We landed in Hilo after sleeping most of the way across the pacific and picked up the rental car; Simon thought a convertible would be fun and it is, but the boot is so tiny we have to put the suitcases on the back seat - and the easiest way to do that is to put the top down, so it's handy it's a convertible. It was baking sunshine but humid as well, so we cranked up the aircon and drove the coast road north to cool down, diverting onto the Scenic Four Mile Drive. Speeding through lush forest and looking down at streams tumbling over rocks I thought I recognised Hawaii; it's what a thousand landscaped hotel pools and decorations are trying to look like. But then you get to the cliffs and bays and waterfalls and fruit stands and fields of wild sugar came and it doesn't feel like an imitation of itself. We turned inland at Waimeia and drove over the slopes and lava fields down to Kona and Keahau and the hotel, where we just had time to snap the sunset, dip in the pool and have fish and chips at the bar watching the turtles and moray eels wim in the tidal pools.
I like a hotel where you can slide a bug screen across the whole window and leave it open so you can hear the sound of the waves to soothe you to sleep. With bad news from home we needed that, and we've been taking it easy, driving around tasting coffee and looking at pretty views. Highlights in no particualr order:
papaya and lime with fresh pineapple grated into the yoghurt for breakfast (although this morning I had a wafer-thin galette filled with tomato, lettuce, bacon and scrmabled eggs at Peaberry and Galette, a nice cafe - in the shopping mall
continuing the theme - dinner at Kenichi Pacific last night in the same mall; delicious Japanese pacific fusion. Simon had panko crusted swordfish, I had barely seared ono thin sliced and piled onto mashed white sweet potato with a mushroom foam for dipping (and we shared miso black cod and a tasty spider roll)
and again, tonight in Hilo - dinner in a mall, at the Hilo Cafe, which is both delicious and good value (duck confit,ribs, parmesan custard, ahi poke)
and Ceviche Dave's - in an industrial park rather than a mall: four varieties of the most amazing cevishe, done in cocnut milk or liliikoi joice or with shrimp
in the next block - the Kailua Candy chocolate factory shop and the Big Island ice cream factory shop
coffee tasting at Mountain Thunder and Greenwells, with tours showing the roasting, the colorimeter bean selection, the drying, the harvesting and the grafting onto giant coffee root stock (between the two of them)
seeing turtles swimming and basking on several beaches
seeing spinning dolphins spinning and leaping in the distance as we dodged the spray
driving to South Point - the most southerly point in the USA; followed by tasting sweetbread at the most southerly bakery in the USA
resisting buying yards of wonderful hawaiian print fabric at Kimura
the Kona brewing compay - great beers and delicious pizza in the pouring rain watching mongooses
yellow finches and red-headed cardinals and the ubiquitous gangs of myna birds (very few Unaccompanied Mynas)
We spent three days exploring the Kona coast; now we're going to roam around and out from Hilo.