Hawaii Archives

September 6, 2009


Hawaiian palms

We're heading to Hawaii. Woohoo. I'm so glad to be planning a trip.

It happened so fast. It was just last weekend that I decided on a whim to check and see what the airfare was to Hawaii in early December. I suspect I probably got an email from Alaska or saw some alert. I pulled up Kayak and surprise! Airfare was just around $325 RT to Honolulu. Wow!

Next I pulled up VRBO to see what was available. I started looking at the low cost rentals and came across this studio on the windward side of Oahu. Okay... it is on the rainy 'rain forest' side but we like the jungle. I spoke with the owner on Wednesday and we had a great conversation. The owner also had another studio available on the North Shore in a former nursery but we decided to go with this studio. Hopefully it won't be too rainy. If it is - we'll see some great waterfalls - and we can drive to a sunnier location.

I'm excited. We have never been to Oahu and it will be fun to explore a new island. We're hoping it will be less expensive on Oahu than Maui. I've already found a couple of gardens to explore along with some hikes.

December 6, 2009

Arrival in Paradise

View from our Oahu backyard


Another warm and mostly sunny day on Oahu.

Yesterday we left Seattle just as it started in to deep freeze. We had an early morning flight out of Sea-Tac and the streets sparkled in the headlights. I drove causiously. It was warm at the airport and we packed away our coats and boarded the plane. It was what seemed like a quick five hours. Our last few flights have been 10-14 hours or more so this seemed easy.

A little confusion exiting the plane and we were off and into our car rental. We had a couple of hours before we could check in so we headed downtown to pick up some plant books at Native Books. We decided to eat at Kona Brewery which was north of Honolulu so we took the opportunity to drive through the main Waikiki area - just so we could say we saw it. It was definitely not our style. The street was lined with designer stores and hotels. In between we could see the beach which was crowded with people.

We continued and drove around the base of Diamond Head and through a residential area before heading towards KoKo Crater. The brewery was at KoKo Marina. We had a nice waterside table where we could watch trigger fish under the marina pier. The beer was good and cold. I had a Marlin sandwich and G a Greek Pizza.

We took the opportunity to drive around the South shore past Koko Crater, the Halona Blowhole, Makapu lighthouse. The late afternoon light was stunning on the hillside above the blowhole. We continued on past Sandy Beach and on to Kailau and finally to the area of Ahuimanu where we turned in towards the foot of the Koolau Mountains, the green spine that runs along Oahu. We drove up towards the end of the road where our rental was set below the cliff.

It is a nice large studio with a well equiped kitchen and a nice sized main bedroom and bath. The deck outside looks over a well kept garden with the green jungle hillside towering above. We relaxed a little and then made a run out to stock up for breakfast.

Soon we were feeling worn from the travel, humidity and heat. We went to sleep to the sound of the bubbling creek in the jungle beyond our door.

Halona Blowhole
Waiting for the blowhole

Halona Blowhole
There she blows!

Shadow self portrait

December 7, 2009

Foster Botanical Garden

Foster Botanical Garden

It was quiet and peaceful last night. A warm cup of coffee and a relaxing morning before driving on the Likelike to Honolulu to meet up with Girasoli, our friend from Slow Travel. Traffic was light on Sunday and it took us only about 30 minutes to drive to the Foster Botanical Garden.

Foster was one of the main sights G wanted to see. Several years ago we had a long layover in Honolulu on a return flight from Auckland. We took the bus from the airport to Foster and G really liked it. It is a botanical garden with lot of trees and plants collected from the tropical areas of the world.

It is easy to find near the intersection of the Pali Highway and H1. We missed the small sign that designating the parking for visitors. We did not know yet to look for the Kamehameha sign which are located at all the sights. We circled around and pulled into to the parking lot and rendezvous with Girasoli.

We spent a lovely peaceful morning touring the garden with G educating us about the plants. There were displays of orchids, bromeliads, palms, prehistoric cycads and many exceptional tall trees. My favorite trees were the rainbow eucalyptus which Girasoli had photographed on her blog and the Canonball tree. The Canonball tree was so unusal with the large balls and branches spiraling up the trunk. There were signs at the bottom warning people of falling canonballs. They did look dangerous.

After the tour, we drove over to the main downtown Honolulu are and parked near the Iolani Palace. We walked around to Honolulu Hale to see the Christmas decorations, the Kawaiaha'o church and the Kamehameha statue.. I still have not gotten used to seeing Christmas decorations in the tropics even if Santa is in shorts.

