By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer
KONA,HAWAII– After a delightful morning golfing at the Big Island Country Club, one of the most relaxing activities is an afternoon snorkel out to the Captain Cook monument. On a recent family trip to Kona, Hawaii for some rest and relaxation, my dad and I spent the morning birding and golfing, then met the rest of the clan at the Sea Paradise office just off of Ali’i Drive.
The great people at Sea Paradise fitted the entire group with wetsuits, masks and snorkels, and then we were off. It takes about an hour to get to the Captain Cook monument, and as we ventured out I noticed the crew had fishing rods and they were baiting the lines with lures. Apparently we were also going to be marlin and tuna fishing, which was totally cool.
So there I was in Kona, Hawaii, fishing for marlin and trolling for tuna, as we cruised out to snorkel the afternoon away… not too bad. There are certain snorkel spots in the world that are unmatched and unsurpassed, and the Captain Cook monument is just that — one of the best on the planet. The reason the snorkel spot is so special, and why the Big Island is so unique, is that the underwater shelf just drops out into the great abyss only about 100 yards off shore. There is something eerie and a tad bit haunting about staring out into the great open ocean and knowing you could see a whale shark or hammerhead might just swim by. But in all likelihood, all you are going to see are harmless little fishes, cute turtles and adorable eels.
The Sea Paradise catamaran is really cool, and entry and exit into the ocean is on a ladder stair-case type contraption, making it super easy for all ages and snorkeling abilities. We came to learn that the monument is the only British territory in America. As my lady is English, she could not wait to jump off the catamaran, swim to shore, and be sovereign in her own country. I reminded her she is subject to the crown, and at any moment the Queen could call and make her do push-ups or dispatch her to fetch something. Joanne stayed on the boat but I could tell she wanted a cup of tea, and to watch some soccer.
We were finally at our spot, where we had about three or four hours of water time. There was plenty of time to slowly swim all around two or three times, come back to the boat for back-flips off the side, and get back into the water again for a final snorkel run. This is the way to go. Boy will dinner hit the spot once you get back to shore — let me suggest Tante’s Restaurant in the heart of Kona-town.
I always see turtles in Kona. I have been lucky enough to visit Maui, I once touched Lanai, and I used to live in Oahu, but for some reason I always encounter a plethora and cornucopia of sea turtles in Kona. So for a few hours as we snorkeled and swam up and down the coast, I pretended I was a turtle, or Honu as they are called in Hawaiian. We had an absolutely fabulous time, and the people at Sea Paradise in Kona are consummate professionals and will take excellent care of you and your traveling companions. (Check out www.seaparadise.com for more information.)