Aw, I'm kind of sad. First, I dropped Logan off at the airport yesterday. He's back in Hawaii and won't be returning to Austin until the beginning of November, which is so not fun. But at least I can relive my (less and less) recent Hawaiian trip with him through the blog! I'm looking at three more posts, including this one, before I can get back to Austin and our experiences with Austin Restaurant Week.
In the meantime, I'm dragging you back with me to the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend. And to the beach. Sounds fun, right?
We rented snorkel gear, towels, a small cooler, and totally ridiculous straight-backed beach chairs that were uncomfortable and unadjustable. A stop at the KTA supermarket across the street for picnicking food, and we were on our way to Kahalu'u Beach, perhaps the best snorkeling spot around.
The inlet is small, but we were there fairly early and had no trouble grabbing a spot for our stuff. A large sea turtle sunned himself nearby, and we followed his lead for a few minutes.
We busted out our brunch - first, yet another spam musubi, this one a bit too heavy on the rice.
We also had this psychedelically-colored ham and cheese sandwich on pretty pink guava bread from the Punalu'u Bake Shop. This sandwich was total summer picnic comfort - the guava bread was only slightly sweet, with a light texture, and the savory ham played well off of it. Plus, it made me giggle.
What's better than eating at a beach?
After our brunch, we pulled on our flippers and masks and made our way out into the brilliantly clear water to snorkel. Unfortunately, I don't have one of those underwater camera body protectors, so I can't share pictures with you guys. The amount of underwater life just off the shore here was stunning. Coral was everywhere, with spiky purple sea urchins nestling in the crevasses. I recognized green-blue parrotfish and bright yellow butterflyfish, and was followed by schools of large striped flatfish and sleek silver needles. It was just amazing, and so relaxing once I got over the fear of my mask or snorkel tube filling up with water.
After an hour or so of lazily floating, watching undersea life dart around us, we returned to the beach and packed up. The small cove was starting to fill up, and we wanted to head to a bigger sandy beach.
We drive north to Hapuna, through fields of black lava decorated with white stones both in various patterns and spelling out messages to passersby (we miss you, Grandma, or Joey was here, that sort of thing.)
Hapuna had a lot of visitors, but the place is quite large and we got a good patch of sand to ourselves.
We drank sake, and snacked healthfully on our leftover mac salad and chips, taking occasional breaks to run into the waves.
After several enjoyable hours of this, it was time to head back to Kailua, watching for donkeys the whole way.
Our dinner that night was at Jackie Rey's Ohana Grill, a place that was just a little off the beaten path. The host greeted us heartily when we arrived (I think he thought we were someone else), and the service was warmer than I'm used to in Austin. Maybe a bit too warm.
Anyway, the place is fairly large and quite open.
They have a nice wine list, and we ordered an inexpensive Alsatian pinot blanc that was totally yummy. Three separate servers came over to excitedly tell us that we must have good taste in wine, since there was a guy two tables away from us who'd been the subject of a wine documentary, and he'd ordered the exact same wine OMG! Hey, it's always good to have your choices validated, but it was odd to have it reinforced so many times.
We got a cute little amuse-bouche of several slices of salty, umami-rich cheese bread. Nomnom! (I miss you, bear.)
We split a giant appetizer sampler, with a tasty ahi poke with seaweed and crunchy bits, a couple of nicely fried shrimp, some fair tempura vegetables, and some slightly tough short ribs. It was fun to have so many little tastes.
Our entree was really tasty, and enormous - I'm so glad we were splitting things! It was two pieces of perfectly cooked, sesame-crusted mahimahi set over crisp-tender squash and carrots, with a really awesome purple potato mash enriched with coconut milk, and a nice tart lilikoi (passionfruit) sauce to lighten things up a bit. I really liked this dish.
Jackie Rey's was just the kind of comfortable, family-friendly restaurant we were looking for. It didn't feel particularly touristy, the food was solid, and we weren't paying a premium for the view. Thumbs up.
Jackie Rey's Ohana Grill is just above Kailua-Kona at 75-5995 Kuakini Highway. 808.327.0209.
After dinner, we went out for one last evening mai tai. It wasn't good, and I don't remember where we got it, but the sound of the waves hitting the rocks was welcome.
One last good night to Hawaii. I'd be leaving the next day on an evening flight from Kona back to Texas. Boo.