I especially loved the Kawaiaha'o church. We were lucky and it was open so we could walk in and see the interior.

It was time for lunch and we went to Kaka'ako Kitchen for a great plate lunch. I had the Kalbi ribs since I had been smelling the sweet BBQ and G and Girasoli had the Ahi wraps. All was tasty and a good value.

It was time to say 'Good-bye' to Girasoli. The afternoon had passed quickly. Before we left she showed us the way to get to Nature Center above Makiki neighborhood where there was good hiking right almost in downtown Honolulu. We're going to definitely try to make it back for the hike.

On the way back to the windward side, we drove along the Pali Highway and stopped at the overlook. The clouds had gathered and darkened along the green cliffs and there were spots of bright sun. It was beautiful even on a day without the sunny vista. We went into Kauilau to get some 'slippers' (thongs) and drove around near Lanikai beach before returning.

The sun had set but it was still light as we sat and enjoyed a beer on the deck. Another great day in Paradise.

Foster Botanical Garden
Cannonball tree blossom

Foster Botanical Garden
Weird root/branches on Cannonball Tree trunk

Foster Botanical Garden
Why it is called "Cannonball" tree

Foster Botanical Garden
Lovely Vanda Orchid

Honolulu Santa
Santa in Honolulu

View from Pali Highway Oahu
Pali lookout

December 8, 2009

Maunawili Falls

Maunawili Falls

We awoke to the drumming of rain on the deck. Peaking out the window, I saw the Koo'lau ridge above the deck was wrapped in clouds. The forecast was for the rain to stop but for it to be overcast most of the day. We took our time with breakfast and the rain stopped.

We decided to hike to Maunawili Falls. It is a short 1 1/4 mile hike with a 400ft gain to a lovely pool fed by two waterfalls. Unfortunately it is also very muddy and slippery. There are four stream crossing. We thought at first that we could go across by the rock but too slippery - we decided to just wade across in our shoes. The trail climbs to a ridge with views across to the Pali lookout and down across Kailau Bay. Along the trail there were interesting plants including several large clumps of ginger. At the ridge top, you decend a long series of stairs and come to the final river crossing or wade.

It was not too crowded at the pool, there were two other groups. A couple of people climbed up to the top of the smaller falls and jumped off. Nobody tried the higher jumps. G and I decided to not even go for a swim. It was cool day and we didn't feel like it.

We started back and found it was even more treachorous going back down. I did finally slip and was a muddy mess by time we got back to the car. Of course, the red dirt does NOT wash out.

We drove back to the studio, cleaned up and then went back to Kailau for Maui Tacos burritos and a shave ice at Island Snow. The burrito was filling but so-so. My filling was cold. :( G enjoyed his. Next door is Teddy's Burgers. Maybe we'll try it next. The shave ice was yummy.

We drove a short distance and took a walk on Kailau beach. The sand was so soft. Unfortunately it was gray and slightly windy. We watched a local club take out a couple of outrigger canoes and paddle around the bay.

On the drive back, the sun broke under the clouds and tinted them pink as we drove along the coast. Another enjoyable day in Paradise.

Maunawili Falls
Starting on the muddy trail

Maunawili Falls
The first stream crossing

Maunawili Falls
Koolaus surround from the ridge

Maunawili Falls

Maunawili Falls

Maunawili Falls

Kailau Beach
Kailau beach

Kailau beach
Setting sun on another wonderful day

Surfin' at Waimea Bay - Eddie Aikau Competition

Surfers at Eddie Aikau

Eddie Would Go! It is the stuff of myths. Eddie Aikau is a legend on the North Shore both as a surfer and for giving his life to try to save his buddies after their ocean going canoe capsized. His story is inspiring and your can read about it at this link.

The Quicksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave International surf competition only happens when the waves are big enough on Waimea Bay. This big waves come in traditionally in early December fed by storms and weather systems. It has not been held for the past five years but we have been hearing about the monster waves predicted this El Nino year.

We listened to the news reports and they said Tuesday was a 95% go. The weather forecast was good so we decided to go for it. Girasoli had told us we needed to get there early and we saw the traffic reports. Big surf days are like snow days on the mainland - everyone calls in sick and heads for the beach.

We did not think we could get up at 5:00 so we set the clock for 5:30. It was going to be about a 35 minute drive to the North Shore. We got out just a bit before 6:30.

