Last update July 31st at 9:45 UTC

Saturday, July 8th 

AA Boeing 767

We left home at 7:30 to arrive at the airport around 8:15. Our flight left on time for Chicago where we passed customs, immigration and security in time for our next flight to Los Angeles. We stayed at the same gate so there was plenty of time to “hang around”. We took off with a 15 minute delay to arrive 25 minutes late at Honolulu. Even at this late hour, 23:20, with very little activity at the airport we had a long wait for our luggage. When we finally were on our way we took a short shuttle bus ride to the rental car company. Even though we had a prepaid voucher it once again took a long time to settle everything. A 15 Km drive later we arrived at our guesthouse. It was already 1:45 in the morning when we could finally unpack a few things and get to sleep more than 30 hours after locking our front door

Sunday, July 9th

King Kamehameha Statue

Surprisingly we were up “as usual” without to much problems of jet lag (there is a 12 hour time difference). We first went shopping in the local supermarket and then headed into town. Fortunately traffic is light on Sundays and we were able to find a (free) parking spot. made a walking tour to Iolani palace and the statue of King Kamehameha in front of the supreme court. We then walked to the waterfront for an overview of the city and some refreshments. Next we took the car to Bishop museum where we saw a collection of artifacts from Hawaiian and other pacific cultures. To end the day we drove to Waikiki for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. It seems everybody wants to be seen in Waikiki as traffic, motorized and 2-legged, was very busy. This ended our first day of getting used to the Hawaiian time zone and climate. Tomorrow we’ll start the real holiday with a tighter schedule of things to see and do.

Monday, July 10th 

Hanauma Bay

We took our time getting ready to explore more of Honolulu. First we went to rent snorkel gear so we could go to o the beach whenever we found some free time. Next stop was Diamond Head. This is a volcano crater annex army base with a hiking trail that goes up to a rim from where we had a great view of the surroundings from Hanauma Bay to Honolulu airport. With no shade and the sun straight above us, it was a though climb. After getting back to the car we drove east to Hanauma Bay, known for the fish that come very close to the beach. When we arrived the entrance was closed and we had to wait until enough people left for the beach to reopen. There was a lot of wind and thus a lot of sand was floating in the water obscuring the clear view of the fish. We did see many of them though.

Tuesday, July 11th 

Byodo In temple

We had booked a day in the Polynesian Cultural Center. As we drove north we stopped at Byodo-In, a replica of a Japanese temple. A few of the scenes of the TV series ‘Lost’ were filmed here. We arrived at the Cultural center around 12 o’clock, about the time it opened. The center features pavilions of 7 Polynesian island nations where crafts and shows are to be seen. By evening there’s a buffet dinner and a 1.5 hour show. By 9 was all over and we headed back to the guesthouse where we arrived around 10:30.

Wednesday, July 12th

Waimea Falls

At 4:30 the alarm clock went off. We had to get ready, drive 90 minutes and be at the Waianea harbor for a ‘swim with dolphins’ tour. Everybody arrived on time and at 7 we were on our way. After an hour on the boat we saw a pod of spinner dolphins and within minutes everybody was ready to get into the water. After a short while we couldn’t see the dolphins anymore and went back on board. The boat moved some distance until we got the pod in sight again. Again we went into the water and this time we were lucky. The dolphins decided we were no threat to them and decided to hang around and swim underneath and between our group. We got a close view of them as the swam around us. We all got back on the boat and were taken to another spot for some snorkeling. Within minutes of getting in the water we saw loads of different fish and several sea turtles. after a while we had to get back on board and get back to the harbor. We drove back most of the way and drove to the North Shore. The beaches were all very crowded and so we went straight to Waimea Falls. The valley hosts thousands of different plants and trees and after walking for about a mile we arrived at the falls. Because of the drought the falls were not spectacular but the whole valley was well worth seeing.

Thursday, July 13th 

Peaarl Harbor set

We booked a few activities at Kualoa Ranch from home. We got to the ranch by 8:45 and got our tickets. First we did an hour long horseback ride. Next was the movie set tour that took us to sites that were used for Godzilla, Pearl Harbor, Jurassic Park and the TV series Lost. After lunch we went on the jungle tour through the valley in a 4x4 vehicle. For once we headed back to the B&B early so we could relax for a while. I still had to burn photos o CD and this was the time to do it.

