Tag Archives: Kailua Kona

Hydration station

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Working Together.’ See more responses here.

The Ironman World Championship race is held here every year in October. Last year, there were nearly 2,500 competitors so it’s a huge event. An army of volunteers helps make the race happen, involved in everything from setting up the course to numerous activities on race day to cleaning up afterwards.

This photo was taken at the turnaround in Hawi, roughly halfway into the 112 mile cycling course. It’s the top of the bike course with it being mostly downhill back to Kailua Kona. Of course, this being cycling, there’s a good chance the wind, which can be fierce here, will be in the cyclists’ faces on the way up and on the way back down.

At this turnaround, volunteers hand out water and food to the competitors. It’s a tricky business making the handoff since the cyclists keep moving and there’s a steady stream of them. In this photo, I like the movement of the volunteer handing off the water as well as the echo of the action in the strong shadows.

Also posted in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Top.’ See more responses here.

C-17 plane over Kohanaiki Park

Kohanaiki Park, just north of Kailua Kona, is a popular park which provides a great view of the sunsets, has a good surf break, has protected pools for keiki to paddle in, and has all the facilities needed for a good barbecue.

If there’s a downside to the park, it’s that it’s just south of the airport. It’s not O’Hare, but planes come and go with some regularity. It’s also used by the military and planes, such as this big C-17 transport, practice touch-and-goes with some frequency. So it’s not the most relaxing beach on the island, that’s for sure, but with white sand, blue water, and hot sunshine, it has a lot going for it.

Signs: Donkey crossings

A few miles north of Kona Airport is a stretch of highway where these signs can be seen – the written warning in the foreground and a handy image in background for those who don’t know what a donkey looks like. Not that they’re going to find out here. There are no donkeys.

The signs hark back to when there were a number of wild donkeys roaming the island and this was, apparently a place where they crossed the road on a regular basis. But donkeys crossing a major road travelled by many speeding vehicles is not a tale that ends well, for the donkey or the vehicle. So the donkeys were all rounded up and put out to pasture, as it were, in domestic situations. Only the signs remain.

Except … I’ve been told that not all of them were captured. Unaccountable braying has been heard, though no donkeys have been seen, but do you want to take that chance speeding past these signs only to see, too late …

GE Propulsion Test Platform

I saw this plane when I was out walking one day, near the northern tip of the Big Island. It was flying quite low, unusually so for a big plane, as it headed south toward Kailua Kona.

The plane is a Boeing 747-400, formerly owned by Japan Airlines, but now used by GE to test jet engines. Apparently, it was operating out of Kona Airport for a week, performing warm weather engine tests.

Elephant’s ear

I am particularly fond of any plant that comes with a little tag nearby to identify it. It makes life so much easier.

This is elephant’s ear (Alocasia Macrorrhiza), also known as giant taro. In Hawaii it is known as ‘Ape. I saw this at the Hawaiian Native Plant Garden at Kohanaiki Beach Park, just north of Kailua Kona.

Native to rainforests in Borneo and Australia, elephant’s ear spread to parts of Asia and the South Pacific. It was brought to Hawaii by the Polynesians who first settled the islands, and because of this, it is known here as a canoe plant, a plant brought in the first canoes. The plant is a source of starch from the corms. The leaves and stems of taro plants can also be eaten, but giant taro causes irritation because of calcium oxalate crystals in the sap.

Powerboat and surfers

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Balconies.’ See more responses here.

Not having any photos of balconies in the traditional sense, I thought I’d pop for a photo taken yesterday when I was down in Kailua Kona. Here, a powerboat heading north passes some surfers waiting for a wave.

The boat is taking people out to a dive, and like many of these kinds of boats this one has a couple of balconies (though they’re not called that in nautical language) where passengers can relax en route to the dive site.

The cruise ship is in

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Tourism.’ (See more responses here.)

Tourism is Hawaii’s largest industry drawing between 850,000 to 1,180,000 visitors a month. The Big Island is the state’s largest geographically, bigger than all the other islands combined, but it ranks third, behind Oahu and Maui in the number of visitors. It logs 100,000-175,000 arrivals each month. Consider though that the island’s population is currently somewhere between 180,000 and 190,000. So at any given time tourists probably comprise a third to nearly a half of the people on the island.

So how do people here feel about tourism? Well, as you might expect, opinions vary. Those impacted negatively by tourism – crowded streets, no parking, noise, inconsiderate partiers – might favor curbs on the industry. Those who do well from it – restaurants, tour companies, hotels, car rentals – would like to see more done to boost the number of visitors.

I chose this photo for two reasons. The first is the subject of the photo, a cruise ship docked at Hilo. This ship visits Hilo every Tuesday, then continues on to Kailua Kona on Wednesday. It brings an influx of tourists on those two days, who fan out across the island, taking tours to various sights island-wide. It also considerably boosts the population of those two towns on those two days, such that I generally choose not to go there if I remember the cruise ship is in.

The second reason is that I work for a helicopter tour company on the island. (There are several here.) We take passengers over about half the island, primarily visiting Kilauea Volcano and the valleys and waterfalls of Kohala Mountains. It’s not cheap, it’s not a carbon-friendly activity and helicopters are loud. There are rules in place regarding the elevation of the flights and places that can be visited or should be avoided. Despite this there are people, particularly those close to or under the flight path, who would prefer there were no tour flights at all.

But I will say that a healthy proportion of those who take the tours return saying it’s the best thing they’ve done on the island, and often that it’s the best tour they’ve ever taken. It is a great way to see the island, and to see some amazing places that otherwise cannot be seen.

So do I think the sky above the Big Island should be thick with helicopters, or that cruise ships should be lining up to dock, or that the relatively small airports here should challenge O’Hare for landings and takeoffs? No. As with most things, finding a balance is the key. If you overload with tourists, the quality of their experience suffers along with the experience of people who live on the island. But put excessive barriers in the way and people stop coming, businesses close, people get laid off, the economy shrinks. It’s a fine balancing act, one that rarely pleases everyone. But at least here, if a person is feeling a bit out of sorts about these kinds of thing, it’s possible to take a cooler to the beach, chill out, and watch the sun slide into the ocean, putting on a show for tourists and locals alike.