Online flight booking

Are Airlines Jacking the Price on You?

With the advent of the world wide web, people can easily shop around for the best prices on items or services. Whether its shoes, a book, or airline tickets, it’s not uncommon for a consumer to look out for different sites in search of the best deals.   Have you ever noticed, when looking at airline tickets, the prices go up day-to-day, and in many cases moment-to-moment? I was curious about it so I dug around a bit. I found out about “Dynamic Pricing”.

“Dynamic Pricing”, also known as “Yield Management”, is a set of pricing strategies aimed at increasing profits. It’s not new, but add the technology and capabilities of the internet, and you have a powerful tool for, potentially, identifying customers that will pay a bit more.

Through the use of “Cookies”, websites have access to a great deal of data about their visitors. With that information, the site could automatically adjust the fair based on the collected data. The travel sites’ position is that the change in rates is based on inventory and not cookie data.  This is what I always thought, and it may be 100% true.  I’m skeptical of that 100%. Lol!  William McGee, an aviation adviser for Consumer Reports, conducted a study, in 2016, of 372 searches on nine airline ticketing websites.  What McGee and his team found was:

“Among the 372 searches, we found 42 pairs of different prices on separate browsers for the same sites retrieved at the same time (in theory there should have been no differences). In fact, all nine sites provided different airfares on separate browsers at the same time at least once, although it occurred most frequently on Google Flights (12) and Kayak (8). Out of the 42 pairs that differed, 25 resulted in higher fares (by as much as $121) and 17 resulted in lower fares (up to $84 less) for the scrubbed browser [meaning cookies/browser history removed].”

The technology is there, the incentive is obvious (mo $$$), and the discrepancies are fact, however, there is no admission from the airlines that they strategically employ “Dynamic Pricing” practices as a way of taking advantage of consumers based on their data.

What can you do?
I know it’s a little more work, but you can search for your flight in two browser windows- one that has no “cookie” data, and one that does. And go with the best results that serve your needs.

Browsers now have a “private” feature. Chrome has a way to browse the internet undetected through their “Incognito” feature. For your convenience, I’ve illustrated below how to do this in Chrome.

Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, offers a much more detailed look at “Dynamic Pricing”, in their blog.  READ IT HERE.  

Click here

Going Incognito in Chrome. D The Driver Blog
The Dropdown menu to open an “Incognito” window in Chrome.

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Hawaii hotel MLB

Mauna Lani Closes On Oct 1st!

A buzz topic amongst tourism industry personnel has been the forthcoming closing of The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows. In less than a month, October 1st, 2018 the hotel will close its doors.

MLB Mauna Lani entrance
Atrium at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel

Officially purchased last August by DiamondHead Land (a partnership between California based ProspectHill Group and Patrick Fitzgerald). The new owners have carefully assessed the property and have announced the plans for a 100 million dollar make-over. The renovations are expected to take 12 to 14 months to complete. “We are honored to carry on the legacy of the Mauna Lani – hailed as an unparalleled destination and frequently cited as a model of thoughtful stewardship – and bring it into a vibrant new era,”, said Mr. Fitzgerald in a statement. “We are confident we can build on the Mauna Lani’s reputation as a world-class resort to offer even greater value to our cherished guests.”  Mauna Lani is also steward of the ancient Hawai’ian  Kalahuipua‘a royal fish ponds.

Mauna Lani Bay Back Lawn
Mauna Lani Bay

Although the 400 workers of the hotel will have to find another source of income, while the renovations take place, the new owners have vowed to assist them with finding employment and to bring them all back when the hotel reopens. I truly hope so. For a great deal of those workers, Mana Lani has been their second home for 20-30 years. guests who’ve been coming for years have developed relationships with many of the staff members.

Foot bridge over water at MLB

Ocean front pool MLB
Pool Time at Mauna Lani

With great change, trepidation and anxiety is expected.  Let’s hope that the changes turn out to be good for all involved; the workers, the guests, the new owners, as well as the continuation of the ecological stewardship and historical preservation that Mauna Lani has been known for.



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D’s Wardrobe Highlight: Hats and Footwear

“D, where do you get your hats?”, is a consistent question I get.  I know I look so fly that some people want to get some of that flavor and take it home with them. Lol!  So, if you’re on the Big Island, be sure to visit The Most Irresistible Shop in Hilo, at 256 Kamehameha Ave, in Hilo’s Bayfront.  Although this is where I purchase my Scala Hats, they sell so many other things; gifts, memorabilia, clothes. And they’re all very nice. Tell them D The Driver sent you!

Although my footwear changes often, lately I’ve been rocking these Nike SB Check Solar skate shoes.  They’re simple, stylish, and comfortable!

Hat&Snkrs

You can also purchase these items through my Amazon Affiliate links, here:

Shoes: Nike Men’s SB Check Solar

Hat: Scala Classico Fedora

 



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Is The Coast Clear?!

920x920
Is the coast clear?  For Kona, yes. For Hilo, not so much. Yes, Hurricane Lane, has been down graded to a cat 1 tropical storm, but the damage has been done.  Hawaii Islands’ East side experienced record breaking rainfall!

