Archive for the ‘2009/02/11, Hawaii’ Category

Kauai, Waterfalls and Whales

Monday, February 23rd, 2009
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Opaeka a Falls

We had booked a sunset dinner cruise to the Napali coast for the afternoon/evening so we decided to cruise around the island checking out the sights in the morning.  We found several waterfalls easily accessible by car.  Though not as impressive as taking an 8 mile roundtrip hike to get to one, they were still worthwhile destinations even if they were a bit touristy.

Da plane, da plane. Fantasy Island waterfall.

Da plane, da plane. Fantasy Island waterfall.

The Wailua Falls were used in the backdrop for the opening on Fantasy Island.  Chris did a great job of getting this one!

Off roading in the rental.

Off roading in the rental.

There have been several movies filmed on this island.  We set off trying to find some of the sets for Jurassic Park.  Unfortunately, Kim is too cheap and wouldn’t let Chris get the jeep.  He did the best he could off roading in the Focus.

Kim and Chris on the sunset cruise.

Kim and Chris on the sunset cruise.

It was a beautiful evening for a sail.  We headed out on a 55 foot catamaran for our sunset dinner cruise.  We were dissapointed that we didn’t get to see the Napali coast (the whole reason for taking this tour).  Once we rounded the north shore, the waves were a rockin’ and the captain made the decision to turn around (mind you the other tour boats pushed on).  We made the most of the situation and enjoyed the food, drinks, sun, and frolicking sea life.

Humpback whale breaching.

Humpback whale breaching.

Hawaii is where the humpback whales go in the winter to birth their calves due to the warm sea temperatures.  We must have seen 100 whales in all.  The best part, as we had never caught it before, was the full breaching.  We were psyched to catch this on camera, as it was very hard to time.

Dolphins putting on a show for the boat.

Dolphins putting on a show for the boat.

Not only did we catch the whales, but we had a school of dolphins swimming along doing flips for us.

Kuaui, The Napali Coast

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
Napali Coast.

Napali Coast.

We headed to the north shore of the island to check out Hanalei Bay and hike some of the Napali coast.  The only way to see the Napali is by air, sea, or on foot.  We parked at the end of the road which is Haena State Park and Ke’e beach. The morning was a bit overcast but we did capture some of the coastal beauty as we hiked. 

About a mile into the Napoli Coast hike.

About a mile into the Napali Coast hike.

You got me??? Who has you???The climb along the coast was quite muddy and very slippery.  We stopped at several stream crossings to rinse the mud off of our shoes and legs.

The sea was angry that day, like an old man sending soup back in a deli.

The sea was angry that day, like an old man sending soup back in a deli.

The first few miles led to a beautiful rocky beach (Hanakapi’ai Beach) with crashing, loud waves.

When timer shots go wrong, part II.

When timer shots go wrong, part II.

We didn’t have the time to do the whole 11 mile Napali coast trail so after hiking the cost for  few miles we diverted through the Hanakapi’ai Valley to get to the falls. We had some fun taking timer shots along the way. There was tons of mud and several stream crossings. It was quite slippery. As you can see, Chris barely made the shot.
Bamboo stands on the way to Hanakapi'ai Falls.

Bamboo stands on the way to Hanakapi'ai Falls.

The colors and vegetation in the valley were incredible. There were huge stands of bamboo, ancient giant trees, mossy rocks, etc… It really felt like you were in jurassic Park.

The lower porotion of Hanakapi'ai Falls.

The lower porotion of Hanakapi'ai Falls.

After 4 miles of fighting the mud, our reward was this beautiful 300 foot waterfall.  How cool is that?

Back in Kauai

Saturday, February 21st, 2009
Look at that view!

Look at that view!

Well… We are off the ship and on our own once again.  Travel from Honalulu to Lihue (Kauai) was smooth.  We were checked into our hotel in Kauai by 2:15.  Not super fancy but we had a great 3rd floor oceanfront room with a balcony and efficiency accommodations.  We didn’t want to lose a minute so we headed out pretty quick.  There was an annual festival in Waimea (the oldest town on the island) and thought it would be fun to check out the local flair.  We tried a few local food items and walked around briefly but it was pretty limited.  We decided to hit the Waimea Canyon, one of the must sees on the island.

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon

The Waimea Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of the pacific (10 miles long and 1 mile wide), as penned by Ernest Hemmingway.  The views were phenominal. It was a great start to our return to the island.

Perched on a ledge at Waimea Canyon.

Perched on a ledge at Waimea Canyon.

We had fun trying to capture the timer shot of the day.  This was very close to the edge of the canyon and Kim was quite nervous.  We will do just about anything for the right shot.

Hawaii is loaded with wild chickens.

Hawaii is loaded with wild chickens.

It’s really bizarre, but there are wild roosters and hens all over the place.  By the way, their famous “cock-a-doodle-do” is not limited to just the morning.  They are actually quite pretty birds.

Waimea Canyon
Even with the panorama, it’s hard to capture the immense nature of the view. 

