Puff the Magic Dragon lived by the sea..

After our lovely sunset at Baby Beach we went back into Koloa Old Town to find something to eat. We strolled into the Garden Island Grille which was promising live music. However, by the time we got there (8-15) the music had finished and everyone else had left. However, lovely Sophie greeted us warmly and assured us it was fine. She was absolutely lovely and so was the owner lady giving us lots of hints for our stay. We also had a little pet Madagascan Gecko for company at our table who was very much enjoying licking his glacé cherry. And our burger was good too! So all in all it was a good night.

I was phaffing about with our itinerary for the next few days trying to see how we could fit everything in but in the end we stuck to plan so the next day we were off upto the North Shore to visit Hanalei…or the land where Puff the Magic dragon lived!  It is also the place where more recently George Clooney and his pretend family stayed in the film The Descendants. Watching this film had in fact re-inforced my desire to come to Hawaii because the scenery was so lovely, particularly at this spot.

We drove all the way up their without stopping to see other scenic spots along the way, because I knew that we’d be visiting some of these on our Movie Tour on Friday. However, the Movie tour doesn’t go as far as Hanalei anymore and we’d soon find out why. When we arrived the road beyond Hanalei was indeed closed as the lady in the Garden Island Grille had told us. This was becaus back in April they had devastating floods here as a result of exceptionally heavy rain. It has swept away some of the single lane bridges so my idea of going to see ‘Bali Hai’ from Kee Beach was a no go.

Instead, we parked up in Hanalei and bought some coffee and banana bread and sat and ate it with the wild chickens. We then had a little wander around the shops which were a mixture of tourist tat and very nice galleries. Then we found another parking space and wandered over to the beach. It’s interesting, this place is the stuff of dreams with its lush mountainous backdrop and gentle surf but in comparison to some of the beaches in Oahu it seemed a little scruffy.

We decided to walk along the beach towards the famous pier only to find that this was all cordoned off as was this end of the beach. As we got nearer we could see why. At least two of the beachfront houses which must be worth multiple millions , had collapsed- again as a result of the April rains. There were also diggers doing repair work to the pier. Crikey, thank goodness this poor island didn’t get badly affected by the more recent hurricane.

I tried looking for George Cloonies house but couldn’t find it, but it is a very very long beach! We then both decided that we wanted to go back to our lovely place at Koloa. It is so lovely in comparison so that’s exactly what we did.

We stopped on the way to eat late lunch at the Olympic Bar in Kapaa which looked quite interesting but was not v good at all. Mainly because they actually forgot to serve my meal. No tip there then…well apart from the obvious.

When we got back to our place we just sat on our balcony enjoying a bit of a rest and deciding what we would do the next day. Odd really, this was a day I’d really been looking forward to and for the first time this holiday, it didn’t quite match up to expectations. Ah well tomorrow is another day!

 

 

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Kauai- The Garden Island

It was time to move on. I’d loved Oahu and its contrasting coasts but now we needed to move on to a new island- Kauai, otherwise known as the Garden Island. This promised to be the most low key island with stunning scenery and probably the one I was most looking forward to seeing.

We were catching our Speedishuttle back to Honolulu Airport at 9-11am precisely. But by 9-46 precisely they had not turned up. This lead to a considerable amount of stress as Jane tried to get through on the phone to find out what was happening. But at 9-47 he eventually turned up and Jane let rip. He tried to blame his tardiness on traffic but when we got going it was clear that it wasn’t that busy. We made several further stops and more stressed out customers got on board all talking about the possibility of missing their flights. As a result Mr Speedishuttle lived upto his name by driving along Highway 1 like a crazy maniac and we all breathed in as he squeezed between trucks in other lanes. Eek.

Anyway , after this lovely thrill ride we arrived at Hawaiian Airlines checkin. Oh joy it was self serve and there were huge families trying to do this clogging up the system. First the system failed, couldn’t find me and then said my case was over-weight. As if! But after some quick repacking we were able to move onto stage 2 of the checkin game. This was security which involved joining a queue which started outside the airport building.

