Posts Tagged With: cocktails

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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Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Source: irishcentral.comNothing can lift you up from a bad week more than a girl’s weekend. By definition, a girl’s weekend is a short getaway where the focus is on wine, whining, food and fun. On the weekend just passed, I travelled to Noosa, Queensland, Australia with four of my girlfriends to do just that.

           Source: booksunshine.com.au                           Source: hightide.com.au

There are a few key ingredients to the perfect girl’s weekend:

Pampering

Unfortunately we didn’t have the time or the budget to invest in massages, manicures or pedicures but we did spoil ourselves and stay in a penthouse at Noosa Hill Resort. The penthouse was surprisingly affordable and one of the few choices closes to Hastings Street that would accommodate five people at short notice. After I booked I did a bit of research on the Resort and started to worry as the reviews weren’t great. I warned the girls to prepare for the worst and we were all pleasantly surprised – it was a spacious two-bedroom apartment with a large private roof area which included a heated spa. The room also had separate living, dining and eating areas as well as multiple balconies. The view of the hinterland was absolutely stunning and that evening we enjoyed one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.We pampered ourselves by lounging in the air-conditioned room, followed by lounging in the pool area on pool beds (we may have all fallen asleep at one point it as it was so tranquil), followed by lounging on our rooftop in the spa cracking open a champagne bottle. It was divine.

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The view from our penthouse apartment!

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The amazing sunset we witnessed from the rooftop. Photos do not do it justice!

The staff were also lovely and allowed us to have both and early check-in and late check-out. The resort is older, but has aged well and our apartment was well maintained. Keeping this in mind, it is a great place to stay for the price (and the ability to boast to your friends that you are staying in a penthouse!). I highly recommend the Noosa Hill Resort and would go back again. The only negative comment I have is that the walk to the resort from Hastings street was up-hill and in 95% humidity it was not a pleasant experience. My friends had to put up with me whinging about the heat for the rest of the weekend (which of course they thoroughly enjoyed…)

Food

imagesCASLSG4NI think everyone on the trip can agree that our eyes were bigger than our bellies, although by the end of the trip this may not have been the case.When we first arrived in Noosa we all had a bizarre craving for scones with jam and cream. We enjoyed being very lady-like drinking tea and eating scones at Aromas café on Hastings Street. This café stands out in Noosa because of its Paris-like seating arrangements where the seats face the street. Craving sorted.
After snacking all afternoon on store bought goodies and BBQ chicken, we then went to Zachery’s Pizza Bar for dinner. I had been there before and knew it would impress the toughest pizza critic. We ordered a couple of pizzas and nachos. It was to die for. I must admit, the mix of pizza, cocktails and attractive waiters makes for a very enjoyable night. Again, however, my only complaint was the heat… it was very warm and none of the fans were on at the restaurant. My friends had to put up with my whinging again. I must have looked like I was going through menopause desperately fanning myself with the menu.

Wine & fun

We started off drinking cider in the sun on Saturday afternoon and then moved on to a bit of vino and champagne in the spa. Multiple cocktails were consumed at Zacherry’s followed by more drinks at Catos. Some us of continued to Noosa’s sleazy enjoyable dance club and had a bit of a boogey for the evening. Let’s just say some of us were fresher than others come Sunday morning!

It just so happened that the Noosa Ironman Competition was on Sunday morning so we enjoyed watching the gorgeous hunks athletic prowess of the competitors. I swear I had no previous knowledge this entertaining spectacle was on! We also had a wander through the marina markets which were so reasonably priced which is surprising these days as markets become more and more overpriced. I was trying to be responsible given my upcoming trip but the girls bought some beautiful necklaces.

Enjoying our wonderful girls weekend

Enjoying our wonderful girls weekend

Memories

After dining at Aromas again for lunch on Sunday, we wearily headed home. A girl’s weekend rarely recharges the batteries but it sure did recharge the brain. We had so many laughs and came away with so many memories that I will cherish. Thank you to my beautiful friends for making my last weeks in Brisbane very special. x

Categories: Noosa, Travel Diary, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Hawaii Diaries: Day 1 – Aloha Waikiki, Honolulu

Day 1: 15 October, 2012

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Lei’s and island beads

After a long plane ride I arrive in Honolulu with my mother, father and younger brother. We all were lei’d at the airport, and to my brother’s disappointment, this was the only action he got on the trip – which was actually lucky for me since we were sharing a room! The family was in Hawaii for a two-week holiday to celebrate my parent’s retirement and to have one last family holiday before my brother and I flew the coop (finally).

IMG_2752Ben and I... can you tell we've been flying for a while?!

The drive to Waikiki, Honolulu isn’t long but we can see Honolulu itself is quite run down and has a lower standard of living than Australia. We notice that there seems to be something missing that we are used to – mass advertising! We didn’t see any billboards, sign written cars etc. We asked our taxi driver about this and he mentioned that a law was passed to stop people from advertising in a way that detracts from Hawaii’s beauty. I must admit, it’s nice not having marketing unwilling thrown at you.

