Friday, July 21st

Lavaflow

After a few busy days it was time for some relaxing. We only left around 11 for Volcano Park. After looking around in the visitors center and lunch we headed for the lava flow again. A few days we just went to the viewing spot close to the ranger station but today we would take ‘the great tour’. The hike to the best viewing of flowing lava is 11 Km (7 miles) roundtrip over old lava. It took over 2 hours to reach the far end of the lava field but it was worth it. We could see red hot lava flow into the ocean shooting steam high in the air. We didn’t want to hike back in the dark but eventually as we were walking back to the car we saw that the lava was beginning to glow. We decided to stop until it was completely dark at about 2 Km from the car. The glow was a lot more intense than a few days ago. Hiking back to the car was not easy as we had to use the flashlights to see where we were going and to avoid stepping into one of the many cracks in the ground.

Saturday, July 22nd

Island Air Dash 8

We packed our things and started the 3 hour drive to Kona airport. After returning the rental car we were taken to the terminal where we checked in. We learned that our second flight (of only two) was again delayed. Since the Kona airport is very small there was not a lot to do but eat lunch and wait.... wait... wait.... If we come to Hawaii again guess which airline we won’t be using for the inter island flights. With 3 hours delay we finally got on our way to Maui. We got another rental car and went straight to our guesthouse in Kihei.

Sunday, July 23rd

The old leper colony

Another early start of the day. We got up at 5 and went to Lahaina we a ferry took us to Molokai. There a car was waitinng for us so we could explore the island. There are no trafficlights on Molokai, probanly because there is not a lot of traffic. The island is known most because of Father Damien, a Belgian priest who cared for lepers in Kalaupapa. the old colony can only be visited by mule. Since visitors need to be at least 16 years old we were not able to go there. We did visit the churches build by Damien and went to the viewpoint that overlooks the old lepercolony. The day ended with a very rough ride back on the ferry.

Monday, July 24th

Torch ginger

We took the ‘road to Hana’ today. This narrow winding road meanders through rain forest, bamboo and eucalyptus trees passing waterfalls and crossing tens of one lane bridges. We had a CD that we could play during the trip that described the places where we could stop to hike a short trail or leave the main road to visit a small village and bay. The views are great the whole time. Once in Hana we continued for a while until we reached the grave of Charles Lindbergh. Since the rental car agreement states that we could not drive on from there without voiding our insurance we, and most other visitors to the area, had to drive back the same way. Fortunately most people left before us and we had a pleasant calm drive back with just one more unexpected stop when a big rainbow appeared above the ocean.

Tuesday, July 25th

Sea turtle

At 7:30 we were already in Maalaea harbor for a trip with the Pacific Whale Foundation to Molokini. This little horseshoe like island is a great place for snorkeling and thus we saw a lot of colorful fish After an hour we left and moored at another spot 15 minutes later. Turtle Arches is supposed to be a place where a lot of sea turtles live but unfortunately after an hour of snorkeling we had only seen three. When returning just before entering Maalaea harbor there were 5 sea turtles swimming at the surface. We got of the boat and drove north passing Lahaina for a short visit to the Whalers museum. A movie that is shown here give a good impression about whale watching around Hawaii in the winter months. It was back to Lahaina then where we had the photo’s of our morning snorkel tour developed and where we visited the Hard Rock Cafe, the third HRC of our vacation. After all this we returned to the guesthouse where we arrived before dark for the first time.

Wednesday, July 26th

Haleakala and silversword

We drove up Haleakala, an old inactive volcano, today. The winding road ends at the summit at 3055 meter above sea level. along the way are several lookout point from where we had a great view over Kihei and Kahului beneath us and Molokai, Lanai a bit further away. From the top we could also see Mauna Kea on the Big Island as well as the island of Ohau. The crater of Haleakala has many smaller craters in it and is about the size of Manhattan. When we returned to sea level we passed Kihei and drove further south on highway 31 to see where we could go snorkeling the following day.

Thursday, July 27th

Little crab in the sand

Since this would be the last day before returning home we would take it easy. We got snorkel gear and drove to one of the small hidden beaches of Kihei. We were all alone there and enjoyed a swim for an hour or so, then we used the wake board for a while. The surf was getting stronger by the minute so we got on our way again and drove as far south as possible. The road ends at a private property gate. We drove north again for a few 100 yard and parked the car. There was a small narrow entrance to the lava fields with a trail that by times was hard to see. We just passed 5 people during our 30 minute hike but it was well worth it. Once again we were the only people there, there was no beach just hard, sharp lava, but getting in the water at that point was like getting into an aquarium. The water was christalclear and hundreds of colorful fish were swimming around us. Unlike the busier beaches the fish did not swim away from us but kept on doing their business as if we were not there. In all, not a bad day to end the holiday.

Friday, July 28th

Boeing 767 and Maui rainbow

This is the day we leave for home. I checked the American Airlines web site for last minute changes and after we packed everything we left for the airport around midday. We returned the car and the shuttle bus dropped us off at the right terminal. The first thing we noticed was that our flight to Chicago was can celled. After waiting in line the AA agent told us that the plane had technical problems (that would cover everything, I guess) and that they would reroute us to Chicago. After we said we were to continue to Europe they noticed another problem. Getting us to O’Hare would be of no use since the next flight to Brussels was overbooked. It took half an hour of tapping the computer to get us rebooked to Delta Airlines to Atlanta and then on to Brussels, also on Delta. Instead of leaving Maui at 16:35 we took off at 17:45. A strong tailwind brought us to Atlanta by 8 in the morning. We then had to wait until evening to leave there and a little after 8 in the morning local time (half an hour later than the original AA flight and 26 hours after taking off from Maui) we landed on Belgian soil.

The most memorable things of this trip are swimming with the dolphins and the sea turtles and seeing a volcano up close from the helicopter and on foot. The negative this all have do do with transport: All three times the people from the rental company had trouble with our prepaid voucher. It took ‘ages’ to do the paperwork to get the rental car. Island air: a 100% record in non service resulting in the first flight being party repaid and the for the second one we were given food/drink vouchers. American Airlines who had to hand us over to Delta for our return flights.....

Fortunately the good things far outweighed the bad things and we can’t wait to start planning our next trip....

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