A Travellerspoint blog

USA

Old Town Honolulu

rain 26 °C

Our goal for the last day in Hawaii was to visit Old China Town and the Historic sites of downtown Honolulu. We start out along the busy beaches lined with resorts.

Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach

Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach

We slowly make our way west toward Honolulu from Waikiki through the streets. As we reach downtown Honolulu we are surrounded by the older architecture. Kawaiaha'o Church is an enormous church made out of coral blocks. It's considered the mother church of Hawaii. The tomb of King Lunalilo's is built in front of the church. He wanted to be buried among common people rather than in the Royal Mausoleum. He loved the people so much and felt he would be closer to them buried there.

Kawaiaha'o Church

Kawaiaha'o Church

Tomb of King William Charles Lunalilo

Tomb of King William Charles Lunalilo

King Kamehameha Statue

King Kamehameha Statue

As we are getting our fill of site seeing, the skies darken and rain begins fall. Everyone scrambles looking for shelter. We find cover at our bus stop heading back to our hotel. Somehow we didn't have 5 bucks for the bus, so Julie had to bum a dollar to pay our fare. The day disappears catching up on blogs and packing up for our 10 PM departure to New Zealand. We say good-bye to the northern hemisphere and quietly slip forward in time. As everyone sleeps the plane crosses the International Date Line and we lose one day. September 30th, 2010, does not exist for us.

Posted by ontarions 01:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Big Island to Oahu

...organic morning.

sunny 27 °C

Alicia runs out the door on her way to work, trying to beat the morning rush. Thanks Alicia for letting us crash for a couple nights! Our morning is particularly exciting for us, since we are going to tour Mountain Thunder Coffee plantation. The organic coffee is grown in the Kona region and has been on the show “Dirty Jobs”. They show us everything there is to know about the coffee process from picking the beans to packaging.

Kona Coffee Beans

Kona Coffee Beans

We eat a quick lunch of fish tacos and head to Kona Airport to fly over to Oahu. The plan is to spend one night in Honolulu to get a taste of the night life and check out the concrete beaches. Arriving safely in Honolulu, we take the shuttle to our hotel in Waikiki. Our corner room provides us windows on both the south and east and a view down the city street to the beach, and also of Diamond Head mountain.

View of Waikiki Beach From Hotel

View of Waikiki Beach From Hotel

We grab some things for making dinner and bottle of red wine. As we relax, the sound of traffic and people far below on the streets is something we haven't heard much of during our time in Hawaii. Looking back on all the unique people have met and our experiences, we've learned a lot while visiting Hawaii. Their carefree, laid-back spirit and their family values are pieces of Hawaii that we'd like to take away with us. We've learned that attitude is everything.

Posted by ontarions 13:30 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Captain Cook Kayak

sunny 28 °C

Good morning all. We roll down the coffee bean slopes of Kona towards Kealakekea Bay. On the way down we contemplate renting kayaks to access some great snorkeling and check out the Captain Cook Monument. As soon as we arrive at the water a friendly local is renting kayaks, so we rent one and hit the water heading across the bay towards the white monument. The steep cliff to our right is where the bones of important Hawaiian chiefs where hid. Someone was lowered by rope down the cliff face, to place the bones in a safe spot. Once finished, the person signalled to the people holding the rope, the rope would then be cut and they fell to their death keeping the burial location a secret. There is a long interesting story about Captain Cook, but we won't dive into that here (just Google it). We reach the monument and the snorkeling grounds that are rich with sea life. After a thoroughly exploring the bay's marine life and relaxing in the sun, we start the paddle back.

Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua Bay

Kayaking to Captain Cook Monument

Kayaking to Captain Cook Monument

Yellow Tangs

Yellow Tangs

Next on the agenda is The City of Refuge (Pu'uhonoa o Honaunau), a ancient Hawaiian settlement. The story here is if a commoner broke a rule, such as, walking on the same trail as the upper class, they would be put to death. If the commoner could escape and reach the The City of Refuge before they were caught and put to death, they could gain forgiveness and return home. At the City of Refuge there was a “Great Wall” which was built in 1550 and is 10 ft high and 17 ft thick! No mortor was used and natural stones were used (they were not chiseled). I was amazed. The size of some of these stones were enormous. The picture below is of a reconstructed temple which housed the bones of 23 ali'i (chiefs).

Hale O Keawe @ City of Refuge

Hale O Keawe @ City of Refuge

Dry Stack Stone Walls @ City of Refuge

Dry Stack Stone Walls @ City of Refuge

Wooden Carving @ City of Refuge

Wooden Carving @ City of Refuge

We finish absorbing the culture and history of Hawaiians and head back to our couch surfer's home to pack up the bags for our flight to Honolulu the next day. We had a great stay but it's time, once again, to move along.

Posted by ontarions 14:26 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Relaxing at South Point

...and just a manta ray dive!

sunny 28 °C

We pull out of the Namakanipaio campsite where we ended up camping again last night. This fine day we are heading to South Point, the southern most part of the United States. Julie wants to check out sea turtles at a black sand beach, so that is our first stop. There are a couple resting on the beach and more eating along the shore, so we quietly snap a few pics, trying not to disturb them. More and more people keep arriving and getting really close to the turtles. The law is to stay at least 20 feet from these endangered turtles. Julie can't believe how many tourist disrespect the law just to get a photo. Luckily we have a zoom lens which helped us capture the photos below. This beach is an important breeding area for the turtles, and there is even an active boat launch here. Locals inform us that Hawaii needs help with protecting these endangered turtles as the Department of Natural Land and Resources doesn't do much.

Green Sea Turtle Taking a Breath

Green Sea Turtle Taking a Breath

Green Sea Turtles on Punalu'u

Green Sea Turtles on Punalu'u

We continue to South Point on the road winding down to ocean level. When we arrive we notice how the winds howl from the east continuously causing all the trees to grow horizontal to the ground, pointing west. Our plan was to hike two miles to the green sands beach, but instead we back the van up to a small patch of beach, open the back hatch and take in the sights and sounds.

Horizontal Trees on South Point

Horizontal Trees on South Point


Southern most point in US

Southern most point in US

Later in the day we arrive at the marina near Kona for our manta ray night dive with Neptune Charlie's. They are very thorough with safety which puts Julie's mind at ease. We had never done at night dive and didn't really know what to expect. Our dive master, Roger, goes over every detail of our equipment, the dive, and how to use the lighting equipment they provide. The sun sets, and it is time to take the plunge off the back of the boat and descend to ocean floor about 30 feet below. After a short swim along the reef, we arrive at the “campfire”, where lights had been placed on the ocean floor shinning upwards. Everyone knelt around the campfire, holding our personal lights high above our heads, pointing to the surface. The light attracts plankton, which attracts the huge manta rays (weighing thousands of pounds). They warned us prior to the dive that we might not see any mantas, but we really lucked out, there are between 15 and 20 mantas gliding all around us. The graceful mantas swoop right over our flash lights. They are within inches of our heads, so close that before the dive we were told we had to leave our snorkels in the boat so the mantas wouldn't knock them off our heads. Once in a while we crouch down to avoid a manta running into our heads. Julie holds a large rock tightly in her lap to keep her stable on the bottom as the current caused by the mantas is strong enough to knock you over. They are so close you can see right into their gills. We both watch in awe, until it was time to head back to the boat.

Manta Ray near Kona

Manta Ray near Kona

After a short drive to the outskirts of Kona, we arrive at Alicia's home, our couch surfing accommodations for our last two nights on the Big Island. It's late and we are spent from a busy day, so we chat briefly before she shows us to our room. The house seems remote and the only sounds from the heavy tropical growth that surrounds it is from wild pigs snorting and scratching at the ground looking for food.

