April 2016
  • Day10

    The Big Island - Day 11

    April 19, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Today we finally got our trip on the helicopter; Yay! What a way to end our trip in this lovely part of the world.

    We were in the air for 2 hours & 15mins with Paradise Helicopters. Darren, our pilot, took us south from Kona along the coastline doing an awesome fly over of the Green Sand Beach before we headed to the mountains to view the lava fields. We then headed to Hilo before heading north up the coastline viewing incredible sheer cliff faces and waterfalls. Once we were at the northern end of the island, Darren took us in to the beautiful Waipio Valley where we saw the majestic waterfalls, including Hi'ilawe Falls. What an incredible experience!

    We had the best ribs ever for lunch at this little shack in Kona called TJ's BBQ by the Beach (number one rating on Trip Advisor). Yummy! After this we headed back to the Sheraton for rest & relaxtion by the pool. It was wonderul!

    Our holiday comes to an end tomorrow when we fly home to Brisbane. This whole trip has been phenomanal! The only chnge we would have made, is to spend 2 extra nights here on the Big Island allowing us to snorkell & sightsee a little more. I guess we are just going to have to come back...
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  • Day9

    The Big Island - Day 10

    April 18, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 21 °C

    Today we drove 2 hours through the middle of the Island to Hilo to do our helicopter trip....Unfortunately, by the time we arrived it was pouring down with rain with virtually no visibility. This meant our tour had to be cancelled or rescheduled. We opted for the latter option and upgraded to a full island 'circle tour' that will hopefully take place tomorrow from Kona, on our side of the island. Fingers crossed anyway.

    Since we were over the other side of the Island, we decided to drive the southern route back to Kona - about a 3 hour drive (not including sightseeing spots). We stopped off at the Volcanoes National Park and drove Crater Rim Drive down to the coastline. Unfortunately, the weather was not great on this side and we had a mixture of Fog, vog & drizzle - these conditions did not make for great picture opportunities, but if it had been clear...Hokey Smokes! Sensational photos would have abounded 😣

    Background: Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano on the planet, rising gradually to 4,170 m (13,681 ft) above sea level. Its long submarine flanks descend an additional 5 km (3 mi) below sea level to the ocean floor. The ocean floor directly beneath Mauna Loa is, in turn, depressed by the volcano's great mass another 8 km (5 mi). This places Mauna Loa's summit about 17 km (56,000 ft) above its base. The enormous volcano covers half of the Island of Hawaiʻi.

    Next stop on the list was the US's southern most town (& beach), Black Sand Beach. We stopped here & even saw a turtle up on the sand! We then moved on to a local haunt, not frequented by alot of tourists, Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. This place was by far the best snorkelling spot we had been to out of both islands! The water clarity and abundance of fish & turtles was phenomenal!

    We finally made it back and had just enough time to prepare ourselves for our tour, swimming with the Manta Rays - we have no words! This was by far the best experience we have ever encountered! Wow! Will have to post the video footage to YouTube or Dropbox!
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  • Day8

    The Big Island - Day 9

    April 17, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    We were up at the crack of dawn to catch our 50 minute flight to the Big Island of Hawaii today.

    Kona Airport is the quaintest airport we have ever seen - in true tropical fashion, it is all open air huts! No walls only a roof! - ok, so there are a few walls for the security areas etc... 😊

    Pauly must have fluttered his eyelashes at the girls at Alamo car rental as he walked out with an upgrade & the keys to another convertible for our stay on this island. This time it was a Mustang! We loaded her up with our luggage and headed to the resort in the hope we could get an early check-in - the Sheraton staff were brilliant and had a room ready to go. We dumped the luggage and hit the road again, bound for the north of the island.

    The coastline here is spectacular! The contrast of black lava flows with turquoise waters and green Mountain ranges is simply breathtaking - completely different to O'ahu. The two larger volcanoes, Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa, dominate the barren landscape on the middle of the island and the change in weather conditions are more random & extreme than Melbourne! They have Vog here as well as Fog! Vog is volcanic dust clouds that sometimes sweep over the island depending on weather conditions and volcanic activity. Very cool - although probably not if you have allergies or asthma 🤔

    Anyways, we travelled the coastline to the end of the road - Pololu Valley Overlook. An incredibly diverse scene awaited us; a valley that looked like it was straight out of the Jurassic era meeting a black sand beach that was flanked by lava layered sheer cliffs. Awesome!

