Hawaii

Hawaii 2013

Everyone goes to Hawaii.  Everyone has been to Hawaii.  Everyone except me that is, so in November 2013, seeing an ad from a cruise company for a last minute reduced rate, suite for the price of a balcony, fifteen day cruise of the Hawaiian islands, I bit the bullet and decided that I too, would go to Hawaii.

The trip was a whirlwind tour of four islands which only gave me a small sampling of what Hawaii has to offer. I will give an overview of our experiences, island by island.

Hilo, Hawaii

The port of Hilo is on the big island of Hawaii.

ALOHA!  Welcome to Hilo.

ALOHA! Welcome to Hilo.

Settled by Polynesians 1,000 years ago, this calming paradise was the trading and cultural center of Hawaii, resting between dense jungle and a usually tranquil Pacific.  Overlooking Hilo, Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on Earth; its sister, Kilauea, is the most active.  From Hawaii Volcanoes National Park you can see these two world’s most active volcanoes, dramatic lava landscapes and get insight into the birth of  the Hawaiian islands from 70 million years of volcanic activity.

For millennia, Hawaiians lived off land and sea.  In 1778, life changed irrevocably for the islanders with the arrival of the British adventurer, Captain James Cook.  Missionaries followed in the early 1800’s and with them, a host of visitors who would forever change the culture, bringing in hundreds of new species, from dogs to pineapple.  The natural sandalwood forests were harvested to near extinction.  The rich soil welcomed new crops, from sugar cane to bananas,  pineapple to grapes and coffee. Europeans and Americans brought innovation and plagues, wiping out thousands of native Hawaiians.

The ancient Hawaiians believed Hilo was a link to Heaven, a portal to another world.   The scenery, the beaches, the volcanoes, the hula, the food, the culture …………. create a calming pace.  Hilo is paradise.

Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on earth.

Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on earth.

Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes National Park

A volcanic crater

A volcanic crater

Mist and cloud

Mist and cloud impaired the view.

A volcanic landscape

A volcanic landscape supports  new growth.

Tiny green growth among the lava rocks.

Tiny green plants peek out from among the lava rocks.

Walking through a lave tube.

Walking through a lave tube.  The longest lava tube on the big island is 23 miles.

Rich, green vegetation

Lush, green vegetation

 

Honolulu, Oahu

 

The island of Oahu stretches 44 miles long and 30 miles wide.  It is a tropical fantasy which offers everything from spectacular beaches lush vegetation, exotic plant life, stunning landscapes, world-class surfing and awe- inspiring history.  It attracts 4.5 million visitors every year.

With the arrival of James Cook in 1778, it took another 16 years before a European vessel entered Honolulu’s Harbor.  When British captain William Brown sailed into its calm peaceful waters, he took one look at its pristine beauty and named it Fare Haven, which translates to Honolulu in Hawaiian.  Honolulu is a bustling, thriving city

Honolulu, a bustling, thriving city with a sparkling harbor, world famous beaches and impressive craters.

Currently, Honolulu has a population of 337, 256.

with a sparkling harbor, world famous beaches, impressive craters and the home to America’s only palace.

Built by King Kalakaua between 1879 and 1882, the Iolani Palace is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The palace, a four story Italian Renaissance Palace, was considered far ahead of its time, having electricity before the White House and Buckingham Palace.

Oahu may be small but it packs a lot of beauty and fascinating attractions into five regions – Honolulu, North Shore, Central Oahu, Windward Coast and Leeward Coast.

Punchbown National Cemetery.

Punchbown National Cemetery.

Punchbowl National cemetery is the final resting place for 35,000 Americans.

Punchbowl National cemetery is the final resting place for 35,000 Americans.

Beautiful gardens in the Punchbowl Cemetery area.

Beautiful gardens in the Punchbowl Cemetery area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Pali lookout, a stunning view of the island's windward side.

From Pali lookout, a stunning view of the island’s windward side.

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Pearl Harbor memorial site.

Pearl Harbor memorial site.

The only naval base in the U.S. to be designated a National Historical Landmark.

The only naval base in the U.S. to be designated a National Historical Landmark.

The National Historical Landmark is located about 30 minutes from Waikiki beach.

The National Historical Landmark is located about 30 minutes from Waikiki beach.

The historic USS Arizona Memorial commemorates the events that led the U.S. to WWII on Dec. 7, 1941.

