Hawaii

The Hawaii Diaries: Day 12 – Tantrums & Tsunamis

Day 12 – 25th October 2012 – Honolulu

Back to Waikiki and the beloved Banyan Tree. Ben andI go for a surf in the morning and in the afternoon to celebrate our last day in Hawaii. In between the surf, Dad and I go on a bit of a shopping spree fun.

My surfing has improved dramatically despite not being able to surf whilst on the cruise. During the afternoon surf session a man and a younger guy start to paddle for a wave that I’ve already started paddling hard for (and I’m much further out than them). As it is I’m paddling to the furthest left side of the hundreds of Waikiki surfers due to plain intimidation or fear of causing an accident. I decide to keep paddling towards these guys and I’m certain they must know surfing etiquette if I do, right? Since I can only surf in a straight line I’m sure they will veer away. Of course I was wrong – both guys stand on their boards less than a metre from me and keep going on the wave. As per usual I totally nosedive before even standing. On my way back out I see the older guy staring at me. As I keep paddling he says “I hope you are heading out that way”, indicating even further away from everyone else. I ask, “Why?” and he says “because you are DANGEROUS!” so again, not being a confrontational person I ask “why?” and he says I almost crashed into two people.

Not quite understanding whether I was in the wrong and being too scared to stand up for myself I paddled off, heart beating hard. Ben was out further so I paddled to him and explained what had happened. We could see the man was making snide remarks about me to the younger guy and I was getting really worked up! Ben slowly paddled closer to the guy to try and overhear him and then caught a wave. Unsurprisingly, the older guy cut in on Ben too but mid way when they are both standing Ben calls out “my sister isn’t dangerous!”, unfortunately the older guy didn’t hear him and when they were paddling back out he called, “what’d ya say buddy?” and Ben repeated himself. What prevailed was quite amusing, although not at the time. Ben and the older guy had a bit of a splashing war. The man finally heads into shore and I’m scared he has gone to get back up. I’ve now lost my confidence  and so decide to head in. Ben says he will follow me. I can’t find Ben on the shore when I’ve handed in my board for at least another 30 minutes. Watching the sunset I’m starting to visualise this guy getting some island friends to come and sort my brother out. Contemplating my options he finally comes in – Phew!! Crisis over. I will be practicing my surfing in isolation now.

Looking back this is the funniest story of the trip. It was just so comedic watching them splash around – both as serious as the other. Needless to say I haven’t been surfing since.

If only that was the most eventful part of the day…

We go to Waikiki’s only revolving restaurant for dinner. It’s the best food we’ve had so far. During our meal our waiter tells us there has been a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Canada and all of Hawaii has a tsunami warning! We are used to warnings that never eventuate having grown up in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Queensland so we don’t rush back to the hotel. When we get there we go to our separate rooms after the concierge has assured us it is likely nothing will eventuate. Mum starts stressing out and comes to our room yelling that we are going to be evacuated and to start packing up because we need to find a hill. Her eyes are wide and wild. She spends too much time listening to crazy people in the lifts. We finally convince her to leave our room.

It’s one hour until the supposed tsunami will hit and Ben and I have the news on. It seems like a very serious matter as it is all that is on TV. There are reports that tsunami alarms have failed to go off on some of the islands and as there was a bad tsunami the year before after the Japan earthquake everyone is on edge. Ben and I are still convinced that it is a false alarm when mum calls us again pleading for us to come to the sixth floor. We refuse as are beds are so comfy and we are absolutely exhausted.

Finally, after another four calls mum and dad decide to knock on our door. Dad calls reception and they tell us we should have heard the warnings to evacuate (none of us heard any announcements) and that we needed to immediately head to the ballroom. When we get there people are prepared for the long-haul – Food and water rations are being provided which everyone rushes too and greedily takes more than their fair share, even though they would have just eaten dinner. Bedding is also supplied. It’s like a scene from a movie and I can imagine everyone slowly plotting against each other to ensure their own survival.

People are finding their own space where they can and creating make-shift beds or gathering around the TV. We finally realise this isn’t going to go away easily so I go to sleep under the table. I’m woken at 1am and told it is all over. The tsunami never hit, although waves were reported to be larger than normal.

Off to bed silently hoping our flight home tomorrow is cancelled. Unfortunately it wasn’t.

– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 11 – Kawaii

Day 11 – 24th October 2012 – Kawaii

Kawaii seems to be the most untouched and isolated island which appeals to me. For some reason I can’t shake the feeling we are in the middle of nowhere, at the bottom of the world (yet in an endless Summer), it seems so faraway from our everyday lives that we are finally able to completely relax. We decide to have another quiet day and spend the day at the beach near where our boat is moored. It happens to be right in front of the Mariott hotel and we couldn’t ask for much more – the grounds at the Mariott are so well maintained – the setting looks exactly like a postcard. We almost wish we didn’t have to get back on the ship today and mum and dad resolve that they will return here next time they visit the US.

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We spend the day sunbaking, paddleboarding, eating at the hotel’s pool bar and wondering through the hotel’s grounds. It was a lovely day to end the cruise.

– Wish you were here x

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 10 – Kawaii

Day 10: 23rd October 2012 – Kawaii

I’ve read about a beach called Hanelei Bay which regularly wins best beach in America awards. This is also the garden island so we decide to go for a bit of a drive. This is where Jurassic Park was filmed and it isn’t hard to see why – it looks exactly like it does in the movies.

The beach is huge and the drive is scenic. We spend the day relaxing and hanging out in the area. It was nice to have a quiet day with the family consisting of lounging, swimming, card games and beautiful Mexican food. What a life!

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– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 9 – Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii

Day 9: 22nd October 2012 – Kona

As the others are sleeping in I go to the mainland to find some decent coffee. We agree to meet at Starbucks at midday. As the name suggests, this is the largest island and as such, Hilo is quite a populated area with everything from Burger King (more about that later), to Starbucks to designer outlets.

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I find myself a coffee and walk through the farmers market – there are so many exotic fruit and vegetables. I buy a HUGE mango, a custard apple and some delicious Phillipino bananas. The bananas are actually grown on the island despite the name, but I’m told by the friendly shop keeper that there are over 300 species available. I taste test some and am so impressed bananas can be so delicious, they are much nicer and sweeter than Australian bananas.

I hike up to Starbucks to meet the family – if I had of known it was such a hike I would have suggested somewhere else. The humidity makes even the shortest walk almost unbearable. Whilst sweating profusely on the walk I decide that I could live on this island, even if it was just for a few months. There are so many outdoor activities; I could spend my Summer hiking, swimming, surfing and eating amazing fresh produce. I try to weigh up my current planned tour of Asia with a summer on a tropical island – both appeal to me a lot.

Mum and dad decide to the back to the boat to relax as it is so hot so Ben and I hire scooters and go for a ride. There are some awesome waves and we go to Turtle Bay for a quick dip where I spot a few turtles within minutes. They are so close to shore in a highly populated beach and most are in less than a metre of water. Truly impressive.

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At one point in the day we stop at Burger King. It was cheaper to buy all this than to opt for a smaller meal...

At one point in the day we stop at Burger King. It was cheaper to buy all this than to opt for a smaller meal…

We drive further and find volcanic rocks where the swell hits and gushes over the top. It may not sound that impressive but the waves and impact was huge and made some great photos.IMG_3023

– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaires: Day 8 – Hilo, The Big Island, Hawaii

Day 8: 21st October 2012 – Hilo

Today we arrived at the Port of Hilo. We had another ship-organised tour of the Volcano National Park including a crater trek and Akaka falls. Mum is doing a gourmet tour instead as hiking wasn’t her idea of a holiday (I don’t blame her!)

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Last night we were drinking cocktails and whilst I didn’t have much I am very ill today. I’ve been up since 4am hugging the toilet bowl – I shouldn’t mix my drinks! I try to have breakfast and endure a very long bus ride to the National Park with limited air conditioning but can barely keep my head up. As soon as we stop I lose my breakfast which ends up being the best thing that could have happened as I’m finally prepared to go trekking.

Again, Ben, Dad and I hoped since this was quite an active tour that there would be no oldies, but unfortunately some may have overestimated their abilities and the four mile trek was a slow one. There was a lot of cloud on the day and at the start of the walk visibility into the crater was minimal. Luckily it cleared up a lot along the way. The crater was pretty cool – you are transported back in time as it is so untouched. Walking through a large lava cave it is not difficult to imagine the lava flows which is kind of scary.

After the hike we visited the Park’s museum and from there we could see another crater which had lava about 100 feet down. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get close enough to see the lava, but there was smoke and at night you are able to see a glow from the crater. Having never been near lava this was quite exciting. Apparently this particular crater’s lava levels have been steadily rising and there is some concern it might overflow.

