Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 19 Kauai and the Grand Canyon of Hawaii

We flew from Maui through Honolulu to Kauai on a Tuesday evening. Using google maps we made our way to our hotel, which took us past the shipping docks to who knows where.

The following morning we were up and on our way before sunrise. After about an hour and a half, and a quick breakfast in Waimea, we made our way up to Waimea Canyon.

We were greeted by the official bird of Hawaii – the rooster.

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We made our way through the park until we reached the famed Kalalau Overlook. If it looks familiar, it should, it was used in Jurassic Park.

We are about 4000′ above the ocean at this point.

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Look closely you will see the helicopter well below in the valley.

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The other highlight of the area is Waimea Canyon.

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Waipo’o Falls cascades into the canyon.

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From a distance you can see why it has the nickname Grand Canyon of Hawaii.

It is immense, especially given how small the island is overall. This area of Kauai is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and well worth the trip.

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We made our way back down to the coast, and found this dirt road that continued in the direction of the bluffs we had just been on.

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Eventually we reached the end of the road and found this amazing secluded beach with a view of Ni’Hau.

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The waves, while not as impressive as what was in Maui, still made a great ‘Hawaii Five O’ look.

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But it was the view of the cliffs that made the dusty ride worthwhile.

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On our return trip to Lihue we stopped by the site of a Russian Fort, which was near the town of Waimea. Just down the hill from this fort a river ran into the ocean making some great sand dunes.

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Further along the coast we found Salt Pond Park and Beach. Nearby pools produce the famed Hawaiian sea salt, but the beach was more picturesque.

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Our final stop of the day was at Kauai Coffee. Very touristy, but amusing.

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They claim to have 4 million coffee trees, and near the visitor center you can take a walk amongst them.

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They also had some displays on how the beans are dried. These are for show, as this is a large commercial processing facility (that does not offer real tours of the plant).

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Remember that drive in the dark – it was much better in the sun!

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An amazing view at the Menehune Fishpond, literally a mile from our little hotel. The moral of this view is don’t always trust first impressions, the hotel and the views were spectacular – you just have to go through the cargo shipping area when you come from the airport.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 7 North Big Island back to Kona

Day 7 started out with breakfast at Ken’s House of Pancakes – enough breakfast we didn’t have lunch. When in Hilo, stop at Kens 🙂

About an hour north of Hilo we arrived at Waipii’o Valley Overlook. The valley is 2000′ deep, with great sea cliffs just beyond.

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A waterfall comes out of nowhere along the cliffs.

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Hawaii has a number of micro climates, with the landscape looking very different. Once we passed Waimea (Cowboy Capital of Hawaii), it all of a sudden switched from rain forest to ‘Central California hills’.

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Our next stop was one of the highlights of the island  – Polulu Valley Overlook. With a bit of a hike down and toward the ocean, the view south was stunning. I realize after 7 days there are a lot of ‘cliffs and ocean’ photos, but this is one of the best spots.

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The town of Kapaau is famous as the birthplace of Kamekameha. It is celebrated with a statue of him. Legend has it that this statue was made for placement in Honolulu but it was lost in a shipwreck, so they made a replacement.

Locals in Kapaau believed it was karma as they felt Honolulu should not have the statue since he is from their town. The original was recovered from the sea and sent to Kapauu.

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Kapaau is a nice little Hawaiian town.

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On the way back to Kona we stopped at the Hamakua Macadamia Nut Factory.

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Some of their processing is located here where you can check out people preparing the nuts.

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We left with plenty to last us the rest of the trip.

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As we neared Kona, we headed 3000′ up a mountain (and from 86 degrees to 67 degrees) to the Mountain Thunder Coffee Plantation.

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Kona is famous for their coffee, and this nice small family business gave us a tasting and a tour.

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The beans after the first step of processing.

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The coffee trees are grown on top of lava shoots, which provides the unique chemical balance that makes Kona coffee what it is.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 6 Hilo

Day 6 started with some rain as we made our way down the mountain towards Hilo. As we drove along in the rain to our first destination I found the Apple Maps (the rental car has Apple Car Play) can let you down.

It had me turn on this ‘street’, which after about a mile I decided to give up, and back up until I could turn around. It is literally at the edge of town, so we weren’t way out in the middle of nowhere.

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Eventually we reached the town of Kalapana, about 20 miles south of Hilo, and Kaimu ‘Beach’. At one time it was a black sand beach, but in 1990 a lava flow overtook the beach and filled the entire bay.

As noted yesterday many believe that Hawaii is an independent Kingdom, not part of the U.S., especially for any new land that wasn’t part of the U.S. acquisition.

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This lava flow had some large cracks in it when it cooled.

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We are standing ‘in the bay’ looking back towards town.

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Further down the road is where the Spring 2018 lava flow wiped out 700 houses. While I feel bad for the people and their loss, who builds their house in the path of a volcano that has been flowing nearly continuously for 100 years or more.