 

Hilo Bay map

The Waiakea Uka area of Hilo experienced a whopping 45.80 inches! Hilo International Airport (ITO) was soaked with 31.85 inches of rain.

The last 3 days have gone on record as the most rain Hilo has ever experienced in a three-day period. Wailuku river, overrun with rain, flooded Hilo’s Bayfront. The National Weather Service called the flooding “catastrophic.”.  Although Hurricane Lane has dumped the most rain that Hilo has ever seen, at 45.8 inches, the record for the most rainfall in the state, goes to Hurricane Hiki — drenching Kauai back in 1950 with 52 inches!

1808241906-Hilo-Bayfront-Under-Water-After-Hurricane-Lane-Hits

More than 100 residence were forced to evacuate. 6 shelters, island wide, have been opened to assist those in need. To find out how you can support, contact the Hawaii State Chapter of the Red Cross (808) 734-2101.

Honu at Punaluu Beach

Kailua-Kona With D The Driver

The last blog I wrote was at the tail end of May. That was just before I took my trip back to the East Coast. It was on this visit when my laptop was stolen from my rental vehicle. Although I did not allow the theft to rob me of a good time visiting friends and family, it did impact, among other things, my ability to write my weekly blog. With a laptop, there’s freedom- Freedom to turn virtually any place into “my office”. Any of the beautiful beaches, parks, or cafés magically transform into places for me to manage accounts, do paperwork, communicate with clients, and consistently write my D The Driver Blog. A lot has gone down since I last shared.

The Volcano.
The breakout lava flow is still flowing- like a river, in fact! Fissure 8 has emerged as the dominant source of the lava activity. The Big Island is getting Bigger! For the latest maps and information, dealing with Kilauea and lava activity, please visit the USGA’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory site.
https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/kilauea/multimedia_maps.html

Added a 12 passenger van service option.
Now, if you would like to apply my exemplary service to the delivery of your group, of up to 12, on an outing or retreat, I can take care of that!

12 Passenger Chevy Van

Absolute Ba;ance In Hawaii
Yoga Retreat Participants from Tokyo, Japan.

The cruise ships are back!
After the news coverage gave everyone a good fright, the cruise ships discontinued their stops to Hawaii Island’s Hilo and Kona ports.
When Norwegian Cruise Line announced it would be adding the ports back onto its Pride of America itinerary, here’s what they said:

“As we have always said, Hawaii is an incredible destination,” the cruise lines said. “We have visited its ports for well over a decade and we are very happy to be returning to Hilo and Kona. Please know that the safety and security of our guests and crew remains our first priority so we will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation.”

I had the privilege of driving a pleasant older couple from Fort Lauderdale, FL, last Tuesday. I picked them up at the pier. They told me that they wanted to drive around, see a few sites, and find themselves at a beachfront restaurant, for lunch. So we cruised South on Ali’I Drive, up to Keauhou Bay and the scenic lookout, and then we headed North to Hualalai Resort where they enjoyed a nice lunch at The Four Seasons’ Beachtree Restaurant, situated on the beach! Then, the final stop before returning to the pier- Kona Mountain Coffee- for some gifts. I returned them to the pier with a half hour to spare and big smiles on their faces. They thanked me for a wonderful afternoon and said “If you’re ever in the Fort Lauderdale area, give us a call.”. I just might do that. Haha!

With so many things to see and do on this wonderful island, what would you like to do or see?
Give me a shout, and we can work it out!

I hope to see you in the Kona Sunshine!

Hawaii Shores
D The Driver At Your Service!

Kona and Kohala are​ still open for Business!

 

This week, I’ve had plenty of guests express to me that they contemplated canceling their trip to the Big Island because of the volcanic activity.  “The news had me thinking that the entire island was about to be covered in lava and ash!” said a woman visiting from New York.  “I almost canceled our trip.” she continued.  It was a good thing that she decided to contact the Kona hotel, that she booked with.  They informed her that Hawaii Island is big, and the volcano, as well as the new fissures are about 100 miles away and that she would be in no danger of lava on her trip.

On May 3rd, Kilauea began spitting out lava from new vents forming in the middle of a Southern East coast subdivision, Leilani Estates.  This news, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, has been extremely sensationalized.  This fear-based news coverage has caused many people to cancel their trips to the Big Island.  Bookings for hotels, tours, and other activities have experienced a 50% decline. Tally up the costs, May-July, to the tune of 5 million dollars!

Perhaps now would be a good time to take advantage of great deals, as airlines and business would like everyone to know that most of the island is not threatened by the lava flow.

“Travelers can enjoy their vacation experience in the Hawaiian Islands to the fullest, with the only word of caution being that they stay out of areas closed to the public for their own safety.”

                          -George D. Szigeti, president, and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority

Tourism is one of Hawaii’s biggest industries and a big part of the local economy.  Yes, lava is flowing.  Yes, structures (including about 27 homes) have been destroyed.  The mainstream national news would have you believe that it is the entire State and not a remote area of The BIG Island. There are thousands of people still arriving at Kona and Hilo airports and enjoying this beautiful island.  Today people; swam with dolphins in the pristine blue water, went on deep ocean fishing expeditions, hiked amazing trails, and enjoyed the amenities of world-class resorts. The Hilton Waikoloa Village has been operating at about full capacity since the eruption. The Hilton, just as the other breathtaking hotels of the Kohala coast, is not affected by the current volcanic activity.   Now, if you booked your stay at a bed and breakfast in Leilani Estates or the surrounding area, yes, you may want to reconsider.  Hawi, Waimea, and Kona-Kohala are still open for you to enjoy!  Hope to see you in the Kona sun!

