Posts Tagged With: Hawaii

All the gear- no idea.


Today we had to be up at 5-45 for an exciting pre-booked trip. This was our day to go snorkelling in the Molokini Crater. The remains of this extinct volcano have been flooded by the sea and the crater wall has formed a protected reef. The water here is about 100 feet deep and absolutely crystal clear.

I’d been really excited about this trip and as lots of different companies offer it, I’d spent hours making sure I chose the right trip for us. Should we go on a smart yacht with just a few other people or should we chose a smaller vessel [rib?] which was able to get there faster and visit both sides of the crater wall? Or should I opt for a trip which also promised to spend time in Turtle Town? In the end I opted for a company called Four Winds which got very good write ups on trip advisor and which seemed to offer a family friendly catamaran trip for about 100 people. This trip seemed to offer the maximum time snorkelling at Molokini itself and stayed away from places where there could be strong currents.

We arrived at Maalaea Harbour at 7am and were soon boarding the tidy boat. The trip did not disappoint and yes- there were some very loud people on board but it was not overly crowded and the captain gave an informative commentary as we cruised along. the staff were also very friendly.

When we arrived at the crater there were already about 10 other boats there. As Jane and I had all our own gear we were straight in the water off the back of the boat- easy access down some steps. As soon as I put my head in the water it took my breath away- it was SO deep and blue and clear. Man- was it deep! Jane the ‘not very confident swimmer’ was also in and off- which never fails to amaze me. Brave girl!

We swam over closer to the wall where the reef was nearer the surface and its here that the greatest variety of fish were hanging out. The boat trip catered for everyone – there were boards with windows for the kids to use, there was something called ‘snuba’ which you could try and which allows you to go underwater and breath attached to a tube without all the gas tanks associated with scuba. There was also a slide off the boat and others which looked fun -but not for ladies of a certain age methinks! They also provided a good lunch and once you’d finished snorkelling, you could enjoy the free bar!

Jane and I did two snorkel sessions- one one each side of the boat. The after lunch session was on the right hand side the coral was beautiful and the variety of fish even better. In total we had about two hours here, which was much more than any of the other boats, and Jane and I made the most of it. We then enjoyed the sunshine, beer and reggae music on the return journey. They even arranged to amuse us with two dolphins swimming alongside us at the bow of the boat.

By the time we got back to our place it was only about 1-30 still and didn’t want to just waste the afternoon lazing about! So we got back in the car and drove up to a beach called Kahekili in the middle of the resort metropolis of Kanapaali. Again this is an area right in amongst the big hotels- specifically here the Westin but this being Hawaii- they have to offer beach access- hurrah! My guide book gave this beach 3 stars and said it had ‘everything’.

By now Jane and I were feeling like pro-snorkelers so we cooly walked down the beach put on our flippers and masks and got ready to dive in. What we hadn’t noticed was quite how forceful the pull and push of the wave break here is. I immediately got dragged out and then knocked off my feet. This was fine but then the next wave pushed me right up the sand sideways and I couldn’t move my legs (and flippers) fast enough to stop them hitting Jane and totally wiping her out too. It must have looked hilarious but it was highly embarrassing to be tossed about in the shallows in this way (not to mention a tiny bit scary) and so we got out asap and walked coyly back to the grassy area and hid in our deck chairs.

Jane read her book and I did a sketch of what we had now nicknamed ‘Wipeout Beach’ with some dark threatening clouds heading our way. But it wasn’t long before I heard a little boy shout ‘At last, I’ve seen a turtle’ very excitedly and a little girl going back down the beach telling her Mom she was ‘going to see the turtles again’. What?! Oh—right now I decided to brave it again. This time I chose my entry point more carefully- it was amazing – as soon as I got over the wave break I was then pulled about 10 metres out- along with all the fish. It does then push you back in again so you just need to get used to the flow. However, because of the swell the water here was a bit murky and I didn’t see anything new and certainly not any turtles. Boo.

Now all I needed to do was get out again. This involved picking a sandy channel through the reef and then just waiting for the swell to spit me out onto the beach whilst trying to look vaguely dignified. I was able to tell Jane she hadn’t missed anything.

Despite this experience at ‘Wipeout beach’ it had been a fabulous day and we celebrated with cocktails and brownies at the Air BNB before going out to dinner at the Aloha Mixed Plate. The added bonus of this restaurant is that you get to listen to the music from the Lu’au next door. Think Hula Girls and beating drums. Lovely.

