Third Time’s A Charm!

Despite my first two ill fated attempts at snorkeling, I was willing to try again.  I figured if there was anywhere in the world where I might have a good snorkeling experience, it was Hawaii.

Just FYI:  if you’re searching for snorkeling in Hawaii, there are a plethora of options.  We chose one that included more than just a boat ride to the snorkeling spot and back.  Instead, it included a boat trip up to the Nā Pali Coast.  April wasn’t interested in the snorkeling–just the boat ride, but promised to take lots of pictures of any shark attacks us snorkeling.

This extended tour was definitely the right decision!

The snorkeling was fun.  I saw lots of fish, I didn’t have a panic attack, and I missed seeing the shark Christi saw.  YAY me!

After snorkeling, we continued north up along the western coast. Along the way, we were joined by a curious tortoise and later by a pod of dolphins, who swam along with and played around the boat for quite awhile.

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As the boat sped along, we were treated with some of the most spectacular coastline views of the famed Nā Pali Coast.  As I mentioned before, some of the cliffs are over 2500ft high!


All too soon, it was time to turn around and head back–giving us one last good look at the coast on one side and the expanse of nothingness on the other.

 


It was a great excursion and I highly recommend that if you’re going to take a snorkeling tour, opt for one that includes a bit of sightseeing around the island–it does take up a bigger chunk of your day, but trust me, you won’t regret it.

Aloha!

A Hawaiian T.G.I.F.

I don’t know about you, but it has been one of those weeks and I am so very glad the weekend is here!  I’m looking forward to doing a whole lotta nothing and adding in a few trips down to the pool.

Naturally at 4 minutes to midnight, I remembered that I didn’t actually schedule anything to post today.  And then of course my laptop picked that very moment to randomly freeze and had to be restarted.  And in not wanting to miss out on the fun, my phone was blatantly refusing to connect to the interwebs…so yes, this post is a little late, but since I’m posting a picture of Hawaii and it’s still early evening in Hawaii (thank you time zones!), I’m totally proclaiming it still to be Friday!

Furthermore, I totally know that you stopped whatever you were doing to read this–so I’m going to keep it short & sweet in order for you to go back to drinking/eating/dancing/sleeping/dozing on the couch while pretending to watch a movie.  This is the view from our balcony in Kauai…and perhaps the moment when I decided that I wanted to stay in Hawaii forever (spoiler alert: I had to come back–no one was willing to send the pupcicle to me!).  Have a great weekend!

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Aloha!

Rainy Days

Ugh.  Rain.  I don’t mean I hate rain–I love rain!  It’s just that I love it even more when I can stay at home and watch old movies while lounging on the couch with the pupcicle.  But not when I have to be out in it schlepping things for work and especially not when it ruins perfectly nice plans to visit the USS Arizona.

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If you google “hurricanes that have hit Hawaii” there is a long list starting in the mid 1800’s, however, relatively few of them have actually hit the islands of Hawaii.  Apparently, that is a thing.  And by “that” I mean that the islands do not receive many direct hits and by “direct hits” I mean where the eye of the hurricane makes landfall.  Hurricanes usually tend to divert course at the last minute or dramatically downgrade to a tropical storm just before they hit.

There are several reasons theorized as to why, but I’m not going to get into any of them today (sorry–but here is a google search you can click on to read all about it!).  The only reason I’m mentioning it is because our vacation fell at the end of hurricane season and while we were there, there were a couple of hurricanes passing by (and by “by” I mean close enough to increase the rainfall, but far enough that we didn’t have to hunker down in our rooms with provisions for several days).

In fact, the only time it really interfered with our plans was Day 2.  We were scheduled to go to Pearl Harbor in the morning and then fly out later that afternoon to the Big Island.  So as not to have to arrive at the crack of dawn and wait in line for tickets, we booked a combo city bus tour + Pearl Harbor packet, which first took us on a tour of Honolulu and then dropped us off at Pearl Harbor so that we could explore the museum, go visit the USS Arizona, and then it would pick us up to take us back to our hotel.

Along the tour we saw the Hawaii State Capitol building, Iolani Palace, King Kamehameha statue, and Punchbowl National Cemetery (not to mention great views overlooking of Honolulu!).