Cruisin’ Kauai

Friday, February 20th, 2009
A view of the Nawiliwili harbor from the ship

A view of the Nawiliwili harbor from the ship

We spent the last two days of our cruise in Kauai. We decided to lay low and do some research since we will be coming back to this island for four days after the cruise.  From our short walks, views from the ship, conversations with other passengers, and our research findings we are excited to explore this island further.

The Fish Pond, a short walk from the harbor.

The Fish Pond, a short walk from the harbor.

We took a few walks to check out the area surrounding the harbor. One of our stops was a scenic overlook of Menehune Fishpond about a mile inland.  This ancient  fishpond is thought to be over 1000 years old.

Cruising by the Napali coast

Cruising by the Napali coast

One of the must see areas of Kauai is the Napali coast.  As we sailed off into the sunset on the last night of the cruise, we floated by the coast for some photo opportunities.  There were several whales frolicking in the surf which added to the atmosphere.  We plan on doing some hiking along this coast when we get back. 

Hanging with our friends in the Gold Rush Saloon

Hanging with our friends in the Gold Rush Saloon

We met some great people during our cruise.  We had fun each evening meeting up in the saloon for happy hour with Michelle our favorite bartender.

The Big Island

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Life begins anew in the middle of a lava field.

Life begins anew in the middle of a lava field.

Well, we hit the Big Island on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Our first port was Hilo and we were determined to get to the Volcanoes National Park and see some volcanoes.  As we fly by the seat of our pants, some things work and others not so much… We lucked out in Hilo with a rental car for just $50 bucks (It may have been the last one on the island…).

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls

We started the day at Akaka Falls, just north of Hilo.  Not Niagra Falls but impressive in it’s height and lush location.

Coast just north of Hilo.

Coast just north of Hilo.

On the way we found ourselves on a scenic road where we captured some nice pictures of the coast. 

Kilauea crater and sulpher vents in Volcano National Park.

Kilauea crater and sulphur vents in Volcano National Park.

From the falls we made our way to Volcano National Park.  We were able to see all of the must see spots in the park.  We walked through a lava tube, saw active steam vents, viewed several craters, and took a 3 mile hike to a cinder cone (Pu’u Huluhulu… Vanna, I think we have run out of “U’s)  and over crazy lava flows from eruptions in the 70’s. 

Lava tube in VNP.

Lava tube in VNP.

Parking lots in VNP are not in good shape.

Parking lots in VNP are not in good shape.

Kim and Chris in one of the many old lava flows.

Kim and Chris in one of the many old lava flows.

When Kim was happy about visiting the southernmost winery.
When Kim was happy about visiting the southernmost winery.

We still had time before returning the car so we stopped at the Volcano Winery, the southernmost winery in the US.  The wines were pretty good and we wanted to patronize their establishment, so we bought a bottle of wine.  Much to Kim’s chagrin, it was confiscated when we tried to smuggle it on board the boat.  We also stopped at Lava Tree State Park briefly (it started raining pretty good).  This was a very pretty little park with lava stacks that resembled trees interspersed thoughout the other lush greenery.

Active lava flow into the ocean.

Active lava flow into the ocean.

That night on our way to the other side of the island, Kona, our ship cruised by an active lava flow.  It was quite impressive seeing the lava flowing into the ocean while enjoying the incredible stars above the Pacific.  The picture really doesn’t capture the moment.

Our chariot today.

Our chariot today.

 The second day on the Big Island we were lucky enough to rent another Harley.  Not our favorite way to travel, but due to the February recess, everything is pretty booked.  We got the last Harley in Kona and headed out to see Waimea Canyon and Wapio Valley. 

Kim and Chris above the Wapio Valley.

Kim and Chris above the Wapio Valley.

Wapio Valley was very pretty.  The black sand beach was a sight.  Unfortunately, it was over a mile straight down to get there and time was limited.  We enjoyed trying to capture the moment with self portraits.  We drove along the coast and worked our way back to Kona.  It was pretty windy and the skies were threatening so we wanted to get back to the port pretty quick. 

Our well deserved reward for a long day on the Harley.

Our well deserved reward for a long day on the Harley.

As luck would have it, the Kona Brewing Company was only a few blocks from the ship.  We finished our day sampling the local brew and plotting our next adventure.

Maui

Monday, February 16th, 2009

First stop on our cruise was Maui.  When we have cruised in the past, the ports have always offered many local activities right off the boat.  Not so much here…  When we arrived we had no plans, and there was nothing where we debarked.  The first day therefore, was a little sketchy. We wanted to find something to do without the whole tourist/tour thing.  We couldn’t find a rental car but after hoofing it a few miles and several  phone calls, we found the local Harley dealership, which had  one last rental available for the next day. We were psyched, as we had never been on a Harley and really wanted to get around the island. 

For the remainder of the day, We decided to hoof it to the beach.  We lucked out as the waves were rockin’ and there were about 100 kiteboarders out playing in the surf. We had a great afternoon urban hiking and watching the kite boarders.   