Well it was all quite stressful so how lovely it was to finally get through all of this and to find ourselves sitting by Gate B13 which was lovely and peaceful, with just a guy strumming a guitar and quietly singing and another playing with his Ukulele. It was a good sign of things to come.

The flight was equally relaxing and only 30 mins long. Once we landed we picked up our rental car. A plain old compact this time, we declined the offer of a Mustang Convertible. They wanted to charge!

We also didn’t opt for a shouty Sat Nav here as there is basically only one road around the whole island. As a result we were immediately lost as we left the airport! However, soon we were back on track and heading towards Koloa. The drive really was quite different to Oahu. Just one or two lane roads, max 55mph speed limit (mostly actually 40 or 25 in built up areas and 15 around schools). We drove through some really lush tropical greenery including the Koloa Eucalyptus Tree Tunnel.

After about 30 mins drive we arrived in Koloa. This is a really lovely place stuck in the 1950s/60s. There are huge Monkeypod trees covering the road and the buildings are again like something out of a cowboy movie. We stopped at the local grocery store which is called Sueoka’s which is about 100 years old and looked like it. Oh it was lovely. I especially liked the fact that they sell Boogie boards just above the fruit and veg display. So we stocked up on a few emergency supplies …Big Wave Beer, Pumpkin Crunch Cream pie – that sort of thing.

Then we made our way along to our AirBnB where the instructions were basically, when you see the ocean on your left, turn sharp left! So , eventually we did and drive along Hoona Road until we found our place. It’s a first floor room with a balcony. It’s got everything we need although it’s so hot we could really do with AirCon , not just a fan. From the balcony I can see right through the neighbours house to the Pacific Ocean waves crashing on the shore.

As soon as we got in we decided to go down to Baby Beach. This is literally 2 mins walk away and picture perfect. We stayed here, I snorkelled and enjoyed the variety of smaller fish right off the beach and then did a little sketch of the scene. Jane meanwhile relaxed enjoying her book.

We stayed to watch the Sunset and it was beautiful. People were still surfing and swimming. Then all of a sudden there was a cacophony of noise as large numbers of Parakeets started to flock and then roost. It was really surprising and we sat on the beach wrapped in towels laughing our heads off . I think we are going to like Kauai.

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Today I snorkelled in a volcano.

All the info told us we had to be up early today. Not a problem for us as we are still adjusting to time difference. So by 8am we were ready to set out in Betty the Beetle heading for Hanauma Bay.

I made a good start by turning out of our car park onto the wrong side of the road only to find myself facing the oncoming traffic as it turned our corner. Hm perhaps I should have made my coffee a bit stronger?

Anyway after this little incident we proceeded to H1 but in the opposite direction today. It was altogether a more relaxed drive and after about 40 mins we were passing the scenic viewpoint and turning into the Park. We had made it in time to get a parking space …apparently you have to be there by 10am to do this.

So then we wandered upto the top to admire the views which were spectacular. Hanauma Bay has basically been formed out of a collapsed volcano cone and the crater filled with sea water and a reef was formed. It is totally tropical and despite being the number 1 tourist destination in Hawaii, it is beautifully maintained as a Conservation park. Well done the State of Hawaii.

After a hot wait for our orientation, we were allowed into the air conditioned auditorium and given a talk on how the bay was formed. However the main point was health and safety which was really quite off putting! It was useful though as they told you about how far out you could go and where the rip tides were. Rip tides😦

Then we were keen to get down to the beach and we found ourselves a nice little spot under a coconut palm on the grass , keeping in mind Jane’s new aversion to sand!

We went straight in and it wasn’t quite as calm as I’d expected. There was a bit of a swell which pulled you about a bit. However, as usual once Jane had her head in the water , she was off!

During the day we snorkelled four times with short breaks in between and tried different spots. It was definitely better away from the crowds.

