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Hawaii

Summary: Hawaii is just like a lot of other South Sea Islands and did not inspire me. The Uncruise trip was excellent, as was the fellow guests. The highlight for us was diving with Mantas and the other potential highlight was flying over an active volcano, but we got called back due to the weather closing in.

Day 0 - The Preparation

Waikiki Beach, no appeal whatsoever

Since 9/11, and the drachonian Big Brother security that the United States have introduced at their borders, Art has always refused to travel to or through US borders. So I was amazed when he indicated that he wanted to go to Hawaii for our 10th wedding anniversary. His reasoning is that ‘it’s not really the United States – it’s the third point on the Polynesian triangle’ (the other two being Tahiti, and of course New Zealand). However, as it is the 50th state of the Union, we did recognize that we’d have to expose ourselves to fingerprinting and iris scans. Ah well – we’d be on that database at last.

Our aim was to see more than just one of the islands, but we didn’t particularly want to spend too much time travelling (flights, living out of a suitcase – yuck!). A cruise was the obvious choice, but we don’t like big cruise ships. What a dilemma! Art took a visit to our local travel agent, and they suggested we look at www.uncruise.com. Result! This company specializes in small ship adventure cruises around the US. And one went to Hawaii. It wasn’t the cheapest – but it was all inclusive for food, drinks, shore excursions and ‘adventure activities’. And best of all, we didn’t have to worry about one of my other pet hates – tipping. There would be one tip to pay at the end of the week, for our boat crew, but everything else would be taken care of.

Note: Australians and New Zealanders always struggle with tipping when abroad, because tipping is just not done in our countries. Waitresses, hairdressers, etc expect to get a living wage, and therefore do not rely on tips. What you see on the menu is what you pay. So to all you people out there who say ‘everything is so expensive in New Zealand’, just ask yourself this: Did you take the amount you tip into account when you did your calculations? We worked out that once you’d taken the 4.5% state tax and the 15-20% tip into account, things weren’t as cheap as they seemed. Vancouver, in Canada, was even worse – there was a 5% goods tax, then a 12% state tax, then the tip on top – you could add 30% easily onto any bill.

OK – gripe over – but remember, Australasians do not expect you to tip them.

Hawaiian State Flag

We booked with www.icruise.co.nz to go on the ‘Safari Explorer’, on its last cruise of the season before it sailed to Alaska for its summer season. This would start on the island of Moloka’i ( a short hop from Oah’u, where Honolulu and the international airport is situated), then visit the islands of Lana’i, Maui and Big Island. The boat had kayaks and snorkeling gear, but no dive school.

Next we needed flights, and we decided to stay a couple of days at each end of the holiday. Icruise did a great job of finding these for us. Flights to Hawaii are a reasonable price at the moment, as Hawaiian Airlines have just started flying directly to Auckland so Air NZ also have to compete on price. We chose to fly Hawaiian Airlines, mainly because it made the flight from Kona to Auckland via Honolulu much easier (no having to pick up and transfer luggage in Honolulu, for a start).

Our hotel in Honolulu was the Hyatt Place in Waikiki Beach, and on Big Island we booked the Courtyard Mariott King Kxxxxxx in Kona.

We decided to book a rental car at Honolulu Airtport via www.hawaiicheaprentals.com – well worth looking at, the prices they find are much cheaper than going directly, and they use the large companies. We decided to splash out on a Mustang Convertible from Alamo at $57 USD per day.

As we wanted to do a volcano tour on Big Island, we decided not to book a car, but unfortunately didn’t book a tour in advance (see later in the narrative!)

Oah’u

The following text was mostly supplied by the ships crew

Day 1: Moloka’i, Embark Kaunakakai Harbor & Pa’ina Dinner

Safari Explorer (Uncruise)

We all gathered at the Historic Hotel Molokai before boarding the Safari Explorer at Kaunakakai Harbor to board the Safari Explorer. We were greeted by the Safari Explorer crew to show us our state cabin and new home for the week. After getting settled we enjoyed drinks and pupus (appetizers) in the salon. We also had an abandon ship drill and tried on our life jackets just incase there was an emergency we would know what to do. Before dinner Captain Mike introduced the Safari Explorer crew before a delicious dinner by Chef Nate.

Day 2: Moloka’i, Halawa Valley and Paina Dinner

The bar was self service part of the time

We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning in Kaunakakai Harbor. After breakfast, we met Thadd, Hans, and Jessica - our drivers and historians for the day. We left the ship and headed into town to meet Aunty Terrie and Uncle DJ, who welcomed us to the island and introduced us to Hina, the mother of Molokai. After learning all about the Goddess Hina and Hawaiian protocol, we loaded up into the vans and headed towards Halawa Valley. Our guides told us all about ancient fish ponds, Pu’u o hoku ranch, and some history of Molokai. Upon arriving in Halawa Valley, we met Uncle Pilipo, Greg, and Gabe, who invited us into the valley with a traditional Hawaiian protocol. We blew the Pu (conch shell) to announce our presence and were welcomed with their pu shell blow and Uncle Pilipo chanting his Hawaiian lineage. We then presented him with our gift or Ho’okupu. Their family has been living in the valley for 50 generations, the longest continuous civilization known in Hawaii. We all went to the Hale where we learned from Uncle Pilipo about the history of the valley, the infamous tsunami, taro fields, and how to pound poi with Greg (his son). Some of us also hiked to the waterfall in the back of the valley. We stopped along the way to look at an ancient lele for offerings, a birthing stone and had a Kukui nut demonstration. Kukui nuts were used for lantern oil and torches. Then we headed back to the vessel to get ready for the Pa’ina. For dinner, we went to the Molokai Museum and enjoyed a beautiful evening of hula, song, and local food. There are some very talented musicians on Moloka’i. Then we returned to the vessel and many of us continued to mingle with cocktails in the lounge. Later in the evening we pulled off the dock in Molokai and headed to the island of Lanai.

