Hawaii May 2021, Day 3: snorkeling with dolphins, tropical fruit, and shave ice!

On my last morning in Kailua-Kona, I strolled down past Jackie Rey’s (though I had driven the night before, it wasn’t that far) to the exquisite Tea:licious Cafe for breakfast. I got my usual macchiato and my first-ever pastel de nata. I hadn’t planned on it, but they were both so insanely good I got another one of each for the road. The pastel de nata is a miniature Portuguese egg custard tartlet: sweet, creamy, eggy, and divine. They’re certainly not common in the U.S., but if you ever find them, get one! On top of it all, the proprietress was a sweet middle-aged lady originally from Germany whom I had fun chatting with. So how’s that for a global experience: I got Portuguese tarts from a coffee shop run by a German… in Hawaii!

Afterwards, as I munched on my second pastel while walking back into town, I happened upon the Kona Farmers’ Market. It was still pretty early, so there weren’t that many stalls open yet, but I stood gawking at a selection of tropical fruit I had never eaten, seen, or even heard of before. Soursops? Sapodillas? Mangosteens? Fortunately there were signs for dumb tourists like me explaining the flavor profile of each, how to eat them, and what not to eat (common theme: don’t eat the seeds). I couldn’t resist buying a mangosteen and a couple of sapodillas to take with me (very cheap!). When I finally came to eat them, I don’t remember having a strong impression one way or the other about the mangosteen, but the sapodillas were incredibly good, unlike any fruit I’d ever had, rich, brown sugar-y, and juicy! I liked them so much I got a couple more later in Hilo.

Church of St. Michael the Archangel, right next to the farmers’ market. Hualalai in the background.

The main attraction of the morning was a coral reef snorkel and dolphin swim! I was very excited because it was totally unlike anything I’d ever done before, although I was also a little nervous because I’m a poor swimmer. Turns out I needn’t have worried because they had big pool noodles you could just float on. Anyway, I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t even take my phone on the boat (I’m paranoid about it getting wet), but it was a great time. Saw LOTS of Hawaiian spinner dolphins (including some directly below me, although none close enough to touch) and even saw one doing its thing by leaping out of the water while spinning around! There was even one point where I put my head in the water and could hear them whistling to each other. All in all, a unique and thoroughly enjoyable experience.

The coral reef snorkel was a little more disappointing because it wasn’t a “real” coral reef like you see in documentaries… it was just a bunch of underwater boulder with little bits of coral attached to them. It was still cool because I saw several different kinds of fish I had never seen before (including long, pencil-thin ones just below the surface whose name I never found out), it just maybe wasn’t everything I had imagined. Annoyingly, my snorkel mask sprang a tiny leak, so I kept getting seawater in my nostrils and left eye.

The tour was through Bite Me Sportfishing (yes, that’s actually its name) and cost $145. Was it worth it? Yes… just be sure you’re willing to commit the time. I pulled into the parking lot at 8:30 am and didn’t pull out again until 1:00 pm, so that’s a full half-day.

On my way out of Kailua-Kona, I stopped at One Aloha Shave Ice Co. for my first shave ice. It was a real treat! Creamier than your average snow cone, and more interesting tropical flavors.

That’s all for this morning!

Next: the best pork laulau you’ll ever have and a painted church

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