Aloha !!!

Trip Start Mar 17, 2007
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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Friday, November 28, 2008

        1. The state of Hawaii: Oahu

Hawaii constituent state of the United States of America, consisting of a group of volcanic islands in the central Pacific Ocean. The islands have an area of 16,729 square kilometres. The capital city of Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, lies 3,857 kilometres from San Francisco to the east and 8,516 kilometres from Manila, in the Philippines, to the west.
The land area of the state of Hawaii consists of the tops of a chain of emerged volcanic mountains that form 8 major islands and 124 islets. The 8 major islands at the eastern end of the chain are, from west to east, Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii.

We land in Honolulu, island of Oahu which is the site of Pearl Harbor (where Japanese forces staged their first attack against the United States in World War II), Waikiki (with its world-famous beaches), and the North Shore (known for surfing). Oahu's other notable sites include Hanauma Bay, part of Koko Head Regional Park, which is popular for snorkeling, and Diamond Head, an extinct volcano and distinctive landmark. Honolulu is the capital AND has a Hard Rock Cafť.

We pick up our convertible. They give us a silver one and Tony asks whether there is not a red one available and there is!!! My perfect Hubby also has the direction to the hotel, where we arrive at noon.

http://www.aquaresorts.com/Aqua-Boutique-Hotels-1-88/Aqua-Aloha-surf-spa-Home.aspx

Fast check in, spacious room with fridge and coffee machine. Free internet, good airco and nice location.

The 3 booked nights became 5. What did we do?

Posted our Jamaican luggage home. Which is not as easy as it sounds!

Cruised around the island in our lovely convertible. Waikiki, Honolulu and all around the island: it is pretty.

Went to the HRC, of course. Which was a bit of a surprise. Not the normal central location. Homeless people snuggled up to the fence. Tried the local beer: Longbow and Primo, a bit like our white beer. I had salmon for a change. I SHOULD remember their vegetable is broccoli: the only vegetable I do not eat.

Had a rainy day. correction: POORING day. Just ran out of the hotel for a bite.

Visited Pearl Harbor: naval base and headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. In U.S. history the name recalls the Japanese surprise air attack on Dec. 7, 1941, that temporarily crippled the U.S. Fleet and resulted in the United States' entry into World War II. During the Pearl Harbor Attack the USS Arizona sank with a loss of more than 1,100 men; a white concrete and steel structure now spans the hull of the sunken ship, which was dedicated as a national memorial. The bodies are still in the ship. It is like an alternative graveyard.
Very impressive. I like history. War heroes make my eyes water.

Walked Waikiki beach, greeting the statue of the Duke, the guy who invented surfing and danced in his bar on the beach.

THE cultural thing to do in Oahu: the Polynesian Cultural Center. A bit of culture is good. Eight hours of it is too much for me. Believe it or not: Dr T insisted on it. The only thing HE wanted to skip was the Polynesian food. That is when I put my foot down: want culture? Will eat the food too!
The 42-acre Polynesian Cultural Center represents eight island cultures and over 20 million square kilometers of the vast South Pacific. The island villages give a look at these diverse and fascinating cultures. It's essentially a whirlwind tour of Polynesia, with native guides who help visitors experience their games, language, crafts, music and history.

We learned about Hawaii, Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, Polynesian Triangle, Eastern Island, ... . For many hours. Then, there was food time: fun for me!

Poi, the traditional Hawaiian staple. It is a starch dish made by pounding boiled taro roots and mixing with water until it reaches a smooth consistency. "Taro is one of the most nutritious starches on the planet," says Ambassador of Aloha Cousin Benny. Some Hawaiians eat their poi with salt, some with sugar, even soy sauce. Some like it thicker or thinner. Others like it several days old for a little extra tang; and malahini, or newcomers, might find it more to their liking at first if they eat it with a bite of the other meat dishes.

Poke, or raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juice with other condiments and a little coconut cream.
Lomilomi salmon. In Hawaiian, lomilomi means to massage, or in this case to break the salmon into small pieces, which are then mixed with tomatoes, onions, and other small condiments, giving it a delicious tangy taste that goes great with poi.

Pipi kaula, or a seasoned beef jerky, harks back to the earliest days of western sailors who brought their salt beef aboard ship in barrels. In fact, on some of the South Pacific islands, you can still buy a barrel of salt beef.
Dark purple Hawaiian sweet potatoes that have been mixed into a cold salad.
What I liked the most was the roast pork or Kalua pua'a, as it's prepared in the Hawaiian imu or underground steam oven. Kalua pig is usually seasoned with sea salt and sometimes green onions.

And there was much much more!

The evening show and dance was the cherry on the cake. So, yes, I learned a lot about Polynesia. It was interesting. But, it was also a loooong day. And NO alcohol in the park to soften the pain: be warned!

