Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hawaii, and all things vacationy

We just got back from our Hawaiian vacation. Let me give you all a rundown of what went down.

Thurs, Apr 22nd: We got to take a non-stop flight straight from SLC to Honolulu. It was nice that unlike previous vacations, we were actually going with the timezones, so in Hawaii we were 4 hours earlier (3 PM Hawaii = 7 PM SLC). Made for us being more or less awake for 7:30 excursions. We actually met a family from UT that we saw every single day of our vacation (and not because we were trying to, it just happened that way - weird). We got to our hotel in Waikiki with some daylight left, so we asked the front desk what there was to do. The attendant said that we could take a 20 minute walk down the road to Diamond Head park (next to the ocean). So we set off, but after about 40 minutes, and realizing we were only halfway there, we decided to turn back. We ate dinner at a place called "Cheeseburger in Paradise" where we watched the sunset over the ocean. Yum.

Fri, Apr 23rd: As part of our package we had a tour of Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, but it did start at 6:40 in the morning :P. They drove us around showing us a lot of places: cemeteries, gov't buildings, king's palace, et cetera. The Pearl Harbor area had some replicas of weapons (torpedos, missiles, gun turrets) and the like. We got to take a ferry over to the USS Arizona memorial. Not much to see - 2 rusted out gun turret platforms.

I had talked to 2 different people about when the tour would finish (so I could plan on how to get to the Polynesian Cultural Center - on the other side of the island). The first person said it was ~4 hours long, and the second said it would end 11:30~noonish. So I had purchased transportation at 12:25. When we got on the Honolulu tour, we were told that we would be getting back later then that. Unfortunately the PCC transportation wouldn't give our money back. Fortunately the family from UT were renting cars to go to the PCC, so they gave us a ride. We ended up getting back from the Honolulu tour at ~2:10 (there was horrible traffic on the only way back to Waikiki).
When we got to the PCC, we only had time to see 2 small parts of the 7 villages - watched someone climb a tree for a coconut and have it husked, and watch the Tahiti dancing. We then went to the luau (where they bring out a pig that had been cooking underground and do some hula'ing and stuff. The shredded pork was really good, and there was some purple biscuits that were alright. We then went to the PCC's night show. In the show, they follow a man from birth to adulthood, and along the way it's as if he moves to the different island nations (they do a little bit of cultural stuff from each of them, like the different dancing). One really cool thing was when they had a few guys come out with grass skirts and there was some squares of flame on the ground. They would sit on the fire, and something about their skirts would make it so they wouldn't get burned. They also had regular fire dancing. The PCC show (Breath of Life) was great.

Sat, Apr 24th: In the morning we went to the International Market - a lot of little tiny shops. We then went to our cruise ship - the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL): Pride Of America. Just a little bit of a comparison from our Carnival cruise - NCL seemed to be a bit older crowd (and some of the activities were targeted to that generation). There were a few younger people, but nothing like our Carnival cruise (would have been nice to have some more people our age). On Carnival there were a few juices that were free anytime (juices and lemonade). NCL only had a couple juices for breakfast, the rest of the time I had to stick with water (not as tasty). Our stateroom was really tiny (it was an inside room), I think our Carnival balcony room was bigger. Overall, I think they are fairly comparable, but I think I liked Carnival just a little bit better.

Sun, Apr 25th: Today we ported at Hilo, Big Island. We went on a tour that started with the a waterfall called Rainbow Falls. We were only able to take pictures, no swimming there.

We then went to the Volcano National Park. There wasn't any flowing lava to see there, and all we could see there was a crater with some smoke coming out of it.

We did go to some old lava flows that we got to walk on. The roads all have curbs made of lava rock, and someone actually hit the curb with their car and popped their tire while we were there :-P. We also got to walk through a lava tube - where lava flowed at one time.
We went to Mauna Loa Macadamian Nut Plantation. Not a lot going on there, but we did get a bag of Hershey's Kisses with macadamians, they were really good - we ate the whole bag that day. We also went to the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens, there were a ton of really cool looking flowers.