Kilauea Is Not Mount Vesuvius!

By now, I think the entire world is aware of the latest volcanic activity of Kilauea on Hawaii Island.

As serious as the situation is, the corporate news outlets have used sensational headlines such as: “Volcano erupts in Hawaii forcing thousands to evacuate!”, “Volcano alert urges Hawaii’s Big Island residents to get out!”, and “Hawaii residents flee after Kilauea volcano eruptions”.  All of these statements are correct but designed to promote fear and panic, instead of informing.
I am not trying to downplay the severity of this event at all.  I just think, for the people outside of Hawai’i Island, especially those that have family and friends here, have been whipped into a frenzy by the corporate news coverage.  Images of Mount Saint Helen’s or Pompeii comes to their minds (Plinian Eruptions) when they hear of an imminent volcano eruption.  There were even erroneous reports of Oahu residence being evacuated because of the volcanic eruption (No need to call out that network.  All local people are hip to who it was.). Oahu is an entirely different island. Why would they be so careless in their coverage?  TV networks need people to tune into their channel.  The thinking is; the more sensational the story, the more viewers they will attract.  The more viewers they attract, the more they can charge advertisers.  It’s all about revenue (topic for another time.).

Hawaii Island Map of East Rift Zone
New Fissures Along the East Rift Zone

Here are a few points that I think people should be mindful of:

  • Kilauea has been flowing since 1983
  • Kilauea is a shield volcano with a very different eruption style than a composite cone (aka stratovolcano)
  • As of today (May 8th) 37 structures have been lost to the lava flow. Yes, people have lost their homes and it is possible that there will be more
  • Leilani Estates and Lanipuna subdivisions have been evacuated, approximately 1800, displaced from their homes with an uncertainty of ever being able to return to them
  • Sulfur dioxide is emanating from the eruption site, making it a dangerous situation for the young, elderly, and those with respiratory conditions.
  • NO ONE has died or been injured
  • This is precisely how the Hawaiian Islands were formed

If you would like to take a break from all of the sensational presentations of what’s going on, I encourage you to visit the site links below:

U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory site:  Click Here

County of Hawaii’s Civil Defence:
Message and alerts page Click Here

If you would like to support the displaced families of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna, please contact the following initiatives and groups for info on how you can help:

Grassroots community led Pu’uhonua o Puna.  For their FaceBook page Click Here
Hilo-born Major League Baseball player Kolten Wong, of the St. Louis Cardinals, is leading a GoFundMe campaign for the families: Click Here

Hawaii Island Map of Lava History
Lava Has Been Flowing For Years

 

Hawaii Island Hazard Zones
Lava Hazard Zones

Interesting People, Interesting Conversations

Kailua-Kona, Travel
D The Driver, serving Hawaii Island

What does an Admiral of a British Royal Navy submarine, a South Korean car engineer, a billion-dollar real estate broker, and major recording artist have in common?   Me!  They have all rode with me (Not all at the same time. Although that would be interesting. Lol), while visiting the Kona-Kohala Coast! Lol.  I enjoy engaging in conversations with interesting people.  And to get paid while doing so is frosting on the cake.

Kailua-Kona transportation
Photo by Joel Collins.

It’s not lost on me that there are some people, at times, that are not interested in speaking during our 20-35 minute commute.  Whether they need to send emails, texts, or just catch a quick nap, it is incumbent on me, to identify those times and keep quiet.  But for the most part, people ARE interested in engaging.

I’m not a star-struck individual.  I believe people are people.     However, I am fascinated by all people.  Each of us has a journey, and each path is unique.  It’s these paths, and how we process the experiences, that differentiates our perspectives. Music and movie celebrities are interesting to me but no more interesting than any individual that has distinguished themselves in their respective field.  I guess I’m just curious about how different folks are navigating their life experience.  Each person that enters my vehicle is the sum total of their journey, thus far.  The work they choose, the way they view various events taking place in the world.  I feel enriched when people share their stories and perspectives.

Last week I had the honor of transporting a noted liver specialist.  “There are five major organs in the human body, how did you reach the decision to specialize in the liver?”  I asked the good Dr.  He lit up in his response.  Speaking of all the wonderful functions of the liver. From filtering toxins from our blood to the storage of vitamins “It’s a fascinating organ!”, he expressed.  Although he would not be as known as an entertainer or professional athlete, he and other professionals have reached a level of success that would make them “rock stars” in their respective industries.  I’m interested in everyone, but I know, generally, people want to know about “high profile” figures.

Have I driven celebrities? Yes. Do I broadcast who has ridden with me? No.
From time to time people ask me “What celebrities have I driven?”  I always answer “Everyone that rides with me are V.I.P!”.



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Travel is The Best Classroom!

Travel Is The Best Classroom
What are you waiting for?!

