A 10 X 50 = 50/10 = 5.0
This amazing adventure involving the Na Pali coastline is a possible excursion options for your pleasure.
o A dinner sunset sail using a sail or motor boat
Cap’n Andy, our operator, has provided excursions for our meetings for many years and has been selected based on the quality of his people and equipment, safety, quality of food and overall value.
Bev and I think of the Na Pali Coast is one of the wonders of the world and something we enjoy revisiting time after time. You never know what kind of wave action, wind and sky you’ll get and we’ve been out and had a great time in all kinds of conditions.
More often than not we’ve seen spinner dolphins on our way out or back, and usually have had dolphin pods running along the boats. Obviously their presence is beyond our control; however our luck in the past has been exceptional. It’s especially wonderful to see them jump and spin. The prevailing opinion is this behavior helps rid them of external parasites, but as we look at them it just seems to be for plain fun.
The cave exploring in the raft is amazing. How much you get to do depends on the sea conditions but it’s a real thrill to move in and out of those areas as the sea rises and falls. Your captain will be very experienced and only attempt what is safe.
Be prepared, the ride out and back in the raft isn’t the most comfortable on your back. As you go over the waves it can be a bit pounding and you’re sitting on the sides of the raft more or less facing the center. I found I needed to put my outside leg over the side and sit facing more forward to keep my back relatively happy. If you have back issues I’d recommend the sunset sail (the easiest) or the snorkel (much easier than the raft). The bigger boats can’t get into the caves like the raft, so the experience is different, but anything you do on the Na Pali coast will be a one-of-a-kind adventure you won’t ever forget.
The snorkel areas depend a lot on weather and can be amazing or sometimes only just “wonderful”. Exploring the reef is quite an experience and don’t be surprised if you see critters you don’t often see while snorkeling elsewhere.
If conditions allow the raft will land you on a beach (where an ancient 800 year old Hawaiian village once stood) and allow you to eat on land and then snorkel the nearby reef.
In all cases the late afternoon/setting sun on the Na Pali hills should provide AMAZING photo opportunities. I put my camera in a plastic bag for much of the ride out and back, but when the light was right it was around my neck and getting a good workout.
No transfers from or to the hotel are provided for these tours, so you’ll need to leave early for check in. The location is Ele Ele and they’ll transfer you to Port Allen to get on the boat. This is at least 35 minute drive if you know where you’re going and add 15 minutes if you don’t. Cap’n Andy’s is located in the building below the McDonald’s in Ele Ele.
If we're very lucky you may find some whales while we’re there as well. We hope so!
Thar she blows.. .
Don Klingborg, DVM
A guided tour taking about four hours and covering 23 miles of back roads and trails through tunnels, forests and farm/range lands. Includes visits to a waterfall along with beautiful landscapes where parts of Hollywood productions including Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Days and Seven Nights, among others, were filmed.
Wear a swimsuit and water-friendly shoes/sandals, and bring a towel. They’ll provide a freshly laundered shirt and riding shorts to absorb most of the dust and some of the mud. You’ll also receive a helmet, goggles and a great bandana that can serve as a mask over your nose and mouth. They have dressing rooms, toilets and lockers at the starting (and finishing) point.
Depending on weather you may experience splashing water, mud, dust, debris and other fun stuff. I experienced a “mini” exposure while doing a site visit recently and made it through unscathed wearing one of their shirts over my clothes and camera. If I were on the full trip I expect I would have come away considerably more dirty.
I don’t recommend taking expensive cameras on this trip – very bumpy and potentially very dusty, wet or muddy. Their motto is “Do Something Dirty” and they mean it (in the nicest way). Plenty of pretty things to photograph, but phone photo should meet your needs.
A deli lunch with a local snack and beverage will be provided and you’ll get some history, geography, geology and Hollywood information from the guides while on your journey. You’ll have time to frolic in a freshwater mountain pool at the base of Mount Kahili before returning to the starting point at the old sugar mill.
