The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Our Hawaiian Vacation: Polynesian Hula Show

This blog post is about activities on Thursday, September 6th.

From Waimea we drove to the Mauna Lani Resort, along the Kohala Coast, where we attended a free Polynesian Hula show at the Shops at Mauna Lani. Dancers (male and female) performed a series of acts in colorful costumes on a stage set above a water fountain. Live music accompanied the dancers. A female narrator shared with us stories of their ancestors, the natives of Hawaii.  The show culminated in a fire dance performed by a young boy.

Here is a slideshow of photographs that I took during the hula show.

After the Hula show we ate dinner in Waikoloa Beach Resort, which was located about 4 miles south of the Mauna Lani Resort.  There are two shopping areas at Waikoloa Beach Resort: Queens’ MarketPlace and Kings’ Shops.  We had fish and chips at the Island Fish and Chips, located at Kings’ Shops.

This completes the activities of Thursday, September 6th — our fifth full day in Hawaii.

Our Hawaiian Vacation – A Scenic Vista, Mauna Kea Sighting and a Rainbow

This blog post continues the activities of Thursday, September 6th.

From the Pololu Valley Lookout we drove to Waimea via Highway 250, or Kohala Mountain Road — a distance of approximately 30 miles.

Approximately 21 miles from Pololu Valley Lookout there is a pull off for Scenic Point.

_LG28112From Scenic Point there is a splendid vista of the Kohala Coast and Kawaihae Harbor far below.

A little farther along Highway 250 we came across a view of Mauna Kea.  Mauna Kea is one of five volcanoes on the Island of Hawaii.  Mauna Kea, at a height of 13,796 feet above sea level, is the tallest of the five volcanoes.

_LG28114Mauna Kea, with a cloud wall in front of it
I took this picture from inside our car.

A little farther along the highway we found a pull off.

_LG28116Mauna Kea, with a cloud wall in front of it

If you click on one or both of the images of Mauna Kea and then magnify the Flickr image, you will be able to see several of the observatories that sit on top of Mauna Kea.

We arrived at the Big Island Brew House in Waimea at approximately 3:45 pm.  While Dorothy, Bob and John were partaking of liquid refreshment inside the Big Island Brew House, I stayed in the car updating my journal with Wednesday’s activities. I was easily distracted, though, from writing in my journal.  It was hot outside, and the car windows were down.  It started to rain, and I had to close the windows.  It stopped raining, and I opened the windows again.  This activity continued off and on, while parked at Big Island Brew House.  It got even more distracting, when the sun was shining and it was raining.  You know what that means don’t you?  RAINBOW!


With a rainbow visible, I was now even more distracted from writing in my journal.  I was jumping out of the car (in the rain) taking a picture of the rainbow and then jumping back into the car.  I repeated this motion several times!


_LG28126What a pretty rainbow!

_LG28127The rainbow was a BIG distraction!

Look at this!  As we left Waimea, that rainbow still graced us with its beauty!


_LG28128The rainbow was visible for over an hour!

20180906_164626Dorothy took this picture of me and the rainbow.

I did get caught up in my journaling, but not until later that evening.

I will conclude the activities of Thursday, September 6th, in my next blog post.

Our Hawaiian Vacation: Sightseeing in the Kohala Region

On Thursday (September 6th) we drove through the Kohala Region, which is located north of Kona. The Kohala Region is diverse in that it contains lush forests, dry lava desert, windswept grassy plains and extraordinary beaches.

Our first stop was in Kawaihae at the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site.

20180906_114731Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site Visitor Center
Dorothy took this picture of Bob and me with the rangers,
after we had obtained stamps for our National Park Service passport.

_LG28079the Pu’ukohola Heiau

The Pu’Ukohola Heiau was built by King Kamehameha in 1790-1791. The king built the heiau (temple) at Kawaihae because a kahuna from the island of Kaua’i said that this was the way to conquer Hawaii.


Thousands of people worked on this temple, carrying one boulder at a time from miles away.  Some workers were sacrificed during construction of the temple to make sure that the gods would be happy.  When the temple was completed, the king dedicated the temple by inviting and then sacrificing one of his enemies.