I believe that travel is the best classroom.  Find any excuse to go on an excursion to various parts of the globe.  Anywhere different will expand your knowledge of the world, it’s people, and most importantly… You!  My biased opinion says come visit Kona, Hawai’i, but travel in and of itself will prove to be an enriching experience.

I am an affiliate member of the company’s offering the deals below.
Click, and take a look around.  Take an adventure!

If you do make it to Kona and need a ride, don’t hesitate to book with me.  It will be great to see you! Holla!




Great deals on Car Rentals from CheapAir!

Is UBER a Worthwhile Alternative To a Taxi, In Kona?

The name UBER has some taxi drivers all over the world shaking in their boots. The Kona market is no exception. Viewed as a threat by some, UBER entered the Kona transportation market as a lower cost, ride-share option for customers, one year ago.

In March of 2017 UBER began offering its service on Hawai’i Island.  Having informational meetings in Hilo as well as Kona, their search was on to find drivers to fill the anticipated demand.   They seemed to be successful in their recruitment efforts, as evidenced by the fact that there ARE UBER drivers!
UBER vs. Taxi

I have a few friends that are UBER drivers, and I’m constantly asking them about the process and their experience(s).  The responses are varied.  Some really enjoy it.  Some like and dislike aspects of it.  And there are those that hate that they are driving for UBER.  The ones that enjoy driving for UBER speak of how cool many of the UBER users are.  They also appreciate the fact that there is a great deal of freedom associated with making the additional income.  The ones that have mixed reviews also speak of the interesting customers they pick up, however, they’re not too fond of the compensation scheme.   The ones that did not like the UBER driver experience state that in addition to the low pay, “…you have to be tethered to your phone and if you’re not quick enough on accepting an assignment you could lose it.”  I gather, it’s a great side gig for some but not so great for others.  The most pleased with the service has been, by far,  the frugal traveler.

At the Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, you may see people walking up Airport road, in the direction of Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, dragging along their luggage.  After seeing this more and more, thinking it’s not too safe, I decided to stop and ask a couple why they were walking up the road.  They told me that they are heading to the highway to wait for their UBER ride. I remember thinking “Wow! UBER must be offering  quite the deal, for people to want to walk that half a mile with their stuff and risk being struck by a car.”  I get it. You gotta do what you gotta do.  As of today, the airport does not allow UBER drivers to pick up customers from the airport.  Taking a walk up the hill has been their solution, thus far.

For the passengers, as I see it, here are the pros and cons.
Pros:

  • Lower costs transportation
  • Cash-free transactions
  • A network of regular people (This could be “good” or “bad”)

Cons:

  • No airport pickup,
  • Prices are not state regulated,
  • Not always available,
  • Dependent on access to mobile signal (a challenge for some areas of the Big Island)

Things change.  Industries change.  As in all business, innovations that will keep your service or product relevant is a must for survival.  The creators of UBER have done just that.  They have taken a general need- transportation, and with the aid of some software technology and  “regular” people and their vehicles, and reimagined how a person could get from point A to point B in a cost-effective manner.  I think it was a  bold and creative innovation, but far from the panacea of taxi alternative transportation.

Instead of taxi drivers thinking how can they stop UBER, they should be coming together to think of innovative ways to make their service more appealing to potential customers.  This business of moving people from one place to the next is not complex.  What differentiates one driving service from the next is price, reliability, and quality of service.  Taxi drivers will not be able to compete with UBER in the area of costs but they CAN compete in the area of reliability and quality of service and that is where the customers will sort themselves out.  Some will focus solely on price point, and go with UBER while others will consider convenience and reliability and go with a reputable taxi service.  This is not to say that UBER drivers are not reliable or do not provide quality service, I am suggesting that the seasoned professionals that have been state-regulated should have a leg up in the department of quality of service.  They should, anyway.  What has been your experience with UBER and Taxis on the Kona-Kohala Coast?

Friend Requests From Sexy Women… Or Are They?

As Mark Zuckerberg faces the questions of lawmakers, Tuesday, April 10th, concerning Facebook’s role in The promotion of “fake news”, the Russians use of FB to influence the presidential election,  privacy and data issues and the whole Cambridge Analytica fiasco; I am going to speak about the fallacious FaceBook profiles of… Hot Women!
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With my “Dee Driver” Facebook profile, I will accept pretty much any “friend” request I receive.  Why? Because this page is linked to a service I provide.  Many people visit Kona, Hawaii.  Having a Facebook page allows me to connect with people from around the world, that may, at some point, come to visit.  I enjoy sharing about this beautiful rock in the Pacific Ocean.  It’s also a great way to keep in touch with the good people I meet, while driving my vehicles- Airport Taxi; Luxury SUV; and 12 Passenger Van.  There are, however, an increasing amount of fake Facebook accounts.

When I first started receiving requests from these attractive women, I did not think much about it.   I accepted the requests.  Then, when the volume and sexual nature of some of the profile pics increased, it caused me to pause.  I mean, I know I’m a handsome dude but damn! Lol.  So I would check out some of these profiles, and there were a few indicators that revealed to me that these accounts were bogus.