They provide a variety of ATV’s. The Mud Bunny is a single passenger vehicle (the driver) for those going solo. The Mud Bug is for a driver and passenger, and the Ohana Bug is for a driver and 3 passengers. There are two types of Mud Bugs available, the fancy and colorful model imported from China, and the plain utility models that are imported from Israel.
My experience was in the Israeli model and it was a blast. Noisy and a bit dusty, it handled the dirt roads and trails beautifully and was surprisingly comfortable. Be forewarned, however, this in not recommended for people with bad backs or those concerned about keeping clean and tidy. Should you be pregnant I strongly suggest a different excursion.
Transfers from and return to the hotel are included, and only about 10 minutes away so your time is spent playing rather than driving to and from the location.
Do Something Dirty!
Don Klingborg, DVM
During our "free day" of the conference, we decided to make the drive over to Waimea Canyon. It was a scenic drive on good roads. As we left the east side of Kauai and drove west toward the park, clouds seemed to loom overhead. We vowed not to be beaten by the weather, even though we had (unwisely) left our jackets back at the hotel.
Driving up to the Lookout Point, we could appreciate the altitude (over 3600 feet) and panoramic views. As the driver, I was thankful when we arrived at the parking lot, so that I could take in all of the scenery. There were nice restroom facilities there, too.
The rust colored peaks and valleys look like they were newly formed. From the high point of the Lookout, we felt like we were at 'bird level' as we watched our feathered friends fly and soar through the valley below.
We decided to hike further down the road, and were intrigued by some of the native plant life. These small trees (picture below) reminded me of something I'd seen in a Dr. Seuss's book.
On the way back, we stopped in a small town at the foot of the State Park and found an ice cream place. It was a great way to spend part of our day off!
The Anara Spa is located adjacent to the fitness center, and offers all the amenities in its 45,000 sq. ft.
The fitness center is spacious with lots of equipment scattered among a few connected rooms. Flat screen TV’s, the latest in cardio and strength-training equipment and available to hotel guests 24 hours a day. They offer treadmills, cross trainers, upright and recumbent bikes, free weights, strength machines, stability balls, stretching mats, resistance tubing, jump ropes and weighted bars.
In the spa ancient healing traditions combine with island botanical essences to inspire lokahi—balance and harmony of body and spirit. Massages, body treatments and facials are offered in elegantly appointed treatment rooms, each opening onto its own tropical garden. Unwind in the dry sauna, steam showers, or relaxation room. Swim in the lap pool, or soothe those gnarly muscles in the Jacuzzi. Water, tea, fruit and nuts are freely available. You may also order a light lunch from a menu.
Following your treatment, shower in the secluded outdoor lava showers then enjoy a full compliment of toiletries, including sunscreen, body lotion, and deodorant. There are blow driers and hairbrushes (each one sealed in plastic) as well as styling gel. With any purchase of a spa treatment, you have full use of the spa for that day.
I had a 50 minute massage followed by a 50 minute facial. The masseuse and the esthetician were both very professional and experienced. They graciously personalized their treatments to address my requests and the result was one contented wet noodle.
One of the best things about mornings-only lectures at a VETS conference is getting to choose your own adventure every afternoon.
After a great time in the canopy thanks to our new friends at Kohala Zipline, we decided check out the town of Kapaau and the surrounding area.
Our first priority was to eat, and we were fortunate to find Gill’s Lanai. Word on the street was that if Gill’s had mahi mahi for the Fish & Chips then it couldn’t be missed.
Now Gill’s Lanai is appropriately named, it’s basically a one room restaurant where you walk inside to order and then dine on the “covered patio” (which, as you undoubtedly know, is the English phrase for lanai in Hawaiian.)
