Hawai’i – May / June 2017

We were in need of a holiday to look forward to, and a stress-free break from our regular routines, and Hawaii came to mind – English-speaking, welcoming to tourists, warm, scenic, only a ten-hour flight. We knew a bit about it – volcanoes, beaches, palm trees, Hawaiian music. The more Pete researched it, the more interesting it became.

It was a wonderful break! Our first day was a bit long – bus to Sydney at 4pm, plane overnight for ten hours, landing in Honolulu, flight on Hawaii Airlines to Kona on the Big Island (also called Hawai’i), pick up car, drive to our condo, shop, cook, eat, enjoy the sunset and finally sleep.

We had seven nights on the Big Island, three in a lovely condo at Kona and four at a delightful airBNB near Pahoa. The western side is mostly very dry. There are old lava flows everywhere, and consequently not too many sandy beaches, but lots to see and do. The eastern side is lush and receives many times more rain than the west, so there’s lots of rainforest and waterfalls. And then there are the dormant and active volcanoes, (the two largest dormant ones over 4000 metres in height) with Kilauea, the youngest, still pumping up lava, and for the first time in a few years there’s lava flowing into the sea on the southeastern coastline. Spectacular!

Then it was off to Maui, a short flight and drive to our next condo in Kihei on the western side. A lovely long sandy beach fifty metres from our door. There’s a dormant volcano there too, Haleakela, over 3000 metres high, but the majority of the lava flows have had time to be revegetated closer to the coastline, and there are quite a few sandy beaches too. The road to Hana is famed because of its lush rainforest, numerous curves and bridges and waterfalls – a day trip, even though it’s not that many miles.

To Kauai next, one of the oldest islands, and a comfy apartment a few steps from a small beach in Kapa’a on the eastern side. Day trips to the north, where we did part of the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast (sensibly stopping at the beach before it got too steep and hairy!) and to the south of the island from where we accessed Waimea Canyon and the lookouts towards the southern side of the Na Pali Coast. Wow!

Finally two nights in Honolulu, at Waikiki, where we were lucky to see the 101st Annual King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade. Floral is certainly the word – every vehicle and horse was decorated with gorgeous garlands or arrangements. We walked the length of Waikiki Beach (rather narrow in places), and enjoyed the beautiful mild evenings before heading back, refreshed, to rather colder climes!

photo Photos

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The whole Hawaiian archipelago. The Big Island, the southernmost and most recently formed of the islands. Sunset, a king tide and southerly swell near our condo in Kona. View down to the black sand beach at Pololu. An impassable stretch of coastline to the south. Royal fish ponds at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, the Royal Grounds on the west coast. Ki'i (wooden images) guarding the heiau (royal mausoleum) where the bones of royalty and the nobility were kept. The king tide created some spectacular waves against the sea wall beside the main street of Kona. Little visiting gecko in our condo. Green sand beach (olivine) on the southern coast. Our cute  airBNB cottage near Pahoa, "Bananarama", quirkily decorated with a banana theme. Aa lava is incredibly rough - not a friendly shoreline at all! Sandy beaches are few and far between. Rare to see someone surfing! Our boat (the Lavaone) taking out to sea to check out the lava flow. Approaching the lava flow - the steam was visible for miles. Our captain was determined to get us as close as possible! The red hot lava is visible through the steam. Note the green (hot) water and sulphur scum. It didn't smell too pleasant! The smoking Halema'uma'u Crater of Mt Kilauea in Volcanoes National Park. The Iki crater of Kilauea, which erupted spectacularly over 36 days in 1959. The vent is clearly visible - the lava spurted out of it in 17 episodes, and some of it drained back down the vent each time, as there was no other outlet. At the start of the walk through the crater. Amazing landscape. It took 32 years for the lava lake to harden, and plants are beginning to colonise the cracks in the otherwise inhospitable surface. The o'hi'a shrubs are among the first to grow. Cracks that formed as the lava hardened and subsided as it cooled. Lovely o'hi'a blossoms. View back after we had crossed the crater. The "bathtub ring" (or "lava subsidence terrace") is clearly visible around the edge. The Halema'uma'u crater becomes more spectacular as night falls. Rainbow Falls near Hilo. Glorious collection of tropical plants at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden north of Hilo. These are not all Hawaiian native plants - there aren't that many of them! Ginger red torch flower. There are many beautiful varieties of ginger. Orchid among ferns. Akaka Falls, north of Hilo. Kehena Black Sand Beach, a short drive from our cottage. Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in Hawaii, a dormant shield volcano. It is 4205m above sea level. "Measured from its base on the ocean floor, it rises over 10,000 m (33,000 ft), significantly greater than the elevation of Mount Everest above sea level." (Wikipedia) A famous observatory is on the summit. Another view of Mauna Kea from the Saddle Road. You can drive some way up, but the final stretch is 4WD only. Next stop, Maui, a much smaller island. Start of the Keonehe'ehe'e walk into Haleakela Crater. Cloudy inside the mostly barren crater. And then, magically, the cloud lifted!! And not long after, the cloud swirled back in again. View of a lava flow from a cinder cone in the crater. View across to the island of Molokai from a sandy beach near Lahaina. Sunset over the west Maui mountains from "our" beach. Note the wind turbines up the ridge.  The road to Hana is a must-see 64 mile stretch of road along the east coast through lush rainforest, with 620 curves and 59 bridges, so quite a slow drive! A whole day adventure. There are many waterfalls beside the road. Not always easy to stop as the road is so narrow! And another one.. Wailua Falls. Further on, within the National Park is Ohe'o Gulch, with many waterfalls and a small black sand beach. Kauai, the Garden Island, smaller and more laid back than Maui. The central mountains apparently receive the highest rainfall of anywhere on earth. Beach near the McBryde Gardens, on the south shore of Kauai, near Po'ipu. Our condo at Kapa'a was in a small complex with its own little beach. View into the  Hanalei valley (in the north). Waterfall and steep cliffs above the valley (zoomed in). View back to the beach below from the start of the Kalalau Trail. View from the trail along the Na Pali coast. And down towards our destination,  Hanakapiai Beach. You will find roosters and chooks at most sites in Kauai , and there were some pussy cats too on this beach. We didn't quite have it to ourselves. :-) And now for the climb back up! Waimea Canyon, accessed from the southern coast of the island. Most impressive! You wouldn't want to get too close to the edge! Must really erode when it rains - very little to hold the soil. View from Kalalau lookout towards the Na Pali coast - stunning! Access to these lookouts is in Kokee State Park, on the same road as Waimea Canyon. Panorama shot. The cloud came in soon afterwards - we were lucky! There are some hikes here, but they're pretty steep. We just admired the view. Wailua Falls - very scenic. And now for something completely different! The marina near Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Oahu. Part of the Hilton Hawaiian Village at the western end of the famed beach. Diamond Head in the backgound. Part of the 101st Kamehameha Parade - we happened to be there on the right day! And it rained a bit too! Each island was represented by a princess, accompanied by six handmaidens, and several horsemen, in beautifully colour co-ordinated robes and amazing floral headresses. The horses were garlanded with beautiful flower arrangements also. And the horse pooper scooper carts were also a sight to behold! Waikiki Beach gets rather narrow, as you can see, but public access is guaranteed. Not much beach left at all in front of some hotels, alas!

Posted on July 11th, 2017, tagged with events

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