Here are some common signs I’ve noticed:

One Profile Picture.  Just having one profile picture is not proof of a fake account, but could be an indicator.  There are some people that are extremely selective about the photos of themselves that they share on social media.  (By the way, I find that many of those types of people hardly ever look like that one photo that they love.). Not sure where these perpetrators are snatching the photos of these women, but I venture to guess it is without their permission.

No Cover Photo.  Like having one profile picture, having no cover photo, in and of itself is not enough to determine its fake.  Some may not know how to post a cover photo.  Some just may not care.  I imagine the fake ones don’t have a cover photo because they only have one pic of the unsuspecting girl that they are using to create the site.  I also think it may be about creating many of these accounts and spending the least amount of time, building them, as possible.

Newly Opened Account.
Again, this in and of itself does not mean that it’s a phony profile.  There are many people that close one account and open a new one just to get away from certain people.  These accounts tend to get flagged, and FB will shut them down.  So that forces them to keep creating profiles.  I find it hard to believe that they find enough people to make money off of to make this lucrative enough to keep doing it.  But they must be making some loot!

A Bunch of Thirsty-looking Guys.
In their sparse “friends” list, you’ll see that most, if not all, are men.
Seriously, these poor guys really believe that the woman, in the picture, has a genuine interest in them.  They leave posts of flowers, and words of thanks for accepting them.

No Interaction With the “profile owner”.                                                                          When these guys post how beautiful she is or thank her for the friend request, there is no response.

And finally, the kicker!

A Plug for the Website.                                                                                                   They will typically have an invitation to their xxx site with a message like: “You want to meet with me, I will come to the site ❤️  Watch my latest Videos *insert porn link here*. ”  I have never clicked on one of these links- they could lead to infecting your commuter with a virus, or collect your data- but I imagine that it leads to a porn site, where you will need some sort of payment device.

Have you ever received any of these phony “friend” requests?   I imagine there are different kinds.

If any of these are photos of someone you know, please alert them to how their image is being used and the profile name it’s under (although, I’ve seen the same pictures being used with different profile names.)
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Lava Lava!

Yesterday, I transported two fun groups to the Hamakua Coast.  One young lady asked me some questions about the distinction between the two lava types and why do they form so differently…  She gave me the idea for this weeks blog 😀

When exiting the Ellison Onizuka Kona International  Airport At Keahole, heading North, you’ll see amazing fields of black and brown lava rock. These rocks are the result of the two main types of lava flows;  Pāhoehoe  (pronounced ‘paw-hoey-hoey”) and A’a  (pronounced “ah-ah”).

Both names are from the Hawai’ian language (they have no meaning other than the lava types) and adopted by the scientific community as the “official” names of these lava flows and their molten rock.

To me, Pāhoehoe looks like a pan of brownies that have stayed in the oven a little too long.  With cracks and crevices atop of a smooth or “ropy” surface.  A’a  (pronounced “ah-ah”) looks like taco meat crumbles. Typically brown or reddish-brown in color, A’a is much rougher in comparison to Pāhoehoe.

Lava Rock
Pahoehoe lava field

 Pahoehoe forms when lava flows more slowly. Under these circumstances, a well-developed skin can form which inhibits heat loss. When a tear in the skin does form, it is readily healed.

Pāhoehoe Lava in Hawai'i
Pāhoehoe’s Distinctive “Rope-Like” Patterns Being formed.

A’a forms when lava flows rapidly. When this happens, the heat escapes quickly resulting in an increase in viscosity. When the surface crust breaks by differential flow, the lava that is below is unable to move fast enough to seal the break. The crust then forms chunks.

A'a lava
The surface of the A’a flow consists of free chunks of very angular pieces of lava
a'a lava
Step on a’a barefoot, and you’re to remember its name. Lol

It’s all about the flow dynamics that will determine the type of lava that will form.  Think: slow-flowing lava= Pāhoehoe, and for quick-lava= A’a.

There is a third type of flow that takes place on the ocean floor.  It’s called Pillow Lava due to the pillow like shape that forms from cooling off so quickly underwater.

Lava on the ocean floor
Pillow Lava on The Ocean Floor

If you catch a ride with me from the airport, ask me to point out the different lava rocks.  Unfortunately, without scuba gear, I’ll be unable to show you the Pillow Lava:)

Checking Out The Manta Rays

Manta Ray Dives of Hawaii is a Kona highlight experience!

Manta Ray Floats By
Manta Rays. A Top Kailua-Kona Attraction!

As a driver, people ask me all the time about fun activities to do on the Kona-Kohala coast. “How are the manta dives?” is a common question.   “I’ve heard it’s a fun activity.”, is all I could say.  I did not have a firsthand experience to share.  Well…  that has recently changed, as I had the privilege of going out on a night snorkel with Manta Ray Dives Hawaii!  It was an AMAZING experience!

Honokohau Harbor is the jump-off spot. That is where we board the boat and meet the lively crew members.  After a quick round of introductions, which included reciting a line from one of your favorite movies, crew and participants, we were off!

Boat Sets Out For Manta Ray Dive Site
Boat Sets Out For Manta Ray Dive Site.

