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to Honokaa 8 August 2021

2381 :

Around the Island

We moved up our departure from Napoopoo because it was uncomfortably hot, and the water entry was too tough for our keikis. Better, maybe, a shuttle into Waipio?

First stop: Punalu'u Sweet Bread Bakery in Na'alehu, the southernmost bakery in the southernmost town in the United States. We couldn't remember what malasadas were, but here's one now, stuffed with haupia, barely sweetened coconut pudding. I heard someone say that a malasada is like a donut only without the hole. I think it's the other way 'round: a donut is a defective malasada.

I prefaced our visit here with the warning that we were about to have a touristic experience, and I was right. A few tourist vans had arrived before us, and due to Covid care as interpreted by the mayor of Hawaii County – counties here include whole islands (sometimes two) – and are governed by a mayor. Hawaii (the big island) has a very cautious mayor (for which we are grateful!) who has mandated masks in all public enclosed spaces, and hand sanitization before entry for everyone, no exceptions!

2382 :

2383 :

Onward counter-clockwise around the island, watching the microclimates and their ecosystems change from South Kona's green to Kau's dessert, to the fern forests of Kilauea, the island's fifth and most recent volcano. Here, on the summit, we were able to look down into the caldera (above), almost to the recently arisen lava lake. Spectacularly active for the first months of the year, it settled down in May.

We drove partway down the Chain of Craters Road until we could see the newest land in the US, below Kilauea.

2384 :

Not much to do in Hawaii Volcano National Park, and so we soon carried on to Hilo, where I expected us to find a good lunch. I was right: Cafe Pesto. Even at 3pm the place was crowded, and we were told we wouldn't get seated (party of 7!) for an hour we walked up the street and found a very cool shop, The Locavore Store, where we found several Island delights.

2385 :

2386 :

It didn't take an hour. We got a phone call, and hustled back. Superb salads, but by the time the entrées arrived, we were too hungry to take pictures; sorry. They were as beautiful as the salads, and just as delicious. One stand-out ingredient: crispy onions, lightly battered with maybe Mac-nut flour?

But then there was dessert: a three layer chocolate “cake” – fairly normal cake on the bottom, then a chocolate mousse heavily laced with orange peel (and, we suspect, orange liqueur), then a ganache topped with chopped Macadamia nuts. Extraordinary (and worth replicating.)

2387 :

From Hilo, the road along the Hamakua Coast is jungly green and peppered with waterfalls – this is the island's windward side, and has experienced more than the usual rainfall, while the Kona, leeward side, is in drought. I didn't get any decent pictures.

We arrived at our destination, the Hotel Honoka'a Club, an old typical family-run transient residence for, as the National Registry of Historic Places explains, “workers and drummers.” Allicia said “this is like sleeping in a museum.” The Koki Frogs (an invasive species famous for being, pound for pound, the world's loudest animal) and the bar next door kept us awake until after ten, late for us on this trip. 

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