Monday, February 25, 2013

Hawaii bike tours

I recently accomplished on of my goals for this winter: leading bike trips on the Big Island of Hawaii. Bicycle Adventures offers about fifteen trips on the big island each winter, and I was very excited to be sent down there as Tour Guide for two recent trips. I got to escape the Seattle winter and get some sunshine, while also meeting some great folks and earning a bit of cash. Whoop whoop!!

Rather than giving a play-by-play, here are some highlights of the trip…

Before the guests arrive, Teri and I hiked to a flooded lava tube near Kiholo Bay that is called Queen’s Bath. Apparently lots of cool swimming spots on the island are called “Queen’s Bath,” but this one was super-cool. There were two holes that led into the flooded tunnel, and one of them had a cute ladder for climbing down. The other one was a great photo op, too, as you can’t see how the swimmer gets in/out of the water! The tunnel between the two holes had a few feet of breathing room. I heard you can explore about 50m into the dark tunnel beyond the second hole, but we didn’t have a flashlight handy and it got rather creepy very quickly!


We went on a snorkeling trip during the Classic bike tour, and the humpback whales were everywhere! February must be a great time of year to see humpbacks in Hawaii. Boats must stay 100m away from the whales, but if a whale comes closer then the captain just has to cut the engine and wait. We were treated to a mama whale and a calf swimming right up next to our boat!!


Another memorable sight was the smoking/steaming crater on Kilauea. We saw action at the Halema’uma’u crater from a few different angles, during our daytime hike and from the Jaggar museum at sunset. As the sun sets, you get a better and better view of the “red glow,” which I understand to be the lava reflecting off of the smoke and steam. You can’t see the lava itself from the overlook right now – you need a helicopter! The best time to take a photo is just after sunset – you don’t want enough ambient light to drown out the “glow,” but you need enough light to light the landscape, otherwise your photo is just a red splotch.


Another cool thing that we saw: sea turtles at Punaluu black sand beach. People also saw turtles in the water here, and at Kahaluu, but this is the only turtle photo that I have:


Near the Waikoloa resorts, you can pick up the King’s Trail and see some petroglyphs that are over 100 years old. These cravings are less than a mile from the road. I took a few photos during a before-dinner run one night.


One of my favorite bike rides was on the quiet and scenic roads of the Puna District. You go through a few tree tunnels with low-hanging vines, and you also have some beautiful views of the rocky coastline. You go through a few lava flows, too.


I’ll lave you with a photo of the sunset from the shopping center at Alii and King Kam III. I finished my grocery shopping one evening just in time to snap a few shots with the surprisingly large crowd of tourists. Well, it was surprisingly large for a shopping center parking lot, but the view explains their presence.


And what better to enjoy this sunset with, than Kona Brewing Company’s current “Aloha Series” seasonal, the Koko Brown ale?


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