Posts Tagged With: tour

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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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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