Update: As of 9/2011...illegal camping is no longer being permitted at Kiholo Bay. The Dept. of Land & Natural Resources plans to implement a more formal, restricted permitting process for camping that will help to preserve the area's fragile cultural resources.
On three! On three! One...two...three...Camping Club!!!
A few months ago, we visited Kiholo Bay for the first time, fell in love, and vowed to return and camp there. So this weekend (the last one before school starts), and less than 48 hours after Kenichi & Riki returned from six weeks in Japan- we did!
I planned my long run so that Rich and the 3 boys could pick me up on their way out to the beach. And at around mile 10, I spotted a colorful, fully inflated beach ball sitting along the side of the road. Well, naturally I had to stop and get it for the boys. And needless to say, I knew that I looked more than a little mentally unstable running in the middle of nowhere carrying a beach ball. But compared to last weekend's run that ended up with me laying down, sweaty and out of breath on the front lawn of my mother's church (I bet they all prayed for me)...well, I guess it really wasn't all that different. Who said long runs are boring? ;-)
Anyway, as we drove through the entrance to the beach we couldn't help but notice the "Shark Sighted - beach closed" sign, which was a little unnerving since we had three pretty slow moving, juicy-looking & well-fed children that no self respecting shark would pass up, but we vowed to keep them in shallow water and plowed ahead (since we had two truckloads FULL of gear, and we were gonna camp even if it meant someone had to lose a few toes).
Since we camped at Kohanaiki not too ago, we knew what we wanted to improve upon this time. Not only did we have a bigger tent that could easily accommodate us all, but we also brought an extra table to eat on (thereby creating the aforementioned 'formal dining room') and made a shower room (we brought water from home that we warmed all day in the sun). Heavenly improvements, all of them...but none moreso than the last one since Mama got to go to bed with her hair all soft and smelling of Pantene vs. salt covered & straw-like.
We did loooove our campsite though. Because we didn't get there on Friday, most of the spots along the sandy beach area were already taken, so we drove all the way in where the campsites were a little rockier, but further apart. We found a great little spot only about 200 yards from the water hole, completely covered/shaded by kiawe trees (a tree I like to describe as being 90% thorns and 10% tree). But what it made it awesome was that it was a HUGE area, and no one else was on either side of us for hundreds of yards. :-)
Anyway, after setting up camp, we all headed out to the underground lava tube and Kiholo Bay (which we didn't hike to the last time we were there). On our way there, my dad saw someone he knew who had just caught a huge fish while throwing his lay net. And of course, three sets of little hands just had to touch it.
On the way over, Ryan insisted on carrying his cousin's towels for them on the hike, telling us it was because "I'm the strongest boy in the whole wide world and I get the job done!" Cute.The boys loved the freshwater pond. They hooted, hollered and jumped in. And once Ryan saw his cousins jump in, guess which brave little boy had to jump in too?
On our way to the bay, we stopped and took a few family photos on a old tree weathered by the wind and rain.Ryan smiled for each of the ten photos we took, but you can't see his actual eyeballs in a single photo. Nice!
On our way out to the bay, someone started to look a bit, well, vacant in the eyes, so my mom volunteered to hang back and sit under some palm trees so that Ryan was safe from the sun's rays while he snoozed. This how we found him when we came back 45 minutes later...what a little prince!
The walk out to the bay was nice...plenty of pebbly black sand to slog through, but since it wasn't that far, it was super easy.Along the way, passed the Bali House (which I've been wanting to see), so named because the house's original owner, Paul Mitchell (yes, the salon Paul Mitchell) had the house built in Bali, and then shipped over and reassembled, piece by piece. Sounds cheap.
We also took the time to let the three boys do some jousting...
...before we finally reached the bay!
The water at the bay was warm, shallow and filled with a dozen friendly turtles. Definitely worth the walk.
It got pretty windy that night (we had to reinforce our tarps multiple times), but because of that- we saw, hands down- the most star-filled sky any of us have ever seen in the Hawaiian islands (or anywhere for that matter). It was unforgettable. Later, my dad also built a fire pit so the boys could roast marshmallows before we all turned in for the night.
It would be hard to say which beach is better to camp at (Kohanaiki vs. Kiholo Bay).
On the one hand, Kohanaiki requires a permit (requiring you to get there very early in the morning to stake your spot). However, it does have a lot more (& cleaner) toilets, sandier terrain for sleeping on, a guard that patrols around all night keeping large groups in check, and is much closer to Kona.
Kiholo Bay is another 15-20 minutes further away, and because camping is illegal, you do get locked in at night...a little unnerving. And while its terrain is a lot rougher (between the black pebbles and kiawe thorns, you definitely don't want to go running around barefoot there), it does have that fresh water swimming hole. It is also windier since its near the Kohala Coast, but I have to say, I have NEVER seen larger turtles, or more turtles than I did at Kiholo Bay. I swear, without even trying, you can easily see 20+ huge turtles a day just cruising the shoreline and bay
Both beaches were crowded (but not overly so), and neither offer great swimming for kids, but Kiholo Bay seemed to have more large families with young kids running around vs. groups of young people/surfers hanging out at Kohanaiki. So I can't say that I have a definitive favorite beach to camp at in Kona just yet...but if one were to ever have showers, that would be the swing vote for sure. ;-) I have no idea where the Camping Club's fifth excursion will be to...but I'm sure there's plenty out there to discover.
And last but not least, here's a video (that looks like it was shot in the 70s) of Ryan jumping into the lava tube pond!