 

After the tour, we headed to Pearl Harbor.  At this point, it was raining intermittently.  We signed up for a slot on the boat out to the USS Arizona and then wound our way through the museum.

As it neared our appointed boat slot time, we went to stand in line.  Alas, we were delivered saddening news: the US Navy had cancelled all trips to the USS Arizona.

We were devastated.

Having grown up in Fredericksburg, home of the Nimitz Museum–the only WWII museum in the continental US solely dedicated to the Pacific War–visiting Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona has been on my bucket list for a very long time.  And visiting Pearl Harbor was the main reason we decided to stay a bit longer in Honolulu.  We knew that Day 2 was our only chance to go see it, as we would not be coming back to Oahu in this trip.  After moping around for a few minutes, we realized that, while disappointing, it was a very legitimate reason to come back!

We did get to to see the USS Missouri, which is now permanently docked at Pearl Harbor.  And the highlight of the day (IMHO) was meeting Uncle Herb, a survivor of the surprise attack.  During the early morning of December 7, 2941 the Japanese sent over 350 planes to attack the US Naval Base, damaging 170 aircraft and 16 ships, sinking 3 ships, and claiming the lives of 3,700 Americans.  Despite the weather and the change in plans, it was a humbling experience and should you find yourself in Hawaii, it it definitely worth the trip.

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Aloha!

 

A Little Geography Lesson

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the location of the Hawaiian Islands I tend to think of it as smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean due west of California.

However, it is actually a little bit further south than “due west of California.”  Okay, quite a bit south of “due west of California.”

The Hawaiian Islands lie just below of the Tropic of Cancer–so if you want a “due west of” think Southern Mexico. To put it in USA geography terms, Key West (the Southernmost point in the continental United States) lies north of the Tropic of Cancer.  In fact, Hawaii is so remote that it is not even considered part of the North American continent (see the map from World Atlas below)!

USA map

The reason I’m mentioning this is because we decided to split our trip to the Big Island by spending a couple of nights in Kona and then a night in Hilo.  April & I were in charge of selecting the route and finding fun things to do along the way to Hilo.  We opted for the Southern Route, which afforded us options to drive through the mountainous terrain of Kona, the overlook of Kealakekua Bay (where the fate of Captain Cook was decided), the volcano lava fields, the Mauna Loa macadamia nut company, a green sand beach, and the actual southernmost point in the United States.

After we left Greenwell Farms, we headed south down the main “highway.”  Actually, highway was a bit of a stretch–much like our “yacht” in Greece.  Winding, narrow two lane road is a bit more accurate, but it was scenic, so we didn’t care!  Or perhaps Tracy did, since he was the one driving….but we girls didn’t mind one bit!  😉

Our first stop came only a few minutes down the road when we drove by the South Kona Fruit Stand.  We decided that smoothies were the perfect thing for our trip south, along with some very interesting fruit we had never heard of…or heard of but never tried, like lilikoi, star fruit, and dragon fruit!

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With smoothies in hand and fruit in the trunk, we continued south along the Mamalahoa Highway taking in the picturesque coastline views on one side and the lush mountain on the other side.  Our next destination was Nā‘ālehu, home to both a green sand beach (more about that later) and Ka Lae, the southernmost point on the Big Island, which is the southernmost island, thus is the southernmost point in the United States.

Why, yes, I do like saying southernmost–thankyouverymuch!

So we turned off the “highway” onto an even smaller road and wound our way here and there whilst following signs to the green sand beach and Ka Lae.  We actually went to the beach first but it is deserving of its own post.  After our trek to the beach, we stopped at Ka Lae for a glimpse of what seemed to be the edge of the world.

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For those of you who would love the chance to jump off the edge of the world, there was even a platform–and a group of people willing.

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And just in case you didn’t feel like scaling the steep wall back up or drifting out to sea (although I don’t see why not, after all the Kiribati Atolls are only 1200 miles away!), there was even a ladder to help you.

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I peeked over and decided I was perfectly happy not jumping and drifting off to sea and/or climbing the ladder of death back up.

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A few more quick shots and then we were on our way–having crossed off another item on our Hawaiian to-do list!