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Exploring South Maui

We woke up early…I’m not sure why I even bother writing that now -but whilst my itinerary planned to have us take it easy around Lahaina today, we were eager to go abit further afield. We’d had some advice from our friend Joe, who comes regularly to Maui, that his favourite spot on island is right down on the south west coast at a place called Ahihi. specifically, there is a small offshore nature reserve called Kanahena that’s great for snorkelling…like swimming in an aquarium.

So after our lovely breakfast we headed off down the scenic coast side road. As you drive out of Lahaina there are great stretches of beach where, even this early, the dudes were out either paddle boarding or surfing, depending on the wave break. In places the waves even splash onto the road itself.

We took the road through Wailea, which is a golfing resort area with top of the range hotels. The golf courses looked lovely but the hotel’s all looked rather bland (at least from the outside). I must say I’ve been v pleased that we chose to go with Air BNBs.

Our first stopping point was a tip from our host Christian, called Makena Landing. This was a lovely spot – a little sandy cove, surrounded by lava rock, trees and with a grassy area to sit on. But first we needed to go to the end of the car park, find the fence and go round to the left of the fence. Here Christian told us to look down into the pebbly cove as often there would be turtles. So we did and OMG there were two HUGE turtles just resting up. But as we watched two more turtles swam up out of the water to join them. These turtles were all nearly two feet across! You are supposed to stay 20 feet away from turtles to respect their space but I’m afraid some dozy tourists had gone down on the beach here to take their selfies with them.

We kept our distance and then found a spot on the grass to put up our beach chairs (clever Air BNB provided these along with your choice of body/surf or paddleboards! ). We sat  relaxing and watching the scene. We were surrounded here by wild chickens and roosters so we nicknamed the spot ‘Chicken Beach’. The weather was going off now abit and the waves in the cove were quite forceful but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get in the water with my snorkel and mask and see if I could find any turtles swimming about. Jane was very sensible and decided to see how I got on first.

Well I got in ok but the water was very murky and the swell was pushing me around a lot so I didn’t stay in more than 5 mins. We’d been talking over breakfast about the rare (very) shark attacks here..which tend to happen when the water is murky with rain run off and the shark mistakes a human for a tuna fish.

I told Jane this was not the snorkelling place for us and whilst it was a lovely picturesque place for a sketch, we decided to keep moving on south. Next stop was Big Beach or Makena Beach which is as it sounds , a massive two mile stretch of beautiful sand and wild waves with a huge break onto the beach. Lifeguards here were pretty much telling people to stay out of the water but it was beautiful to stand ashore and look at the turquoise colour of the waves in the sunlight.

Now we decided to get a shift on and drive to Joe’s spot but unfortunately the weather was turning a bit wild with ominous dark clouds. The road down here is single lane as it winds through some lovely scenery in the volcanic rock. There are some lovely looking big houses down here behind closed walls too.

By the time we got to Joe’s spot it was pouring but we walked out over the trail to the black rocky beach. It’s not too bad walking about in the warm rain but the bedraggled few people coming back from this secret spot said that although the snorkelling was good , it was better to do it in the sunshine. The sea was very choppy and we decided that this wasn’t for us today. We were a little disappointed which felt wrong really after seeing four turtles, as we drove all the way back to Lahaina.

On the way back we stopped at the large Safeways just around the corner from us. This is the Waitrose of the supermarket world over here and you could tell this by the walk in, temperature controlled wine store! And the Deli was something to behold in terms of choice but all we wanted was a sandwich, Maui Potato chips and some Firerock beer (what no Lava Man? ) This was for our late lunch and to stock up our fridge.

We chilled out on the balcony with the other guests from Ohio enjoying the sunset with cocktails from Gwen and Christians Tiki Bar! Fresh home made cookies were on the menu also, what a treat.

Oops, now it was time to go out to dinner! We got ready and as we went to leave we realised that there had been and still was a massive downpour. We ended up driving down to Mala Wharf again and eating at Frida’s , the Mexican . It was very good especially the deep fried cactus.

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Moving on to Maui




Next day it was time to move on again. We had another late afternoon flight to the next island- Maui and we had the whole day to fill. We’d pretty much done everything I wanted to in Volcano so we had a slightly more leisurely wake up. Mind you it was this night that the rain had hammered down on the roof. Jane cooked up Janis’ chicken eggs and we said goodbye to Lil Blue.

We returned our video to the Upper store and the popped up the road to visit the Volcano Winery. They were offering tastings of their award winning wines here but it was only 9-30 and we felt it was a little early.