The tour bus took us to Akaka falls which is the largest free flowing waterfall on this island. To get there we go through the town and along the coast – so much surf and tropical gardens. This island certainly has a particular appeal to me.

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We do another little hike at the falls through some lovely gardens. Both the falls and the surrounds are beautiful. It is hard to describe how stunning they actually are.

The next day we were planning on seeing Hilo’s lava flows which is where lava flows over the cliffs and into the ocean – apparently in the early evening it is a must-see and beautiful. Unfortunately our timing isn’t right and the only lava flow on the island is on private land so we weren’t able to see it although later that night while we were playing cards (I was winning of course) the captain announced that there was lava flow we could see from the boat. Being quite far offshore and without wearing glasses, it looked to me like a line of lights lit up on the island but nevertheless I’m glad that we did get to cross sighting lava off our list.

 

– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 7 – The Infamous Road to Hana, Muai, Hawaii

 Day 7: 20th October 2012 – Maui

In preparation for our trip I read Lonely Planet’s Hawaii travel guide and was transported by their description of The Road to Hana in Maui…

“Of all the jaw-dropping dramatic drives in Hawaii, this is the Big Kahuna. A roller coaster of a ride, the Hana Hwy winds down into jungly valleys and back up towering cliffs, curling around 600 twists and turns along the way. Fifty-four one-lane bridges cross nearly as many waterfalls – some eye-popping torrents, others so gentle they beg a dip. But the ride’s only half the thrill. Get out and swim in a Zen-like pool, hike a ginger-scented trail and explore the wonders along the way.”

Completely mesmerised, it wasn’t hard to convince the rest of the family that this should be on our must-do on Maui list. The ship had its own tour, but we had been warned the day before it was a ten-hour drive and that the passengers had felt that it wasn’t the best way to see the journey as the stops were limited and it was a long time to be on a bus. As such, we hired our own car.

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It didn’t take long before we saw that Lonely Planet’s description was appropriate – the road was littered with waterfalls, beaches, stunning greenery and great views.

Our first stop was at Twin Waterfalls which was on private land but open to the public for free. The owners had cleverly built a juice stand at the entrance though, as the forty minute walk to the waterfalls and back in the humidity certainly had everyone lining up for fresh coconut juices and fruit. I found it quite amusing that they took credit card there when we thought we were in an untouched part of the island and it was literally a little wooden shack.

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Our next stop was lunch at a ‘plate-lunch’ stop on the side of the road which had BBQ’d chickens. The men cooking had a trailer on the back of their car with a BBQ on it and would sit listening to music until the next car stopped to eat. The food was delicious and we sat on a rock fence on top of a cliff staring straight out to sea. It was such a great view and great food – I still have cravings for that chicken to this day.

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Another noteworthy stop was Black Sand Beach which was visually spectacular with the beach being black pebbles the size of potatoes formed from volcanoes set against the lush trees and the blue surf. There were also a lot of sea caves and Ben and I went for a quick dip but the beach was quite rough and chilly.

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As the saying goes, it is all about the journey, rather than the destination. A typical tour of the Road to Hana does not stop at Hana and continues past to many more beautiful natural attractions including Seven Lakes which was recommended to us, however, we couldn’t miss our curfew and have the ship leave us behind so dad rushed back, causing me incredible car-sickness which was not pleasant.

The Road to Hana was one of my favourite parts of our holiday. If I were to do it again though, I’d make sure we left first thing in the morning; we were held up by problems with car hire. This also means you beat all the tour buses – on a one lane road you do not want to be stuck behind them! You also need to plan the trip carefully – there are so many sights to stop at, it is impossible to see all in a one day trip, especially if you have a curfew like us and I wouldn’t choose to drive that road at night or in the rain.

It is hard not to imagine yourself living an island life after spending time at Maui, if that doesn’t relax you I don’t know what will.

– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 6 – Snorkelling in Maui, Hawaii

Day 6: 19th October 2012 – Maui

We did one of the boat’s snorkelling tours today. Given that Ben and I were two of about 20 people under 30 on the boat (and the only single people in seemed). We hoped not too many would come, but there was about 100 and most of them were older Americans who had problems swimming let alone snorkelling…

Ben and I a bit apprehensive about diving into the deep blue sea

Ben and I a bit apprehensive about diving into the deep blue sea

The first stop was a crater Island called Molokini. It is crater shaped and apparently half of a rim of an underwater crater but our guides told us this wasn’t the case and it was actually from lava flow. Either way, it was like a big rock in the middle of nowhere and we just jumped off the boat and snorkelled which was pretty intense given my severe fear of sharks. It was worth getting the heart racing though as I saw 1000’s of fish, eels and even an octopus.

