“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.

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 to 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 everyones 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 in doors, 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?

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

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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 ziplining, 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 knowledgable of the 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 sight seeing, 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 a 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 setup 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