Posted by ontarions 15:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Big Puna Hits

...and everything volcano.

sunny 27 °C

Gordon is waiting with a massive breakfast spread at 7 am sharp. We stuff ourselves full of fresh fruits and homemade breads, before heading on our way to the Puna Region. Our first stop is snorkeling in the calm tidal pools at the Waiopae Marine Conserve. Julie find another octopus hiding beneath rocks. The pools are full of life, but impact from development and septic beds is taking its toll.

Nate Snorkeling in Tidepools

Nate Snorkeling in Tidepools

We stop for a quick soak in the spring fed thermal pond at Isaac Hale Beach Park. It's amazing that we are sitting in water warmed by magma. We don't stay too long since the water is just warm and we were hoping it was going to be hot.

Our next stop is the natural lava steam rooms. We pull off the side of the road, and hike past the “No Trespassing” signs and onto the property. The trails are very over grown, burrs scrape Julie's legs along the way, but we know it'll be worth it when we get to the caves. As we search for the perfect steam room we run into Melanie, we met her when we hitched a ride with to the top of Mauna Kea. Very strange to cross paths on this vast island again. Through the maze of trails, we find a cave that suits us. The cave is small and there is just enough space for 2 people to have a seat on the old bench inside. It is very warm, and the cave is dripping wet. As we sit on the bench we feel the steam on our backs, it comes in puffs, as if the Goddess Pele (the legendary volcano goddess) is breathing. The steam comes from deep within the earth.... Our bodies are dripping wet ... I'll stop there....that sounds too x-rated for this blog. After about 40 minutes of complete relaxation and amazement that we are in a natural steam room we decide to head to see the lava. We are rejuvenated and feel fabulous.

The final stop on our days tour of the area where everything seems to be influenced by volcanoes is the island's highlight, piping hot lava pouring into the ocean. We start hiking across young lava flow, about 10 years old. It's very scary to witness the result of the mass destruction of the lava's path. But the odd house still stands in the midst of this lava, either the lava travelled around them, or people are already rebuilding! I should explain, that the pictures from the previous day at Halema'uma'u Crater are at the summit of the Kilauea volcano and the source of the lava pouring into the ocean is from that same volcano. There is no lava flowing out of the Halema'uma'u Crater, just steam leaving the crater. The lava flows underground by the crater, and then through a lava tube, coming through the surface at the Thanksgiving Eve Breakout (TEB) vent. It came through the TEB vent to the surface in 2007 and the red hot lava has been slowly flowing along land from this vent to the ocean 700 m (2300 ft) away. Destroying anything in its path. Just recently the lava reached the ocean and as a result of it cooling on contact it is making the island bigger in size.

Evening Lava Flow from Kilauea Volcano

Evening Lava Flow from Kilauea Volcano

So for the entire hike, which takes about an hour, we could see the steam barrelling from the lava tube to the heavens. When we reach the safe viewing point with about 6 other people, we watch in awe at the hot lava emptying into the Pacific. Night sets in fast and the show intensifies. The fiery hot lava, sometimes boiling at 2,100 degrees, collides with cold sea water exploding like a grenade. Watch the uploaded video for full affect.

Evening Lava Flow from Kilauea Volcano

Evening Lava Flow from Kilauea Volcano

Evening Lava Flow from Kilauea Volcano

Evening Lava Flow from Kilauea Volcano

I get adventurous and poke around closer and closer to the flow with a couple other guys. We find fresh lava right under our feet! The cracks are glowing bright red and insanely hot. More people keep creeping up to the hot spot, some with marshmallows! It is one crazy sight. I drag Julie to the lava site, but one look at the red glow, and see bolts back to her comfort zone. We call it a night and make the long trek back to the van in the moonlight. That is the most powerful spectacle of nature that we have every seen. Incredible.

Posted by ontarions 15:01 Archived in USA Comments (2)

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