Photo courtesy of www.mauiguidebook.com

Molokini Crater

Our next stop was turtle cove which was another jump off the boat in deep ocean but seeing huge turtles and swimming only a metre from themmade it worthwhile. It was such an amazing and educational day and certainly one of my favourite on the trip.

Photo Courtesy of www.scuba.com

Turtle Cove

The girls working on the boat were so passionate about their cause (saving whales and educating the public about marine life). They made the enjoyable trip even more enjoyable.

We watched a good show on the boat that night: Lights, camera & action

– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 5 – Boarding the Pride of America Cruise Ship

Day 5: 18th October 2012

Ship day!

Ben and I went shopping to Ala Moana – the largest shopping centre in Hawaii but were sadly disappointed. It wasn’t anything special and we lasted less than two hours which is very unusual for us.

Then it was time to board our ship –  the Pride of America for a seven-day trip around a few of the Hawaiian islands. We got lei’d again and spent the afternoon exploring the ship. Ben and I shared a room and it had its own balcony which I’d recommend as whilst the room was bigger than I expected it still was a tight squeeze and it was nice to be able to enjoy the vista by ourselves or enjoy a vino while the sun set. The ship even had its own basketball court, 14 restaurants and lots of shows. Mum and I watched the opening show that night which was great but since we were so tired we were in bed by 9:30pm. 3815_10151153099942587_764714934_n

Our itinerary:Courtesy of ncl.com

– Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 4 – Jetskiing in Honolulu

Day 4: 18th October 2012

Today we had a very relaxing day and finally a sleep in as jet-skiing wasn’t until the afternoon.

Another surf – my muscles were killing me but bring it! I am determined to be a surfer if it kills me.

Our hotel, the Moana Surfrider was built in the early 1900’s, in it’s centre courtyard overlooking Waikiki beach stands a huge Banyan tree which shades the tables and hotel bar. I spent hours here reading, eating nachos and drinking my favourite Pina Coladas (nowhere makes them as good as the Moana Surfrider hotel!)

Source: http://www.moana-surfrider.com/

Source: http:/www.moana-surfrider.com/

 Source: http://www.moana-surfrider.com/

The beautiful Bayan tree:

Source: www.gohawaii.about.com    Source: www.travelandleisure.com

Jet-skiing was  bit more legit than Lucy’s establishment. The men were lovely (as all Hawaiians seem to be, even though dad keeps reminding Ben and I that it was the Hawaiian’s that killed Captain Cook).

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Ben and I shared our own jet ski and so did mum and dad. Mum didn’t last long on the ski though. I let Ben drive first and being a typical male he had to go fast and wild and ended up throwing us both off and I lost my sunglasses. After that I let him ride by himself and then I had my go. It was much easier to drive without him and lots of fun. Dad loved it too – hopefully he buys us one!

On the way back into shore we ran into a little Hawaiian girl who had found some very young stray kittens. She decided to wash them (in the waves) and carried hem around like shopping bags in either hand. All of the jet-skiiers were entertained but worried about their safety (even dad intervened and he hates stray cats). Hopefully they made it through the night.

We had a Korean BBQ for dinner, which meant we cooked our own on a BBQ plate which was delicious. We just can’t get over how fresh and tasty the food is in Hawaii.

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My favourite Hawaiian Souvenirs

Sometimes if you have limited space in your suitcase (like I always seem to) you need to be a bit picky about what souvenirs to take home. This is why I always leave my souvenir shopping until the last few days of my trip.

When going to Hawaii I knew that I definitely wanted Hula girls to give to my friends and that I should buy them on one of the smaller islands. Unfortunately, I hardly found any, other than at the ABC Stores which are a mass-produced items. I held off buying as long as I could but in the end they were the best quality and price. I particularly liked the chubby hula doll!

I also stumbled across vintage-print postcards and thought they were a great find, until I kept seeing them again and again.

I bought these from islandartstore.com and love them!

I bought these from islandartstore.com and love them!

Of course, there are leis and frangipani hair pieces available everywhere and markets stock bracelets and other beaded jewellery. In Waikiki there are high-end souvenir stores with higher priced and unique items, although I know that I never put my souvenirs to good use (unless they are gifts) so don’t buying cheaper ones – there are much better things to spend your money on when on holiday!

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