The underwater topography is amazing with channels and deep pools and we saw a huge array of fish…just like at the Aquarium. It really didn’t disappoint. One particular highlight near the end of our day was when we suddenly saw a massive shoal of fish bursting towards us. It was really impressive but next minute it was gone! I had fun trying out my new underwater camera but I think I need a bit more practice as I kept missing the actual fish!

At the end of the day we caught the golf buggy up the slope and had a lovely time talking to the volunteers.

We drove back into the city and got rid of Betty then went out for dinner at Dukes. We sat outside underneath the tall palm trees and tiki torches, listening to the surf. Perfect.

Anyway here is a little fishy quiz for you. Which one of the following is not a fish that you would find in Hawaii?

a) Square Spot Anthias b) Blotched Foxface Rabbitfish c) Red Toothed Trigger Fish d) Bi- Coloured Dottyback e) Yellow Tangfastic f) Orange Spine Unicorn Fish g) Stripey or finally g) Ambon Toby.

Good Luck and goodnight x

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Big Waves on the North Shore

We were up early yesterday as we were driving upto the North Shore to check out the surf scene up there. This part of Oahu is famous for its big waves and I wanted to explore some of the beaches although perhaps not go out on my little boogie board myself!

The drive was again rather stressful to start with as we had to drive on Highway 1 and 2 which in parts are 6 lanes and busy. But as we left Honolulu behind and got onto the 80 and then the Kamehama Highway it all became a lot more laid back. We drove along past mountain ranges with our rooftop down-  even though it was raining at times. The views were spectacular as we drove past pineapple and sugar cane plantations.

After about an hour we reached Haleiwa which looked like a Wild West town and very picturesque. However, we decided to head straight through as we were on a bit of a mission to fit things in today and had left a bit later than we meant to.

So then we drove on to the fabulous stretch of beaches with a first stop at Ehukai where the professional surfers were putting on a bit of a display. This is the home to the world famous Banzai Pipeline surf spot and it was awe inspiring to watch as these crazy dudes tackled the big waves. Mind you this is only later Summer and it’s only in Winter that you get the really huge waves that this place is famous for. There was a small crowd gathered here to watch the daredevil display and we were perched on a ridge of sand which was being eroded away..maybe most recently by the hurricane?

We then drove further along the coast to Sunset Beach. Here there seemed to be a lot of people off tour buses admiring the view but very few people in surfing. It was very idyllic with its bendy palm trees.

By now we were feeling like some refreshment so we drove back into Haleiwa to the famous Matsumoto Shave Ice store. This place has been serving this Hawaiian speciality since 1959 and today it was teeming with tourists queuing up to have their share. We queued too and watched as the machine shaved the ice then a lady mounded into a dome and then two men poured our chosen flavourings over it. Along the way it was quality checked for shape and flavouring. We had a Hawaiian obviously which was pineapple, coconut and banana. It is basically a Slush puppy but very acceptable.

We then had a quick bagel to share at the Konos cafe (quirky surfer dude place with a chicken on the table. Yes….an actual rooster). That’s normal here right?

Then we joined the by now very slow line of traffic making its way along the beach coast road. Very hectic on a Sunday afternoon.

We drove back along to Sharks Cove which Jane had discovered as a good snorkelling spot. It was very weird…it’s basically a pool surrounded by a lava wall and inside its very shallow but you can snorkel and see wonderful sea life. Why on earth they want to live here with all these big footed boobies is anyone’s guess. But despite the crowds we still had a lovely time spotting lots of different fish. At one point it was raining and there was a rainbow overhead. Perfect!

To finish off our day we drove into the Waimea Valley Park and had a quick look back at the beach..very beautiful and then made our way back home through the busy roads and rain.

When we got back it was late , we had acquired an amber warning light on the car , which we ignored and we were completely exhausted. All that surfing!

So of course it was now time to go out shopping at the Sheraton for Mike’s Reyn Spooner Hawaiian shirts. Lucky boy. We had dinner tonight at The Yard House where Jane drank a half yard of ale and I had another Lava Man (my new favourite). And we then picked up pudding ..ice cream from Glacé…I had the most delicious Coconut Ice cream in a cone and Jane had Salted Caramel in a bowl which got very messy! Even their spoons were shaped like surfboards which seemed an apt end to a splendid day.

