We flew into Honolulu last Friday (9/12) and stayed in a hotel on Waikiki Beach there. Honolulu was crazy and, if I may be so bold to say, the traffic there rivals that of Boston on it's WORST day. While Joe was at dialysis on Friday night, my family and I ventured to the Punchbowl (which is a national cemetery where a lot of veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam were buried). We were even fortunate enough to find the grave of my mother's uncle (my grandma's brother) who died in WWII and was buried there. It was a beautiful way to start our vacation. The trees were amazing and it was so green there. Saturday morning we had breakfast on the beach and then we hiked the Diamondhead Crater Trail, which is an extinct volcano that offers amazing views of the Oahu coast. We had enough time to relax and explore a little of the Honolulu area before boarding our ship, the Pride of America, Saturday night.
Punchbowl National Cemetery
On Sunday morning, we arrived in Maui - which was the first destination of the cruise and, after the craziness of Honolulu, became the favorite island of pretty much ALL of us. We drove around the coast a little and found Hookipa Beach, which is world famous for surfing, windsurfing, etc. It was so gorgeous and BLUE there! We even saw a monk seal taking a nap on the rocks. After Hookipa, we went back to the ship to get ready for the night time entertainment - a REAL Hawaiian luau!! We drove out to Lahaina and saw the United States's largest banyan tree before heading over to the Old Lahaina Luau. The luau was one of the greatest nights to date. On Monday morning, Joe had to head over to dialysis in Maui and, afterwards, we spent some more time at the beach before heading back to the ship to sail on to our next destination.
Hookipa Beach, Hana Coast
We anchored in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii, on Tuesday morning and had a big day in store for us there. We took a wonderful tour of some very "Hawaiian" things. We got to tour Rainbow Falls (which earlier in the year flows faster), the Mauna Loa (macadamia) Nut Factory, and Volcano National Park where we saw Kilauea Crater (which has been erupting since 1983), Devastation Trail and even walked through an actual lava tube! On our way out of Hilo on the boat that night, we got to see (from a distance, of course) actual lava flowing into the Pacific Ocean. My snapshot of the lava flow isn't the greatest since we had to zoom way in, but just imagine orangy-hotness oozing from the earth and splattering hot lava into the ocean, creating an enormous cloud of sulphuric smoke. We even used my dad's binoculars to take a closer look and actually saw the lava splashing up into the air. Words can not describe how cool it was! The next morning we arrived in Kailua-Kona (the other side of the Big Island). My family went on a snorkel and raft excursion while Joe and I spent the day walking around the little town and snorkeling on Turtle Beach. The only turtle we saw was out of the water on a rock, but we also saw some really amazing fish.
Rainbow Falls/Macadamia Nut Factory/Orchid Gardens, near Hilo
Hawaiian Volcanic Action
Turtle Beach, Kona
Hawaiian Volcanic Action
Turtle Beach, Kona
Our final island on the cruise was Kauai. On Thursday, we took a drive out to Poipu Beach, where the water was blue and a monk seal swam within a couple feet of my mother. So freakin' cool!! Joe even thought I was joking when I said, "Hey! There's a seal!" After Poipu, my family went on a zipline excursion while Joe and I hung out at Kalapaki Beach before his dialysis that evening. The next day, we spent our finaly beach hours at Kalapaki Beach again, before sailing out of Kauai and back to Oahu to disembark. On the cruise out of Kauai, though, the captain steered the boat along the breathtaking NaPali Coast before sailing back to Honolulu - an awesome way to end our time at sea.
Once I upload all of our photos to a gallery, I'll let you know the link so that you can see all of the fun we had on our trip. Joe and I were half-heartedly discussing "accidentally" missing the last sail out of Kauai and just staying there. But we had to get home to our little Lucy (who we missed so FREAKIN MUCH!!!) and, plus, housing prices are pretty astronomical there. So we thought better and decided to come home. Still thinking about going back someday but, for now, responsibility and Joe's upcoming transplant prevent us from becoming a Hawaiian at this moment. But don't just take our word for it - GO THERE! Besides being a backdrop for some of Hollywood's most popular films (From Here to Eternity, King Kong, Blue Hawaii, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Waterworld, 6 Days 7 Nights, 50 First Dates, Jurassic Park - to name a few), Hawaii is just an amazingly beautiful place. So just go. In fact, GO NOW!!