Kauai

Sat, August 17

This morning we entered the sheltered waters of Nawiliwili harbour. The island of Kauai was unknown to us and as we have discovered many times on our journey around the world, yet another place to discover and enjoy.

Our driver/guide, Sam, whisked us off in his coach after a quick Hawaiian song accompanying himself on his ukalele. A fun and friendly guide, he moved to Kauai 25 years ago from the mainland and very proud of his island home.

We began with a long, slowly ascending scenic drive all the way to the rim of Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific “according to Mark Twain. It is 10 miles long, one mile wide and over 3,600 feet deep. At 3,400 feet above sea level, we had spectacular views of the crater on one side and the ocean on the other.

After leaving the canyon, it was interesting to see how the landscape changed as we drove through dense green forest. The scenery was incredible and at one point we stopped to look down into a valley so far below where people were rowing their kayaks down the river. So different to any terrain I have seen before. It was amazing. Our next stop was to admire the coastline and take photos of Poipu’s Spouting Horn, an active blowhole.

Along the way we saw the lagoon at the resort used in Blue Hawaii with Elvis. It looked so familiar but so sad, as the area was destroyed in a hurricane and the resort next to the lagoon was in a state of disrepair. Apparently the property has been sold and resold four times over the years, and it is hoped that the new owners will rebuild the resort to its former beauty.

Next stop was lunch in one of their many top class restaurants – delicious Hawaiian inspired food of fish, chicken and pork cooked in the traditional way followed by a dessert of fresh fruit and a type of coconut slice.

We then made our way to the Wailua River for the next part of our excursion – a riverboat tour cruise to the Fern Grotto which is a traditional wedding venue with Hawaiian music and dancing along the way and a live performance of the “Hawaiian Wedding Song” at the site. Then back down the river to pick up the coach and a quick stop to admire the coastline once more before making our way back to the ship right on our 4.30pm deadline for sailing at 5.00pm.

Lush rainforests, an arid multi-coloured canyon, cliffs that plunge into the Pacific, dramatic waterfalls and spectacular shoreline make this a very beautiful island and so worth visiting. No wonder it was the site for many movies which include Blue Hawaii Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pirates of the Caribbean to name just a few. However, all this beauty comes at a price. Houses vary from around $200,000 for a fixer-upper to over $1M for a very nice one. Expect to spend $5-8M if you want beach access.

This small island is known as the “Garden Island “and the variety of its landscape is incredible from the mighty Waimea Canyon to the stunning beaches of white and golden sand in contrast to its rich red soil. It has world class shopping and dining and we enjoyed our visit so much.
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Kayaking on the river

Kayaking on the river

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Restaurant

Restaurant

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Fern Grotto

Fern Grotto

Entertainment on the river cruise

Entertainment on the river cruise

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Picturesque golf course

Picturesque golf course

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Hawaii – The Big Island

Thu, August 15

After several days at sea, we were very pleased to finally arrive in the port at Hilo. Our goal for the day – to get up close and personal with two of the world’s most active volcanoes in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

As we made our way by coach through Downtown HIlo we could see the evidence of the two tsunamis (in 1946 and 1960) and we saw the memorial clock forever stopped at 1.04 from the 1960 tsunami.

Our first stop was Rainbow Falls – such a pretty waterfal, then on to the Macadamia Factory where samples awaited us. Even though we have macadamia nuts in Queensland, we found something excusive to Hawaii – Hershey Kisses – macadamia nuts coated in Hershey chocolate. They are delicious and we are trying to make the packet last as long as possible!

Next stop was a lovely buffet lunch at one of the few hotels on the island which are all grouped together near the shore. There are lots of banyan trees in Hawaii, and we were impressed to see that several of the trees around the hotel were planted by famous people; two names in particular caught our attention – Amelia Earhart and Babe Ruth.

As we made our way to the National Park which is a World Heritage Site, it was interesting to see the different types of vegetation. Black lava rocks, grey ash and barren landscape around the sites of the volcanoes. There was a wealth of information in the museum and we spent quite some time there. As we walked around we passed several areas where steam arose from vents in the ground caused by rainfall seeping into the ground and coming into contact with hot rock. Unfortunately we could not get good photos due to the low light as we walked through a section of Thurston Lava Tube where red hot lava once flowed.

It was amazing to see the scenery change from thick green vegetation to grey ash and pebbly ground. At one point, we got off the bus to walk amongst a surreal landscape of lava trees, which resulted from a lava flow that left behind eerie lava molds of the tree trunks.

Our last stop was the orchid farm where we took countless photos. A charming feature was the box of little white or mauve orchids and hairpins inside the entrance so all the ladies could pin some flowers in their hair.

Hilo is very much worth a visit, if you are interested, as we were, in seeing the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration and evolution, whether by road or helicopter. Shops and hotels are minimal. Houses generally are small and often have extended families living together as wages are low and housing is not always affordable. The closure of the sugar mills caused a downturn in the economy and tourism has not replaced all the jobs that were lost.

Overall, we had an amazing day and we were very lucky to have an excellent guide who was not only informative, but entertaining as well.

Workers bagging those yummy Hershey Kisses

Workers bagging those yummy Hershey Kisses

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

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Banyan tree planted by Babe Ruth in 1935

Banyan tree planted by Babe Ruth in 1935

Volcano National Park

Volcano National Park

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Is there enough steam for a facial, I wonder?

Is there enough steam for a facial, I wonder?

Lava Tube

Lava Tube

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Hole from a tree where lava once flowed

Hole from a tree where lava once flowed

Stark landscape from where lava destroyed vegetation

Stark landscape from where lava destroyed vegetation

Typical housing

Typical housing

Orchid farm

Orchid farm

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