The dawn was lightened the sky as we cruised along the shoreline. A few waves had crashed over the road in one or two places. We passed the shrimp trucks and Ted's Bakery before we started to see crowds. There is also a competition at the Pipeline so there were some crowds at the Pipeline - BUT nothing like what was coming up.

We were fortunate to be coming from the west instead of from Honolulu. The bumper to bumper crowds were amazing. We passed Waimea Bay which was lined with 3-4 people deep along the street and kept going looking for a place to park...and kept going.... and kept going....

I think we were almost 3 miles from the bay when we finally pulled off into a place to park. We were near Laniakea beach which is known for turtles. None today with the high waves. I was pretty pissed. I thought we could have parked closer on the other side but there was no way to turn around. Grumble... grumble... Off we went walking along the roadside trying to stay out of the way of cars.

G had read about a good vantage spot near a street on the side of the bay we were coming from. It mentioned the people bushwacked to the viewpoints. We were almost to the bay when I noticed a person heading off into the brush on the side and a small path. G and I looked at each other and said lets check it out. Just a short distance into the shrubs where some rocks over looking the bay. Several photographers had tripods setup with some massive lenses or video sets. Hmmm... this might not be too bad. We had a perfect view of waves as they curled and broke. Plus a place to sit. Along the road people were standing 3 and 4 deep. Winner. It made up for being pissed earlier.

We found a place to sit and made ourselves comfortable. The first surfers were being towed out by jet skis. The sun had not come up over the hill above us so we were still shaded and cool.

What huge waves! You could see the swells starting in the distance. The surfers would be waiting and then suddenly one or more would go. Some had good rides, others milder rides and several caught some pretty gnarly waves and wiped out. The NY Times had an early article on the competition.

We hung out for a couple of hours until we had enough of the sun and then headed back. It took about 45 minutes to walk to back to our car. It was even more crowded! G said it was like a surfer's Woodstock.

We decided there was no way we would go back the way we came. The traffic was barely moving especially as people waited for parking. We left and headed back the opposite way through the middle of Oahu. We did make a stop in Haleiwa for a shave ice at Matsumoto. I got mine with azuki beans and lilioki syrup - yummm.. Perfect to cool us off after the long hot walk.

It was too early for lunch so we decided to head back. We grabbed a burger and did a little grocery shopping in Kailau. We returned to the studio and decided to crash the rest of the afternoon in. Perfect lazy afternoon in paradise.

Spectators at Eddie Aikau surf competition
Our spot off to the east of the bay - Near Iliohu Street

Eddie Aikau Surf Competition
Catching a huge wave

Surfers at Eddie Aikau
Finishing a ride

Traffic and Crowds for Surf competition
Heading back through the crowd and traffic to the car

Shave Ice
She's happy now - Shave ice from Matsumoto in Haleiwa

December 10, 2009

North Shore Food

Romy's Shrimp

Yesterday was beach day. We spent most of the day at Kailau beach enjoying the water and wonderful temperatures. Last night we went to a Christmas concert in Honolulu that we read about in the paper. It was a benefit for Toys for Tots. It was a variety of artists including Jim Nabors, Amy Hanaialii Gilliom and our favorite for the night - Jake Shimabukuro. He was awesome on the ukelele. I promise I'll do a beach post next.

Today we drove back up to the North Shore to go to the Waimea Valley Audubon Center. It is an excellent garden and it also has a nice waterfall.

But in addition to enjoying the plants - we made it a food day. I wanted try several unique items to Oahu. The first was Malasadas. These are a Portuguese sweet - balls of yeast dough are dropped in hot fat and then rolled in sugar. You can also get these filled with custard; plain, coconut or chocolate flavored. We just had to try them and the best place is Leonards. They are in Honolulu but fortunately they have a mobile truck that is parked in the Foodlands parking lot in Laie. We got a half-dozen filled with custard and then headed to the nearest beach for a messy but oooohhh soooo good breakfast treat. We had no problems putting three of them away in no time. We saved the other three for later.

After touring the garden, it was time for lunch. We wanted to try one of the shrimp trucks that are at Kahuku. Giovanni's is the most well known but the Oahu guidebook suggested Romy's. I had the garlic prawns and G had the sweet and extra spicy shrimp. Both were great. They raise the shrimp locally in ponds in the area. Next time I'm getting the shrimp instead of the prawns. The shrimp were so sweet. I ended up eating several of G's spicy shrimp after finishing off my prawns. We were so glad they had a large sink to clean up after eating - They were messy!