Altar at Pu’ukohola Heiau

_LG28084The Mailekini Heiau sits just below the Pu’ukohola Heiau.

_LG28088This was the site of the Pelekane, or Royal Courtyard.

_LG28085One of the beautiful views from the Pelekane

There used to be three temples at this historic site.

_LG28091Hale o Kapuni Heiau would have been located here, just off shore.

Our second stop was in Kamuela at the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company.

20180906_124417Bob and I

20180906_124516The four of us

We enjoyed free samples of coffee, various flavors of macadamia nuts, brittle and popcorn at Hamakua Macadamia Nut Company. We purchased a few different flavors of brittle and popcorn.

Our third stop was in Kapaau.

Kapaau’s main point of interest

It would be difficult to miss Kapaau’s main point of interest.

_LG28105The King Kamehameha Statue statue towers over Route 270.

Our fourth stop was at the Pololu Valley Lookout. Route 270 ends at the lookout.

_LG28111Pololu Valley Lookout

Pololu Valley Lookout provides a spectacular view of the coast and cliffs, lush with vegetation, rising out of the ocean.

I hope that you enjoyed coming along with us on our drive through Kohala Region.  Our activities of September 6th will be continued in my next Hawaiian vacation blog post.


Our Hawaiian Vacation: Downtown Kona Visit

We had not yet visited downtown Kona.  On Wednesday (September 5th) Dorothy had a few errands to run and wanted to get her hair cut.  Bob and I accompanied Dorothy to Kona late morning for a look around. Before reaching Kona, though, we stopped in Kahaluu at Saint Peter’s Catholic Church, also called the “Little Blue Church”.

_LG28038Saint Peter’s Catholic Church

_LG28040Can you see why the church is referred to as “Little Blue Church”?

Saint Peter’s Catholic Church was built in 1889 on the former site of an ancient Hawaiian heiau (or temple site).

In Kona Dorothy dropped us off along Hualalai Road, across from the Kona Inn Shopping Village.  Dorothy left to get a haircut. Bob and I walked from Hualalai Road to the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. Staying on Ali’i Drive our walk would have been 0.40 miles. We zigzagged our way to the hotel, so our walk was a bit longer than that.

_LG28044We checked out a few shops, while walking through the Kona Inn Shopping Village.

_LG28045This is Hulihe’e Palace.
The palace was built in 1838.
Vacationing Hawaiian royalty stayed here until 1914.
The palace is now a museum.

Across the street from Hulihe’e Palace is Mokuaikaua Church.

Mokuaikaua Church

Mokuaikaua Church was the first Christian church built in the islands, in 1820.  The present building dates from 1837.  The church is built of lava rock and crushed coral.  Admission to the church is free.  We walked inside and took notice of two things: the stained glass window at the front of the church and a scale model of the Brig “Thaddeus”.

_LG28053Stained Glass Window
Jesus at Gethsemane

_LG28049the Brig “Thaddeus”

The plaque reads:

“The Brig “Thaddeus” / Carrying the members of the Pioneer Company of the Sandwich Islands Mission, The Brig (85 feet long, 24 feet wide and 13 feet deep, 241 tons) left Long Wharf, Boston, October 23, 1819. / It sailed around Cape Horn, arriving at Kailua Bay on April 4, 1820, after a voyage of 164 days.”

_LG28057From Mokuaikaua Church we continued our walk down Ali’i Drive.

_LG28059The Pride of America cruise ship arrived in Kona earlier that morning from Hilo.

We were asked several times, if we were from the cruise ship. We talked for a few minutes with a lady from the cruise ship, who was from the Buffalo/Niagara Falls Area. She and two other ladies had a 3-room suite on the cruise ship. Each person paid $3,500 for the 7-day cruise.

_LG28061Downtown Kona at the seawall

_LG28064Green Sea Turtle in Kailua Bay at Kailua Pier
There were two turtles swimming here.  Only one poked its head up at me.

_LG28066I took a more expansive view of downtown Kona from the Kailua Pier.

From Kailua Pier I took a couple pictures of Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark.

_LG28072Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark

Kamakahonu was the final residence of King Kamehameha I.