Next on our agenda was to nip back to the Volcanoes National Park to collect some emergency lava from the 1974 flow. You lucky people!! Then it was time to get on the road again and we drove the 45 mins straight road down to Hilo. Here we took a swing around Walmart which is always essential on a visit to the US. It’s a vast retail emporium where you’re not allowed to take your backpack in and they check your shopping against your receipt before you are allowed to leave the store. It’s full of all sorts of people and cheap tat and I soon felt the need to leave.

We then returned the rental car and went into the aiport looking for a Tiki bar. The airport was tiny and empty and we were three hours too early for our flight. There was no Tiki bar or free airport wifi so we settled into Uncle Billies bar for the duration enjoying their free wifi, snacks and of course Lava Man. We whiled away the hours and then joined our Hawaiian airlines flight to Kahului on Maui.

We landed in the dark, picked up our rental car and then drove about an hour over to Lahaina. It was quite a tense journey and I realise now that I really don’t like arriving in new places in the dark. Again, we were staying in an Air BNB, the Moana Lani, which is on Front Street. This is the main drag in Lahaina which has been described as ‘cute’. However, as we drove through it was heaving with tourists and didn’t look nice at all. We kept driving along looking for number 1440 but we’d gone about 2 miles out of town by now and over a bridge. I started thinking we’d gone wrong until finally we saw the light, and the light (above the church) said ‘Jesus is coming’ and sure enough around the next bend we found our lovely new home.

The Moana Lani is a lovely old style plantation house with big balconies upstairs and downstairs. They only have four rooms and its run by a couple, Gwen and Christian , who took over in August. The place is a traditional B and B serving lovely fresh breakfast and we had the most comfortable room here of our whole trip, with lovely lovely air conditioning.

After quick introductions we decided to go out nearby to find dinner. We walked down to Mala Wharf smelling the beautiful fragrance of flowers in the air. We went into a restaurant called ‘Honu’ (which means turtle) and when we opened the doors and walked in we were hit by what a cool and hip, friendly place we’d found. The place was covered in art and had a real buzz. After a drink at the bar we were shown to our table by the ocean where we ate, listening to the sound of the gentle surf and watching the boats bob under the moonlight. I think we are going to like it here!

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Go with the Lava Flow

Anyway……there was a very exciting reason why we were choosing to stay off grid in a town called Volcano. Can you guess what it is yet?

Yes, indeed it is the home to Kilaeua, the most active of Hawaii’s Big Island Volcanoes. As a geographer, I was always excited at the prospect of visiting this place but when it all kicked off in May this year, it was perhaps just a bit too exciting. In fact at one point , I wrote to the owners of our off grid Air BNB and asked whether we should be considering an alternative on the coast. But the owner said no , it would all be fine so we didn’t change our plans! In fact, when I asked Jane how she felt about staying where there was a currently active volcanoe she said ‘excited’ – so that was two of us. Hurrah.

Kilaeua has in fact been erupting since 1983 but on May 3rd 2018 it had its latest eruption when two dozen lava vents started to spew down rift of the the summit. On May 4th there was also a powerful earthquake of 6.9 which broke the nice man in the quilting shops windows. Nearly 2000 residents had to be evacuated from their homes in Leilani Estates (about 25km downslope from Volcano) and then on May 17th the volcano explosively erupted at the Halemaumau Crater sending volcanic ash 30,000 feet into the air and some of it landing on the town of Volcano. Lava entered the ocean in three different places and destroyed 700 homes in total (but not in Volcano, Mum! )

The summit dramatically changed as a result of all this as there were 10s of thousands of earthquakes triggered by 62 massive collapse explosions. These quakes caused building damage, rock falls, deep cracks in the roads and trails and broke water and sewage supplies to the park.

Not your average description of a holiday destination then is it? The Volcanoes National Park , where all this was happening, had been closed since May. But I’d been keeping an eye on things and so was delighted to see that the park had partially re-opened on 22nd September , just in time for our visit.

It did feel like an amazing privilege to be allowed into the park so soon after all of this and it’s hard to describe the feeling I had. On our day doing volcanoes we drove to the visitor centre early and I chatted to one of the Rangers about our options. He was very helpful and showed me which areas were open and which were still closed. After this we took the walk which went past the Sulphur Banks (steaming sulphurous rock banks) and steam vents (line up for your facials here) and then onto the Crater Rim Road where were able to look out into the Crater itself. This was incredible. To be honest it looked like a large quarry but to know that this was where all the recent crater collapse had happened and where the crater had doubled in size more or less overnight was awe inspiring.