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Yet here they are again, already popping up these little houses on the freshly cooled lava.

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Returning the other direction along the coast, we passed through some great forests.

 

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Eventually we reached MacKenzie State Park. Note the fisherman climbing the precariously placed ladder on the left and his fishing pole on the right. I am not sure what he is catching, but I hope it is worth it.

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On another recent lava flow people have placed Cairns made out of coconuts and leaves instead of the traditional rock piles.

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But it did lead to another great coastal view.

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Returning to Hilo, we went to Wailuku River Park, and found this impressive Banyan tree.

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The highlight of the park is Rainbow Falls. If you are there in the morning you will most likely see a rainbow, but it was afternoon so alas, we only saw the waterfall.

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About 20 miles north of Hilo is Akaka Falls. The hike down was through another ‘jungle’, although this one was nicely paved.

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At 442′ high it is one of the tallest waterfalls in America.

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There are even small waterfalls coming out of the rocks to the side of the main falls.

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The falls in located near the town of Honomu.

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Interestingly many small Hawaiian towns are built in the ‘old west’ style, albeit much more colorful.

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Once again we had a great view from our hotel, facing west across Hilo Bay towards the mountains (obscured by clouds in this photo).

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Next door was Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens. The site was donated by Queen Lili’uokalani, with the park being built in 1917 in the Edo style Japanese Gardens.

It is thought to be one of the best in the world outside of Japan.

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Well maintained with beautiful trees and landscaping.

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Along with some sculptures.

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I am not sure what these are known as so I called them Bonsai Palms.

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The park was very relaxing, and a great way to end the day.

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Many of the native trees have really cool, funky looks to them.

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Chillin’ on Coconut Island.

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Our hotel grounds were directly on the bay.

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As the sun was setting the last of the days flights were arriving. The airport was nearby, and the flight path brought the planes down the coast with a hard left turn just before the field. The clouds and setting sun added to the look.

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Another great Hawaiian sunset. Note that Manua Loa has come out of the clouds in the background.

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With that it was time for dinner, with entertainment.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 4 First Look at the Big Island

The Hawaiian Road Trip continued with an early flight to Kona. As with many things in travel, even getting there can be amusing.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:45 AM. About 6:15 they announced a gate change, so we moved down 1 gate only to look out and see the mechanics working on the front wheels of the plane. They changed the front wheels – 4 times!

Finally satisfied we were ok to leave the first passenger boarded – a shackled prisoner with a goofy smile being lead down the jetway by a policeman.

Thankfully the flight itself was short and uneventful, and after about 25 minutes we found ourselves on the Big Island.

About an hour south of the Kona Airport we arrived at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau, a National Historic Park.

This park preserves a site where Hawaiians who broke a law could avoid death sentences by fleeing here as a place of refuge. By serving their penance, they could be absolved by a priest and set free.

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The site is considered sacred to native Hawaiians. Out of respect to the native Hawaiians, no activities occur within the park. It is a place for reflection and inner thoughts and peace.

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After leaving the park, we continued south along the coast. This area has for centuries been impacted by volcanic activity. Amazingly many of the houses are built on the lava flows.

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Our next destination was the South Point of the island. As we made the turn onto South Point Road, we stopped at a farm called Paradise Valley, where we met Raccine.

Paradise Valley is a small working farm where they have an assortment of Hawaiian specialties including Macadamia nuts, coffee trees, and banana trees (among many others), Raccine was more than happy to share with us an assortment of flavored nuts, and their specialty coffees. Later she took us on a tour of the farm.

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I was particularly amused with the banana trees.

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Finally we left (chowing down on the local chocolate and macadamia nuts), we made our was to the South Point of the Big Island. For those who have been to Key West and seen the ‘Southernmost Point in the United States’ marker, they are way off.

This part of Hawaii is on the same latitude as Guatemala. The point, as with much of the coast here, is from lava flow.

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While nearby the sea cliffs make an impressive view.

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People jump off he cliffs into the ocean!

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Many native Hawaiians feel their land and culture was stolen from them by the U.S. (very similar to the natives across the entire continents). We saw a number of signs stating – This is not the U.S., this is the Kingdom of Hawaii.

It should be noted that almost all of the people we met were very pleasant, receptive and welcoming, they just feel their land and culture has been hijacked.

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Nearby is the famed ‘Green Sand Beach’. I had read about this place before we arrived, so we made our way over to the parking lot at the top of a bluff overlooking the ocean.

As we walked across the parking lot there were old 4 wheel drive pickups that said ‘shuttle’. One of them asked us if we wanted a ride – nah I can see the ocean just down the hill.

With a total lack of preparedness we set off – only to figure out much too late it was a 3 mile hike across lava fields and dusty trails to get to the beach. To top it off I forgot water as I thought I was just heading down the hill.

