Hawaii

To celebrate my birthday, we put together a trip to Hawaii, visiting three of the main islands. We honored my father at Pearl Harbor, went on some whale watches, went scuba diving, and so much more.

Sunday, February 23

We landed on the island of Oahu, staying on Waikiki beach at the Outrigger Hotel. The beaches weren’t very crowded at all, so we walked on them in the mornings and evenings.

Monday, February 24

Our first adventure was snorkeling with spinner dolphins first thing in the morning. These dolphins wake up in the morning and jump out of the water, spinning as they do (hence the name), and then splash down to make enough noise as to wake the others in their pod. Also on this outing we saw a humpback whale and some rays.

Later in the day we hiked Diamond Head. We started in the bowl of the dormant volcano and hiked up to the summit with a great view of Waikiki and overlooking the ocean from an old WWII gunner’s box. We drove counter clockwise on Hwy 1 an on up to the Kahuku area before heading back to our hotel.

Tuesday, February 25

Pearl Harbor was today’s adventure. It was a solemn morning as we joined about 30 other people on a tour of the WWII memorial. My dad was stationed at Hickam Air Field on Oahu when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the planes my dad was responsible for. He was off that Sunday, but raced to the field, arriving just as the last plane on the field was destroyed.

We left Pearl Harbor and drove around Honolulu for lunch and shopping. We bought some very nice carvings made from Acai tree wood.

Thursday, February 27

Yesterday we flew to Maui and explored the west side of the island. We also tried Loco Moco for the first time. It was delicious and we ended up having it several times while on Maui.

We visited Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge and saw black neck stilts and coots. Then we drove over to the very windy east side and watched some dare-devils wind surfing at Baldwin Beach State Park. We found a place for lunch and then headed back to the west side.

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Since we still had plenty of time on our hands, we drove up the volcano to visit Haleakala National Park. It was quite chilly up at the summit, where we hiked just a short distance, but the views were phenomenal!

Coming down the volcano by a different route, we first passed, and then stopped at Maui Botanical Gardens to enjoyed the beautiful, and sometimes odd-looking, flowers and plants. We even saw a nene (goose).

Friday, February 28

It’s my birthday, so I got to plan the day. The first thing we did was a whale watch. I had only ever been on one whale watch, and it had been very disappointing, but todays was fantastic! A mother and her calf swam beside us as we headed away from the harbor, and then we watch several whales breaching off in the distance.

On the way back toward Wailea we stopped at an overlook and saw a whale in Maalaea Bay.

Next up was scuba diving with Jack’s Locker. The waters around Maui are a bit chilly, and where we went there wasn’t much by way of coral or kelp, so the sea life was a bit sparse.

For dinner we drove north for a Luau. The food was good, except for the poi – not my cup of tea – and the dancers were very good – especially the fire dancers! We really enjoyed ourselves.

Saturday, March 1

We took a tour today on the Road to Hana. It is a long winding, and at times narrow, road that circles the edges of most of the east and south parts of the island. We saw beautiful landscapes, walked through a volcano tube and on a black sand beach, visited an old shop that had a lot of cool antique cameras along with paper money from around the world, and saw lots of waterfalls. Afterward we drove south of Wailea and saw the vast windy plains.

Sunday, March 2

Well, we loved the first whale watch so much that we scheduled a second whale watch! What a fantastic day!

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Monday, March 3

We went scuba diving again today – this time in slightly warmer waters. At one point I “felt” and then heard a whale’s low rumble through the water. It was a very spiritual moment for me.

Tuesday, March 4

Today we took it easy, visited a nearby beach, drove up to Lahaina and saw the ancient banyon tree there in the town’s square – it was HUGE! Had a nice lunch, then drove on over to Jack’s Diving Locker to go on a night dive with manta rays!

With this being only our 10th dive, we were a bit nervous about diving at night. Our dive leader, a very experienced funny guy, made sure we were at ease before getting into the water. We dropped down about 60 feet with the other divers and knelt in a circle. Above us were snorkelers holding onto a large ring. The snorkelers shone their flashlights down towards us while we shone ours up towards them. These lights attracted krill, and krill are a main dietary food of the manta rays. Before long the rays appeared and began swooping and doing underwater acrobatics over and around us. It was an incredible experience. The videos I took were awful because I didn’t have control over my buoyancy yet, but I was still glad to get something to remember this night by.

Wednesday, March 5

Early in the morning we flew to the Big Island, Hawaii. After checking in at our hotel in Kona, we took a nice long drive south to see what we could see. The landscape was almost barren in places, very wild and rugged. And as with all Hawaiian landscapes, beautiful.

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Thursday, March 6

I took my first helicopter ride on a tour of the Big Island. It was very exciting and I got a load of great photos, but I think the next time we go, I will want to have the door off. We saw collapsed volcano tubes that filled in with waterfalls, flew over active parts of Mauna Loa volcano, and saw where lava spilled into the ocean. Wow!

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Friday, March 7

We took our rented car and drove to Volcanos National Park, visiting Akaka Falls, another lava tube, and some short pretty hikes near some waterfalls. What a lovely park.

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Tomorrow we fly home. We will definitely be coming back to Hawaii.