We were encouraged to drink as many cups of delicious organic coffee as we could -- which was a lot!
The aroma of the dry-roasted Kona coffee beans was delightful
Here Judy shows us how the coffee beans are dry-roasted. We particularly liked hearing them pop like popcorn during this process.
These geese had the run of the place, not to mention several lazy cats and playful kittens
Where We Be
Despite the fierce look of these wooden statues at Honaunau, this was once a place of refuge.
The Sanctuary protected kapu breakers, defeated warriors, and civilians in time of war.
Big Island -- Kona
I didn't know you could munch on raw coffee beans. Mountain Thunder's hand-picked organic coffee beans are less bitter than most.
First thing in the morning we went to what
amounted to coffee boot camp. After picking up
our rental car at the King Kam Hotel (just 200
yards from the pier), we headed into the hills  
above Kona to visit Mountain Thunder Coffee
Plantation, which boasts the highest grown
coffee in the state of Hawaii and is the largest
organic coffee farm in the state. Judy gave us a
comprehensive tour lasting nearly an hour. She
was a memorable personality in her own right;
she clearly thought it was a sin to have coffee
any other way than black (why cover over the
taste of the coffee?) and she plainly preferred
to deliver her spiel without interruption, more
or less refusing to answer our questions until
she was finished. That said, we learned a LOT
about coffee and will certainly never forget her.

Our other big stop of the day was Pu’uhonua O
Honaunau National Park, about 30 miles south
of Kona. We'll just call it the Sanctuary for short.
This place quickly captures your imagination
with its ferocious wooden idols and captivating
history. If you were a Hawaiian back in the day
and you broke one of the sacred laws (known
as kapu, or taboo), the only punishment was
death -- unless you could elude your pursuers,
swim through shark-infested waters, and reach
this place of refuge. No harm could come to any
who reached the boundaries of this place.
The only access for the common man to the Sanctuary was by swimming across the bay shown above known as the Sharks Den. If you
managed that, then the kahuna (priest) was required by law to offer you sanctuary and absolve you of all wrongdoing. How cool is that!
The kings of Hawaii once lived here. The grounds include a thatched palace, a private canoe landing, a fish pond, and several temples.
Next to the Sanctuary is Honaunau Bay which is said to offer great snorkeling. Stand-up paddle surfing is all the rage right now.
Silhouetted palm trees evoke the serenity and calm of beautiful Hawaii
Carved effigies of gods guard the temples and make you think twice about breaking any taboos
King Kamehameha built Ahuena Heiau temple here (reconstructed above), and used it as a gathering place for his kahuna to counsel him.
When his son ate with the queen here he broke the ancient taboo against eating with women and established a new order in the kingdom.
We relaxed on the grassy lawn near the Kona Beach Hotel
(you can see the hotel and the beach in the background)
At the small store we bought some tasty chocolate-covered coffee beans for the road
We drove south along a winding mountain road to the artsy little town of Holualoa
then paused at the Up-Country Bakery & Cafe for some banana nut bread french toast
Our next stop was the Painted Church, about 20 miles south of Kona. In the late 1800s a Belgian monk
painted biblical scenes inside so Hawaiians could get a better sense of the white man's version of creation.
The designs are simple but the church has a wholesome feel to it and it's worth a brief stop (it's on the way to the Sanctuary)
We quickly mastered this ancient and mysterious Hawaiian board game
Back in Kona we returned the rental car and walked around town, enjoying the beach and the enormous banyan tree
Some of the wooden statues looked fierce, others bewildered, and others seriously bummed out
Our tour at Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation began with an up-close look at a coffee plant with its red-ripe coffee beans (or cherries)
Our final stop, and one of our favorites of the cruise, was Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, which translates as the Place of Refuge at Honaunau
Nearby is the sacred spot King Kamehameha called home in 1812 after
conquering the Hawaiian Islands. It is kapu (taboo) to walk beyond this sign.