The historic USS Arizona Memorial commemorates the events that led the U.S. to WWII on Dec. 7, 1941.

Tora! Tora! Tora!  These Japanese words signal that surprise is complete.

Tora! Tora! Tora! These Japanese words signal that surprise is complete.

The submerged remains of the battleship, the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on Dec. 7, 1941.

The submerged remains of the battleship, the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on Dec. 7, 1941.

 

 Nawiliwili Harbor, Lihue, Kauai

 

Kauai is known as the ‘Garden Isle’.  It offers a variety of scenery, beaches, villages and a sense of aloofness from the other Hawaiian Islands as it is, along with its neighbor Niihau,  the one island that cannot be seen from any of the others.   Historically, Kauai was never physically conquered  by King Kamehameha but rather, Kauai’s king voluntarily submitted to Kamehameha’s  sovereignty and as a result kept much of the island’s autonomy.

Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands.  In the center of the island is Mr. Waialeale, a remnant of the long-extinct volcano that gave birth to Kauai.  It is also the wettest spot on earth with 450 inches of rain a year.  Along the north shore are the Na Pali cliffs, 14 miles of rich green valleys and steep, narrow cliffs.  There is also the desert-like palette of Waimea Canyon, the lush tropical Fern Grotto and the Lumahai Beach.

Lihue is the commercial and governing center of the island.

Entering the port of Lihue in Nawilwili harbor.

Entering the port of Lihue in Nawilwili harbor.

A view of Walmea canyon

A view of Walmea canyon

Walmea Canyon Lookout

Walmea Canyon Lookout

Kauai is the oldest Hawaiian island.  It's rock is red whereas Hawaii (the big island) has the black rock which is the more recent lava.

Kauai is the oldest Hawaiian island. It’s rock is red whereas on Hawaii (the big island)  the  rock is black which is the more recent lava.

 

 

Opaekaa Falls

Opaekaa Falls

A view of Wailua River.

A view of Wailua River.

A trip down the Wailua River to get to the Fern Grotto.

A trip down the Wailua River to get to the Fern Grotto.

The Fern Grotto

The Fern Grotto

Hula dancer at the Fern Grotto.

Hula dancer at the Fern Grotto.

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And the day is done!

 

Lahaina, Maui

 

Formed by two massive volcanoes, Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands.  These volcanoes are joined by a rich valley, which gives Maui its nickname, the ‘Valley Isle’.

The spectacular Haleakala Crater, the world’s largest inactive volcano, towers 10,032 feet above sea level.  Haleakala means ‘The House of the Sun’.

The Haleakala Crater, the world's largest inactive volcano, towers 10,032 feet above sea level.

The Haleakala Crater, the world’s largest inactive volcano, towers 10,032 feet above sea level.  The massive crater is 3,000 feet deep, over seven miles long and two, miles wide.

The Haeakala crater lookout is at an elevation of about 9500 feet.

The Haeakala crater lookout is at an elevation of about 9500 feet.

A misty morning viewing Haleakala Crater.

A misty morning viewing Haleakala Crater.

The island’s varied topography accounts for Maui’s scenic and climatic contrasts.  With more than 80 beaches, Mai has more miles of swimmable beach than any other island.  Ancient volcanic activity has left sands in a rainbow of colors ranging from white and gold to black, green and garnet.  There is an endless sea of sugarcane and pineapple fields with Maui now being the only one of the Hawaiian islands which grows sugarcane.

A rich valley between two massive volcanoes.

A rich valley between two massive volcanoes.

Maui is a popular tourist destination with more than 2 million visitors a year, second only to Oahu.  A colorful waterfront town, Lahaina is Maui’s most popular resort area and was once the Pacific center for America’s whaling fleet.  Today the town, preserving the spirit and architecture of the 1800’s, is designated as a National Historic District.

While in Lahaina, a visit to the Maui Ocean center is most interesting.  In addition to all the exhibits, the walk through a 54 foot underwater transparent tube surrounded  by all manner of marine life takes one right into the undersea world.

An impressive inhabitant at the Maui Ocean center.

An impressive inhabitant at the Maui Ocean center.

......... stingrays ..................

……… stingrays ………………

..... and hammerhead sharks ................

….. and hammerhead sharks …………….

.... and more residents at the Maui Ocean center.

…. and more residents at the Maui Ocean center.

 

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