It was time for dessert so we drove a little bit and pulled into Malaekahana Beach. It was a lovely curved beach overlooking a small island. We brought along the rest of the Malasadas and relaxed in the shade.

To finish the day, we headed back to Kailau to go to the farmers market. It had a nice selection of local produce. Lots of great looking lettuce, fruit, local cheese, honey and eggs. There were also an excellent selection of local plants and orchids. I had to pull G away.

I got to try a lot of fun local food and G had a wonderful time at the garden. Satisfying day in Paradise.

Leonard's Malasada Truck
Leonard's Malasada Truck in Laie

Breakfast at the beach
Breakfast at the beach

Leonard's Malasadas
Leonard's Malasadas

Romy's Shrimp
Romy's Shrimps Menu

Romy's Shrimp
Sweet and Spicy Shrimp from Romy's

Kailau Farmers Market
Kailau Farmers Market

December 11, 2009

Oahu Windward Beaches

Here are a few of our favorite beaches on the Windward side of Oahu.

Kailau Beach
Kailau Beach

Hukilau Beach
Hukilau Beach

Malaekahana Beach
Malaekahana Beach

Lanikai Beach
Lanikai Beach

We are returning tomorrow - Aloha for now from Paradise.

January 24, 2010

Koko Crater Botanical Garden

Koko Botanical Garden
Koko Crater Botanical Garden

My goodness - it has been over a month since we returned from Hawaii. It seems like ages ago. I looked back over my posts and realized that I did not blog about several other places that we visited near the end of our stay. I'm going to correct that now.

One thing we learned quickly is how diverse are the the micro-climates on Oahu. We stayed in one of the rainy spots on the windward side. Our studio was on the slopes of the Koloa mountains that run along the spine of Oahu. Located in the Waiahole Forest Reserve, we had wonderful green mountain views. We also love dry desert areas so we were attracted to Koko Botanical Garden near the southern tip of Oahu. We had read a couple of reviews saying it wasn't worth the time - but in our books - it was great. If you are a plant lover or hiker, we would definitely recommend this garden. I

Poinsettas We also wanted to check out a local plant nursery. We had seen a sign for Glenn's Flowers and Nursery in Waimanalo on our first day when we drove around the southern tip. We decided to make a stop on the way to Koko Crater. It is a wonderful nursery. We really loved the Jade Vine display in the nursery. The Jade Vine was in bloom. They also had a great selection of seasonal poinsettas and other tropical plants. We talked to one of the nursery staff and she had a son who lived near Seattle so it was nice to chat and make a connection. There was so much we wanted to buy but knew we could not take any plants home. Jade Vine - Strongylodon macrobotrys

It was a short drive from Waimanalo to Koko Botanical Garden. The garden encompass 60 acres in Koko Crater and was started in 1958 to take advantage of the desert-like conditions. There are groves of plumarias, cactus, and plants from dry land areas around the world. It is arranged in regional areas starting with groves of plumeria and bougainvillea from Mexico and South America. The 2.5 mile loop train circles through different plant regions. The Americas have stunning displays of cactus. The trail continues forests of native Hawaiian trees including the Wili Wili (Erythrina sandwicensis) which was not in bloom. Our favorite area was the Madagascar area. We loved the specimen plants of Pachypodium which were in bloom. It was also amazing to see swaths of Sansevierias (mother-in-law tongue) plants.

The walk is easy. It can be very hot with little shade so definitely take water. Early in the day it would be a great place for a trail run.

We spent about 2 hours exploring. We headed back towards Honolulu and stopped again at Kona Brewery for a beer before heading back over Pali highway.

Plumaria Grove


Yellow Bougainvillea

Cactus at Koko Crater


Koko Crater Botanical Garden

Pachypodium lamerei var. ramosum

Adenium obesum

Encephalartos turneri

Cactus fruit

January 31, 2010

Waimea Valley

Waimea Valley - North Shore Oahu

Waimea Valley - look closely and you can see me- Very tall trees!

This is another post on the gardens we saw on Oahu during our trip in December.

Last post I talked about the arid garden and area around Koko Crater. Let's now travel to back to the North Shore and the Waimea Valley Center. This park is has had a checkered past ownership. At times it was a stable and other times it was a park. Recently, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has become the owner and it is now preserved as a cultural and natural resource for native Hawaiians. We were interested in the center specifically because it has a great botanical collection of of over 5000 tropical plants from Hawaii and other tropical areas around the world.

