Playing Tourist

The dentist’s office is just behind the historic Moku‘aikaua Church, and just a block from Ali‘i drive and Kailua Bay. With an appointment at 9am on a Saturday morning this leads to the question… What do I do after the teeth thing? Deb is off teaching a class at the local sewing store, thus I am on my own.

Hulihe‘e Palace
Hulihe‘e Palace on the waterfront of Kailua Bay

Leaving the car in the office parking garage I decide to walk that block from the office to the bay, just walk about and play tourist for the morning.

It is a rough surf day, not bad, but a decent swell is sending water spashing over the seawall showering the occasional tourist.

I find a spot further down the seawall where the waves are no threat and set up the drone for flight. It is a perfect day for it, no winds and all of the typical activities taking place across the small bay. Various swimmers and paddlers cross the bay, at the pier a small cruise ship, the Safari Explorer disembarks passengers.

I had wanted to fly the bay for a while, I just remembered to bring the drone this time. I film the waterfront from the Old Kona Inn, past the palace to the King Kam, do some video and a few panoramas. I hover the drone for a bit and film a water polo game that looks pretty competitive.

The historic Hulihe‘e Palace sits at one end of the bay, a remnant of the old Hawai‘i among the modern tourist shops. Gone are the days you could walk in, drop a few dollars in the collection box, and tour the rooms where Hawaiian monarchs once slept. These days you need reservations and more than a few dollars to visit the palace.

I walk around and out onto the pier, watching local kids diving off the end and noting that the fishermen’s catch buckets are empty. A couple tourists pass by with luggage, headed to the airport at the end of a Hawaiian cruise. A homeless guy panhandles in the shade with belongings piled on a shopping cart. Just the usual Kona.

Kailua Bay
Kailua Bay on a typical Saturday morning

Walking back from the pier I duck into the King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel. In the ground floor concourse is an exhibit of 40 Herb Kane paintings. These iconic paintings are seen everywhere, reproduced in books, in museum displays, and all over the ‘net. While everyone has seen the images, the usual computer or print copies pale in comparison to the originals. Most of the collection is made up of Kane’s own original limited-edition giclees, with one original oil painting. On these the colors are simply brilliant, the details rich. It is very much worth stopping in to see, even a second or third time.

One more issue to deal with… Food! On a whim I stop into Fish Hopper, another iconic Kona establishment found right on the waterfront. For being a tourist haunt the food is decent, and the prices reasonable. A breakfast burrito does a nice job of filling me up. I sit at the bar near the door watching the traffic and tourists, chatting with the barkeep.

The Kailua Bay waterfront is a different world than the rest of Kona, a place where tourists roam and Hawai‘i is portrayed as a tropical paradise crossed with a theme park. Everything is centered around serving the visitors. It is more than a little surreal to experience before I walk back to the real Hawai‘i Island.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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