Just to think… a month ago, we were in Hawaii!
What an incredible experience… Hawaii was absolutely amazing! Mom, Mel and I returned after 5 years… and it was exactly as I had remembered it. Oahu is just beautiful, although a bit touristy, and the Big Island was absolutely incredible.
The week in review:
Friday, 2 Nov: Flight from Tampa to Honolulu, LOOOOONG. Arrived around dinner time, hooked up with Mom and Mel, and Alex and Ashley who all arrived the day previous. We were staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, we walked around Oahu, and checked out some of the local shops and souvenir shops.
Saturday, 3 Nov: Up early! Picked up our rental car, and Alex & Ashley, Richard and myself headed out to explore the island. We left Mom and Mel behind to soak up the rays at the pool. Driving directly to Pearl Harbor, we spent several hours checking out all the museums, the Memorial Site and the USS Bowfin, which was all sobering and interesting. Along the way, we stopped at the Aloha Swap Meet and picked up some more souvenirs. We then headed over to the Dole Plantation, and experienced the World’s Largest Maze, the Pineapple Garden Maze and pineapple ice cream. As we were driving along, headed to the North Shore, we took in the amazing shoreline and views. The North Shore was incredible, there were several Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles on the shore! While the requested distance to stay away from the turtles was six feet, Alex nearly stepped on one in all his excitement! We stayed to watch the sunset, and it was an incredible one.
Sunday, 4 Nov: Up early again, this time to witness sunrise, from the beach at our hotel. We checked out of the hotel, and headed back to the Aloha Swap Meet, we needed more suitcases for all our new purchases! We headed back to the North Shore, to see if the turtles were still around, and experience the waves! We hopped back in the car and headed to Waimea Valley, which turned out to be a disappointment, because the rainfall had been so lacking, the waterfalls were nearly nonexistent. We hopped back into the car and headed off for lunch, at Papa Ole’s, a local joint that is super popular with the locals and tourists alike. Yummy! Next up, by accident, was the Byodo-In Temple. It is a replica of a temple in Japan, it is a non-practicing Buddhist temple, with the Amida Buddha, which is the largest carved figure outside of Japan, and painted in gold lacquer. The Bon-sho, or Sacred Bell, is a five foot tall, three ton brass bell, that we each rung with the hope of happiness, blessings and a long life. Next up, the Le’ahi!.. which is Hawaiian for Diamond Head Crater, it is a 1.6 mile roundtrip hike, and the view from the top was beautiful. Amazing view of the Diamond Head Lighthouse and the ocean, and downtown Oahu and our hotel. That night, we headed back to the airport for our next flight to Kona, on the Big Island. (Nearly missed it, but we made it!) Checked into the hotel, Hilton Waikoloa Village and crashed!
Monday, 5 Nov: We awake to discover our hotel is ON the ocean. Mind blowing. It gets SO dark in Hawaii at night because of the lack of billboards and street lights, that when we checked in, we didn’t realize we are literally on the edge of land. It was breath-taking. After spending the morning making plans for the remainder of the week, we hit the one of the many pools on the property for an afternoon of napping in the sun. We bar-hopped and generally enjoyed the hotel’s amenities. That evening, we headed down to the lava rock and got comfortable, to watch the sunset, we even convinced Mom and Mel to get down on the rock for pictures.
Tuesday, 6 Nov: We rented a vehicle, and started our drive fairly early in the morning. Our ultimate goal was in Hilo, but along the way, we made several stops, first along the coast, where Alex and Ashley decided they had to have the perfect picture of the waves crashing behind them…. in the end, they ended up soaking wet from the waves crashing over the rocks and up onto the road! We stopped at What’s Shakin’ Smoothies for some homemade ice cream and smoothies. We continued our travels to Hilo, and arrived early for our helicopter ride at Safari Helicopter – were we took a helicopter ride over the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea! The very active waterfalls were next on our list, and we headed to several, Rainbow Falls, where we found immense banyan trees and took some really cool photos, and Kahuna Falls and Akaka Falls, which is an amazing 442 feet tall! Once back at the hotel, we decided to check out the hot tubs that were scattered thru out the resort, so much fun! Mom was carried across the pool in an effort to get her to one of the hot tubs, hilarious. Everyone jumped back and forth from the hot tubs to the pool, freezing cold, and lots of laughs later… we finally decided to head up to the room and found a life sized checkers board! The girls played against the boys, the girls won of course!
Wednesday, 7 Nov: We still had the rental car, and headed out to the Port in Kona, to meet up with a friend that Alex and Ashley use to work at Busch Gardens, Brandon, who know works for NCL. After collecting Brandon, we headed to the local Farmer’s Market, to see what other cool finds were out there. I found several Christmas presents (go me!) and some things for myself, of course. A short walk down the road was lunch at Lulu’s Surf-eteria, and then we continued our trek to the End of the World, a cliff jumping location that was scary!!! Brandon, Alex and Ashley had the guts to jump first, and Mel and I followed…. terrifyingly worth it. We headed back to the hotel in time for happy hour, and took the hotel ferry boat for a run around each of the restaurants. The girls headed out for GNO and had Chinese food from the hotel restaurant, it was a great time, and the food was so amazing, we had it again the next night!
Thursday, 8 Nov: Final day with the rental car, and we headed back to Kona, and rented a boat for the day. The weather was perfect, not too hot and not too chilly. We headed down south, and found a point where we could snorkel with the dolphins! Alex got super close up and took some great photos with the cheap-o underwater camera, and we floated around a bit while we had lunch. We headed back to the dock after about 6 hours, no fish were caught, but everyone gave great reviews! After a long day on the water, we were all exhausted!
Friday, 9 Nov: Our last day in paradise…. and we spent it hanging around the hotel, playing in the pool, eating and drinking at many of the different restaurants, and generally enjoying our last few hours before the flight home. We hit the kiddie pool, and took turns sliding down the slide (did I mention the average age was 5?), and practiced our water ballet. Richard and Alex snorkeled in the lagoon (in the middle of the hotel!), and the rest of us soaked in the rays. Eventually, we had to pack up and head home, but it was a trip filled with many haliʻa aloha (wonderful memories!)