Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 20 Rainbow Trees and An Abrupt Stop

Our second morning at the Kauai Inn started after sunrise, which gave us a chance to see how beautiful the grounds and background was.

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As we left to go out for the day we found a new city have moved in down the street.

To quote a line from the movie ‘Groundhog Day’ – “I’m bettin’ he’s gonna swerve first”

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Our day had us headed to some waterfalls – first was Wailua Falls. I was expecting to drive into a park and go for a hike to the falls, but we ended up driving up and getting a glimpse of them from the overlook in the fog.

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Still the double falls was impressive.

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We then headed to the nearby Opaeka’a Falls. While more distance, you did get a better view – but still no hiking.

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The Wailua River Valley is historically a Native Hawaiian settlement area.

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We continued up the road as far as it could go until we got to the Keahua Arboretum.

Not a traditional arboretum, but more of a ‘woods’, it nonetheless has some amazing trees. These are known as Rainbow Eucalyptus trees.

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As Wikipedia states: “The unique multi-hued bark is the most distinctive feature of the tree. Patches of outer bark are shed annually at different times, showing a bright green inner bark. This then darkens and matures to give blue, purple, orange and then maroon tones. The previous season’s bark peels off in strips to reveal a brightly colored new bark below. The peeling process results in vertical streaks of red, orange, green, blue, and gray.”

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Easily some of the coolest trees I have ever seen.

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With that we headed back down the mountain, passing some houses with great views.

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We stopped by Poliahu Park.

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Where the remains of a Heiau (temple) remains from ancient Hawaiian times. People have left lei’s as an offering.

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Our plans were to continue north to a wildlife preserve and lighthouse when we ran into a bit of a problem – literally. An elderly man missed seeing us coming down the road and pulled directly in front of us – BAM.

Airbags are an exciting event – scared the #$%^ out of me.

Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt, and after getting a replacement car from Avis (who get’s a shout out about how well they handled this situation), we got checked out and were on our way.

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We decided to skip the lighthouse and instead went to the Spouting Horn Park, where we met some of the local sea birds.

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Spouting Horn was nice, but with the much smaller waves it wasn’t nearly as impressive as the ones in Maui.

With that our eventful day came to an end.

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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 15 – Best 30 Minute Flight in the World

We left the ship in the morning and spent a bit of time in the town of Kaunakakai at a farmers market, while we waiting for our flight’s scheduled time.

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Eventually it was time to go – in our 9 passenger Mokulele Airlines flight to Maui. As we boarded the plane I asked the pilot if we were taking the north route to Maui, and with a smile she said ‘yes’!

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We took off over the only flat land on Molokai.

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The north route takes you over the famed Sea Cliffs. Known as the highest sea cliffs in the world, some are over 4000′ high. Now you know why the pilot was smiling.

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A family owned airline, they are known for their island hopping routes.

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The best views in the world out the windows of our little 9 passenger plane on a regularly scheduled route..

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One of the saddest policies in Hawaiian history was the sequestering of leprosy patients. One of the most famous of these is on Molokai, where over a 100 year period over 8,000 people were sent to spend the rest of their lives in isolation.

Today it is a National Historic Park accessible only by mules down the 1,600′ high cliffs, or by plane.

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More of the steep valleys along Molokai’s north shore.

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There are numerous waterfalls coming off of the cliffs.

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Two of the 8 highest waterfalls in the world are along these cliffs. I ‘think’ we are looking at Olo’upena Falls and ‘Pu’uka’oku Falls, both nearly 3000’ high.

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Amazing cliffs and waterfalls.

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Our last view of Molokai was of the Halawa Valley, where we spent the day before with Pops and his family learning of Hawaiian culture.

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After crossing the 20 mile channel we were over Maui,

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While rugged, the mountains are not as abrupt as Molokai. They do however have a great little road running through them (more on that tomorrow).

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More canyons as we approach the airport.

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Maui is basically one massive mountain on east end, with other tall mountains on the west end, with a flat valley in the middle. All of a sudden it looks like Southern California!

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The water in the ocean just off shore had great color though.

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Making a couple of quick turns to land and we were in Maui. What a spectacular flight!

The traffic and congestion will quickly make you wish you were back in Molokai.

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We did make a quick trip up to Iao Valley before the sun set though.

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The ‘needle’, a 1200′ high (from the valley floor). It is really a ridge, as it continues beyond sight.

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As we walked to dinner along the coast we saw this great turtle hanging out in the lava rocks.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 12 Lanai

Day 12 had us spending time near and on the island of Lanai. It is currently mostly owned by a software billionaire, but 2% remain in the hands of the local people.

We were parked for the day in the Mauele Bay.

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Before we started our day we had a private tour of the ships engine room with the engineer. For most people on a cruise in Hawaii this wouldn’t be high on the list, but it was for me – very cool.

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Twin 700 HP diesel engines (only one seen in this photo).

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It was a relaxing day for all.

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All of the crew of the ship have multiple jobs, including the captain – here explaining to the kayakers how to push off the boat and get started.

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Which they all successfully did!

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I opted for the skiff tour of the local geology. Note the mist coming out of the hole at the bottom center. There are numerous blowholes around Hawaii, basically small caves that the water is forced into where it runs out of space and come blowing back out.

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While one of the smaller ones we saw, it did creates rainbows.

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Our tour continued along the cliffs where there was clear evidence of the volcanic activity and subsequent abrupt movements of the earth that sheared off with dramatic results.

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The most famed geologic point was Sweetheart Rock. At one point there would’ve been a large arch here but that came down long ago.

As with many other locations like this, local lore has it that one person had forbidden love and threw themselves to their death, hence Sweetheart Rock.

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A local seabird (not sure what kind) coming in for a landing. It took him/her 4 tries!

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Eventually the kayakers returned.

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And everyone went for a swim. Most went off the back of the boat, but some of the more daring jumped off the 2nd deck, including this elderly woman from Mississippi!

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Our afternoon was spent at a cat sanctuary (enough on that for a separate post), and some time in Lanai City.

Lanai was a pineapple plantation before rich people bought the entire island. Our driver (Neal) had grown up on the island and worked the plantation before working in the motor pool.

He eventually started his own shuttle business and now has a fleet of 14 vans. Oh – he also plays music and showed us photos of him with Steven Tyler and Mick Fleetwood!

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After a tour of the town we returned to the beach for a sunset walk up to view Sweetheart Rock.

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Another Hawaii day – another Hawaii sunset.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 10 Zodiac Boat Tour and Historic Kona

Day 10 started out with a Zodiac Boat tour down the coast to another snorkel location. A Zodiac boat is a rigid hull, inflatable boat that can go very fast across the water, as Captain Bill demonstrated.

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Assisted by Chris, the first mate.

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As we made our way down the coast we stopped by some sea caves.

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Despite being formed by lava, they were very colorful.

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We arrived at the bay where the snorkeling occurred. It is the bay where Captain Cook met his demise.

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The snorkeling was great.

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On our return trip we passed more sea cliffs

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Along the way we encountered a group of ‘Spinning’ Dolphins, as this series of photos illustrate.

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After returning to the boat, we made our way back to Kona one more time for a historic tour.

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We toured the Queens summer palace.

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Finally it was time to return to our home for the week.

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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 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.