_LG28070Kamakahona National Historic Landmark

Dorothy picked us up in front of King Kamehameha’s Hotel, when we texted her to let her know that we were ready.  The wait at two different beauty salons was too long, so the hair cut didn’t happen. Dorothy sat and drank an ice coffee, while waiting for Bob and me to finish our walk about.

On our way back home we stopped at Ola Brew, where Bob tried a sample of four beers and drank a pint of porter. Dorothy drank one pint of an IPA. She filled two growlers with beer too. Our final stop before returning home was at Walmart, where Dorothy picked up a few grocery “bits”. Bob and I bought hair clips, bracelets and necklaces for our granddaughters.

Juniper and Harper liked their new jewelry.

Our Hawaiian Vacation: Two Day Circle Tour (Day 2) – Hilo to Kailua-Kona

This blog post continues the activities of Tuesday, September 4th.

We were still talking about our surprise helicopter ride, as we left the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel and drove to Rainbow Falls.   Rainbow Falls is located at the northwest border of Hilo and quite easy to reach.  From the parking lot it is a very short walk to an overlook of the falls.

MVIMG_20180904_104617Rainbow Falls
(Photo by Bob)

_LG27998_LG27999_LG28000-HDRRainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is 80 feet high.  The waterfall cascades over a lava cave that according to legend is home to the ancient Hawaiian goddess Hina, the goddess of the moon.

Depending on the amount of rainfall upstream in the preceding days the falls can be either roaring or they can be reduced to a trickle.

D5263853 4x6I took this photograph of Rainbow Falls in May 2010.
The amount of water falling was less in 2010 than it was this year.

Late August this year Hurricane Lane dumped many, many inches of rain on Hilo.  I believe Rainbow Falls was flowing well still from the amount of rain that fell then.  Watch this video, which was filmed on August 23, twelve days before we visited Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls during Hurricane Lane
August 23, 2018

Bob and I at Rainbow Falls this year.

From Rainbow Falls we drove to Zippy’s Restaurant, which is located at the Prince Kuhio Plaza Shopping Mall.  After breakfast Dorothy and I went shopping at Skechers, Sears and TJ Maxx. I purchased a pair of Skechers sneakers, as the sneakers that I wore to Hawaii were falling apart.

We took Highway 19 out of Hilo and drove north up the Hamakua Coast.  We followed Highway 19 to about the 7.5 mile marker, at which point we make a right hand turn onto 4 Mile Scenic Drive.  We followed this scenic drive until it took us, in 4 miles, back to Highway 19.  This road twists and snakes around tight curves and over one-lane bridges, through a lush tropical rain forest lined with streams.  There are breathtaking views of the ocean, coast and the collapsed Onomea Arch in Onomea Bay.

_LG28002_LG28003_LG28004-HDROnomea Arch

According to Hawaiian legend King Kamehameha threw his sword and created a tunnel in solid rock. Onomea Arch stood for thousands of years until an earthquake in 1956 caused the top of the arch to collapse.

Further up the road we saw a large hole in the cliff side spilling water under a bridge and into the stream.

Small roadside waterfall

We stopped for a snack at What’s Shakin’.

What’s Shakin’

20180904_234712696_iOSWhat’s Shakin’ Menu

John and Bob ordered Peanut Braddah smoothies. I ordered a Farmers Favorite. I cannot remember the type of fruit smoothie that Dorothy ordered.  The smoothies were delicious!

We made our way back to Highway 19 and continued our drive north.

Our next stop was at Akaka Falls State Park. Akaka Falls is located in a tropical forest.

_LG28007Akaka Falls is visible from the parking lot.

We took the most direct trail to Akaka Falls, which reduced significantly the amount of stairs we had to climb. We enjoyed the tropical vegetation and saw a couple small falls along the way.

_LG28008I love the drops of rain on this plant.

_LG28009One of the small waterfalls that we saw on our way to Akaka Falls.
The young couple on the far right side of the bridge are Emily and Ben,
whom we shared our helicopter ride with earlier in the day.

I liked the red color of this plant, against the green background.

Another waterfall

The bulb at the bottom is the bunch of bananas is a banana flower.

