Day 6 – 5th day of Cruise, Kona, Big Island, HI

Last night we got the thrill of our lives watching the lava flow into the Pacific with a huge plume of steam rising up into the night sky. Went to sleep thinking that nothing that followed could live up to this. But this day, the Captain Zodiac raft trip came very very close.

We woke up in the morning with our ship already weighing anchor 1/2 a mile off the coast. The lifeboats (called tenders) were being used to ferry us to the shore. For those who were just going ashore without any ship sponsored shore excursions, the process was incredibly chaotic. They had to go to the main reception on Deck 5, get a number and then wait till their number was called. Then they would go down to Deck 3 to get on the lifeboats. For some reason, it was taking very long to do this, and from what we heard, people were still waiting to get off at noon! We lucked out as we had a shore excursion with the Captain Zodiac raft. We were able to walk up to the ramp and get on the first boat.

Our raft trip was not till 12.45 PM and so we were able to walk along the picturesque coastline. The whole town was preparing for a Triathlon and thus there was a lot of people, who were getting a feel for the waters, and trying out their bikes. We had our by now obligatory shaved ice and took in the local palace. Then it was time for the main event!

We did not know what to expect till the raft showed up; it was like a pontoon boat with a very powerful motor. There were no seats, you just sat on the sidewalls and held on for dear life. Instead of a seat belt there is a foot belt, you tuck your toes under a rope that runs along the floor. This prevents you from getting tossed out of the boat. The captain told us that the back of the boat stays pretty stable but the front is very bumpy. So of course we had to sit at the very front, courtesy Sabrina.

Just as we got out of the harbor, the captain spotted some spinner dolphins. There was a whole school of them following us and another boat. What a great start to the trip! The captain then pushed the throttle and we had to hold on for dear life as the boat leaped forward with it flat bottom bouncing off every wave. We felt like we were on a rodeo!

The destination was a cove that is supposed to be the most beautiful snorkeling place in the world. It is where Captain Cook landed and there is a small monument commemorating him. The area is protected and you are not allowed to touch any of the coast or the sea bottom. You jump off the boat directly into the waters. Notice I said “you” because I don’t swim and I thought I was just along for the ride, no puns intended. Well all the hype about this being the best place for snorkeling made me curious. The captain and his assistant had all the equipment – life jacket, prescription snorkeling goggles etc. I can’t imagine ever jumping into the open sea, life jacket or not, and here I did it without a question! Had a hard time figuring out how to breathe through the mouth, keep the snorkel hose above water, and stay horizontal in the water etc. Luckily the salinity in the cove is very high and that too helped! Had a great time and almost forgot that I could not swim. Stayed close to the boat, holding on to the ladder. It was a great experience! Sabrina and Sangita are fabulous swimmers and there being close by helped give me courage. The captain’s assistant who was the snorkeling guru was kind of nonchalant about the whole thing, “you can’t drown even if you want to”! And me thinking I was going to get a medal or something! Time passed very quickly and then it was time to go back.

We thought the fun was over but there was more. The entire coast of Kona is lined with lava that has been eroded by the waves forming fabulous lava caves undercutting the shoreline. There are also openings of lava tubes that are exposed when the undercut shoreline caves in. You can see a cross section of the various layers in which lava was deposited over many years. At one place the lava tubes and the layers form a very semi-human shape which the ancient Hawaiians believed was the Goddess Pele, the one who also lives in the Volcano!

We finally headed back to the harbor, getting a close view of some fabulous golf courses and resorts. The last tender was to leave at 5.00 and we got to the harbor at 4.30 pm. There were very few people on the tender and so it waited till 5.00 instead of taking us back to the ship and sending another tender. My talk was at 5.00 PM and thus of course I was late. The CME coordinator called the ship administration who instead of calling my cell, called Uday who was listed as one of the emergency contacts. He got frantic, that we were lost and the ship can looking for us, so he called me on my cell! By the time I got his call, I was already starting my talk, so much ado about nothing!

The folks attending were very patient, they all waited for me to get there and weren’t the least bit upset.

It had been a terrific day, almost as good as the previous one at Volcanoes Park, and I was pretty amazed at how I snorkeled in the ocean without knowing how to swim! Next day was at Kauai which was going to be a big surprise for Sabrina.

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1 Response to Day 6 – 5th day of Cruise, Kona, Big Island, HI

  1. Jessica says:

    Fun to read! My boyfriend and I just watched “moana” and I was trying to look for a picture of pele along the coastline because it resembles(and might be where the idea came from)the goddess “tafiti”in the movie and your pic popped up.
    I used to work on captain zodiac as a crew member!I cherished the times I got to be the voice of confidence and floatie partner for first time swimmers.(not all crew share that joy)the sense of adventure,that over comes your fears is THE BEST way to live! You go girl!!

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