We headed back up to Waimea Bay and North Shore area taking a leisurely drive up windward Kamehameha Highway. Of course, we had to stop for breakfast at Leonard's Malasada truck in Laie. Love the sugary goodness of these warm yeast donuts. It wasn't long before we were driving into the Waimea Valley just next to where the roadsides were crowds two days earlier for the surfing competition. It was pretty quiet today although there were a few crowds at Ehukai Beach for the Pipline competition was going on. We pulled out our hats and shirts, slathered on the suntan lotions and mosquito repellent and headed for the entry.

The gardens snake up the valley following the Kamananui stream. Sections are devoted to plants of different tropical areas and major tropical species such as Acanthaceae, Hibiscus and Heliconia . The main path passes by these groupings. Side paths take you up the hills to different areas or down along the stream. We loved seeing the different species of Piperaceae with the huge Peperomia plants. I am so used to seeing them as small houseplants. Here they were huge shrubs. The trees were also outstanding. They formed a shady canopy over the walkway towering several stories above.

Along the way are several archeological Hawaii sites and spots setup where native Hawaiians practicing local crafts. It was near Christmas and one of the craftswomen was weaving baskets for Christmas ornaments out of pandanus leaves.

The path goes about 1 mile up the valley before it comes to a pool and Waihi Falls. There are changing rooms and a lifeguard. A perfect place for a swim to cool off. Rumor is this pool was on the first season on Lost. We were not interested in a swim so we headed back towards the gift store spending time to see plants we missed along the way.

It was almost noon when we returned to the car and time for some tasty North Shore Shrimp.

Waimea Valley - North Shore Oahu
Waihi Falls

Annato -  Bixa orellana
Bixa orellana - Annato - this colors margarine

Waimea Valley - North Shore Oahu

Waimea Valley - North Shore Oahu

Waimea Valley - North Shore Oahu

Justicia aurea - Shrimp plant
Justicia aurea - Shrimp Plant

Breadfruit - Artocarpus altilis
Breadfruit - Artocarpus altilis

Metrosideros - Ohia
Ohia - Metrosideros

Pine cone ginger - Zingiber spectabilis
Zingiber spectabilis - Pine cone ginger

August 26, 2010

Bound for Maui

Hawaiian Palms

We are going to Maui! G has wanted to see the Silversword that grows in Haleakala . I was looking at airfare a two weeks ago and saw a RT airfare direct to Maui for $309. Yazza! That is good. We knew nothing about Maui - never been there. So I asked a friend for advice on where to stay. She suggested Napili Bay area.

I mentioned the airfare to G and he was very interested. I did a quick search and found these studios at Napili Bay resort. I don't know what came over us but we booked both the air and studio without doing any further research.

I wanted to be on the beach this time. Our previous stay last year in Hawaii was nice but I missed access to the water and the sound of the waves. It is probably going to be really small and the area is pretty touristy but we're prepared. We rented studio #106.

Right now - not much planned beyond a trip up into the crater of Haleakala to see the silversword and a drive around to Hana. Any recommendations?

October 24, 2010

Planning for Maui


Maui is coming up soon. I am soooo excited. We spent today planning what we wanted to do. It was perfect way to spend a rainy stormy windy Fall day. Dreaming about beaches and warm tropical winds. Here are some of the items we are considering.

We'll arrive mid-afternoon. We'll get our car and then head for the Costco. We want to check out what is available especially for lunch and beer items. We do want to also get local food so we may not get anything at Costco. Then we'll head for Napili and check into our condo which will be available after 3pm. We figure it will be about 1 hour to drive from the airport to Napili which is north of Lahaina. We'll check and see what is in the condo and then head out for supplies. We'll probably go back down into Lahaina for groceries at one of the Foodlands but I do want to check out what is Honokowai.

We will take it easy the next day - exploring around Lahaini maybe going to Aloha Mixed Plate for lunch. Next day we'll explore the beaches of South Maui (Kihei).

Next is the big event - Crater hike at Haleakala. We are not going to get up early for the sunrise but arrive a little bit later. We plan on doing part of the Sliding Sands hike. I read that you can hike to Ka Lu'u o ka' O'o crater which is about 2.5 miles and 1,500 ft down into the crater and see silverswords in situ. We figure that it will be about a 3 hour drive up - 4-5 hour hiking and another 3 hours returning so this is going to be a whole day event!

