Trip to Hawaii, September 2012

You can watch a video of this trip by clicking here:  Hawaii

Thursday 29 August. To Hawaii.
We got up early and flew from Paraparaumu to Auckland and then on to Honolulu. The flight across the Pacific took 8 hours. On arrival in Honolulu we got a shuttle to the Ewa Hotel situated just up from Waikiki Beach.

Friday 30 August. Honolulu.
In the morning we went for a walk along Waikiki Beach where there were many thousands out enjoying the safe beach and the sun. We then wandered through the Waikiki International Market and then back to our hotel. The temperature was warm but pleasant. In the afternoon we went to a big mall and then explored the very luxurious Hilton Hotel.


Waikiki Beach

Friday 31 August. Tour around Oahu.
We took the Gray Line full day tour around Oahu. First we went to Pearl Harbor where in December 1941 the Japanese attack brought America into WW2. Most of the US naval fleet was in Pearl Harbor at the time and was wiped out. Our visit included a short boat ride to the Arizona Memorial. 1177 men died on the battleship Arizona and they have created a fitting memorial there to the carnage of 1941.


   Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor


     All that's left of the Arizona                                                     Kathy with US servicemen 

Oahu is one of 8 islands  in the State of Hawaii, all formed by enormous volcanoes. We visited the National Cemetery punchbowl, Nu'uanu Pali lookout, the Byodo-In temple, the northern surf beaches (like Sunset Beach where they have the Banzai pipeline waves),  Kualoa Ranch, Waimea Bay, Turtle Beach and the Dole PineApple plantation. We now have a good idea of Oahu - it's not just Waikiki Beach!

Saturday 1 September.  Oahu to Maui.
In the morning we had a last walk to the beach , and discovered that there was a big festival celebrating the Okinawin Japanese people who live in Hawaii. After checking out of the Ewa Hotel we were transferred to the pier and boarded the Pride of America ready for our 7 day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands. The ship is huge! There are lots of restaurants, 2 pools, a fitness centre, theatres, shops etc. and the cabin is spacious and comfortable. We had a beautiful lunch, explored the ship, and then we were off - heading towards our first port, Kahului on the island of Maui. In the evening we went to our first show - a brilliant comedy routine by Tim Kaminski.

Sunday 2 September.  Maui.
After a smooth crossing to Maui and a good night's sleep we went on our first 'shore excursion'. We used 'Roberts Hawaii' rather than the cruise ship's company and paid half the price! First we visited the Iao Valley and saw the Iao needle set in the majestic volcanic mountains. Most impressive! We also saw a typical Hawaiian village showing how the people lived when the missionaries arrived (and before everything changed). The staple foods were taro, sugar, breadfruit and banana , all brought to Hawaii by the original Polynesian settlers.
In the 1850s immigrants from China started coming to Hawaii to work in the sugar cane plantations. Later they were joined by Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese etc. so today all Hawaiians have very mixed blood lines. We then visited a plantation and took a tram ride so we could see all the different types of plants grown for food. Sugarcane stopped being the dominant crop because it required so much water.

Iao Valley

Back on the boat we had lunch at the diner, a rest by the pool, did some exercise in the gym, had a meal in the Skyline restaurant and then went to a Polynesian show. there's plenty to do!

Monday 3 September.  Maui.
We visited the summit of the Haleakala volcano. Haleakala means 'house of sun'. It last erupted about 240 years ago. Our bus took us up a very windy road to the volcano's crater. The scenery is stunning - a massive crater 60km in circumference with brilliant colours and contrasts. Haleakala looks a bit like the moon and provides a vista over the whole of Maui - like a small Grand Canyon. If Iao where we went yesterday forms "the face of Maui" then Haleakala is the centre of his body.


Haleakala Crater - like being on top of the world!

In the afternoon we caught a free shuttle into the shopping centre so we could check our emails and go to Walmart, then enjoyed some time around the pool before we departed for the "Big Island" of Hawaii. Dinner was at the cafe to Hawaiian music and dancing, then we went to the evening show "Lights, camera, music" - celebrating Hollywood musicals.

Tuesday 4 September.  Hilo, Big Island.
We sailed over night and arrived in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. Our tour took us to Volcanoes National Park, the premier tourist attraction in all of Hawaii. After visiting a macadamia nut farm and an orchid nursery we drove up to the top of Kilaeau - the most active volcano in the world. It has been erupting continuously since 1983.  There is a hot spot in the earth's crust under here and its volcanoes have formed the islands, beginning under the sea and then growing till they emerge above the surface. We drove around the rim of Kilauea's caldera. The volcano is spewing out ash and SO2 and lava is continually flowing. We were able to walk among lava tubes and on a lava field. The volcanoes are shield volcanoes so the lava oozes out rather than explodes, and the lava flows slowly down toward the sea, hardening as it goes. Every year some homes are enveloped by the lava flows. Makes you wonder why people built there homes there! On the way back to the ship we stopped at beautiful Rainbow Falls. We now have a much better understanding of Hawaii's volcanic nature.


Kilaeau volcano in Volcanoes National Park

In the evening we had dinner in the restaurant then went to an excellent show - like Jersey Boys, a tribute to Frank Valli and the Four Seasons. We also watched some Abba and some jazz to finish off another lovely day.