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The Windward Coast, Oahu

 

 

Today we woke up very early again which was good because we could watch a bit of the Ryder Cup live and as we needed to go and collect our car rental at 8am. We picked up a Kona coffe from the cafe downstairs from our AirBnB and then went to the Enterprise offices also downstairs. This is the best place to stay! After some bureaucracy and Jane getting the slight hump about the cost of insurance, the nice man took us upstairs to the car park. I made a joke about the white Porsche being our car but then couldn’t believe our luck when he went no we are looking for a small car…how about this one? He was pointing at the most gorgeous red , soft top Beetle!!! I thought he was joking then I was so excited when he said he wasn’t! I was all discombobulated and so it was a good job we weren’t driving off just yet.

Instead we were heading upto Kalakaua Avenue to watch the Aloha week Floral parade. This is one of the main streets here in Waikiki with lots of big hotels and posh shops. We had to hang about quite a bit in the heat (it was only 9am) because as the policeman told me, they were operating on Hawaiian time. Whilst we waited we discovered our new favourite store, Coco Cove, where we’d come back later and pick up supplies for the day…including beach mats, sandwiches, fresh pineapple, cuddly pineapple and my $14.99 boogie board. We were all set …

Anyway, eventually the road closed and the parade began. It was very sweet with marching bands, Hawaiian queens on horse back with beautiful floral decorations. Even the mayor was on a horse. There was a bit of a lack of hula girls but generally it was all very nice and bits of it brought a lump to the throat (overtired) including the Little League (baseball) World Series Champions 2018 and Brook Lee , Miss Universe 1997!

I understood, from the tattooed local I’d made friends with in the pool the day before, that there would be representations from all of the Hawaiian islands and we hadn’t even left Honolulu yet. So we left them to it and headed back to Seaside Avenue and after a spot of lunch we got in the car to make our way over to the Windward Coast. I was rather nervous of driving as it had been sometime since I’d driven in the US. To help find our way around here we’d included Sat Nav in our rental but this just made it all the more stressful and she was rather shouty and insistent. I did initially make some school girl errors to do with red lights and getting in the wrong lanes and momentarily forgetting which side of the road I should be on! Jane took this all very calmly…not! Hahaha. Anyway, after a while I got use to it and by the time we reached the scenic lookout all was well with the world. We had headed up the Pali Highway into the misty, clouded mountains. The scenery was stunning…very dramatic and some beautiful pine trees we’d never seen before.

After this little stop we dropped down into Kailua to try and find the beach. Here the Sat Nav lady was worse than useless but eventually we found a little car park and waited for a space to free up. We walked onto the beach…and it was indeed absolutely beautiful. Kailua Beach is about two miles long of soft, white sand and lovely turquoise sea with gentle surf. It wasn’t even crowded and I was straight into the sea with my new board. I LOVED it. I soon found, that I still had the skills mastered when I was about 14 with a wooden board, down at Trebarwith Strand in Cornwall. It was great fun. You might wonder what Jane was upto all this time. Well, the sea was a bit too much for her and she was generally trying to avoid the sand!!!

After a couple of hours here we were back in the car, now with the roof down and feeling like Thelma and Louise and heading to our next stop. However, what we came across next was the actual Kailua Beach Park which was probably where I’d intended us to stop. It had a much bigger car park and we wandered down to the beach here to take a look. It was much more sheltered and the sea calmer and there was more shade from the pine trees. There were lots of families at this part of the beach.

Next stop was what we’d been looking for, Lanikai Beach. This was a beautiful spot..in fact all around here the development is low rise and really lovely. The beach here is narrow but very idyllic with its palm trees and tropical islands in the background. By now it was quite late and the sea was a lovely sky blue colour and really clear. But overal, I’d really enjoyed where we’d based ourselves with the surf.