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Planning To Get Lei’d

A couple of months before we left for Hawaii, I got a call from BFF.  No hi.  No hello.  Just “do you want to get laid when we land in Honolulu.”  Silence.  Is this a trick question?  I mean, who doesn’t?!?! But I’m taking this trip with BFF, her hubby, and April, so I wasn’t quite sure what she was proposing here…

A big sigh from the Florida end of the phone “L-E-I, as in do you want a traditional Hawaiian greeting with a garland of flowers?”

Ohhhhhhhhh riiiiiiight…..I totally knew that.

Of course, we opted to get lei’d because a) very Hawaiian and b) it’s just fun to go around saying “I got lei’d in Hawaii.”  Although, I was a bit disappointed it was something that we had to plan, however, not as disappointed as I would have been to arrive in Hawaii and not be lei’d.  Of course there was an additional/upgrade fee to get lei’d, which then prompted a lot of “I paid to get lei’d in Hawaii” comments.

But I digress (as I often do).

Planning.  We all know how vital it is when traveling somewhere like Hawaii (or anywhere that your activities include something more than lounging on the beach drinking beer).  Except, not by me.  I don’t plan.  I throw out grandiose ideas here and there and offer a lot of opinions, but the real planning is usually done by someone else (and for that, I am exceptionally grateful!).  I’m quite capable of planning, but my planning tends to be the last-minute-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of planning, which apparently stresses out real planners and they take away your planning duties.  So unless we are in New York City or the Texas Hill Country or I am traveling alone, the planning job is almost never handed to me.

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But back to Hawaii.  If you’re going to Hawaii, you definitely want to plan out a good portion of your trip.  Not all of it–leave yourself time to get stuck in a beach bar while a hurricane-is-passing-nearby-but-not-hitting-the-island-afternoon-rainstorm.  At the very least pick out and schedule everything you want to see because if not, then it’s not going to happen.  I see it all the time when people visit New York City–they think “oh let’s just see where the day takes us” and then leave without seeing half of the things on their list.

In addition to all the amazing stuff there is to see, the main reason a well devised Hawaiian vacation plan is so important is because–in case you weren’t aware–the State of Hawaii is actually an archipelago of volcanic islands in the middle of nowhere smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  And by middle, I mean there is no other land around it for miles.  Thousands of miles.  Just over two thousand to the mainland, to be exact.

I think the hardest thing to decide about Hawaii is how many and which islands you want to visit.

HINT: unless you have no time or money constraints, I would highly recommend against trying to see them all in one trip.

If you’re the type who likes to just set up shop in your hotel and use it as a base of operations, then just pick one island–there are no wrong options. If you’re the type of person who likes to see more and has no problem packing up and moving hotels every few days, I would recommend that you spend a minimum of 2-3 days per island.  If you are in this group, the thing to remember is that flying is pretty much your only option for island hopping (unless you want to rent a kayak and end up missing and on the news).  Actual flying time is not long, but it does come with all of the standard rigmarole of airports and security checkpoints and arriving at the airport at least an hour before your flight.  Basically, you have to block out a large chunk of time every time you want to island hop.  If you’re going the kayak/missing/news route, you might want to block out a larger chunk of time.

How and what did we pick?  Well, thank you for asking.  Since we were thinking that the trip would be 10-12 days, we decided to go to 2 islands, leaving the option open perhaps for a third.  A bit full-on, but we were all committed.  Since there were 4 of us, we each selected 2 islands and haggled from there.  Pretty much everyone agreed on Oahu.  It was the easiest choice since it has the capital and Pearl Harbor.  Plus it is where the majority of the flights from the mainland land–so it seemed ridiculous to leave the island without a bit of exploring and a trip to Pearl Harbor.

Then the haggling started.  Someone (ahem, I’m not sure who…) was very adamant about going to the Big Island to visit the coffee plantations in Kona.  Everyone else was split between going to Kauai or Maui or not really caring.  We finally haggled our way to visiting 3 islands and the negotiations quickly concluded.  Poor Maui was out (don’t worry, we’ll be back!) and our final island selections were:

Oahu, Hawaii (aka the Big Island), and Kauai

Let the adventure begin!

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Aloha!