Big Island: Kailua-Kona Side & Turtles on a Black Sand Beach

July 29, 2015  •  28 Comments

-by Edyta-

After staying on the Hilo side for four nights, we headed towards Kailua Kona situated on the east coast of the Big Island. To travel between these two towns, you can do one of two things - you can drive through the middle of the island or you can drive along the southern coast. Since we already drove part of the first road (Saddle Road) when going to Mauna Kea observatory, we opted for the latter which promised to be very scenic. Also we heard we could see some turtles at Punalu'u Beach where we ended up making a few hour stop and spotted a group of turtles sunbathing atop the black volcanic sand. 

For our stay near Kona, we picked a simple cottage on a small farm called South Kona Estate. The cottage had bug screens instead of windows, an outdoor kitchen as well as a semi-outdoor shower. We fell asleep to the sound of rain, and were awoken in the middle of the night by another sound - that of falling fruits, which sometimes hit out roof. This did not bother us at all. 

So here's some photos showing the scenic drive, our cottage, and the grounds of South Kona Estate. 

This map shows our travel from Pahoa to Kailua Kona on the Big Island. Pahoa to Kailua Kona drive shown on a map. Our route from East to West. 

There are not many places in the world where people have the pleasure of sunbathing on a black volcanic sand beach such Punalu'u Beach. Hawaii never seizes to amaze us. Punalu'u black sand beach on the southern part of the Big Island. Punalu'u Beach was an easy detour and a place where we stayed for few hours.  How many places on earth provide for such unusual beaches?  Hawaii never seizes to amaze.  The whole landscape looked out of this world: black sand beach, turtles on the shore,  crashing blue and white waves and green palm trees provided for an extremely picturesque scene. Punalu'u Beach in Hawaii. It felt as if we were on a different planet.  The beach was not very crowded, but we found that to be true for pretty much any place on the Big Island.  Black sand gets hotter a lot faster than typical sand. We had to wear our sandals when walking this beach. Chilling on black volcanic sand in Hawaii. We had our lunch on the beach while watching turtles bob their heads swimming in the ocean.   First turtle finally spotted! Turtle watching on Punalu'u Beach, Big Island, Hawaii. Vlad spotted the first turtle. We read in our guide that there was a very high chance of seeing them on this beach.   How beautiful is the sight of a group of turtles resting on a black sand beach? We heard that they come out here every day which means that most people must give them their space otherwise they would not be coming back. A group of turtles basking in the sun on Punalu'u Beach in Hawaii. Shortly after, few more reached the shore for an afternoon siesta. Luckily most people give them plenty of space and do not bother them which is the reason why these beautiful creatures keep returning to this spot.   Local kids playing in the sand.   The waves were so strong that I ended up staying on the shore and reading my book. My hubby was not scared and did some swimming along a few turtles.Waves at Punaluu were very strong. Vlad looking into the ocean and where every once in a while you could see turtles swim in the waves.   Can't believe this beach is real. Black sand in Punaluu. It was simply incredible to sit on a beach with sand of such unusual color.   Is this sand or just some poppy seeds? This sand reminded me of super fine poppy seeds that you could find in makowiec cake.   Super happy to be on this beautiful Hawaiian island. 

Continuing our journey towards Kailua-Kona - this is the type of a landscape you will often encounter while driving through the Big Island.  Volcanic rocks  Various shade of lava rocks indicate that they are from different years of lava flow.  Few other tourists were also intrigued by this landscape and used all of their electronic devices to document what they saw ;-).

When we finally arrived at our Airbnbn cottage on a small coffee farm called South Kona Estate we were greeted by this cute sign. Our cottage was simple but extremely pleasant. It had large windows with no glass, just a tightly-woven net. The owner gave us some fresh fruit from his property as well as a bag of a delicious Kona Coffee grown on his estate.  Kona coffee is cultivated on the Kona side of the Big Island and is one of the most expensive coffees in the world as it's usually grown on small, mom n' pop type plantations. The favorable climate and mineral rich soil provides for amazing coffee growing conditions. Because Kona coffee is very pricey, you are likely to see more Kona blends sold around the world, which usually consist of at least 10%  Kona beans, and 90%  cheaper beans - like those imported from South America. If you fancy some real 100% Kona Hawaiian coffee, have a look at South Kona Estate's website. Shipping is free!  We were also given some delicious macadamia nuts that grow on the property - which were very tasty. Unfortunately macadamia nuts lose some of their delicious taste and moisture after they are packaged, which is why it's best to eat them fresh. Fun fact: macadamia nuts are not native to Hawaii - they have been imported to Hawaii in the late 19th century from Australia.   This outdoor kitchenette area was shared between us and another cabin. It was really fun to prep our food here and be able to chuck banana peels and nut shells into the bushes for natural compost.  The bathroom also had an outdoor feel to it as the windows were covered only with some bug nets. 

We made friends with the owners' dog.   We made friends with this cute and colorful Gold Dust Day Gecko who kept visiting our cottage. The Gold Dust Day Gecko on the Big Island. And some geckos. This vibrant green kind is called The Gold Dust Day Gecko. When staying at South Kona Estates we took a walk around the property to admire the garden and pick up a few fruits like this tasty papaya. Papaya growing on the property of South Kona Estates in the Big Island. Papaya growing on the property of South Kona Estates in the Big Island.

As encouraged by the owner we took a walk around the property to admire his garden. Papayas from this tree were delicious. 

This is what banana tree looks like. So many bananas can come from one tree! Banana tree. One banana tree can provide plenty of bananas.  This is what coffee plant looks like before it makes it to your favorite coffee shop. Coffee plant in Hawaii. This is what coffee looks like long before it ends up in our cups every morning.     .  

Stay tuned for our next posts from the Kona Side. There's really a lot to explore on this island - it's called the Big Island for a reason :) 


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