The second day on Maui we rode our chariot up to Haleakala National Park and checked out the crater at 10,00 feet. It got a bit chilly, as you can see by our attire in the picture below, but we made it.  After the volcano we decided to ride around the island and check out the other “areas of interest”. We started to take the road to Hana but the threatening skies turned us back.  We headed to the other side of the island, It’s amazing how different the weather can be. We enjoyed a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream for lunch in Lahaina then took the round about route back to the boat.  The views were incredible, as the road disappeared around 5 MPH corners.  Our two lane road turned into a one lane without much warning.  Chris did a great job of handling the Harley through the blind turns.  We were a little nervous about making it back to the boat on time, as the road got crazier and our speeds decreased.  We made it back to the boat with 20 minutes to spare and a good day was logged in.  We were happy to get away from the crowds and see the true beauty of Maui.

Last day in Waikiki

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

We enjoyed our stay in Waikiki.  Although the hotel wasn’t fancy, we were happy with it. We usually do not spend much time in the hotel room , so (for us) it’s all about location, location, location… It was half a block from the beach, a few miles from Diamond Head, and close to all of the tourist action (and cheap!).

Our boat is the one on the right.

Our boat is the one on the right.

We wanted to see all of the Hawiian islands, but it was logistically difficult to do it on our own. We figured the most economical way to do it was to do a cruise, so we packed up for the next leg of our journey. We wanted to get to the port early, even though the boat didn’t leave till 8 pm.. Hey it’s paid for! We spent the afternoon getting aquainted with the ship, taking silly pictures, and enjoying the views from the harbor. 

 

Crusin’ Oahu

Friday, February 13th, 2009
Our chariot for the day.

Our chariot for the day, Mark would be jealous.

The tourist thing isn’t really our style so we didn’t want to take a group tour to see the island.  We knew Gertie (our GPS) could help get us to all the places we wanted to see.  The original plan was to rent motorcycles and tour the island.  After hearing the weather report, which called for 15 to 30 MPH winds, we decided a regular vehicle would be a better choice. We headed out in the morning to find a ride for the day. We were psyched when we got a deal on a convertible jeep. What better way to experience the sun, surf, and views.

Kim and Chris at Waimea Falls.

Kim and Chris at Waimea Falls.

One of the scenic spots we wanted to check out was Waimea Falls on the complete other side of the island. All of the tours stopped there and several people recommended it.  Although it was a very pretty walk with lots of great greenery, the falls were a bit of a disappointment, as we have seen many beautiful and much larger falls (it was also a ripoff at $10 per person).  We enjoyed the walk and made the most of what it was. 

Kim trying to make friends at Waimea Valley.

Kim trying to make friends at Waimea Valley.

At the visitor center area there were several male and female peacocks roaming around. We were able to get pretty close and that was cool!

Dole Plantation Silliness

Dole plantation silliness

After leaving Waimea falls we headed toward the center of the island.  We stopped at the Dole Pineapple plant (major tourist trap) to use the restroom and see what all the hulabalu was about.  We had a really good pineapple ice cream and had fun taking some silly pictures.

Surf at Waiahole.

Surf at Waiahole.

After leaving the pineapple plant, we started to head back home.  We captured this picture, which does a nice job of summing up many of the views we had along the way.  It’s amazing how many people “play” in the surf.  All over the island we saw people boogie boarding, surf boarding, and body surfing in the waves.

Surf at Hawaii Kai.

Surf at Hawaii Kai.

One of the last views was on the east side of the island when we were close to home.  After this serene scene we were happy head home with some take out chinese and a bottle of chardonay to do this post…  So far so good!

Aloha, First Day in Hawaii

Thursday, February 12th, 2009
Palm Springs after the rain...

Palm Springs after the rain...

We had a great visit in Palm Springs.  Although the weather was challenging, the rain brought snow to the mountains and made for a great farewell scene.  We left Palm Springs for LAX by about 10 AM.  We had a great day of travel and after 2.5 hours in the truck, 4 hours in the airport and 5.5 hours in the air, we arrived in Hawaii.  We hooked up with an inexpensive shuttle service and were at our hotel in Waikiki by 10:30 local time.

Kim in the crater at Diamond Head.
Kim in the crater at Diamond Head.

The following morning,  we decided to walk to Diamond Head, a volcanic crater and a popular attraction on Oahu. We made the trip a loop, a long loop…(about 8 miles total)  It was a pretty “urban” walk from the hotel and we enjoyed the scenery and even the occasional rain drops.  It was really great to see so many people out and about walking, running, surfing, etc… so early in the morning.

Waikiki from the top of Diamond Head.

Waikiki from the top of Diamond Head.

This view of Waikiki is from the summit of the Diamond Head hike.  Our hotel is one of the ones closest to us.

Dinner in Waikiki.

Dinner in Waikiki.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Waikiki and thinking about the other things we want to do while on this island.  We hung out at the beach for a little while watching everyone play in the surf.  Once the sun went down, we set out on the town to find a nice place for dinner.  Kim was excited when we found a place with outside seating and tiki torches!  We enjoyed a nice seafood meal and headed home to rest up for the next adventure.