Friday, July 14th 

USS Arizoa

Again we had to get up early. This time to visit Pearl Harbor. when we arrived at the visitor center at 7:30 there was already a line waiting for tickets going round the grass grounds twice. 50 minutes later we got our tickets to visit USS Arizona. We would go on the 10:10 tour. After seeing the 23 minute movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor, we boarded the boat that brought us to the Memorial. Once back at the visitors center we got tickets to the USS Missouri and the USS Bowfin. The Missouri is anchored on Ford Island and we had to take a trolley to get there as it is a working military base with all restrictions that apply. The USS Bowfin is a submarine that is perfectly restored and gives a very good impression about life on board. We left Pearl Harbor around 2:30 and drove north to Dole’s Plantation. The “largest maze in the world” is here along with a botanical garden and the pineapple train. We found this to be a tourist trap as there was little to see of the working plantation and the focus seemed to be on the shop. From the plantation it was back to Kailua for B&B.

Saturday, July 15th 

Diamond Head Lighthouse

We already finished our program so we decided to take a day of rest. That meant no alarm clock and a trip to Waianea for some snorkeling. The sea was calm and on the beach were only a few people. We went out about 70 meter and found lots of different fish swimming close to the coral reef. We also found one sea turtle just as we were heading back to shore. We drove back to Kailua and got the pictures from the underwater film developed and decided we would make one more small trip. We went to drop off the snorkel gear we rented and drove up Punchbowl for a view over Honolulu and Waikiki. Then it was off to Kailua again via the coastal road were we just made a photo stop at the Diamond Head lighthouse.

Sunday, July 16th

Father Damien

We packed our things and checked out of the guesthouse by 11. Our flight was scheduled at 15:40 so we made a stop at the State capitol where a statue of Father Damien stands. The extra time we had to fill in was spend at the Aloha Tower. We returned our car and went to check in our luggage. 15:40 came and passed and after a one hour delay we could finally board the airplane. About 10 minutes into the flight we suddenly turned back because of a pressure problem. We were rebooked from Island Air to Aloha Airlines and took of to the Big Island with a 3 hour delay. In Kona we picked up a new rental car and drove to Volcano where we arrived just before midnight.

Monday, July 17th 

Hott lava

With little sleep we got up at 6 so we could be at Hilo airport at 7:45. We had booked a helicopter flight with Tropical Helicopters for a flight over the active volcano. Since we booked a ‘feel the heat’ flight the doors of the helicopter were removed to give us an excellent all round view. smoke poured out of several holes and in a few of them we could see red hot lava. We also saw lava flow into the ocean creating hot steam. On the way back we flew over Rainbow Falls. We had planned a short drive for the rest of the day. Heading south we first got to Lava Tree State Park and continued on Hawaii 137 until the roads ended where once the town of Kalapana was. In 1990 lava buried the town and cut off the road.

Tuesday, July 18th

Lavaflow

Our guesthouse is only 2 Km from the entrance of Volcano National Park so we headed that way. There’s a tour of the crater rim that can be driven with viewing areas along the way. There’s still smoke coming out of vents all over the park and also in the crater several plumes of smoke raise to the sky. We were surprised that the typical volcano smell was not present here. Touring the park takes most of the day and by sunset we drove to the old coastal road that was destroyed by lava flows even as recent as 2003. There is a viewing point 1.5 Km past the ranger station from where lava can be observed pouring into the ocean creating an orange glow in the dark.

Wednesday, July 19th

Mauuna Kea

We had planned another busy day. A 3 hour drive brought us to the northern coast of the Big Island. We arrived in time for a trip with ATVs. After the usual safety instructions and signing of the waivers (“we’re not responsible if you die” stuff) we were on our way. The whole trip is over private land and we even maneuvered between cattle. We made a few stops along the way, one one these was with view of a lighthouse that can otherwise only be seen from the sea. From here we had to drive an hour to a meeting point were we were picked up for a drive up Mauna Kea. The top of this dormant volcano is at 4200m above sea level. This is an excellent location for scientist to observe space and so a few huge telescopes are build at the summit. Fortunately we were given parka’s to wear. The temperature was about 5C (in contrast to the 28 at sea level). We saw a fantastic sunset from the top and afterwards were taken to a stargazing spot at 3000m where we got to see stars, nebulas and planets through powerful telescopes set up by our tour guides. After the ride back down we made our way back to the guesthouse where we arrived at 1:30.

Thursday, July 20th

Akaka Falls

We left later than usual for a long drive. North of Hilo we walked a path to 128m high Akaka Falls. Then it was on to Kona where we had a late lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. We continued south to Stt Benedict Church, a small church that was painted by a Belgian Priest. There’s also another statue of father Damien here. By now it was getting dark and we made our way back to Volcano concluding our drive around the island.

 

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