The map I was given gave some sensible advice about being in such a highly active volcanic area such as:

  1. Stay on open trails and roads
  2. Stay away from cracks and sinkholes
  3. Rockfalls are unpredictable
  4. Wear sturdy shoes and long pants
  5. Do not hike after dark

I thought four of these were fairly obvious but wasn’t sure about the length of my pants or quite why it was important.

Of course, what we all want to see when we go to visit a volcano is some nice hot, molten lava but there were big signs outside the visitor centre telling us that there was no molten lava in the park or anywhere on the island and currently there was also no ‘glow’ from the lava lake which had been part of the crater landscape up until May.

After our hike along Crater Rim we had a quick visit to the Volcanoes House, where previously you’d been able to have fine dining whilst over-looking the Crater and seeing the ‘glow’ at night. Here we enjoyed the views with a Lava Man beer which seemed entirely appropriate. The place was damaged by all the earthquakes so all their kitchen catering equipment was sitting in the main lounge area. We picked up an emergency cheese and ham sandwich from the shop and very fine dining it was too.

Next we drove the 19 mile Chain of Craters Road which is a truely scenic drive as it descends 3700 feet right down to the coast. I’ve never experienced anything like it as the road made its way down through a variety of different and vast lava flows. First we came across the 1974 Lava flow (very brittle messy lava flow) then next the 1979 lava flow. This one consisted of more massive boulders of volcanic wasteland. But my particular favourite was much further towards the coast (I forget which year) where the smooth, almost liquid looking lava flow resembled chocolate brownie!

Along the way we stopped to take photos (often), collect souvenir lava and to admire the views. Finally, we reached the coast where it was rainy and windy and we walked across to look at the stormy sea arch and ate a lovely pineapple lolly.

It was late by now, so time to turn around.  There’s nowhere else to go here because the 2003? Lava flow had cut off the road.

It had been another great day and I’d not felt in danger at anytime (except at one point where the path was just a bit too open to the massive drop into the boiling hot crater). But you did just wander around thinking ‘I wonder how much they really know about when the volcano is going to erupt again?’

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Living off Grid in Volcano.

Sorry, I’ve gone a bit quiet but we’ve been living ‘off grid’ in Volcano for a few days. Yes, our Air BNB advertised itself this way and I must admit I was a little surprised when Jane gave this place her seal of approval as I know she doesn’t normally like to be too far from civilisation.

We arrived in Volcano after our very long journey and by the time we got there it was pouring with rain but not dark! Having stocked up at the store ,the nice young man there ( think ‘Deliverance’) pointed us in the right direction. We drove across Highway 11 and then turned down Pearl Street and then all the way down to 9th. At this point it sounds like any normal US City doesn’t it? But when we turned into our drive we could see our tiny little house in perfect isolation surrounded by giant ferns! It was like walking back into Jurassic Park.

I got out of the car and started skipping about, generally relieved that Jane wasn’t uttering the words ‘I can’t stay here’. When we went inside the place was decorated really tastefully with lots of Hawaian antiques and cool stuff such as surfboards and paddles.

There was a tiny kitchen with lots of free stuff- wine, eggs from Janis’ girls, homemade cookies, pancake mix etc. The owners had really thought of everything.

Living off grid basically meant that the electricity comes from solar panels, so you just need to remember to hit the rocker (off) switch when you go out. It also means that the water supply comes from the rainwater (no shortage there then), it’s fine but you just can’t drink it as they haven’t got the full filter system yet. In many ways it’s like camping but with a proper toilet!

But of course here’s the really tricky bit, there was no Wifi, no phone reception and no TV!!!! I loved it….Jane…not so much! But we got by, using free wifi at the cafe and watching DVDs, one of which we hired from the Upper Store (The Greatest Showman) and the other provided by the owners (Moana).

A couple of other things about our experience. The tiny bedroom is up some tiny narrow stairs which do not have a bannister or rail. At the top you cannot stand up so you kind of have to crawl up on your hands and knees and come down on your bottom. This is not ideal in the middle of the night. Or any other time really.

The house also came with quite an extensive decking area which had a top of the range BBQ and Firepit thing. It was half protected from the rain by a sheet of corrugated plastic but unfortunately the noise of the rain thundering down on here on our 2nd night kept us awake for hours.

In fact it rained so much whilst we were here that the overall word I would use to describe the experience is ‘damp’. We got wet going to the car, the shop, the restaurant and we never really dried off. I even felt damp in bed…most unpleasant.