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend any restaurant on the island. All we ate was very average. Almost next to our hotel was an American Diner, open 24/7 with OK food. On the rainy day, we walked to the 'China Buffet Group', 1830 Ala Moana Blvd. a very dodgy, what they called Chinese, American buffet. For 10 dollars all you can eat. The soup tasted horrible, the beer even worse. The only American trace were dried up fries. But the scampi's!!!!!!!! Of the best I ate in years!
The best Mexican in town, how they called themselves, served our food less than 3 minutes after ordering it: always a worry. And it was not very nice. Not even hot.

We did not climb the Diamond Head crater. It warned at the foot of the crater: decent walking shoes are necessary. We tried in our flip-flips. It was hot and steep. And the surface uneven. Topped up with 300 stairs in the end. Ashamed to say: we did not make it. I did see one the most touching things in my life. An Asian women (about 30 years) carried her paralyzed mum up the mountain. I had to give up. She carried a person up there. Way down, they left the wheelchair. Flying over Diamond Head, when we left, I was glad we did not try harder: it looked like a mountain with a hole in, not like a crater.

A perfect place to park your car to stroll Waikiki Beach, go shopping or have a beer or snack with view on the beach is the parking of the zoo. There is space and it costs a quarter for an hour! We did not try the zoo.

            2. The state of Hawaii: The Big Island

After 5 nights, we pack our bags and take a small plane to Hawaii Island, also known as The Big Island. It is the southeastern most and largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Its area of some 10,438 square km continues to grow as Kilauea, the world's most active volcano, continues to pour lava into the ocean. It also has the nr 7 dive of our top 100: a night dive with the mantas.

After a short flight, we pick up our next convertible! I know, I am spoiled. This time, she is blue. Dr T had his usual outburst of energy: he booked us immediately for the afternoon dive! And night dive: THE dive. I do get a bit nervous about it. We have to find the shop, the harbor, sign in, choose our equipment and there is not much time. First to the hotel:

http://seasidehotelshawaii.com/HotelKona.aspx

We stay in Kona, which is perhaps best known as the home of the world-famous Ironman Triathlon. Running a bit ahead: I do not recommend the hotel. It is not at the beach, the airco is crappy, the noises out of the other rooms wake me up as from 6 (IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE) of the neighbour showers, it is at a very busy and loud cross road, no coffee in the room or reception. It did add up to more than 100$ a night. Net = 88$ plus government taxes plus hotel taxes plus parking.

We made it to the dive and the company and the dive I warmly recommend:

http://www.konahonudivers.com/mantaray.shtml

Professional, perfect gear and the dive was beyond words!!! The first dive was a bit boring, lots of eel rays but the manta dive was astonishing! The mantas are around for 11 years. The divers attract the plankton with their lights, which is like Mac Donald's for the mantas. And they ARE huge and they ARE close. The biggest is Big Bertha, whose wings are over 5 meters!!! We saw 3, the largest 12 meter. And they TOUCH you. I got a gentle slap of a wing. They RUB your head. Their enormous mouths come straight to you. If you would not know what those creatures are, you would have a heart attack on the spot. You just descent and sit down and let them come to you. I ended up on my back, with my legs up, like a giant crab. But, it was not such a bad position: I could see everything. Hubby filmed, I was just too excited. And, if you think you saw it all, Frank is visiting you. Frank is a friendly moray eel, who has been around for 8 years now and he loves to sit on diver's shoulders. Cute. But can he sit in SOME ELSE'S NECK????? Those creatures are lethal. They have the strenght of a tiger in their jaws and when they bite, they do not let go of their prey anymore. Just the thing you like to sit next to your main vain, right?!?! But, we do it for the thrill, that is why we are here. Like Nike says: just do it!

Next day, we need to visit the biggest and most active volcano in the world: KÓlauea. It is one of five shield volcanoes that together form the Island of Hawaii. We enjoyed our car in an almost 3 hour drive in the beautiful sun shine. That is, until we arrived at the volcano. From one minute to the other it was poooooring. We could not see anything! Most roads and trailed were closed due to flooding or eruption danger. After hanging around for a while, the clouds suddenly cleared up and we had half an hour of sun shine. In which we could see an enormous amount of steam coming out of the huge crater. In fact, it is a crater in a crater. Where we stood, we are the big crater. But, I want to see LAVA. We talk to the friendly ranger. He says, if we drive like, 1,5 hours further, we stand a change, depending on the weather. I love driving around in our beautiful convertible but another 1,5 hours on a wild goose chase? We decided not to. Although, we enjoyed our day, it was a long drive for a bit of steam ... .

We kept our option open for the last day: whale watching (JUST not in season yet), plane flight (expensive) but decided in the end to just cruise around the island a bit. Pleasant and hot cruising.

So: Hawaii: we liked it. Was it the island I dreamed it would be 40 years ago? No, but it probably was not like that then and I certainly did not expect it to be like that today. But, one thing was like in my dreams: the flowers: they were everywhere. In the nature and in everybody's hair. I should have taken more pictures of flowers and people.

Well, this is the end of Hawaii: tomorrow back to Oahu, then Auckland and then Fiji.

Up to new adventures!
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