Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hijack to Hawaii

About once a year, I hijack my corgis' blog to post a few photos from my vacation.  This year, with a milestone birthday to celebrate, I decided to join a tour to Hawaii.   For someone who is used to tent camping and shared bathrooms,  this was truly a luxury vacation.   We spent three days on Oahu, two on Kauai, and four on Maui.   Each island has it's own charm, and it would be hard to pick a favorite.   We began our trip at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki where we saw the Honolulu Festival Parade, toured Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, enjoyed lunch at the Aloha Tower and had a guided tour of the city, including Iolani Palace and Hanauma Bay.   The next day I walked to Diamond Head (volcanic tuff cone), spent several hours at the Polynesian Cultural Center and walked around the upscale shopping district of Waikiki (my credit card safely back in my hotel room!)

The Aloha Tower
Highlights of Kauai (aka The Garden Island)  included a kona coffee plantation and Waimea Canyon, formed by the collapse of a volcano.  I chose to use our free day here to do nothing but explore the beach, swim in the pool and sip Mai Tais on the balcony.   

Relaxing at our ocean beach resort on Kauai
Waimea Canyon

The last four days were spent on Maui, and I could easily have spent two weeks there.   Maui has everything.  We had a wonderful lunch (I ordered fish whenever possible!) at the Maui Ocean Center, which is well worth the time to see.   That evening, a group of us walked from the hotel to Whaler's Village.   The  surf was high throughout our trip (remnants of Cyclone Winston that hit Fiji a few weeks earlier), and that evening, in particular, the waves were huge.  With the sun going down on the horizon and live music wafting from the bars on Kaanapali Beach, the night was magical and proved to be the highlight of the entire trip for me.    The next day I joined a small group for the infamous "Road to Hana", a 52 mile stretch of narrow highway that boasts 617 hair pin turns, blind curves and 56 one-land bridges!  My Scopolamine patch served me well, and I survived the trip to Hana without difficulty.   The trip back to Lahaina turned out to be much more treacherous, as you hug the edge of a steep cliff; a glance out the window revealing only the ocean far below.   Guardrails are few, and much of the road is gravel, making it truly a white-knuckle experience.     The reward for it all?    Bamboo forests, spectacular cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls and panoramic overviews of Maui's coastline and black sand beach.    The backside of the mountain takes you through the volcanic summit of Haleakala National Park.    If I am ever so fortunate as to go back to Maui, I will be sure to take in a sunrise from the top of this peak.  

With a large northwest swell eroding the ocean beaches, I did not venture in much past my knees, limiting my ocean experience to a day of snorkeling with Trilogy Tours.    I was fortunate enough to see starfish,  turtles and sea urchin, as well as a beautiful coral reef.   After a lunch of barbeque chicken on the catamaran we sailed off in search of humpback whales and were not disappointed.   That night, I attended Drums of the Pacific Luau at our hotel.    A spread of ethnic food and an evening of Hawaiian entertainment made it a wonderful cultural experience.   Our final day in Maui took us to a tropical plantation, through the lush Iao Valley and to the exquisite Iao Needle, which rises 1200 feet from the valley floor.  Our guide, Joan, was warm, professional and devoted to making the trip a memorable experience for all of us.   I look forward to traveling with www.holidayvacations.net again.

The Road to Hana

Black Sand Beach along the Road to Hana
One of the many waterfalls along the Road to Hana

Humpback whales

Drums of the Pacific Hawaiian Luau

Hyatt Regency Hotel - Lahaina, Maui

Banyan Tree - Lahaina

Coconut peeling demonstration

Iao Needle

You see some dogs in Hawaii, but not a lot.   Property is expensive and people live in small multi-generational homes or efficiency apartments.   Beaches are busy and activities not conducive to traveling with pets.    Scarlett and Zak stayed at Yuppy Puppy Dog Hotel again this year and reportedly had a great time.   I missed them terribly and was happy to be reunited with them.   We had a quiet Easter weekend going to the park and hanging out together.