Next day - recover! We'll do a couple of drives and explore central Maui. Several people have recommended 'Iao Valley so we'll explore in this area. I also want to pick up a couple more Hawaii quilt pattern pillows and may go to a garden. Just depends upon our energy level.

We saw that there is a guided National Park hike to the Waikamoi Cloud Forest . This sounds so much more different from the high alpine desert of the crater. We're going to call and see if we they are doing the hike and reserve a spot. This will only take 3 hours so we hope to also explore some of the Upcountry during the afternoon.

Next is the drive to Hana. We originally were going to do the Pipiwai Trail at the end of the road but decided that we wanted to do the cloud forest instead. If we have time, we may hike to the first falls or a bit beyond to the Bamboo Forest.

Our last day is open. Of course this is all subject to change. We hope to spend time relaxing in the late afternoon at the beach at our condo. We'll see. Hopefully this isn't too much.....

November 1, 2010

What to do on Maui when it rains?


Look at that forecast! Guess what day we arrive? I did look up some things to do on Maui if it rains.

We could also to a spa but we're not spa people. Any other ideas?

November 3, 2010

Aloha from Maui

Napili Bay

I'm sitting here listening to the sound of the surf with a cool MaiTai. We are here at Napili Bay and the condo is just as we expected. It is very well furnished and will be a good place to relax. And isn't it a great view from our lanai!

We got in on time around 1:30 and headed off to Costco after picking up our car. We said we were just going to see what they had but ended up stocking up on beverages and snacks. We did get a good filet of Opah that was from Hawaii for dinner tomorrow along with local lettuce, pineapple and coffee.

We headed off to the condo and it took about 1 1/2 hours to get to Napili. The traffic was backed up going in to Lahaina. Not certain why - there is construction in Lahaina but not completely certain that caused all the backup. The radio was wondering what was up and what was causing the slowdown.

The rain started at Lahaina - not to hard and stopped a bit. We saw a gorgeous 180 rainbow and the clouds closed in. We got to our condo, checked it out, unloaded the Costco haul and then headed back to the Times Supermarket in Honokowai to get breakfast stuff. On the way back to the condo, we stopped at Honokowai Okazuya & Deli for some takeout. G got the Panko Mahi Mahi and I got the Sauteed Mahi Mahi with capers. We took it back to the condo and had a relaxing dinner. Thanks for the recommendation menehune!

The surf is pretty loud. It has been booming most of the evening. I remember reading one review that said it was loud - It may be a bit from the rain and high surf. But it sounds great - and I love being right at the ocean.

Here's our dinner:

Mahi Mahi Dinner

Mahi Mahi Dinner

November 4, 2010

Rainbows in Paradise

Napili Rainbow

We have been following rainbows all day. We took our coffee out to the lanai and were greated with the lovely rainbow above. We had a leisurely breakfast before deciding to go ahead and head out to Lahaina. Just a couple of miles south, the sun broke out and we had a sunny day. The cruise ship had also put down anchor in the harbor this morning and the town was crowded with passengers carrying their little blue cruise ship bags.

After about two hours exploring, we headed further south to Kihei, Wailea and south to Makena (Big) beach. There were dark threatening clouds but no rain. We headed back about 3:30pm and the center was rainy and windy. It cleared along the coast but started up in earnest as we drove farther north. It had been overcast and drizzly all day in the north. We fired up the BBQ and had our opah dinner listening to the surf.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Napili Rainbow
Ocean Rainbow

Banyan Tree Lahaina
Banyan tree in Lahaina

Front Street Lahaina

Wo Hing Temple Lahaina
Wo Hing Temple

Holy Innocents Episcopal Church
Holy Innocents Church

Pioneer Hotel Lahaina
Pioneer Hotel

Ono Gelato
Ono Gelato - it is soooo good

Lahaina Harbor
Lahaina Harbor

Surfer school parked at kamehameha iki Park
Ad for surfer school at Kamehameha Iki Park

Lifeguard at Makena (Big) Beach
Lifeguard at Makena (Big) Beach

Makena (Big) Beach
Makena Beach

Makena (Big) Beach
Makena Beach

November 5, 2010

Chillin' at the Beach

Sand in my toes
Sand in my toes

We really did not have much planned for today so we took it easy and stayed in at the beach. We started the day off with an early morning walk before breakfast. The sun came out so we grabbed the beach chair and out we went. It is a big 1 minute walk around the building to the beach. Woot. The surf has still been big so we did a little body and buggy board surfing. I couldn't get the hang of buggy boarding so I just body surfed. Got a couple good runs and tossed around on the beach several times. I was covered with sand!