But the locals love it. They call themselves ‘mountain people’ . Hm. They are in fact a very artistic bunch as we saw when we visited their gallery at the National Park visitor centre but oh my goodness , there are a lot of wild women of Wongo, who look like they could do with a decent hairdressing salon in town! And the men? Well I only saw them whilst they were out walking their Rottweilers and there were lots of references to hunting pigs. Say no more.

Finally to give you a flavour of local life I’ll tell you about a conversation I had in the Volcano Quilting shop. No, I’m not into quilting but it promised other art materials so in I went. It was a lovely shop and the nice lady serving was having a conversation with an old boy about the weather. So I asked ‘ was the rain last night typical of round here?’. She said ‘No, it’s not, This storm just blew in and we didnt know where it came from. It wasn’t forecast and ever since the last storm turned into a hurricane I’m worried.’ To which the old boy replied ‘Yes and it was lucky that I’d just got my windows repaired after the last earthquake broke them.’ This is how life goes in Volcano!

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Julie’s Tours are the Best!

Hello everyone, this is Jane, I’m your guest blogger for today.  I offered to do this task today because I’ve had such an amazing day that it felt like I needed to share it with you all.

So, I woke up really early like before 6 o’clock and was wondering when we could get going. I knew I only had less than 20 minutes until sunrise and then all the parakeets  would be leaving our palm trees and making the most horrendous noise that not even Julie could sleep through.

Yes, that worked so we were both awake very early then we decided that the best thing to do when you’re both awake at that time in the morning, is go snorkelling!

We packed up all our snorkelling gear in anticipation of being able to put our heads in the water. However, the waves were going to thwart us. Too big.  We decided it may be too dangerous to go snorkelling with such big waves so alternatively, Julie had researched that there was a possibility that we might see turtles on one of the beaches near Poipu.  Obviously, I was all in favour of that option.

When we arrived at red knickers beach, oops that should be “Brennickes beach” but Siri did not recognise my Brummie accent. It was  very wild, this is because there is another hurricane skirting the island and the waves were really big and crashing.   Great for photography but not for snorkelling and little chance of seeing turtles. So my attention turned to chickens. Yes, chickens there are lots of them here in Kauai, they are feral chickens and they are everywhere.

So, I’m taking a picture of chicken and baby chickens minding my own business when Julie taps me on the shoulder and says “Jane look over there”.  Julie said she had spotted quite a little group of people all taking photographs of something on the beach, early in the morning, which didn’t seem right until she realised what they were taking photographs of. Green sea turtles. Oh yes, two of them on the beach-happy days. We spent the next 10 minutes watching them, because that was all it took, for both of the turtles to push themselves from the sandy-shore into the water. I took photo’s and Julie videod the event and we were both near to tears. This was for the first time today. You will see that this is a common theme, throughout this blog.

After breakfast, the next part of our day was heading off to the Waimea Canyon via the Spouting Horn.  The Spouting horn is a blowhole in between rocks where the waves crash in and then all the pressure pushes the water up like a geyser.  Had my camera set to sports for this event.

The canyon was a  40 mile round trip. You go up 20 miles and then back down the same track 20 miles. You are treated to some of the most fantastic scenery and views that can be seen on the whole island, if not in the whole of the Pacific.  It’s always a sign of whether or not something has caught my imagination as to how many photographs I actually take of the event. Let’s say that when you get to see the chosen photos today, we have had to be very very selective!!

On the way up we passed several lookout points which were all amazing. What was more surprising to us both, was that near the top, we got a view of the Napali coast. And at the final stop 5700 m above sea level, we arrived at the scenic view point that had an edge. This was an edge that  Julie decided she didn’t need to look over.  However, there were a couple who were having their pre-wedding photographs taken on the edge by a professional photographer.

“Okay, hold hands, look into each others eyes, take a step back, NO, not that far”!!

The breathtaking scenery was the second time today that Julie and I might of turned on the water works.

Now we arrive at the last part of the day, this included food and drink, my favourite.   We went back to the Garden Island Grille to see our new friend Sofia. Sofia is only 19 still at college, but a bundle of fun and a really nice girl who waited on us the first time we came into the bar. We turned up this time in time for the live music and it was Hawaiian night hurrah.   The singer was really quite good, he played lots of songs that got us both either singing along, or over-emotional.  Yes, you might of picked up on the theme but that was the third time we’ve been in tears today. This is called being overtired.  Both had a lovely meal and cold white wine which was a perfect end to it absolutely perfect day.





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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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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 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.

Categories: Hawaii | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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 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!


Categories: Hawaii | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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