Day 3: Lana’i, Nanahoa Kayak, Lana’i City

Early in the morning, we crossed the Pailolo channel to the island of Lana’i. We spent the morning snorkeling or on a skiff tour at a scenic spot called Nanahoa or the 5 sisters. This spot gets its name from 5 large volcanic pillars rising up from the water. The snorkelers had some amazing visibility and saw an octopus, black coral and a Spanish dancer nudibranch. The skiff tour had some amazing coastal views of the basalt pillars and huge sea cliffs. After lunch we headed ashore to Manele Bay then 10 miles into the city. Lana’i is known as the private island, 98% is currently privately owned by Larry Ellison (CEO/founder/owner of Oracle Software and the 3rd richest American). There are about 3,300 people who live on the island. The island used to be the largest pineapple plantation in the world. Today tourism is the islands main business. We learned more about the island at the Lana’i Cultural & Heritage Center. Then we had some time in the quaint little town before heading to Pu’u Pehe rock for a very scenic hike and heard the legend of Princess Pu’u Pehe. After dinner we got comfy on the top deck to view a lunar eclipse!

Day 4: Maui, Shark Pit & Hui O Wa’a in historic Lahaina Town

We had anchored at Oluwalu for the night. We got underway for some early morning Whale watching from the Safari Explorer. We found a few whales hanging out and doing some pectoral fin slapping. After breakfast we went snorkeling at Shark Pit. This site is named after the white-tip reef sharks that like to rest under the coral ledges. We found several turtles and a monk seal swimming around! We did not see any sharks today, it is likely that the monk seal had scared them all away. Monk seals are critically endangered and there population continues to decrease do to disease and food competition. There are less than 1,200 monk seals left today. We were incredibly lucky to see one! There were other interesting fish, coral and dynamic sand channels. After lunch we went ashore into the historical district of Lahaina town and visited Hui O Wa’a to learn about the Polynesian voyaging canoes and the ancient “wayfinding” navigational techniques. Some of us braved paddling in a six-man outrigger canoe and surfed a wave! After dinner we had a special Volcano Cake dessert presentation by Pastry Chef Mike and Expedition Guide Maria. We also celebrated 7 birthdays in the group for Joan, Bob, Alicia, Graeme, Marianne, Doug and Arthur.

Day 5: – West Maui Kayak and Snorkel (Maui)

We started the morning with an early morning whale watch and found a tiny baby humpback whale with its Mom. Then after breakfast we went snorkeling or kayaking at Launiupoko. There were several turtles resting on the bottom under coral ledges. We also saw a cleaner wrasse cleaning parasites of another fish and lots of purple velvet sea stars. We also found a giant mushroom coral polyp, the only free living coral that does not attach to a hard rock. The kayakers had a great time exploring the coastline and saw some bottlenose dolphins. We spent the afternoon whale watching and making our way south along the coast line of Maui towards Kihei and Wailea. We anchored off of Makena for a calm dinner. After dinner, we secured the boat for crossing the Alenuihaha channel 40 miles (at the closest point) to the Big Island.

Day 6: Big Island, Honomalino kayak/skiff and Night Manta Snorkel

We had a great calm anchorage at Honomalino, which means calm bay. We went kayaking for on a skiff tour of the coastline and bay. We saw a few black sand beaches and leaned about A’a and Pahoehoe lava flows. Black sand is formed when the lava hits the ocean and cools rapidly exploding into tiny bits. We could also see black rivers on the hill side of Mauna Loa that were some recent eruptions from the 90’s. We also finally had some calm enough weather to try out Stand-Up-Paddle boarding and swimming off the swim step. After lunch we headed back North towards our night manta snorkel sight. Just before arriving at Keahole we spotted a group of false killer whales. False killer whales are very hard to find because they are normally way off shore in deep water. They behave similarly to Ocra or killer whales but are all gray, which is why they are called false killer whales. Then we anchored at Keahole for our night manta snorkel. We meet Katie from Kona Diving Company, who came on board during dinner and told us all about the manta rays and snorkeling with them in a responsible way. After dinner we wiggled ourselves into our wetsuits and slid into the dark ocean water for our night snorkel. There was also some green bioluminescence in the water. An amazing experience was had by all! At least six manta rays in total were there and everyone enjoyed the underwater light show - with some of the mantas swimming quite close to us at the surface! A couple of the manta rays that we saw were named Koie and TimbucToo. Back on the vessel Chef Nate prepared cheese and chocolate fondue for us to finish up the night with.

Diving with the mantas was the highlight of the trip. Our fellow guests snorkeled above.

Day 7: Big Island, Captain Zodiac & Kailua Kona

After breakfast, Captain Zodiac came to the Safari Explorer and picked us up for an adventure on their Zodiac 733 Hurricane boats. We went snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay where the Captain Cook monument is. There is a monument for him in the Bay to memorialize his death. The monument is also on the only foreign soil in the United States. We saw spinner and spotted dolphins along the way. We also saw a mom and calf Humpback whale. We also found some pilot whales on the way there! In the bay while snorkeling we saw an amazing diversity of fish and coral. After lunch we all headed into Kailua Kona town and had a tour of Huli He’e Palace. After returning to our boat, we all had a champagne toast to celebrate the guests, crew, the Safari Explorer, and the amazing week we had on board before heading towards Kawaihae Harbor for disembarkation after breakfast the next day.

Hawaii (Big Island)

Kona Airport
Volcanic fields
Central Kona
James Cook Memorial

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holidays/abroad/2014_hawaii.txt · Last modified: 2014/09/17 17:24 by art
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