The boat traveled North for, what seemed like, 15 minutes. Once we arrived at the dive site, there was still a need for the sun to go down before we could begin the activity.  The time was not wasted, as the crew used this opportunity give us a safety briefing and a quick education on; plankton, manta rays in general, as well as the manta rays of the area.  These graceful animals are protected by the State.  Each of them has been identified, named, and recorded.

About 20 minutes have passed since we dropped anchor.  The sun was setting.  Time to suit up and enter the water!  The scuba divers entered first, and us snorkelers followed.   Five or six to a group.  What looked like, a modified surfboard with PVC tubing attached around, as handles, was our magnificent manta viewer apparatus (Not sure what they called this device, so I’ll rock with my name for it. Lol).  At the center of the board was a bright light shining down into the water.  The group gathered around the boards by gripping the PVC piping.  With the light flashing down, plankton was drawn to it.  Plenty of fish gathered around to eat the plankton, but they all moved out of the way when the mantas arrived.
Almost immediately, from the depths of the ocean darkness, a large manta ray appeared!

Manta Ray Night Dive
D The Driver On Deck!

Gliding towards us with a smooth confidence, was a creature with a six-foot wingspan. Wooooo!  I was in awe!   One after the other, they continued to appear.  I know they came to feed, but it felt like they were performing for us.  Doing graceful flips. ascending and descending in slow motion. Some cool $#!^!

 

When you come to Kona and you want to have an awesome “EcoAdventure”, be sure to hit up Manta Ray Dives of Hawaii!  Oh yeah….  I can drive you there!

For more information, visit their site:
http://www.mantaraydiveshawaii.com

“Was that a Mongoose?”

“Did you see that squirrel?” Said the young lady from the back seat of my van.  She was referring to the mongoose that just darted across the road as we exited The Fairmont Orchid Hotel.  “Oh… that was a mongoose.”, I replied with a smile.  With a look of doubt, “Are you sure?” she asked.  Lol.
Mongoose2

A few days prior, I was early for a pickup at the Sheraton Kona, so I pulled into the Keauhou bay lookout on Kamehameha III Road.  There was a group of tourist at the wall taking photos. Just beyond the stone wall, there was a mongoose that emerged from the shrubs.  The older gentleman said, “what is that creature, in the bushes?” I answered, “It’s a mongoose”.   This piqued the younger ones’ interest enough that they looked away from their smartphones.  “A mongoose?” The older man asked.  “Don’t they eat snakes?  I thought Hawaii didn’t have any snakes.” “You are correct.  There are no snakes for the mongoose to eat. They’re opportunistic feeders- Eating anything from scraps at picnic areas, to insects and crabs.  What’s been most troublesome has been their role in the extinction and endangerment of some of Hawaii’s tropical birds by eating their eggs and chicks. “  The group seemed to be surprised by this information.  So, I thought it would be helpful to pass along some info on one of Hawaii’s most notorious invasive species (humans notwithstanding ).

Mongoose in Hawaii
The Mongoose was brought to Hawai’i in 1883

The mongooses (Herpestes javanicus) found in Hawai’i are from South and Southeast  Asia.  These rascals were introduced to Hawai’i Island in 1883 by the sugar industry to control rats in sugarcane fields on Maui, Moloka’i, and O’ahu.  This has proven to be one (of many) ecological faux pas. The mongoose is diurnal while the rat is nocturnal.  Which means they miss each other, for the most part.   As a child, I thought Rikki Tikki Tavi was cool, but he was in India, not Hawaii.

Hawaii Gets a Major Scare!

Ballistic Missile

As of late, the tension between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, were in the back of everyone’s mind.   For the people of Hawaii, yesterday, the conflict rushed to the forefront in a scary way.  At 8:07 am on Saturday, January 13th, mobile phones across the State of Hawaii received  a dire warning:   “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” As you can imagine, shock, panic, and confusion followed.    The emergency radio station also issued a warning.  “Ballistic Missile to strike Hawaii in minutes”. Followed by instructions to stay indoors, and for drivers to pull over and seek shelter.  Pretty scary stuff!

38 minutes later, a follow-up text was sent out: “There is no missile threat or danger to Hawaii.  Repeat. False Alarm.”   In many situations, 38 minutes is not a long time, but in the case of awaiting a possibly fiery horrific death…..  38 minutes is a looong time!  It is also a very long time to correct such a terrifying “mistake”.   How could something like this happen?  Who is responsible?  Why did they wait so long to communicate it was an error and all are safe?
Warnning

The official word, from Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency, is that an EMA employee “pushed the wrong button” after a shift transition.  Really?  “Pushed the wrong button”?   Now I have never seen the control room in question, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that there is some sort of confirmation screen that pops up after hitting such a command.   I mean…  My laptop will not allow me to delete the junk files in my trash can without a confirmation message popping up on my screen.  We are all supposed to believe that this function, that has the capabilities of sending the entire state in a mass panic, is not equipped with the necessary safeguards to prevent such a casual error? Something like:  “THIS IS A SERIOUS WARNING, ARE YOU REALLY SURE YOU MEANT TO HIT THIS INCOMING MISSLE ALERT BUTTON?!”.  Who was at the controls, Homer Simpson?