Mon, Apr 26th: Normally the ship spends 2 days in Maui, but the ship had originally been scheduled for drydock during this time, but the drydock got pushed back. When NCL decided to cruise this week, their Maui dock space for today had been taken. So instead, we got to cruise off the coast of Molokai. The sea cliffs on Molokai are supposed to be the tallest in the world. While we were on the ship Liz took hula dancing and sarape tying classes. We also went to a kukui nut lei making class. Today was Liz's birthday, so we dressed up and went to the Liberty restaurant onboard. We had some awesome banana cheesecake. Yum.

Tues, Apr 27th: The port was Kahului, Maui. We took another tour. This one took us to a place called Ioa Valley, though there was no valley - just a kind of canyon with big mountains on either side.

They then took us to the Maui Tropical Plantation. They took us on a little tram tour, where they had little patches of different crops (pineapple, coconut, sugarcane, coffee, et cetera). Overall, not that impressive.
After the tour, we took a shuttle to Walmart (looked inside at some souvenirs) and had lunch at Panda Express. Really authentic, eh?

Weds, Apr 28th: Instead of docking at a pier, the ship had to anchor and send us ashore in tenders (actually the ship's life boats) at Kona, Big Island.We went on Captian Zodiak's raft and snorkel. Basically they take us on this inflatable 20 person raft to a place called Kealakekua Bay. On the way we saw some wild dolphins swimming in the ocean.

At the bay we got to snorkel for an hour or so. It was really cool how the ocean floor sloped pretty steeply away. There was a good amount of fish and coral. There were even some sword looking fishes. I really liked this one, one of the best things we did in Hawaii.
On the way back, the guides pointed out a black sand beach where there was supposed to be turtles. There was also supposed to be a free shuttle to the beach. We started out trying to find the shuttle, which we never found. We just kept walking. After about 2 miles in thongs, we decided to give up (big blisters on our feet). So we were able to catch a ride back to the pier.

Thurs, Apr 29th: This was the first of 2 days at Nawiliwili, Kauai. We went on the Jungle Mountain Trek at Kipu Ranch. They took us on this covered trailer pulled by a tractor up into the jungle area. We then took a hike through the jungle. For lunch we stopped at this pool that had steep sides and a wooden platform built on one side. You could jump off it into the pool, or hold onto a stick on a zipline and zip/fall into the pool. It was really fun.

They then took us on 2 regular ziplines. I only wish we had more time and more runs on the zipline.
When we got back to the pier, we shopped a little, then went to a beach in front of the Marriott hotel where there was a sheltered cove. There I tried to do some body surfing. Was a little hard as the waves were right near the beach, didn't have a lot of room to do it, but I had some success.

Fri, Apr 30th: We went on another snorkeling excursion - Sea Fun Beach Snorkel. This time they actually hooked us up with wetsuits (though i didn't like the mask/air tube as much as Captain Zodiak's). They took us to 2 spots right next to each other. The guides had us stick together, but it made it so we kept running into each other. It was also quite a bit rougher sea then normal, but it was still fun. At the second area, we saw a bunch of sea turtles. A baby one even swam underneath me. We couldn't touch them though (against Hawaiian law).
We only had half a day on shore, so we went back to the boat, where Liz had her Hula class graduation.

For the afternoon the ship cruised off the coast of Na Pali, Kauai. The wettest place on Earth is there, a mountain that gets 450~500" of rain a year. We saw a double rainbow.

Sat, May 1st: Disembarked the boat back at Honolulu. We got a shuttle back to Waikiki and stored our bags back at our original hotel - Waikiki Resort Hotel. We went to a shopping area called the King's Village, but most of the shops weren't open yet. We went to a store in Honolulu called Hilo Hattie - a Hawaiian clothing and souvenir store.

When we got back to Waikiki, we went to a little park where they were celebrating May Day - Lei Day. They had some performers who hula'd and sang. At the end they gave some flower leis to a few people in the crowd, Liz being one of them. We went back to the International Market. Then had dinner at the Cheeseburger in Paradise again. Then we went out on a rocky jetti at the beach before heading to the airport for the very long trip home.

Synopsis: We really enjoyed Hawaii. I wish we had more time to go swimming (like at Waikiki beach). We liked having the cruise where we were able to visit a bunch of different places. Our favorite things were the snorkeling and the jungle pool / zipline. It had snowed back home, so it was nice that we missed out - being in 82 degree weather. We were very glad that we were able to go.

Now in video!

1 comment:

Shabang said...

Love the duck picture!!!