This is Akaka Falls.

Akaka Falls is 442 feet tall.

20180904_145838Bob and I at Akaka Falls.

Our last stop along the Hamakua Coast was at the Waipio Valley Lookout.

_LG28020_LG28021_LG28022-HDRThe lookout provides a view of the Waipio Valley.

From Waipio Valley Lookout we drove to Waimea. We stopped at the Big Island Brew House.

20180904_165142Dorothy took this picture of Bob, John and I at the back of the car.
John and Bob are getting out the growlers to fill with beer.
I don’t know what I was looking at.

After getting some brew we stopped at the supermarket and got pizza and a few other groceries. We returned to Kailua-Kona via the high road (Highway 190). We returned home around 7:30 pm.

We ate dinner (pizza), and shortly afterward I went to bed.

Our Hawaiian Vacation: Two Day Circle Tour (Day 2) – The BIG Surprise

Tuesday morning (Sep. 4) we awakened at 6:00 am, with plans to meet Dorothy in the lobby at 7:15 am. Dorothy told us the previous day that she had something planned for us.  She wouldn’t tell us what “the something” was that she had planned.

Dorothy texted Bob around 7:00 am to ask if we were up. We were up and had been sitting on our balcony enjoying the view and watching the cruise ship come into Hilo.

_LG27907We spent the night at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.  Our room had a balcony that looked out on Hilo Bay.
The concrete foot bridge, seen in this photograph, leads to Coconut Island.

_LG27922We watched from our balcony, as the Pride of America cruise ship entered the Hilo Harbor.

Dorothy came to our room with a couple “biscuits” (cookies) to stave off any hunger pains. As we continued to watch the cruise ship, Dorothy mentioned that for “the something” she had planned that we would not be able to carry a cell phone unless it was secured by a lanyard.  Dorothy also said that I wouldn’t be able to change my camera lens, so I should bring the most versatile lens with me.

This is when I put two and two together, based upon the given evidence:
(1) no cell phones unless secured by a lanyard
(2) the inability to change a camera lens
(3) Dorothy asking if we had packed long sleeve shirts, as we were preparing for this two-day circle tour.  (My reply had been “no”.  Why would we need long sleeve shirts in Hawaii???)
(4) The need for our height and weight.  In an earlier post I mentioned a conversation that Dorothy and I had before we left for Hawaii.  Dorothy wrote that she needed both Bob and my height and weight.  After I provided Dorothy the requested information, she said “Thanks, now you will be better matched for calf wrestling”.  That sure was a strange conversation!

I asked Dorothy if we were going on a helicopter ride. Dorothy’s response was “Yes”.  Our surprise was a helicopter ride!

What a BIG surprise!

We drove to Hilo Airport from the hotel to the Paradise Helicopter Tour counter. Dorothy had booked us on a Doors-off Lava & Rainforests Adventure.  At the tour counter we had to step on a scale.  Maintaining proper weight and balance in a helicopter is important in order to provide guests with a safe, smooth and comfortable experience.  After being checked in, we were directed into a meeting room.  We watched a movie about how to stay safe before, during and after our ride.  The main thing that stayed with me from the video presentation was not to allow anything to fly out of the helicopter.  Doing so could cause the helicopter to crash!  Bob and I, along with 7 other couples (if I remember correctly), were escorted to a waiting area located in front of a fence just off the airfield.  I believe there were four helicopter flights that morning, two couples per helicopter.  We were on the last flight.

Our helicopter ride lasted approximately 45 minutes. We shared the ride with Emily and Ben, a young couple from Florida. Emily moved to Florida from Pennsylvania 6 years ago. Emily and Ben sat in the front, next to the pilot, whose name was Matt. Ben had a window seat. Bob and I sat in the back seats and each had a window … DOORS-OFF remember?  We were strapped in our seats, and for the first 15-20 minutes I didn’t move much. I was really nervous. Bob had a strap at the top of his window, which he held onto the entire flight.  When he left go, after we returned to Hilo Airport, his hand was numb!  My nervousness began to ease about halfway through the flight, when I realized if I sat upright that my communicator wouldn’t blow off my head!   We saw the rainforest, steam rising out of fissures, a little red dot where lava still burned hot, volcano crater that we could see to the bottom, and waterfalls.  Our pilot did an EXCELLENT job narrating our tour.  He was both humorous and informative.

