdy, we came to really appreciate that vehicle, mainly because we sat up higher than we would've in a car and that increased the all-around visibility for everyone, especially the back-seaters.  Very nice.

Tom and Diane posed for a pic before we left the park.

This was a cool venue, close by, just south of the airport.  A little overpriced, but the money went to a good cause.  The demand for seahorses by aquariums world-wide causes great concern for wild sea horses.  In fact, there was a 50% decline in the world seahorse population from 1990-1995.  Ocean Rider is an organic Hawaiian-based aqua-farm that practices good farming techniques in raising its seahorses.  By raising seahorses, Ocean Rider helps "save seahorses from extinction through continued research, education, conservation and propagation of the endangered seahorses and sea dragons."  Our tour lasted about an hour, culminating in holding one!

Trying to take a photo in high sunshine through water of swimming seahorses has to be a lot like taking a picture of wiggling redworms in a can.  Near about impossible to get a good shot.  Some of the tanks held 50 horsies, or more, all scooting around.  Ocean Rider had a lot of tanks.

First you make a "reef" with your hands, as seen above and below.  A tour guide places a seahorse on your "reef" and that's all it takes.  A seahorse naturally wraps its tail to anything.  Are the two below dancing?

Look at that tiny seahorse in Diane's hands!  None of us wanted to let the seahorse go; they are so cute.  Diane and I wanted to take "ours" home!  Kind of like we wanted to pack the chameleon in our suitcase on our last visit to Hawaii -- click here.

Jimmy had a nice clinger!

 These seahorses were in small tanks for viewing only.  Loved the seahorse farm!

Since we still had much of the afternoon free, we drove south to Kailua-Kona again to canvas more of the area. In the heart of Historic Kailua Village is Hulihe'e Palace, circa 1838, a Heritage site.  Once the former vacation home of Hawaiian royalty, it's now a museum run by the Daughters of Hawai'i.  We didn't go in, because you simply can't do it all, but it certainly looks inviting.  More like paradise!

Gorgeous Giant spider lily (Crinum amabile) on the grounds.

Hawaii's oldest Christian Church is located almost across the street from the palace:  Moku'aikaua Church, founded in 1820 by Asa and Lucy Thurston from the first ship of American Christian Missionaries, the brig Thaddeus.  (I read Michener's book, Hawaii.  Enough said.)  The church continues to be in use and is open to the public for tours; Jimmy and Tom went in.  I was busy watching a small flock of birds on the grass outside (below).  It was time to head for the minivan.  No, I'm not even going to try pronouncing the church's name!

Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild)

Another stellar day ends for us on the Big Island, complete with a glowing sunset.


  1. No idea there was such a thing as a seahorse farm ... they're doing good work.

  2. The road through the lava field brought back memories. Before we started fulltiming and before I was hurt we flew to the big island with our bicycles and petaled the island loop road. We had to cut through the middle because we didn't have enough vacation time to do the whole thing. Anyway our flight landed fairly late in the day and I figured, no problem, we'll just take this road I found on the map down to the beach and set our tent up on the sand. Ha! We didn't make it very far and ended up rolling our sleeping bag out on the lava. On top of everything else it was a Friday night and we were sleeping near a bend in the road so every time a car passed we had headlights in our eyes. Needless to say we didn't get a good night's sleep.

    It was a great trip though and we had a wonderful time. Pedaling from sea level all the way up to 4,000' in just 30 miles to Volcanoes National Parks was quite an experience!

    Enjoying your trip summary!

  3. Cute little guys, especially when they wrap around you like that. I loved the lily. You are getting some interesting places added to your repertoire! Nice

  4. Cory would have loved that seahorse farm! I've really enjoyed these Hawaii posts, too bad my boys hate to fly.


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