    We headed back to the resort via Kohala which is on top of a ridge and is primarily "cowboy country" - We got some awesome shots of the coastline from up here!

    By the time we got back, we were famished & had dinner at Ray's on the Bay restaurant where we were lucky to be treated to a traditional Hawaiian show whilst eating dinner and watching the sun go down. After all of this, we headed back to our room and watched the Manta Ray's come in to feed on plankton!
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  • Day7

    O'ahu - Day 8

    April 16, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Today was our rest day. We decided to reserve a day bed at the Sunset Pool at The Modern and relax all day. The staff were fantastic and waited on us hand and foot. Brunch was beautiful and cocktails in the afternoon hit the mark. 🍸🍹

    I did whip up to the Ala Moana Shopping Centre too for some last minute shopping - I love the Disney Store. Lol!

    We took a late afternoon walk to Ala Moana Beach Park for our last photo opportunity of this lovely island. This is the local's beach & they congregate here in big numbers. A lovely way to finish our time on O'ahu.
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  • Day6

    O'ahu - Day 7

    April 15, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    This was our last day with the car so more snorkelling spots were on the agenda.

    We headed off to the beautiful Hanauma Bay first up and spent a few hours here before taking in the Leeward (western) side of O'ahu and all the gems she has to offer.

    Hanauma Bay was beautiful but busy. They only allow a certain number of people in this park every day & it appears to be on every tourist's "to-do" list (& rightly so). It is quite a steep decent to the bay at the bottom, so after we watched the mandatory video we opted to pay the $2 to catch the trolley down and back up again as many times as we liked, this was a good move as it is twice as steep on the way back up!😥. Lol! Snorkelling was good here, although not as good as Shark Cove. On the way back to the car park we spotted what I thought was a weasel but turns out it may have been a mongoose. I tried in vain to get a shot of him but he was just too quick...

    Next stop was the end of the road on the western side of the Island. There is a beautiful beach that is almost deserted up here (Kaena Points State Park). It has the most turquoise coloured waters we have seen on O'ahu and was postcard perfect! This area is also the US Navy's satellite tracking headquarters for the Pacific.

    The last stop on our snorkelling trek was Kahe Point Beach Park, referred to by the locals as Electric Beach as it is right across the road from the power plant. Paul rated this site on par with Shark Cove for snorkelling. I sat this one out as I was on a mission to get a shot of the sneaky weasel/mongoose...success!
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  • Day5

    Haleiwa, United States

    April 14, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Today we picked up our hire car and headed up to Hawaii's beautiful North Shore. We headed off early and took the H2 Highway through the middle of the island and after only about 40 minutes, had arrived in this beautiful part of the world.

    We were on a mission to visit O'ahu's best snorkeling spots and opted to go straight to Kuilima Cove near Turtle Bay Resort first. This was a great spot for families and those who are beginners. After an hour or so here we headed back past the Banzai Pipeline to the next stop on the snorkeling express, Shark Cove.

    Shark Cove is beautiful, with crystal clear turquoise water, abundant fish life and even turtles! Paul spent a good hour or so here exploring the waters whilst I checked out the rockpools that abounded with sea life. This was one of Pauly's top snorkeling picks on O'ahu!

    Our next stop was Giovanni's Shrimp Truck for a well deserved plate of Scampi & a tropical smoothie each. Yum! After this, we headed back to Waikiki via the beautiful eastern side (Windward) of the island; a magical drive filled with picturesque bays and towering cliff faces.

    Arriving back at our hotel at around 4pm, we were eagerly anticipating our 6pm dinner reservation at the in-house restaurant, Morimoto's. This restaurant is a signature restaurant owned and operated by Iron Chef, Masaharu Morimoto - our experience did not disappoint!

    For dinner we opted for the 8 course Omakase (degustation) menu as both of us were not skilled in the fine art of Japanese cuisine 😀. At the end of this exquisite, almost 3 hour experience, we both had full belly's and were blown away by the incredible presentation and tastes of each dish. All we could say was, Wow! One of the many highlights added to our trip so far.
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  • Day4

    Honolulu - Day 5

    April 13, 2016 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 23 °C

    Today we visited 'Iolani Palace, which was the royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The architecture of this building is absolutely incredible and the furniture and workmanship within, was breathtaking!