Wednesday 4th September. Kona.
Kona is a resort town set on beautiful beaches. It is famous for Kona coffee which is only grown here and is processed by hand to maintain quality. (We were able to sample the product!). Kona was where King Kamehameha lived when he united the various Hawaiian islands. The missionaries also began their work in Kona and we saw St Benedict's church which was painted in murals to teach Bible stories. We also visited the place of refuge where lawbreakers could seek absolution. It was destroyed by the missionaries as part of the cleansing of culture that took place, but has been restored.


  St Benedicts' Church


Place of refuge

When Captain Cook arrived in Kona the locals thought he was the god Lono. He traded with the Hawaiians and set sail but had to return to repair his ships. Someone stole a boat to get access to the metal in it and in the resulting fight Cook was killed. His bones were initially divided among the chiefs. Some think his remains were sent back to Britain but others think he was buried at sea off Kona.


   Kona, Big Island.

After dinner in the cafe we went to a soul/Motown show and enjoyed some lighter music in the piano bar. Overnight we traveled our longest distance - from Kona to Nawiliwili on Kauai.

Thursday 6 September Kauai
Kauai, the garden island, is the least developed, least populated, greenest and most laid back island we visited.
We took an excursion to Waimea Canyon - like a smaller version of the Grand Canyon. On the way we saw blowholes, a coffee plantation, lovely valleys and waterfalls, closed down sugar plantations. Waimea Canyon is  called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It is 20km long, 2.5km across and was formed by weathering and erosion from the Waimea River.  (There is very high rainfall up on the top of the volcano). The colours in the canyon are amazing- reds and greens and browns - and the vista is spectacular. In the afternoon we caught the free shuttle into town to do some shopping and access the Internet at Starbucks. Then in the evening we went to a talent show provided by crew of the ship.

Waimea Canyon is spectacular!

Friday 7 September Kauai
We took a tour around the northern coast to Hanalei, famous as Bali Hai in the musical 'South Pacific'. It is in a lovely green valley set with the tall mountains on the background leading to  a beautiful bay and beach. Lovely! This is a very picturesque area and is often used for shooting movies. We also visited the Wailua River with  its beautiful waterfalls. 

Bali Hai where "South Pacific" was filmed



Chickens everywhere - and Nene, the Hawaiian National Birds

We saw a lot of evidence of the 1992 hurricane which destroyed 95% of the homes and released lots of domesticated birds and animals into the wild. These include chickens used for illegal cock-fighting which are now everywhere as they have no predators. Chickens way outnumber people! After lunch we left Kauai and sailed past its stunning Napali coast before heading back to Oahu.


Napali Coast

On the way we spent our "on board credit" at the shop, went to our final show, had dinner in the Skyline restaurant and packed our bags ready for tomorrow's departure for New York.

Saturday 8 September Oahu
After breakfast we disembarked efficiently and were taken to the airport in a shuttle.

Here are some reflections on our time in Hawaii:

  • Cruising is a very good way of seeing Hawaii. Through our shore excursions we were able to see all the main attractions very easily. It was good to use Roberts Hawaii for these excursions as they were about half the price of the same thing offered by the cruise line.
  • The cruise on the Pride of America was excellent. Cabin, food, entertainment, cleanliness and crew helpfulness were consistently great. We realised that cruising follows a similar pattern, regardless of the cruise line, as so much of what we experienced was similar to the Holland America cruise we went on last year.
  • There were 2300 guests on board the Pride of America, and we were looked after by 930 crew. There was never any sense of crowding or of having to wait for or miss activities due to the crowd. Even at meal times everything went smoothly and efficiently - a credit to the well designed ship systems.
  • Hawaii is lovely and a great tourist destination. We enjoyed visiting each of the islands and learnt a lot about their volcanic nature, history, special attractions and economy. We would certainly recommend a visit!

Maholo (thank you) Hawaii for a wonderful holiday.



Brief stopover in New York

9 September
We flew overnight from Honolulu to New York and then took the tube to the Carter Hotel situated right in Times Square. This is a budget hotel but good value for New York as it is so centrally situated. We were too early to check in so went to church at Times Square church (just up the road) and then to the long running Broadway musical Mary Poppins.(just around the corner). The show was brilliant as expected and was packed out, even on a 1pm matinee. When we finally got checked in we found that Kathy's suitcase was wet through from a downpour at Honolulu airport.  After having no sleep on the plane we went to bed at 8pm.


  Times Square, New York

Monday 10 September
We woke up at 11.30am!!!  15 and a half hours! We walked through Central Park from bottom to top. What a magnificent park - and so big! Late in the afternoon we took the subway down to the World Trade Center where they are rebuilding the towers after the 911 attacks (11 years tomorrow). One is now past half way. We then went to Macy's before heading back to the hotel. We walked quite a few miles today!


                                 Times Square                                                           World Trade Centre rebuilding


September 11 (Yes, we were in New York on the 11th anniversary of 911).
We checked out of the Carter Hotel and took the subway to JFK then flew Air Berlin to Berlin and then on to Oslo, looking forward very much to meeting our family in Norway.

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