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It was a long dusty hike to reach the beach. As we arrived one of the pickup shuttles was parked there. I told the driver I had 2 questions – first, do you do 1 way trips. Absolutely (whew)

Two – do you have any water for sale. Nope, but I can help you out. With that he opened his cooler in the back and handed me a cold beer! My new best friend.

With that cold beer I could finally enjoy the view of the famed green sand beach.

The ride back was insanely bumpy (almost so much I spilled my second beer).

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Safely back at the car we continued our journey, with our next stop being the Honu’apo Black Sand Beach. Thankfully it was only about 100 yard walk to the beach, and the sand was indeed black.

It was beautiful, and had an interesting somewhat coarse texture that felt good on the feet.

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It is also a turtle habitat.

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Our first day on the Big Island complete, we headed to our hotel at Volcano National Park in preparation for tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 3 One Final Day on Oahu

Our final day in Honolulu started out with the obligatory tourist trek up Diamond Head.

For those who don’t know Diamond Head is the most famous landmark in Honolulu. The mountain is the remains of a volcano approximately 500,000 years old.

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Once you make it to the top of the 750′ mountain, the cauldron is apparent.

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Situated in the east side of Honolulu, it is surrounded by nice neighborhoods.

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Because it is at the east end of the island, the Diamond Head lighthouse is located at the base to warn ships.

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Our hike complete, we headed downtown to check out the historic buildings, including the post office.

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Easily the most famous is Iolani Palace, and the statue of King Kamehameha.

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Across the street was the royal residence

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Inside the Palace

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A secondary building on the property.

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Nearby is the Hawaii State Capital

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There are numerous other historic buildings downtown.

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Our architecture tour complete, we headed for the last part of the island we had yet to see, the South Shore.

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After returning to our hotel, I spent some time doing close ups of the Waikiki Hotels.

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And the nearby mountains.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 2 Around Oahu

Our first full day in Hawaii started off at the crack of dawn, as we headed up into the mountains to hike up to Manoa Falls. As we parked we realized we were surrounded by chickens.

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Our path up the rocky and muddy trail took us into the jungle.

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Eventually we reached Manoa Falls. At 150′ high it is one of the taller waterfalls in all of Hawaii.

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Coming back down the mountain into the neighborhoods we had yet another rainbow. At times it seems we could get rain without clouds, but they were always brief and the sun was out in a few minutes.

 

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Our next stop was Tantalus Overlook. The views from here are amazing.

 

Downtown Honolulu

 

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The airport is built in the harbor.

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Honolulu has height restrictions on buildings so they don’t block the view of Diamond Head. Almost all buildings have to be under 400 feet, so most are 399.

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Leaving the overlook we headed out Pali Highway, stopping at the overlook facing the east side of the island.

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The town of Kailua and Lanikai Beach.

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From here you can clearly make out the cauldron of a former volcano.

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We continued down this side of the mountains to go to the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens.

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After stopping at the visitor center we set off.

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It was great to see plants and flowers we normally only see at conservatories out in the wild. The only down side was the mud, What looked like grass, was in fact mud hiding just below. We came out a mess.

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In addition to the plants and flowers, their views of the mountains were spectacular.

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Eventually it was time to head on and we set out for the North Shore.

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Lunch was at one of the famed shrimp trucks.

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The North Shore is famed for their large waves for surfing.

 

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At the far end of the island we stopped at Waimea Valley, another botanical garden, with less mud than the earlier one. This one had paved paths and a great collection.

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The falls were somewhat of a disappointment, at only 85′ high.

 

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As we returned towards Honolulu we went through a valley with large pineapple fields.

 

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In the middle was the Dole Plantation. Now a tacky tourist spot it did give us a chance to see pineapples in various stages of growth.

 

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They also have nice gardens. But still a very tacky touristy place.

 

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Finally we reached Honolulu as the sun set.

 

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And our day was over – but not before one more treat. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I they had an all day celebration,  complete with fireworks. And we were lucky enough to have a front row seat from our 8th floor balcony.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 1 Honolulu and Beyond

Time for another ‘Road’ Trip – this time to Hawaii. After a very long flight we arrived in Honolulu mid afternoon on a Saturday. Rather than going straight to the hotel, we opted to head west pats  Waianae to go to Kaena Point. On the way we were greeted with this great Rainbow, keeping with one of the nicknames of the state – the Rainbow State.

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Eventually we made it to Keawaula Beach.  Our first views of Hawaii looked like the postcards.

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Cars and trucks lined every available space as the locals and tourists alike were enjoying the beautiful day.

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We passed numerous people fishing.

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As we made our way back toward Honolulu we passed the Makua Valley.

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A brief stop at Makahal Beach Park.

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And it was on to the city. With a metro population of almost a million people in a very small area, Honolulu was crowded and busy. We were surprised to find a 10 lane freeway through parts of the city.

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Our hotel was at the south end of Kapi’olani Park, with views back toward Waikiki, and the famed beach.

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The surrounding hillsides were covered in houses, except where the land is restricted.

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One final view for the day – a close up of the Waikiki Hotels.

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