    We crosed the road and also took in Aliiolani Hale (home to the Hawaii State Supreme Court) where both the old and new series of Hawaii Five-O are filmed. Unfortunately, the crew weren't filming 😣 but we did take the opportunity to do a tour of the old court house and learn about the history of law & order in Hawaii - absolutely fascinating!

    After another big day of walking and taking in the sights, we stopped off at the shopping centre (Ala Moana) on the way back to the hotel and had a really yummy cheeseburger meal at Jack in the Box...YUM!
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  • Day3

    Honolulu - Day 4

    April 12, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    After a restful sleep & a bit of a lie-in, we woke to another glorious day and viewed a group of stand up paddle boarders practising at the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon. This inspired us to get up and enjoy the weather; so we jumped on the bus & headed up to Waikiki Beach. We also took in the shopping strip - every flash shopping joint you can think of is located here. You could spend thousands...

    We had lunch at The Cheesecake Shop in Waikiki - Yum!, & stopped to get a photo of the statue of Duke Kahanamoku - olympic champion & father of international surfing.

    Pauly & I got our picture taken with some beautiful parrots that were owned by, what looked like, a homeless bloke. After the shots he wanted $10 to "feed the birdies". Lol! We got stung big time, but it made for a great photo op 💰

    In the afternoon we hit the beach for some more sun. It was lovely 🌞. Recharged, we are now heading back to the shops for some more retail therapy and to hopefully find a good coffee...
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  • Day2

    Pearl Harbor, United States

    April 11, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Today we visited Pearl Harbor. Wow! What an incredible journey through history. It was both awesome and humbling at the same time.

    We got up at 5am to catch our shuttle there so that we could join the queue for tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial. We were fortunate enough to be on the first boat (7.30am), allowing us to have the memorial to ourselves. This is a must do for anyone visiting Hawaii. The sunken ship lays just below the surface and is the final resting place for over 900 men who went down with her. Out of respect, the memorial does not touch the ship and instead floats on pontoons above her, silently standing guard as a sentry. The ship loses about a quart of oil every day, along with fuel that has been slowly seeping out of her too. Because of this, the water surrounding the memorial is covered in a rainbow coloured fuel slick with the occasional black oil spot creating what appers to be the "tears" of those she holds entombed. A very moving place for pensive reflection about the day that war came to America.

    The USS Missouri was the next stop and she is massive! This decommissioned ship was built during World War 2 and she was the location for General Douglas MacArthur officially accepting Japan's surrender in Tokyo Bay & thus ending the war in the Pacific. She is the last remaining US battleship and was even recommissioned to serve in the Gulf War because of the precision and range of her weapons. She is now moored permanently in Pearl Harbor, fittingly, beside the USS Arizona.

    We also toured the Valour in the Pacific aircraft museum, USS Bowfin (submarine) and the general war museums located throughout the facility. A very big morning!

    We were back at the hotel by 2pm and lazing by the pool sipping cocktails...as you do on holidays 😊. By 6pm we had mustered enough energy to take a short walk to Ala Moana Shopping Centre and spent the next 3 or 4 hours between these stores and Ross' Dress for Less (Angie's new favourite store - kind of like Trade Secret). Some of the stores are open until 1am most nights! A shoppers paradise!
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  • Day1

    Honolulu - Day 2

    April 10, 2016 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    We had big plans to wake up early (ie: 5am) and catch the bus (Dabus) up to Diamond Head crater to see the sunrise... plans changed when we were woken up at 8.30am by housekeeping. Lol! We must have needed the sleep 😴

    We ended up on the bus heading off to Diamond Head just after 10am. Around 25 minutes later we got off at the Diamond Head State Memorial & made the journey up the hill to the park entrance. Once we'd walked through the tunnel and to the park proper we paid our $1pp entry fee and started the trek to the top. Not for the faint hearted - it is quite steep in parts and there are a number of stairs. However, the view from the top is awesome and well worth the climb.

    The walk back down was a heck of a lot easier and we rewarded ourselves with a shave ice whilst resting in the shady park area that is essentially the middle of the crater. Once we had some more energy, we made our way out of the park & back to the bus stop where we caught the first bus that came along & ended up at Ala Moana Shopping Centre. After our big adventure we were not in the mood for shopping (will save that for another day as it looks like you'd need a day at least to navigate the monstrosity), instead we headed straight back to the hotel where we spent what was left of the afternoon lazing by the pool. Perfect!

    We opted for dinner at the Red Lobster & a cocktail to finish the night at The Study bar at our hotel!
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