Tuesday: Blue Raspberry Slushy



6:30 a.m. Guide Heather and I are pedaling bikes from our guide shack to the Hale (home), where our guests are staying. While cruising past the surf break at Lyman's cove, I notice a guy playing guitar, singing and watching the surf. Kinda cool for a Tuesday morning.

The next thing I know I'm standing with our guests in a lava tube, 2 stories high and several hundred feet long. It's really severe, no vegetation whatsoever, just rock. Heather gets a great photo of guests Paul and Lisa, who are celebrating their 25th anniversary today.

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Bam I'm in the ocean now, and it's the color of a blue raspberry slushy. The place is Kua Bay, about 30 minutes from downtown Kona. We guides held a safety meeting with the guests and then on our own. We plotted an out-and-back course, 25 minutes of swimming north for the lead group, then turn around and swim back. We chose to swim north first because the wind was blowing from that direction, and it's nice to have the wind at your back for the return leg. The first half of the swim went as planned. We swam over lots of great coral structure, there were turtle sightings and a huge school of jacks. However, as soon as the lead group turned around to come back, the wind shifted almost 180 degrees and became stronger. Much stronger.

_HPP4723I'll interject here with a description of our safety program on SwimVacation. On this trip, we have 2 guides swimming with our 6 swimming guests ( we have one non-swimming guest) and 1 locally hired lifeguard on a standup paddleboard (SUP). One swimming guide wears an inflatable safety device/dry bag thingy that straps to their waist and floats behind them. The lifeguard on the SUP carries a cell phone, water, and a rescue tube. We all carry whistles and wear neon green. We have hand signals to communicate with each other. They are: "OK", "come over here", and "we're screwed". Before each swim the guides discuss with each other what could go wrong, and how to respond. We each look after a swimmer or small group of swimmers.

Back to Kuo Bay, where the wind has shifted and strengthened. The sea really kicked up; a few whitecaps broke over my head. We all eventually got around the last point and were greeted by the white sand beach at Kuo, now a brighter blue, that blue raspberry slushy color.

I mentioned a locally hired lifeguard above. His name is Ryan McGuckin, a 6'-4" waterman and native of Kona. His knowledge of the coast has been indispensable for us on this trip, and it's been great to get his take on island life and culture.





We played in the waves at Kuo for a long time, guests Deb, Anette, Janine, Paul, Marianne, and Debbie were bodysurfing and getting rides way up onto the beach. Ryan introduced us to "rock running", a training method used by pro surfers. Basically, you dive to the bottom of the sea, pick up a big rock, and run along the sand until you can't hold your breath any longer. It's both absurd and exhilarating. We all climbed out of the water happy, and refreshed ourselves with the chilled Perrier and chocolate covered macadamia nuts we had brought down in a cooler.

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Fast forward past light salad for lunch and a quick swim and navigation clinic at nearby Kahalu'u beach, we return to the Hale, where Jennifer the massage therapist is working on our guests' sore muscles. I thought it would be wonderfully decadent for her to set up her massage table outside, right at the shoreline and in the shade of a tree. Yup.


A sampling of the things we ate and drank after 5:30 pm: triple cream french cheese, Pina Coladas doctored with strawberries (called a volcano) braised boneless short ribs, poki (a form of sushi), a 1999 Bordeaux, sweet bread pudding I'll talk more about our private chefs tomorrow). We were delighted to be joined by Ryan's wife and daughter for dinner - 3 year old Malina entertained us with her sweet face.

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Day ended just under the wire with an 1130 pick up of Paul and Lisa after their 8 hour excursion to the Mauna Kea observatory. They came back full of facts and awe, having experienced Hawaii's 11 out of the world's 13 micro-climates in one day.

_HPP6069We dropped them at the Hale, and Heather and I hopped back on our bikes for the short commute back to our guide shack. Even in the dark, a ride past the breakers on Ali'i drive is exhilarating. And with that, Tuesday ended pretty much the way it began - on a bicycle, soaking in all this paradise has to give.

- Hopper