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The Big Island: Kailua-Kona, Part 3

In some ways, Kailua-Kona reminds me of Lahaina on Maui — the shops, the restaurants, the main drag running along the ocean. I recall a good restaurant located here by the name of Drysdale's Club 53. As you may have guessed by the name, it was owned by the late, great pitcher who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Don Drysdale (whose uniform number was 53). I managed to eat there only once in my several trips to Kona but I recall it being quite nice. The restaurant was closed a few years ago due to rent increases in a down economy.

Of course, there are the ubiquitous t-shirt shops, including my favorite chain, Crazy Shirts. In fact, I have some of their shirts dating back to the 1970's. They have great designs and the shirts last a long time. Many of the Crazy Shirt stores have a carved image outside their stores hearkening back to the whaling days — such as the sailer and mermaid you see here.

Also, ubiquitous this time of year, are bikers training for the Ironman. Of course, his practice is mainly avoiding getting run over by the traffic on Ali`i Drive.

This day was Cruise ship day. There are several cruise ships that sail the islands, stopping at a different port each morning — sailing off to the next port in the evening. Some folks find it a great way to see multiple islands without having to pack and unpack at each new hotel.

The merchants at each port love the cruise passengers because they come ashore ready to buy souvenirs and generally without transportation — thus a captive market.

One of the things I love in Kailua-Kona is the Farmer's Market. Such a variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and flowers (plus a few tourist trinket booths to round out the mix of merchandise). The red ones are dragon fruit which are produced by a cactus. I have never tried one but I am generally willing to sample any new food at least one time. I do not know the yellow fruit but I suspect someone will let me know what it is.

Pictured here are star fruit which gets its name by the shape of a cross section. They tend to be a bit tart but quite tasty and juicy.

This odd looking fruit is rambutan. I have not tried them but I am told that they have a mild, sweet taste somewhat similar to grapes.

Pictured here are strawberry papaya, one of my favorites. Also known as sunrise papaya, these have a pinkish flesh (thus the name) and are sweeter without any aftertaste that, to my palate, differentiates it from the standard papaya. My understanding was that this variety was developed by the University of Hawai`i specifically for the Hawai`ian climate and to be resistant to pests that infest standard varieties. A must-have on my shopping list — easier to find at a farmers market than at a regular grocery store.

Of course everyone recognizes bananas — but when you visit Hawai`i, be sure to sample the apple bananas. They are sweeter, with a stronger banana flavor than the Cavendish variety that most of us on the mainland are familiar with. I read that apple bananas do not ship as well as other varieties and thus you generally have to travel to Hawai`i to sample this wonderful treat. This is another necessity when you shop for groceries.

In addition to tropical fruit, one finds tropical flowers at the farmer's market— here fragrant plumeria, fashioned into leis. BTW, that is a great price for a lei.

And, of course, someone has to make the leis and here she is. During the year that I lived on Maui, I had several plumeria trees in my yard. I even learned how to fashion the flowers into a lei using a long wire "needle" with heavy-duty cord. It is quite easy to do if you don't mind getting a little of the sticky sap on your fingers.

Or perhaps you might enjoy taking a phalaenopsis orchid back to your hotel or condo (you cannot take them home to the mainland but they are readily available there too).

These are oncidium orchids — and what a profusion of blossoms!

Last, and definitely not least, are the anthuriums — my favorite tropical flower. This vendor seemed to have every variety known to man. Beautiful and long-lasting, they seem to me to be synonymous with love and Hawai`i.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com