Kailua Kona, The Big Island of Hawaii, 2009
Hale Kona Kai (Kona Home by the Sea) where we spent 4 weeks in Jan/Feb 2009
Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America anchored in front of our condo
Hawaii has not escaped the drop in tourism. The number of cruise ships that stopped for a day at Kona was down by half of what we saw in 2008. Unfortunately this hasn't resulted in a significant drop in the cost of rentals, nor the tax penalties paid by tourists to the cash-strapped state. One Canadian acquaintance who owns a home there reported a property tax bill of $3600 while his Hawaiian neighbour, with a similar home, pays only $400.
Our condo neighbour paints while the ocean pounds ashore, seemingly under her feet.
Eleanor strolls Hapuna Beach, rated by Conde Nast as the best in the USA
Mauna Kea's spectacular setting to chase the little white ball. No, I didn't ask about green fees.
Mauna Kea Beach
We have found Kona noticeably cooler these past two years, with more frequent showers. Many areas of previously barren lava are now covered in ornamental grasses, and small bushes are making headway. Typically the temperatures were 82F during the day and 69F at night.
One unpleasant environmental change has been VOG, volcano smog. Madam Pele, the goddess of Kiluea, became angry about a year ago and began to spew particulate, which the prevailing northeasterly carries south and west. Kailua Kona sees only a small amount but a drive along the south coast to Hilo was unpleasant; you could taste the particulates. We skipped our usual visit to Volcano National Park.
A luau gets underway at the neighbouring Royal Kona Resort
Tropical tree maintenance at the Royal Kona Resort. (Care to arm wrestle this chap?)
The Hawaiian home of a Canadian couple who spend 6 months/year in Kona
Sunset Dinner Cruise
In the village, Bongo Ben's (lower level) serves a good breakfast while Lulu's (upstairs) serves a passable dinner
King's Shops in the Waikoloa Beach Resort
Kona remains our favorite retreat from Winter. It lacks the excitement of Waikiki on Oahu but, for extended stays, it's a great spot. Each day started with fresh papaya from the nearby farmers' market (as little as 20 cents each) and each day ended with a long walk along the waterfront shops. We're booked for 5 weeks in 2010.