Whenever we head to the Islands we always take a day that isn't physically exhaustive. As a photographer this is probably my hardest day. Fortunately, for me, my next trip will be different thanks to a little company called GoPro! (If you don't know what that is, go look it up...it changes the world for photographers and water!) But, on this trip I didn't know about GoPro yet and on our relaxing day we enjoyed snorkeling and hanging out with the water animals that we found on our favorite hidden bay.Kahaluu Bay is our most favorite place to snorkel. It's a tiny crescent with two small shell beaches and lots of lava rock outcroppings. But under the water it's like your own private aquarium...with sea turtles!
Lots of sea birds come to this bay as well for all the little fishes and bugs that swim and fly in and around the lava.
But the one animal I'd never seen on all of my island trips was the Hawaiian Monk Seal. And for good reason. There are only about 1,000 of these endangered animals left here!
The area of beach where this little guy decided to catch some rays was already taped off for some construction project so there were no people there. However they are very approachable animals...but that doesn't mean for you to get up on them or touch them. I was happy with my long lens in this case.
But it's the sea turtles that we see here each and every time we visit that keep us coming back to this beach. You are not supposed to touch them due to the coating on their shells which protects them but this one kept swimming into me and knocking me over or making me trip.
He actually hung out with me for quite awhile in the shallows while I admired the markings on his shell. I love the textures in this particular photo.
Eventually he decided to head for deeper waters and he swam away but we had been hanging out together for over a half hour. I'm such a lucky girl!Lunch is always a good thing in the islands. Fresh food prepared with the local seasonings, fruits and in the local styles is always amazing.
The gardens at the hotel where we were staying, and with each hotel I've ever visited on the island, are lush and blooming. So take some time to just go out and wander your hotel grounds. You will be guaranteed to find something as beautiful as this heliconia!
And if you get the chance, and you will have LOTS of chances, take a few moments to enjoy the ginger blooming all over the island. The smell is amazing!
Lastly, while walking around and relaxing don't forget to LOOK UP! Not only will you catch some of the colorful birds and wacky natural formations but you will also see the gorgeous display of palm fronds. How stereo typically Hawaiian can you get?!
And speaking of stereotypical Hawaii! How about a Luau? Yes, I know it's kitschy. I don't care. I don't go for the food (although if you get the chance the Friday night luau at Kona Village is the best one I've ever been to on my travels. This time KV was closed due to hurricane damage but it's working to get back open again by 2015!) It's always good food but, don't fool yourself, you are there for the show.
Watching the performers is the highlight of my day. Like going to a Broadway show when you are New York City, a luau is a total must when you visit Hawaii. Just be prepared for the cost! A good one is going to be around the $100 mark. This is the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel and it cost us about $80 per person.
Perched on the edge of the bay they have set up a very authentic looking Hawaiian village. Even though you know it's all set design it's still beautiful to see.
The actors playing the Royal Family come in from the bay.Just like a Broadway show I love the pageantry! The colors, the costumes, the actors themselves make the show riveting!
This is a typical Luau seating arrangement. Long tables simply set. You are shown to your table and everyone has a pretty great view of the night's entertainment.
Most of the shows take you through Hawaiian history with the different cultures represented in costume and dance.
But my favorite performer from this show was the Fire Dancer. He was simply amazing and seemed to have such a good time showing us how incredible he was with this torch!
It truly is something magical. And, yes, it's still kitschy and you totally won't care. The performers are wonderful to watch, the announcers are always very entertaining and at least once in the show you will see something like this Fire Dancer and think "Whoa....!"
And let's not forget that there are very pretty girls and very handsome guys up there performing. Most of the shows are modest in their costuming due to the fact that this is a family show. The women are usually wearing some sort of modest undergarment with their costume over it and the men are usually wearing some sort of biker shorts with their costume over them.
But ending the day in Hawaii with this as your view? Life could definitely be harder!
Next week I'll be on location in Napa and Sonoma but the following week I'm going to finish up this trip the the Big Island with my favorite part of it. We'll head out to see the Painted Church and Pu'uhonua O Honaunau, the Place of Refuge. See you then!