We headed back to the city which is only about a 40mins drive. After a refreshing shower we headed out for dinner and a shot glass at the Hard Rock Cafe. What another fabulous day!

 

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Aloha Waikiki! 

After our long journey we finally arrived at Honolulu Airport and caught our SpeediTranfser bus to our Airbnb. I’m pleased to report that this is quite splendid and Olivier our host has been very helpful so far. We are in an apartment on the 20th floor of this big tower block called the Island Colony. The room itself is fine and we have a great balcony overlooking the Ala Wai canal, some other tower blocks and with a partial view to the sea. There are also views beyond to the lush green mountains which were shrouded in smokey clouds.

It was stiflingly hot and humid yesterday when we arrived and so we decided to just spend the day relaxing locally. We went down to our pool which felt lovely to swim in and then did some shopping at the mini mart shop also on the 6th floor. It gradually clouded over more and more and eventually there was even a bit of rain and thunder. 

We were started to struggle a bit with jet lag so we decided to head out for early tea at the Cheesecake Factory. This turned out to be a huge , busy place on Kalakaua Avenue just two blocks from our Airbnb. We had a drink at the bar whilst we waited. I had a Pineapple Mojitos and Jane had a Longboat lager. For dinner we just had a Hawaiian pizza to share and then we each had our own cheesecake. I had mango key lime pie cheesecake and Jane had pumpkin and almond cheesecake. They were very sickly and we had to ask for about half of both to be boxed up. 

The next day we woke up terribly early still due to the fact that I turned the air con back on and it was very noisy. So by 5-30 we were up and drinking tea. We phaffed about quite a bit getting very hot in the apartment but eventually we set off for our walk along Waikiki Beach. We started off by catching the Number 20 bus to the Honolulu Aquarium. When we arrived here the views to the sea and beach opened up and so we walked across the park to take a closer look. It really was quite stunningly beautiful with all shades of blue in the sea and sky. 

Anyway after Jane thought she was going to be eaten alive by red ants that got on her shoe, we went to visit the fishes. It was really good and we enjoyed seeing all the things in the tanks that we hope to see for real through our own masks next! 

After watching the nice man feed his Hawaiian Monk seal, we started our walk back to the busy part of Waikiki. It was absolutely stunning despite slightly iffy weather. We watched surfers and body boarders and even saw some fish whilst standing on one pier. 

Eventually, we came to the statue of Duke , the founding King of surfing and decided it was time for a drink. So we wandered into the Outrigger Hotel and found Dukes barefoot bar . We had lovely cold beers and Shane spotted that we were actually hungry so we ate here too, sharing quesadillas and salad. 

This seems to me to be a very odd thing here. Basically anyone can wander into these hotels and enjoy the facilities and to prove the point later on, we went into the pink palace that is the Royal Hawaiian village and found the Mai Tai bar . I went for a swim in the beautiful surf here and then joined Jane for a Mai Tai . Well I had to didn’t i?! 

I must admit I hadn’t expected to like Waikiki , thinking it would be way too busy and commercial, by actually I love it . After this we went back to our place and cooled down in the pool. What a fab day. 

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Staying in da hood LA.

Quite a journey to get all the way here to Honolulu! Seems like we have been travelling for three days. Luckily it’s all been pretty pain free up to now. (Touch wood…). Clear journey down to Heathrow and a nice stay at the Crowne Plaza ..despite not upgrading to club class there Dave! Made pleasant use of their wine bar and the Indian restaurant although afterwards thought this not the ideal preparation for a long distance flight…

Woke early the next morning to catch the shuttle bus to airport and whilst checking in were persuaded by the machine to upgrade our seats for extra legroom. It turned out the Virgin flight was half empty so not only could we upgrade but also we could have a spare seat in the middle of us. This was a great result as the flight was then extremely comfortable. Watched lots of movies on the plane to while away the ten plus hours flight time. 

