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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

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By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov
The Big Island (or Hawai’i) is so big, even a mil and a half tourists that visit annually, cannot overwhelm it. There is always a place where you can be alone or almost alone, enjoying its vastness and the unbelievable diversity of its landscape and climate.   
The sunny side of the Big Island – Kona, is studded with hot hospitality properties. A 12-acre Royal Kona Resort on the edge of Kailua Bay is one of them, with a dramatic oceanfront setting and central location close to the shops, restaurants, and historical sites of the Kailua-Kona village.
Among the biggest attractions of this resort are the stunning sunset views from the Coconut Grove, which hosts an award-winning Hawaiian Luau, and from the Polynesian-themed restaurant, Don The Beachcomber.  
Upon check-in at the Royal Kona, my husband and I took a swim in the resort’s own tiny lagoon formed by the volcanic outcroppings, sipped a mai tai and a pina colada at the Don’s Mai Tai Bar, and spent some time just absorbing the majestic Pacific Ocean roaring under the warm to the touch porous black rocks.
We didn’t feel like leaving the premises, so dinner at Don The Beachcomber seemed like a great opportunity to enjoy both spectacular ocean views and Asian fusion cuisine, created with the fresh local ingredients by the Executive Chef Ken Omiya.
For pupus, we shared a sampler platter of Hawai’ian seafood delights. Kona crab cake, Tsunami prawns, and seared peppered ahi were served with roasted bell pepper mango tartar sauce, mango-papaya-passion fruit coulis, and Thai chili sauce, aided by wasabi mixed with pineapple, ginger, and coconut, some shredded cabbage, and seafood salad.   
As the restaurant menu suggested, we asked our server about the featured fish from Don’s Line Caught Catch of the Day. It was hebi– shortbill spearfish – with succulent tender flesh, nicely complimented by passion fruit beurre blanc with sake shoyu sauce, white rice, and asparagus. 
Don’s Island Style Rotisserie Chicken, marinated with lemon, lime, orange, shoyu, and achiote seasoning, came smothered with guava glaze with a side of red potatoes Lyonnaise.
Strawberry cheesecake for dessert, topped with whipped cream and fresh berries, and tropical cocktails made with rum and fruit juices seemed especially sweet against the backdrop of the setting sun.

Next morning, bright and early, we were ready for adventures. We signed up for a tour with Dolphin Discoveries, a local company that provides boating and snorkeling excursions around the island. Rushing early in the morning to a boat ramp at Keauhou Bay, we had all the needed supplies – our swimsuits and sunscreen lotion. Everything else, including gear, life vests, water, and snacks was provided by the company.
Our captain took us farther from the shore trying to find and observe Hawai’ian spinner dolphins who populate these waters in large amounts and often like to spend time and even play with us, mere humans.
Did I see any dolphins? No. My husband did, the majority of the passengers on our boat did, but I and a couple of far-from-the-Olympic-level swimmers did not.
Every time our captain shouted, “There they are! Jump!” we tried to put on our masks and snorkels really fast, but were always late even to spot a dolphin’s tale. In the water, looking at the brilliant sunrays penetrating the endless blue of the Pacific around me I thought that it was also beautiful, but – no dolphin.   
During our short Kona vacation I preferred to spend time with my kindred spirits – sea turtles. Exhausted by their daily activities, and coming from the ocean to the sandy shore to rest at the end of the day, these creatures climb up only as far as necessary, and begin enjoying themselves the moment they embrace dry land with their fins. Calm, serene, satisfied with life – isn’t it something we all are trying to achieve – at least while on vacation.


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