Honaunau and Dragonfly Ranch

We came back two weeks ago from five days on the Big Island.  We initially planned it to coincide with the visit of Fred & Pat Sawicki, friends of the family, so we could show them around Kona a little bit.  It was the prime opportunity to check out a B&B we saw advertised on the iPhone app, InnTouch.  Nestled in Honaunau, a wonderful place with historic significance to Hawaiians, the ranch (www.dragonflyranch.com) seemed perfect for a weekend visit.

After our trip to Midway, we contacted Jack’s Diving Locker in order to schedule a dive called Pelagic Magic, led by one of our cohorts in disaster on the Midway trip, Matthew D’Avella (www.mdavella.com).  That scheduled, we packed our dive bags, got on the plane, and headed over for an extended weekend.

The ranch itself is lovely, populated by Siamese kittens, and run by Barbara, who has done the majority of art work decorating the place.  The rooms are clean, our shower was unusual in that it was outside, along with our bathtub, and there are niceties in every room.  The breakfast offered is all organic, lots of fruits, quinoa, ionized water, organic coffee.  And the kittens abound, wreaking mischief.  Barbara offers various services ranging from laser treatments to meditation, to an afternoon with her. There is a labyrinth above the property where you are encouraged to abandon everything in your mind, move through it, and come out mentally refreshed. 

There were lots of good places to eat near the ranch in Kealakekua and Captain Cook.  One place where we had dinner was the Manago Hotel, where they are famous for their pork chops with gravy and fried onions.  I must say, it was a spectacular meal, reminiscent of schnitzels in Germany.  Inexpensive as well! 

The ranch is up the road from the national park Place of Refuge, where you could reside in order to be forgiven for violating any kapu, or for waging war against your cousin, who was a really mean dude by the name of Kamehameha the Great.  It overlooks the bay at Honaunau, as well as Kealakekua, affording a view of the Captain Cook monument.  Very peaceful, we were serenaded by cows, horses, roosters, dogs and cats daily, and we were able to indulge in some much needed rest as well as a little diving.  I highly recommend the ranch!

The dive with Matthew was absolutely overwhelming.  You are two miles from shore, and the ocean floor is about a mile beneath you as you descend.  We were tethered to the boat, at about 20-30 feet, flying in the pitch black night ocean.  So many cool little (and big) creatures that you seldom see during the day, there are a lot of larval animals out there.  And, we’re pretty sure, a shark or two that we didn’t see.  Lots of squid were running about as well.

Unfortunately, we both had dive camera malfunctions, which was ok.  There was so much sensory stimulation, that I don’t think we would have taken our best pictures.  It would seem we will need to do that particular dive one more time at least.

We had dinner the night after our dive at Teshima’s (FABULOUS Japanese restaurant) with Matthew and his wife, Kara, who works with NOAA.  She was finishing her Master’s thesis, based on the plankton food life cycle for pelagics, I believe, while the three of us were in Midway.  Lovely woman, poor thing has only ever dived Magic Island here on O’ahu, we shall have to show her better places the next time she is here. 

Both Matthew and Kara are very active in attempting to stop commercial harvesting of local Hawaiian fish.  The day after we left, there was a council meeting, and it appears that there will be a moratorium on harvesting fish off of the Big Island.  I’m happy about that, as the population at Honaunau is smaller than I can ever remember, and we are destroying fish life cycles.  But enough on that, I will have to address that in another blog post.

Then arrived Fred & Pat.  We met up with them in Kailua Kona, and headed out to Basil Boston Italian restaurant for dinner.  We led them back to their hotel, which was a bit beyond the turnoff to head to the Dragonfly, and made plans to meet the next day.

After lunch in Kailua on Tuesday, we headed to the Seahorse breeding facility near the airport.  Much like everything else off the island, seahorses have been over-harvested.  Their average life span following capture from the ocean is one year.  At the hatchery, seahorses are being bred for commercial sale.  They are trained to eat domesticated shrimp and krill, and their average life span in unknown, but there are a number 12 years of age still going strong.  Great learning experience, very pleased to have shared it with Fred & Pat.

And then it was home.  I think the next time my folks are here, we may just have to visit Kona, one spot to which they have not been.

Barbara, thanks for the lovely stay.  Matthew, thanks for the super dive.  And Fred & Pat, thanks for the trip to the Seahorse farm!!!  A great success overall.