Spring Break 2014: Sand, rocks, water, and creatures

We had a delightfully low-key start to our day today.

We all slept in, then lingered over a big brunch, before setting off to explore. We headed a few miles south down the Kona coast to Kahalu’u Beach, which has amazing snorkeling, thanks to some ancient breakwaters constructed from volcanic rock. The shoreline is a combo of lava rock and salt and pepper sand and the water is shallow for quite a ways out, with a number of tide pools to explore.

Standing in the water -- yes, ME, in the water! -- and looking back toward shore.


Thanks to the breakwater, the water was calm and there were plenty of sheltered spots.

Green sea turtle. (Photo taken from afar with a zoom; no animals hurt on my watch.)

Red pencil sea urchin.

Not pictured: A wee eel that was just a couple of feet in front of us. Surprisingly, I did not lose my shit and sprint on top of the water back to shore.  I think that’s progress, yo.

A side note about sand: As was mentioned in the comments in yesterday’s post, black sand is young sand, relatively speaking. Salt and pepper sand is a little older, and white sand is even older. Here’s a close up of salt and pepper sand so that you can see its composition:

The black stuff is, of course, volcanic, while the white is a mix of coral and shells. Look at these teeny tiny shells:

We had never been snorkeling from the shore before and one important thing we learned today was that it’s important to wear shoes (like Keen water shoes or aqua/surf socks), for a variety of reasons, including 1) sea urchins in the nooks and crannies of the rocks and 2) you can cut your feet on the rocks. (Just ask Pete about #2.)

I can tell you that Crocs, leather sandals, and espadrilles were not appropriate footwear. I had ordered a pair of Keen Whispers before we left, but the wrong size arrived and I didn’t have time to get a new pair. They would have been perfect for today’s outing.

Oh, and hey, while I’m showing you interesting things from around here, check this out:

Part of the tsunami warning system. They test the alarms on the 1st of every month and we heard the April test yesterday morning not long after we got here. And on a related note, yes there was a tsunami advisory last night due to the Chile earthquake, but as far as I know, no part of Hawaii was affected.

Later in the afternoon, when we all felt like we might be getting a bit sun-broiled, we came home for a rest and some cold pineapple juice. Then, still feeling energetic and a bit restless, Grace and I walked into the town of Kailua Kona (what is commonly referred to as just Kona), did a little shopping (I picked up a pair of the aforementioned Keen shoes), and then came back — about five miles round trip. We were hot and sweaty (it was in the mid-80s) today, but cold showers and cold drinks soon perked us right up.

Tomorrow, we have a really exciting excursion planned — something that has been on my Life List for a long time — and I can’t wait.


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10 Responses to Spring Break 2014: Sand, rocks, water, and creatures

  1. Liz says:

    Oo oo…oooo….is it time for the lava??

  2. Ssheers says:

    The volcano? If you go, it it much colder. On the big island, you can drive through several different microclimates in one trip.
    There are coffee plantations around Kona that you can tour if you’re interested.
    And there was another big earthquake off Chile last night, so watch out for tsunamis again.
    The Pacific plate seems to be moving and shaking. Maybe the volcano will put on a display for you. Maybe Pele is angry.

  3. alison says:

    I would love to explore the tidal pools!

  4. bdaiss says:

    Love it. Can’t wait to hear about today’s adventure!

    (PS – to make you feel even more smug about your current clime…we had a “snow” day Monday (due to a thick coat of ice with an overcoat of snow) and another 8″ fell yesterday (without any cancellations).)

  5. Smalltown Me says:

    Protective footwear is so important…my older son body surfed for a while and would come home with his feet all cut up by rocks. Ouch!

    Enjoy your adventures!

  6. Jenny says:

    If I remember correctly, there is a terrific shaved ice stand in Kona. I am sitting here envying you all.

  7. Cassi says:

    Wow, this sounds so fabulous! Can’t wait to hear about tomorrow’s adventure!

  8. Kris says:


    I am so jealous of that green sea turtle, gettin’ to hang out in the ocean all day and be all turtley. Man. Some people have all the luck.

  9. That beach looks exactly like I imagine Hawaii to look. I’m glad to know I was right about it.

  10. I jumped when I read the line about eels. You are brave!

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