Today’s guest blogger is TriForcer (and wife extraordinaire) Caroline.
11am Fairmont Orchid Hotel, Kohala Coast. This hotel happens to also be the host hotel for the Honu 70.3. We stayed here for a couple of days and enjoyed our beach, run and swim time. Kevin went out each day on the Queen K and braved the crazy winds and h-e-a-t. Tip. The gym and spa facilities are solid. I’d suggest skipping the breakfast buffet and ordering off the menu. Instead of dining at the Brown’s restaurant at the hotel for dinner, consider driving down to the ‘Ulu Ocean Grill at the Four Seasons, a more affordable option with incredible food that’s recently been mentioned in New York Times 46 Places to Visit in 2013.
1:00 Beach time @ the Lagoon. Simply relaxing. Servers were quick to place your drink and food orders. It was no surprise that Kevin was the only speedo wearing man on the beach, but was also the only serious one around who ventured on a long swim in choppy waters. “Good Ironman practice!” quipped Kevin. It was seriously impressive to see so many kids aged 5 and younger, paddle boarding and balancing on a surf board.
2:30pm Drive down to Kona. I checked out of the hotel while Kevin biked down to Kona on the Queen K. I surprised Kevin by honking past him and then meeting at the scenic lookout so that we could take some fun shots.
3:00pm Checking in at the Royal Kona Hotel. We like this inexpensive hotel for its superb ocean view and Ironman race location right on Alii Drive. The hotel most definitely needs some updating (and probably hasn’t had a face lift since the mid-80s), but what makes up for it is the hypnotic sound of the ocean waves crashing, ocean view balcony, comfortable bed, hotel bar and entertainment, and recently, access to high speed WiFi. Every morning you can see a handful of swimmers swimming the full course. Tip: Splurge on an ocean view room at the main tower. Our room was $165 per night including taxes.
Dinner @ Lava Java. This is the Ironman hot spot for breakfast and lunch during race week. Dinner with Ahi fish tacos were dry but the BYOB (no corkage fee) was key. The closest ABC grocery store was a two minute walk which had a variety of wines and beers to get the party started.
9:15pm, Lights Out. We are hard core tablet readers in bed.
7:30am Morning Run on Alii Drive. It was a recovery week for me, so I head out for an easy 5.5 miler on the Ironman race course. It’s already a bit humid and I see many others running too including Kevin! I don’t usually see him out this early, but he’s feeling super motivated and happy to be here training.
9:30am Breakfast @ Lava Java. This place really comes alive at breakfast. They have great service and my island themed latte was super tasty. Live island music plays non-stop, as early as 9 am. It’s a fantastic place to people and ocean watch too.
10:30am Alii Drive Stroll to the Kona Inn Jewelry. This store claims to have the only complete collection of Ironman posters. They’re super friendly and are eager to have Ironman competitors sign that year’s race poster which hangs framed, all around the ceiling’s perimeter. A couple of years ago, we chatted with the store owner who told us that he takes down and stores all the posters every time they evacuate during tsunami warnings. Now that’s dedication. And now this has been our cool little tradition since 2010 to stop by this place on race week. Check out their complete poster collection here.
11:00am Hulihee Palace Tour on Alii Drive. This was the former vacation home of Hawaiian royalty that’s been converted to a museum which showcases some impressive hand-carved furniture and artifacts. There’s a free guided tour that lasts approximately 30 minutes. If you’re like me and feel bad not being able to pronounce any Hawaiian words, you can absolve some of that by learning about the intriguing history of Hawaiian royalty for only an $8.00 admission fee.
12:00pm Bike Works, Kona. We make a pit stop to replace Kevin’s bike chain. This place is well stocked with equipment. We get fast and friendly service and learn that they rent space at the Kona village shops 3 weeks before Ironman race day and will be open 9am – 9pm. Specialized will ship your bike to them on race week.
1:00pm. Basik Cafe. Across from the Royal Kona Hotel is this little gem of place. I was skeptical at first, but soon became a fan. Imagine a yoghurt smoothie with some healthy toppings, served in a generous bowl that will cost you $8.00 (small). Somehow their cold, flavorful treat and modern shack decor facing the ocean view, will make you a believer that they’re on to something with this accai craze.