Throughout the day I heard people’s stories about how they responded and their feelings.  A gas station attendant shared with me how her boss called her on the phone ordering her to shut down the pumps and go hide in the garage.  “All I could think about was that I am going to die alone.”, she reflected.   That is real!

I was also told by a man that he was with his family in Hawaii on a beautiful sunny day.  “If I had to die, this is not a bad way to go out.” he exclaimed. This… is also valid.

I’m glad that this was a false attack, and that Hawaii is still here.  It is my hope that these so-called world leaders get it together and stop using the people as collateral in their, potentially deadly, battle of egos.


Kona Cab for your transportation needs in Kona, Hawaii

Your Ride from The Kona Airport.

Kona International Airport Taxi
Your trusted ride from the Kona International Airport.

So your flight just landed, and you make your way off the plane and out into the open air terminal.  Beautiful Kona sunshine warms your face.  “Aloha!  Welcome to Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole (I know. It’s a mouth full.)!”   After you locate and secure your luggage, you’ll make your way to the curb to meet your ride.  If you don’t have a family member or friend picking you up, perhaps you would like to rent a vehicle.  Cross the street to the center island.  You can catch a shuttle bus that will bring you to any of the major rental car agencies.  Housed just a couple of minutes up the road,  you’ll find companies such as Budget and Enterprise.  If you’re not getting picked up, and you are not interested in renting a car, then a taxi ride to your destination is your best option.

“Where do I catch a taxi cab?”, you may ask.  Outside of  baggage carousel B2, on the Hawaiian Air and Delta arrivals side, you should see a person holding a sign that reads “Taxi” or “Taxi Dispatch”.  Approach that man or woman, and let them know that you’re in need of a taxi.  They will, in turn, radio in to the network of mixed independent taxis that are standing by.  This is a good quick transportation solution.  For those of you that like to have things in place before you arrive, prearranged transportation is the way to go!

When you book your transportation, with D The Driver, I, or another driver, will be waiting for you when you emerge from the gate. We will have a sign that has your name on it!  With our six-passenger van, the fare will be the standard taxi rate (Initial $3.00 and $.40 per 1/8 mi).  If you need a luxury sedan or SUV, you can state that in your booking details (see those rates here*), and we will take care of you!  So go ahead and book your ride today!

*Subject to Availability


D The Drive Is an Amazon affiliate.  Please, click HERE to shop for your needs and wants.

 

The New Name of Kona’s Airport.

KOA's New Sign
Kona International Airport is now ELLISON ONIZUKA Kona International Airport at Keahole.

Upon entering the Kona International Airport (KOA), you’ll notice an addition to the signage.  It now reads Ellison Onizuka Kona International  Airport At Keahole.

I had no idea who Ellison Onizuka is/was and why his name now appears  on the airport’s entrance.  “Who is Ellison Onizuka?” a few of my taxi guests have asked me.  “I don’t know.  They recently placed the name on the sign.”, I would reply.  Being that I am one of the first individuals that visitors interact with, upon arrival, I felt compelled to find out the answer.  After a quick Google search, his photo popped up in the almost 70,000 search results.  I realized I WAS familiar with who Ellison Onizuka is.  I knew his face.  I knew of his service as one of the seven members of the tragic Space Shuttle Challenger.  What I did not know was his name or his background.

Ellison Shoji Onizuka was an American pilot turned astronaut, of Japanese descent.  He was also one of Kona’s own!  From Kealakekua, Onizuka, recognized as the first person of Japanese Ancestry to visit space- Space Shuttle Discovery on January 24, 1985.

ESO in space

On January 28, 1986, along with six other crew members, Ellison Onizuka was on the Space Shuttle Challenger.  To the horror of the millions of TV viewers, and NASA launch personnel, The craft exploded on take off.

Challenger crew
The Crew Members Of The Space Shuttle Challenger.

Although the sign was recently modified, to reflect the name change, Governor Ige made the dedication official, by signing it into law on July 12th, 2016- with the effective date of January 1st of 2017. 

So…  The Kona International Airport is now  Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole!  What a great way to honor the Big Island Man that has, not only dedicated his life, but gave his life to space exploration and discovery!

Ellison Shoji Onizuka, American Astronaut
Ellison Shoji Onizuka, 鬼塚 承次 Onizuka Shōji, June 24, 1946 – January 28, 1986

Book your Kona Airport taxi cab with D The Driver, today!

Diving from cliff in Keauhou Bay!

Kayaking, Snorkeling, Cliff Jumping, and Cave Exploration in One Adventure!

People are always asking me about things to do, while in Kona. I always answer with the same response. “It all depends on what you are interested in doing.” There’s an incredible gamut of activities in Kona and the Kohala Coast. For the leisurely types, you could participate in wine tasting, visit a coffee farm,  or tropical plant nursery… But for those that are seeking more of an adrenalin rush, there are things like zip lining, helicopter tours, and parasailing. A really cool physical activity is kayaking!

I recommend Ocean Safaris Kayak Adventure. They pack a lot into this 4-hour outing.

Paddle Kona Waters
Paddling Kona’s clear, pristine waters.