Waikiki is a completely different story than the rest of Honolulu; being the tourist mecca it is not run down at all and the main drag is filled with shops, palm trees and places to eat. At night torches are lit and hula girls dance the night away for your entertainment alongside a magnitude of buskers, some with macaws  that just seem so out-of-place being on a busy street rather than in a rainforest.

Source: Theage.com.au

Waikiki Beach
Source: Theage.com.au

The shops are open until late every night as people lay on the beach all day and socialise all night. One block away from the esplanade (away from the beach) the street is lined with run down apartment blocks – it’s hard to believe it is still Waikiki! On the other side of the street is the famous and pristine Waikiki beach – just as beautiful as the postcards.

Pina coladas

Pina coladas

We checked in at the The Moana Surfrider Hotel and had a very relaxing day under the Banyan tree, drinking pina coladas and watching the surf. My brother, Ben and I decided to rent to some long boards. This was the first time I’ve tried surfing since highschool – needless to say it was quite entertaining. I managed to stand up pretty fast, albeit not very well. Still on an adrenaline high we made a pact to surf every day, I was convinced I’d pass as an extra from the movie Blue Crush in no time. There are always at least 100 surfers at Waikiki, so I was a bit intimidated and just took my time and tried to learn some tips off the pros but all I seemed to learn was how to fall off!

Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe

That night being pretty jet-lagged we walked to Hard Rock Cafe – the first time we had eaten there. We weren’t very impressed with the food but the atmosphere and cocktails was a lot of fun.

– Wish you were here xx

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Hula’ing in Hawaii

I recently had the opportunity to go to Hawaii for two weeks with my family. The trip was made up of one week in Waikiki and one week on a cruise boat visiting most of the islands. Below are a few of my favourite memories from the trip. I’ll post my travel diaries over the coming weeks too.

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Relaxing in Waikiki. Our hotel was right on the water and it was great to wake up first thing in the morning and see all of the surfers out and about. Sipping a Hawaiian coffee while having a beach stroll was how I spent most of my mornings as I was the only early riser in the group. Waikiki beach gets pretty busy so it was nice to not have to compete for space this early.

The food is so fresh and diverse in Hawaii, even on the smaller islands. There is a strong Japanese influence, so we ate a lot of sashimi which just melted in our mouths and I also ventured to a farmer’s market where one store had 33 varieties of banana. Pineapple is served with almost everything and it makes the Australian varieties taste like cardboard in comparison. The food stalls on the side of the road with traditional meal plates, consisting of meat and rice, and sometimes vegetables was delicious. We had smoked chicken from a stall in the middle of the Road to Hana, three hours from any larger towns. The thought of it still makes my mouth water.

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When most people think of Hawaii they think of hula, lei’s and cocktails. I can certify that I did get lei’d numerous times and the cocktails are amazing. It’s a local saying that ‘a Pina Colada a day keeps the doctor away’. OK, maybe that’s just my saying, but hey it worked and I still reminisce about sitting under the Banyan tree, drinking Pina Coladas and watching the bikini/board-short-clad world go by.

The snorkelling. I’ll post specific details later, but it felt like if you popped on a snorkel and went for a swim you were bound to see something! We did snorkel tours and our own snorkelling. Whilst the coral isn’t anywhere near as colourful as Australia’s, the fish were plentiful, vivid and tropical. I even was lucky enough to spot an octopus, eel and too many large turtles to count.

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Volcano National Park. Even though I’ve seen plenty of volcanoes after living in New Zealand , I found Volcano National Park spectacular – when you walk through the huge crater you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. We did a great 6km hike (despite me being severely hung over after one too many Pina Coladas) which involved a climb through lava caves, a hike into the crater and then a trip to a local waterfall.

IMG_2822Hula dances and ukulele performances. The Hawaiian people are always friendly and willing to help. Sure they take their time, but it’s island time and if you don’t plan on slowing down in Hawaii you are probably in the wrong place.

Learning to surf. You can’t go to Hawaii and not try to get on a surfboard. I’ve never seen so many surfers in one place as there are in Waikiki. The local surfer boys make it look so easy, especially when surfing alongside the tourists who seem to have a beacon pointing at them. Watching them fall off their boards was as entertaining as watching the naturals. I must admit I was part of the beacon group, but with a bit of practice every day and my brother’s feeble attempts at coaching; ‘you just gotta stand up!’ I did slowly improve and was only involved in one surfing altercation which my brother attended to for me (cue two macho men splashing each other in the water – hilarious!)

Most importantly are the family memories. As you get older, the opportunities to spend time with your family are less and less. This trip was perfectly timed as my brother moved to Canada the following month and I’m about to head off on another overseas jaunt so it gave us all some new memories to cherish. Impressively, there was only one drama between my brother and I over the two weeks, involving car sickness and the Road to Hana but that’s a story for another time. I guess we must be getting more mature in our old age… or everyone’s assumption that we were on our honeymoon gave us our own honeymoon period… after we had been suitably grossed out of course.

There are many more things I could list – Hawaii is a great place in that there is something for everyone to do, and I loved going somewhere that one day we could be in the middle of Honolulu and the next on a boat in the middle of nowhere free diving amongst 1000’s of fish or even climbing volcanoes. I would love to be back sitting under the Banyan tree drinking a Pina Colada silently observing…

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