Gill’s Lanai is locatedon the right hand side of Highway 270 in the town of Kapaau. I
don’t want to jinx you, but “you can’t miss it.” As you can see, it’s centrally located.😉
I did have the Fish & Chips– and appreciated that the seasoned coating on the mahi was very light. This wasn’t one of those heavy beer-battered deep fried coatings that made you drink a gallon of water for the next eight days. Instead, Gill’s seasoning on the mahi complemented the moist, tender, flaky and succulent fish beautifully.
Others in the group enjoyed the Fish Tacos, the Lobster Tacos and even a Hot Dog. All meals were prepared fresh and were equally delicious (even the hot dog was great.) I also enjoyed a mango smoothie, which was incredibly refreshing on a warm Hawaiian day. There are no pictures of the food because: 1) I think that posting pictures of food can be annoying, 2) it’s food– it really can’t be appreciated until you taste it, and 3) we were hungry.
After lunch, we continued the journey to the Pololu Valley Lookout . . . just a few miles further down the road in North Kohala.
It was a scenic drive made more interesting by glimpses of the untamed Big Island coastline and the occasional home, barn or church.
At the end of the road, you’ll find a parking lot and the Pololu Valley Lookout. Turn to the right and you’ll see that the Pololu Valley looks as though it was carved out of the surrounding jagged rock by a giant plow.
Look to the left, and you’ll notice that the Pololu Valley leads straight toward the ocean. From this vantage point, there is a steep hike down to the water below, if you should wish to take it. I followed the instructions, and since this is the “Lookout” point, I chose to look out and not hikeout. Rumor has it that the black sand beach below is gorgeous, but swimming there is strongly discouraged.
Ah, another glorious afternoon in Hawaii. Now, it’s time to head back to the hotel and drink a Lava Flow!
The ancient Hawaiians left behind a record of their lives by carving shapes and figures in the ever present lava rock. These petroglyphs vary from region to region and are considered to be sacred sites by many.
There are several protected petroglyph fields on the Big Island of Hawaii, and one of the most accessible is directly across from the Marriott Waikoloa hotel & Queen’s Marketplace and adjacent to the Kings Shopping Center.
It’s not a long walk on a (somewhat uneven) pathway that has been created in the rock. Wear shoes for this short hike and you’ll be a happier person.
About 1/4 of a mile down the path, you’ll begin to see a few petroglyphs here and there. Trying to make sense of them can be a topic of endless debate. As the hike continues, you’ll see more and more rock carvings.
Since the Hawaiian language didn’t exist in written form until the 1820s, perhaps these petroglyphs were a record of life’s major events– births, deaths, wars and celebrations?
If you’re staying on the Big Island near Waikoloa, come check out the petroglyphs. You’ll find yourself strolling through Hawaiian history and the entire hike is less than a mile long!
by Jon Klingborg, DVM
It’s a bit of journey to the top of the Mauna Kea volcano, but well worth it. Mauna Kea is the highest point in the Pacific Basin and the perfect place for watching the stars. At nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, it is above 40% of the Earth’s atmosphere. It's a bit of a trek, but well worth it!
As you can know, the higher you go, the colder the air gets. By the time we arrived at summit, the temperature had dropped from the tropical 75 degrees at sea level to only a few degrees above zero. Thank goodness the tour company was prepared and provided well-insulated suits for all of us. We were quite comfortable while we looked out from on top of the world.
About two hours into the trip, we stopped for a break and to eat dinner. I had the barbeque chicken and it was delicious.
An hour later, we took another break at the Museum & Shop just “down the road” from the observatories. As we continued to gain altitude, it soon became apparent that we were going to be above the clouds.
Finally, we’d arrived at the summit in time for sunset. We parked right next to one of the observatories, which was in the process of repositioning a giant telescope, so it grumbled and rumbled as the entire circular building turned.
Looking out at the view, you can see other observatories perched at the topmost points of the volcano.
Sunset brought more spectaculars view as blue sky gave way to black.