Keauhou Bay is the place where Ocean Safaris Kayak Adventures begin. We met the staff at about 7:30am. After a quick safety briefing, we are in our kayaks and paddling south pass the Sheraton Hotel. Keep your eyes open! There’s a high chance that you’ll spot a group of dolphins, on this trip. Perhaps even swimming right next to your boat!

Kayak Adventures on the Kona Coast

Not only are the group leaders chill and knowledgeable of the area, but they are all lifeguard certified. I was told that they are called on to offer additional water safety support for the IronMan Championship.  That offers peace of mind because I’m not the strongest of swimmers. Haha!

After about 40 minutes of paddling and sightseeing, we arrive at this cool sea cave tucked away just beyond a rocky shore. “Hello-ooo-oo-oo!” (That’s supposed to be my voice echoing in the cave. Lol).

Snorkel Kona waters
Snorkeling session included in an Ocean Kayak Adventure.

After checking out the cave, one of the guides tied all of the kayaks together and anchored them so they don’t drift away as we snorkeled.  One of the other guides proceeded to hand out snorkel gear to the members of the group.  We were able to explore the clear waters, at a very laid back pace.  At no point did the trip ever feel rushed.  After all of that paddling and swimming, I was feeling bit on the hungry side.   We climbed out of the water and set up to have some snacks.  Yes, they brought snacks!  In addition to handing out bags of chips, and bottled waters, they also carved up a nice refreshing pineapple, on the spot.

Kona cliff dive on Kayak Adventure
Ocean Safaris Kayak Adventure includes an opportunity to cliff dive!

So now that we took care of those hunger pangs, and we’re sitting on a 25′ cliff with nice 70-degree water below us- what to do next?  Jump! Big fun!  Haha!

What a great way to explore this beautiful Bay with cool people.  Once you’ve booked with them, and you need transportation to and from, schedule a ride with me!

I hope to see you in the Kona sunshine!

Things to consider for this trip:

  • Prepare for everything you have to get wet. I recommend placing your cell phone in a water-proof case, a ziplock baggy, or perhaps just leave it in your vehicle.
  • The crew will provide you with snorkel gear if you need it, but I would bring my own. You can order a set for under $25.00 at AmazonSnorkel Sets

 

IRONMAN 2017 Descends on Kona-Kohala!

Kailua-Kona and the Kohala Coast is all a buzz!

Up and down the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway, you’ll see cyclists preparing for this Saturday’s (October 14th) big event- The IRONMAN 2017 World Championship!

Ironman 2017 prep
Cyclists preparing for this Saturday’s 2017 IRONMAN Championship.

Approximately 2000 individuals will be here to take part in this year’s competition.  Hat’s off to each one of these athletes!  I’m fascinated by the intestinal fortitude and courage it takes to participate in such grueling challenge.  No, the IRONMAN competition is not for the weekend runner.  This is for world-class athletes!  These people, from all over the world, have agreed to push their bodies to the limits of their capacity- physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Not only are they going to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles, but do it all under the sweltering Kona sun!  Whether you come in 1st or 2000th place, you are all champions, in my book.

So…  To all you brave men and women, participating in IRONMAN 2017, I raise my beer to you!  When it’s all said and done, and your legs are wobbly, and you find yourself in need of a taxi-cab back to the Kona International Airport, to return to your respective homes, feel free to give me a call.   Call D The Driver if you need a Kona Taxi ride to or from the Kona International Airport!

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Lava Rocks, Ocean, Sunshine, and Goats!

Hualālai, Kohala, Kona, Hawaii
Hualālai volcano on the Kohala-Coast

Hawai’i Island, more commonly referred to as “The Big Island”, is a magical and wonderful place!   Boasting 4 of the 5 major climate zones, and 8 of the 13 sub-zones. On the leeward side of the island is the spectacular Kohala-Coast.  Classified as dry semi-arid (steppe), and dry arid (desert), South Kohala is the hottest area of the island.

The South Kohala-Coast is the home to vast fields of lava rock; kiawe and palm trees; pristine aqua and deep blue waters; and Billy goats.  Yup, Billy Goats! Keep an eye out while driving  Route 19 (Queen Ka’ahumanu Hwy), to or from Kona Airport, and your chances are pretty good that you may spot one.  The Kohala-Coast is also the location of some of the most luxurious hotels in the State.

Goats in grass

Nestled in the middle of lava fields, these resort developments offer a stark difference to the desert like, surrounding area.  Like an oasis of palm tree-lined streets, meticulously manicured lawns and world-class golf courses crafted streams and cascading mini waterfalls, with various shops, restaurants, hotels, and vacation rentals.

On a clear day, you’ll be able to see Maui’s mighty Haleakala smiling at you from across the ocean.  Approximately 11.5 miles north of Kona International Airport, there’s a Scenic Overlook. From there you can, safely, take in the view of the ocean, fields of lava rock, as well as neighboring Maui Island.

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There are many taxi-cab and airport shuttle companies in Kona. All provide service to this area.  If you want to ensure a comfortable, and safe commute with a knowledgeable, and conscientious driver, please book your Kona-Kohala transportation needs with D The Driver today!   Call D The Driver if you need a Kona Taxi ride to or from the Kona International Airport!

The Sun sets in Kona
When the sun sets in Kona, it commands attention.

 

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