The rain came and went and mostly started to come. We didn't want to stay long in the sun either and get burned so we headed back to the lanai where we hung out for most of the afternoon watching the families come and go and come back.

Another late afternoon walk and then dinner. Totally relaxing day.

We had planned on going to Haleakala tomorrow but the forecast is still for rain but Sunday is looking good. We are going to head up country to the Kula Botanical Garden along with a stop at the Maui Ocean Center.

Napili Bay Beach
Early morning walk on the beach

Napili Bay Beach
Families arriving for the day

Surfing Napili
Local surfer on the bay

Napili Bay Beach
Play in the afternoon surf

November 6, 2010

Maui sightseeing - Ocean Center and Kula Botanical

Kula Botanical Garden
Kula Botanical Garden

I'm behind a day and I'm exhausted so I'm going to do a quick blog about Saturday and post date it. I do want to say that we had a stunning sunny day at Haleakala today. We saw some great silverswords and had a good hike - not too hot and not too windy and sunny. But I'm too tired to pick out photos of today's hike so I'm just going to catch up with yesterday.

I had called the National Weather Service on Friday and the forecast was for a chance of rain on Saturday but the forecast for Sunday was sun! We changed our plans and postponed our hike a day. Instead we went to Maui Ocean Center and upcountry to the Kula Botanical Garden.

We got to the Maui Ocean Center not long after they had opened. It wasn't too crowded and we were able to catch several of the talks. It is a well done aquarium with lots of good information about native Hawaiian fish. G doesn't like to swim a lot so we won't be going snorkeling - this is the next best thing! We enjoyed the diver talk and feeding in the Shark tank.

We spent about 3 hours in the aquarium and then headed upcountry to Kula area to visit the Kula Botanical Garden. The garden was started in 1971 and has a lot of tropical plants. It is great for a plants person. I really enjoyed the Protea area. It was fun seeing several Banksias that we had seen in Australia.

It was time to eat so we headed down to Paia for some fish at the Fish Market. I had char broiled Ono and G had the Fish tacos. I loved the Ono. We also had a Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewery. It is oh-so-good. It comes in cans and is icy cold. It has a nice citrus overtone with lot of hops. We made a stop at Whole Foods on the way back to pick up a six pack and some Surfing Goat Cheese.

Oh yeah... I also had to have another Lilioki gelato from Ono Gelato which just happened to have a branch in Paia. Love it!

Maui Ocean Center

Maui Ocean Center

Maui Ocean Center

Maui Ocean Center

Maui Ocean Center

Maui Ocean Center

Maui Ocean Center

Kula Botanical Garden

Kula Botanical Garden

Kula Botanical Garden

Kula Botanical Garden

Paia Fish Market

The Fish Market in Paia

The Fish Market in Paia

The Fish Market in Paia

November 7, 2010

Silverswords and Sliding Sands

Sliding Sand Trail - Haleakala

It was an early start to the day. We were not ambitious enough to get up and make the sunrise but we still wanted to get an early start on the trail. It is common for the clouds to creep into the crater as the day warms and obscure the views.

The road climbs from sea level to 10,023 ft in just under 40 miles but expect it to take almost 1 and half hours. We gave ourselves 3 hours to get from West Maui and left just before 6am. The road starts up straight up the mountain through the sugar cane fields before turning off to go towards Kula. The road now winds through the ranges and eucalyptus groves reminding us of the San Francisco area. After passing Kula, the road turns off and switch backs up past the trees through the cow pastures. Below the vista of the central valley of Maui and the west Maui mountains in the distance. The day is brilliantly clear except for the clouds lingering on the west Maui hills. Very few cars were on the road and I made it up in 2 hours.

The parking lot for the Sliding Sands trail is below the summit at about 9700 ft. There was a breeze and it was a little chilly. Temperatures can be in the 40's at this elevation. I could already feel the elevation - my heart was beating hard and my teeth ached. A definite sign of the quick gain in elevation.

We slipped on a couple extra layers and headed out. There was a ranger at the beginning of the trail and he questioned us about preparing and the symptoms of altitude sickness. And we were off.

