Archive for June, 2009

Swimming with Dolphins in Kona

June 22, 2009


I am a frequent visitor to Hawaii -usually at least twice a year, and Kona on the Big Island has always been a favorite spot of mine. On a recent trip, and as I do on every trip there, I set out with a friend to kayak Kealakekua Bay, in hopes to spot and maybe even swim with wild Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins.

I love marine mammals. And because of the many experiences I have had with wild whales and dolphins in Hawaii , California and Mexico, I have developed a keen appreciation for them in their natural environment. I have disdain for captive dolphin swim programs, and although they serve as a popular attraction for their ease and guarantee of interaction, it is really at the animals’ expense. Seeking whales and dolphins in the wild, although unpredictable, has been one of my personal most exciting and rewarding wildlife experiences. And Kealakekua Bay, near Captain Cook, south of Kona on the Big Island, is one of those magical places where you do stand a good chance of interacting.

This particular day was like any other. We tried to set out bright and early, lagged as usual, and after picking up our kayaks form a local vendor, got down to the bay by 1030am. There are several choices for renting kayaks in and around Captain Cook, or there are a few local residents who are now renting kayaks at the bay. This option saves you the trouble of loading and returning the kayaks with your car, and also helps support the locals. Most people will tell you that very early in the morning is the best time to see the dolphins, but I have encounter3ed them at many different times of day here. It was not too long after heading out into the bay in our double kayaks that we spotted a pod of spinner dolphins, who come into the calm and protected bay waters to rest and play. Within minutes I slipped into the clear blue water with my mask, snorkel and fins to survey the situation. Much to my delight, the pod of around 10-15 dolphins was visible below and swimming alongside our kayak. That day I spent around one hour in the water with this group, playing and cavorting. The group had expanded by combining smaller congregations to up to about 4o dolphins. The spinner dolphins are so named for their tendency to jump out of the water and pirouette, I behavior which they exhibited repeatedly this day.

Closer sitting and watching showed the dolphins apparently playing a game of pass with a soggy leaf, a behavior that I have witnessed before. They key to enjoying wild dolphins is meeting them on their terms in their environment. It is important not to chase, swim after or harass the dolphins. Looking eye to eye with wild dolphins in Hawaii can be described by some as a life changing experience. I would have to agree.

Here is a video I made of this swim:

If you go to Kealakekua Bay, and you don’t see dolphins, you will still have an amazing experience snorkeling the pristine reefs inside the bay, and learning about the history of this sacred place.

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Honolulu for Singles

June 12, 2009


What makes Honolulu one of the Top 10 US citied for singles? That’s easy- their location, on the world’s most famous beach, Waikiki attracting international visitors from all around the world; Their wide range of accommodations, from budget to 5 star, excellent shopping and nightlife make it a mecca for singles looking for fun ion the sun, and after dark.

On a recent trip during March, I found there to be plenty going on around town, catering to spring breakers, as well as more mature travelers and locals alike. I stayed at Aston Waikiki Circle, a modest hotel with one of the best locations around- right in the heart of Waikiki, across the street from the Duke Statue and prime surfing beach. The rooms are small at this landmark hotel, but the city and ocean views are inspiring, and for only around $100 a night, you just cannot beat the value and location. Other offerings popular with single travelers, both solo or travelling with friends are Ohana  Waikiki West, Aqua Waikiki Wave, and Aston Waikiki Beach. All are a great value, and close to all the action. For a little more upscale, my favorite In the area is Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, with its classic beach bar Duke’s Canoe Club. This is hands down one of the best places to watch the sunset, sip cocktails, mingle with visitors and locals alike, while listening to sweet Hawaiian music. And the food is great too. Activities in Waikiki are unlimited: learning to surf is at its finest and most forgiving here. Outrigger canoe rides are always a rush. And let’s not forget that sunset cruise. After dark, Honolulu has a wealth of choices for night clubbers. One of the best happy hour places is Maitai’s at Moana center. Live bands of all types can be found at Gordon Biersch by Aloha Tower. Disco dancers go for Club Ra on Kuhio Street or trendy Indigo in Chinatown. There are bars and clubs for any taste, from acoustic music to karaoke, jazz, rock and house music. For an artsy alternative scene, check out Ong King in Chinatown. There first Friday program features monthly musicians, poets, even belly dancers. A great place to catch a meal and some great beers is the Kona Brewing Co. at Koko Marina. On our last visit we were graced with a performance by slack guitar great Ledward Kaapana, who plays there on Sundays with accompaniment  by various family members. Two of my favorite Honolulu restaurants are Ono Hawaiian Foods and Irifune, both on Kapahulu Ave.  Onos serves up traditional Hawaiian food at inexpensive prices in a very local atmosphere. Irifune offers great Japanese food, fresh sashimi and their specialty garlic Ahi. Both restaurants are affordable and genuine Hawaiian dining experiences, as is the local plate lunch to be found everywhere at takeaway places such as the now famous L & L, and countless others. Honolulu has something for everyone, and is the great Gathering Place, is an ideal place for singles looking for value, fun and excitement.  Here is a short video clip from the beach at Waikiki:

For more information on visiting Honolulu see or