I put together a slideshow of the photographs that I took, while in flight.  Be sure to click full screen for best viewing.  (Full screen is the rightmost icon on the bottom right of the YouTube screen.)

What a super awesome experience!  


LJG27994Bob and I, after our helicopter ride, with Matt the pilot

Thank you so much, Dorothy and John.  We cannot thank you enough!  We will NEVER ever forget our very first helicopter ride!


We returned to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, after our helicopter ride.  We checked out and continued Day 2 of our two day circle tour of the island.

-To Be Continued-



Our Hawaiian Vacation: Two Day Circle Tour (Day 1)

On Labor Day (September 3) we embarked on a two-day circular driving tour of the Island of Hawaii.  John and Dorothy were our tour guides.

We began our journey along the Southern Kona Coast (Rt. 11), leaving home around 9:45 am.  Sixty miles from Kona is South Point, which is the southernmost point of all 50 states.

We arrived at South Point at 11:37 am. It had started to rain during our drive; however, the rain let up and the view improved by the time we arrived at South Point. At South Point we enjoyed the view of the sea cliffs and watched young people jump off a fishing platform into the ocean way below.

_LG27872South Point jumpers

_LG27873South Point jumper

I didn’t capture a video of any jumping; however, an internet search on South Point cliff jumping yielded many videos from which to choose.

I chose this video.

This video shows lots of cliff jumping.  In addition the video provides a geography lesson and a historical perspective.


You think that cliff jumping is crazy.  Well, what about jumping into this blowhole?

_LG27869We didn’t see anyone jump into this blowhole, but people do jump into it!

Please feel free to mute the audio, if the music doesn’t appeal to you.  I preferred this video to those that had wind noise in them.

Constant winds blowing at South Point have caused trees to blow over and grow that way.

_LG27878A Wind-Swept Tree

We left South Point around 12:30 pm. We stopped in the town of Na`alehu at the Punalu`u Bake Shop. Na`alehu is the southernmost town in the 50 states. The Panalu`u Bakery is the southernmost bakery in the 50 states. The bakery is situated on a lush four-acre landscaped estate.

20180903_130337Dorothy took this photograph of Bob and me,
as we walked toward the covered pavilion shown in the corner of this picture.

We ate the lunch that Dorothy packed for us and the Malasada donuts (Portuguese donuts) that Bob and I purchased at the bakery, while sitting in the pavilion.

Our next stop, after lunch, was also in Na`alehu.

_LG27880This is an overlook of Whittington Beach Park.

Continuing east from Na`alehu on Highway 11 our last stop was at Punalu`u Beach Park, near the town of Pahala. Punalu`u Beach Park is known for its black sand beach and Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles that frequent this beach.

_LG27890The black sand beach at Punalu`u Beach Park

_LG27892Looking out to sea from beach

_LG27893Two Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

Behind Punalu`u Beach is a beautiful freshwater pool.

IMG_20180903_140523Bob took this picture of Dorothy and me in front of the pool.

_LG27902Two of the many water lilies in the freshwater pool

We were on our way again at 2:15 pm. From Panalu’u Beach Park we continued eastward on Highway 11, past the entrance to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and over the cracks in the highway. The park was closed due to earthquake damage and volcano eruptions from earlier this year.

We arrived in Hilo around 3:15 pm.  Before going to our hotel, we stopped at Big Island Candies.  Throughout the store there were coffee and delectable treat samples.  The sample that I liked the best was Chocolate Covered Passion Fruit Brownies.

We checked into the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, located on Banyan Drive. Our room had an ocean view, with a balcony.  I will share pictures of the view in my next Hawaiian blog post.

We ate dinner at Cronies Bar & Grill. John, Bob and I ordered burgers and fries; Dorothy ordered soup.

We returned to the hotel a couple hours later. By 8:00 pm I had showered and was ready for bed. Dorothy said to meet her in the lobby at 7:15 am, as she had something planned for us.  She wouldn’t tell us what was planned.

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