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 16 From Maui to the Moon

Early on a Sunday morning we took off and headed up the tallest mountain on Maui.

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Up we went until we were at the same level as the clouds.

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And the road kept going – we could see Molokai in the distance, and we kept going.

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we were looking down on the 5000′ high West Maui Mountains and the clouds now. Where could we be going?

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The moon!

No not really, it is Haleakala Mountain (and National Park). The buildings are an observatory.

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But if you could visit the moon in shorts this is the place (to be fair it was in the upper 50s but it is Hawaii so I am wearing shorts).

Haleakala is a volcano, and the top is the crater with numerous cauldrons. They like to point out that while it is officially 10,023′ above sea level, there is another 19, 680′ below sea level, so it is taller than Everest (but shorter overall than nearby Mauna Kea).

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There are numerous cauldrons in the crater, which is a deceptive 2600′ deep.

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While barren of vegetation, the crater floor is full of color, as this series of photos will show. These are some of my favorite photos of all time, all from the same place!

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We went down the path into the cauldron for about 45 minutes – resulting in a 2 hour hike back up. For me this was one of the tougher hikes, it is 10,000′ in elevation, it is continuous, without shade (and I likely only went down 700-800 vertical feet)

It is an incredible place, and we were fortunate that it was a very sunny day the day we visited, as the clouds often obscure the mountain (at least parts), and later in the day and for the rest of our time in Maui, it was at least partially obscured.

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We returned to Maui (aka sea level) and went for a drive to Kahakuloa. While most people drive the famed road to Hana (we did – later), this road was far more impressive and challenging. It was mostly a lane and a half, often clinging to the cliffs to the ocean, with minimal guard rails.

It was great!

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Great unexpected views would just pop up without warning.

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The road passes through a couple of little towns.

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Eventually you make it back to a road with state highway maintenance (aka – two lanes), but the views continue.

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We stopped at the Nakalele Blowhole.

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Another north shore coastline (note the road running along the top of the hill).

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Maui’s north shore is known for the surfing. We watched a number of them catch waves before calling it a day.

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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 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 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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