We arrived at Los Angeles airport and even customs and immigration checks were very painless so we were soon in a yellow cab going to our hotel. It’s was only something like 10-30 in the morning. We were staying at the Diamond Inn. It was a bit of a rough Diamond . Classic old style American motel…the sort you get in Dexter where it generally turns into a crime scene. I stood watching an army of ants parade up a plant all the way out of the rubbish bin as Jane checked in. It wasn’t promising to see the man spraying the rooms with imsecticide but perhaps even worse to hear the man shouldn’t bother with our room. The decor was more Huggy Bear than Dexter mind you. I particularly liked the sign that said you could upgrade to a jacuzzi room but on this occasion we didn’t get pulled in.

After a short rest we were on our mission to stay awake until 8pm. This is Janes theory for preventing Jet lag ie you must stay awake not just given in the the urge to sleep. To help with this Jane had arranged to meet up with Sonya her friend from the Legal ombudsman, who had recently moved back to LA. Sonya came and picked us up and drove us across town to the Manhattan and Hermosa beaches. It was very lovely and busy with locals ..not tourists. We went for Happy Hour at Hennessys Irish bar and had drinks and something to eat. It was all very sociable and I think we coped with the tiredness well. 

Sonya told us that she lived not far from where we are staying and said it really was a bit of a ‘hood’ what with the Harley bike gangs, the prostitutes and their pimps and of course the drug dealers. Lovely. 

Anyway it all passed off rather uneventfully and worked v well in terms of staying awake. We slept pretty well and then the next day continued our travels onto Honolulu with another 5hr 25 mins flight. 

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Grass skirts and snorkels packed. Hawaii we are coming to get ya! 

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By the Way

For a 10 minute period on the road between Periyar and the backwaters I noted down some of the sights along the way. This pretty much sums up what Kerala is all about. The pictures I’ve added were taken at various locations throughout our trip

Man with an umbrella wearing a doti
Tuk Tuks galore
Bananas
Pineapples
Policeman trying to direct the traffic
Colourful ladies in saris
Big pots
A modern parish church
Ladies with pots on their heads
Trucks laden with giant logs
Brickworks
Skinny man under a bus repairing it
Christmas star decorations
Lovely house with plant filled verandah
Car crashed into a tree
Billboards
Decorated trucks
Garden centre called Ozone Agro
Rubber trees
Bread World Bakery and Ice Cream parlour
Communist party signs CIPM
Coconut palms
Old bearded man with a sack of potatoes on his head
A jogger
Buses with open windows (no glass) full of students
Yams
Pilgrims dressed in just an orange doti
A tree fallen down
Colourful plastic water pots

In addition to this I noticed that the Keralans are very keen on a roadside slogan. Here are some of my favourites:

‘Never miss a chance to dance’. Side of a bus in New Cochin

‘Accidents bring tears, safety brings cheers’ Bridge in Kottayam

‘Hit first, hit hard, keep hitting’ . The Naval base in Cochin

 

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Birds of Kerala


Here is a list of the various birds we were able to identify during our trip to Kerala. This was very much down to our guides in Munnar, the houseboat crew and the excellent naturalist at our last hotel (Marari Beach Resort).  You’re welcome.

Red Vented Beeeater
Red Whiskered Bulbul
Little Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Great Racket Tailed Drongo
Ashy Drongo
Cattle Egret
Little Egret
Large Egret
Grey Heron
Indian Pond Heron
Glossy Ibis
Oriental White Ibis
White Breasted Kingfisher
Stork Billed Kingfisher
Brahmins Kite
Shrike
Little Spiderhunter Sunbird
Loteris Sunbird
Purple Sunbird
Swifts
Indian Treepie
Wagtail
Lesser Golden Backed Woodpecker
Black headed gull
Brown headed gull
Snake headed Darter
Spotted Dove
Red Wattled Lapwing
Nigiri Laughing Thrush
Barn Owl
Spotted Owlet

Magpie Robin

Indian Scops Owl
And a partridge in a pear tree!

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One Woman | One Backpack | 10,000 miles

One Brit, one backpack, and a whole lot of world to explore