Heading back down the volcano, we stopped off at a turn out where our guide set up a telescope. There, we were able to stargaze in a small group. We were actually able to see the red spot on Jupiter with perfect clarity. AMAZING!
Another stop at the Museum & Gift Shop, and then it was time to head home. We arrived late that night (10 pm), with a feeling of awe and contentment that cannot be described.
A whimsical blog by Don Klingborg, DVM (with superb editing by Sophie Klingborg)
Q. When is a horse not a horse? Answer: When it’s a fish!.
One of the photos above is of a horse (Genus Equidae) (in this case named “California Chrome”) and the other is a seahorse (Genus Hippocampinae) (in this case I’ve named her “Buttercup” in honor of Dale Evans’ horse- remember Roy Rogers?).
While there is no triple crown for seahorses (nor, sadly, was there for California Chrome), there are more than 30 seahorse species within the genus and they are all threatened due to habitat degradation and consumption to feed an Asian market for “traditional medicines”.
And then there is the Sea Dragon (Genus Phycodurus), a very strange critter indeed. The photo below is a Sea Dragon with no plant material in this picture.
Seahorses (map on left) have a wide area of habitat,
Sea Dragons (map on right) not so much.
Seahorses are a fish, a carnivore and range from 1.5 to 35 cm “tall” (0.6 to 14 inches). They have a life expectancy of 1-5 years. The males have a brood pouch where the females deposit their eggs and then the male fertilizes them and sustains their “pregnancy”. The photo below is of a male “giving birth”, something our female friends have been waiting for for a very long time.
Poor swimmers, they rely on their tail to “hold on” in rough water. The fin on their back provides the propulsion, the ones on the back of their head steer
They have no teeth and suck their food (plankton and small fish or crustaceans). Their stomach is underdeveloped and they are essentially sustained by their intestinal tract however need to continuously “graze” since they can’t consume a meal, store it in their stomach and digest it later.
The Sea Dragon (a weedy variety below) is also a fish and can range up to 35 cm (~14 in) in the leafy variety, and 46 cm (18 in) in the weedy variety. They are perfectly camouflaged for their habitat in seaweed and kelp forests off southern Australia. They are related to the sea horse, and both are related to pipefish.
Their tails are not able to grip like those of the seahorse, so they simply “go with the flow” when the waters get rough.
The males are also responsible for bearing the offspring, and while they lack the pouch found in the seahorse they have a spongy brood patch under their tail where the female deposits their eggs. After four to six weeks of “pregnancy” the offspring are released and “on their own”.
Hopefully your interest is piqued, and a great afternoon awaits you at the Seahorse Hawaiian Foundation. Located just south of the Kailua-Kona airport, this group has been breeding seahorses and other endangered reef species (including Sea Dragons) for many years. As I recall they were once focused on the aquarium trade and have morphed their goals toward conserving genetic diversity, propagating endangered species and repopulating areas that can sustain these fragile creatures.
The tour is educational, fun, and when we did it three years ago we were able to have the sea horse “grab” our finger with their tail and “hang out together ” for a while – very cool. I can’t promise you that but I can promise you an aquarium room with many interesting and colorful species on display, plus a worthwhile educational program.
They won’t put together a tour for us only (we tried, they declined), but they do offer tours daily at noon and 2 pm and we think you’ll find it fun and informative. Their gift shop is cute and our granddaughters sure enjoy the T-shirts purchased there.
Check it out at the Ocean Rider Aqua Farm (www.seahorse.com), 73-4388 Ilikai Place, Kona, Hawaii (just south of the airport, same side of the road. 808-329-6840 for tour times and tickets).
Just 1.2 miles south of the Kona Airport exit, off of OTEC Road (also called Natural Energy Road). The road goes toward the beach, and then makes a 90-degree turn at the beach to the right (north) and you’ll go past the Wawalaloli Beach Park and see the entrance on your left. Go down toward the beachfront and you’ll see the signs on your right.