It looked like the moon. Very little vegetation and mostly pumice. The trail was pretty good condition but we could tell it had been raining and we saw several patches of needle ice.

Our original plans were to hike to the Ka Luu o Ka Oo cinder cone. Of course it was easy going down. We came across a few silverswords but looked farther down the into the crater and saw a nicer looking patch. It was 'only' another mile further. And probably another 500 ft down. We were feeling good so off we went.

Wow - they were amazing. Here among the sand a pumice were these amazing silver gray plants. Once they bloom, they die so there were wide variety of different stages in the area along the trail. It had taken us just under 2 hours so we started back. The first part back up to the crater junction was not too bad. The next part was a long slog back up - long switch backs - we stopped regularly to catch our breath and drink water.

And we made it! Here are some pictures of the hike down and the silverswords.

Sliding Sands Trail Haleakala

Sliding Sands Trail Haleakala

Sliding Sands Trail Haleakala

Sliding Sands Trail Haleakala

Sliding Sand Trail - Haleakala

Sliding Sand Trail - Haleakala

Sliding Sands Trail Haleakala

Sliding Sand Trail - Haleakala

Silversword at Haleakala

Silversword at Haleakala

Silversword at Haleakala

Silversword at Haleakala

November 8, 2010

Waikomoi Preserve

Waikamoi Preserve

One other option for seeing Haleakala is to take one of the guided hikes provided by the National Park Service. The Nature Conservancy has the management rights to the Waikomoi stream which is part of the East Maui Watershed. This area is called the Waikomoi Preserve. Along the stream, are many native Hawaiian trees and plants which provide the habitate for several native bird species. The NPS provides guided tours into this area and we signed up for the one on Monday.

We met up with our guide Michelle and other tour members at the Hosmer's Grove just past the entrance to the park. She guided us through part of the grove. It is interesting and somewhat sad. Ralph Hosmer, a forester, brought many non-native trees for trail onto the slopes of Haleakala. Only 4% of the species he tried survive. We hiked through this planting which was thick with little undergrowth. The trees were strange and branched - mostly a cedar, eucalyptus, and cypress. We hiked down a jeep path for about a mile until we started down into the stream gulch. The flora changed into more native plants and trees as we desended. And the birds! Two brilliant red native birds, the `apapane and the `i`iwi darted among the the native ōhi`a tree tops. The bird love the red lehua flowers. The tree is a Metrosideros polymorpha. There was also a yellow-green honeycreeper but we didn't see it as much.

The gulch area is very interesting. The trail decends down the side through the Koa trees and Hawaiian tree ferns. Everything is lined with lichens indicative of the moisture of the clouds. You can stay above at the tree top level and watch the birds or view from the stream bed.

We spent about 20-25 minutes in the area watching the birds and exploring. Then we started our climb back up to the top. We took it slow with frequent stops. I highly recommend this hike. Call Haleakala NPS a week ahead to reserve your spot. Also check out this blog from a Maui nature photographer - Kanoe Blue Photography - for more photos of the preserve.

Waikamoi Preserve
Entrance to the preserve

Waikamoi Preserve
Koa trees along the gulch

Waikamoi Preserve
Pukiawe - Styphelia tameiameae

Waikamoi Preserve
Ohi'a lehua - Metrosideros polymorpha

Waikamoi Preserve

Waikamoi Preserve
Potentially a i'iwi

November 10, 2010

Road to Hana

Hana Highway - Maui

Oh my goodness - what a long day. We drove to Hana today and what an adventure.

Most guidebooks and people in the know recommend being on the road by 7am. This allows you to beat the rush of people driving to Hana. That is true - it does make it a bit easier. We got up at 5am, ate breakfast and we were on the road by 6:15. It is about 45 minutes from Napili in West Maui to Kahului and the start of the Hana Highway. It is officially 48 miles from Kakului to Hana. Expect it to take almost 4 hours.

It was pretty quiet once we left Haiku. There are a couple of items to be aware if you do start the trip this early. 1) You will meet several locals in pickup trucks or business vans on their way to work. Prepare to pull aside. 2) You will be driving into the rising sun. Bring sunglasses - especially if it has rained because it will be bright. It is challenging going from the deep dark tropical hillside and around a narrow curve to the bright sunshine. 3) Most of the roadside stands will be closed.

We took our time pulling off to see the bridges and waterfalls. The road is extremely windy. The recommended speed limit is 15 miles per hour and you will not want to go much faster. In addition to blind curves, there are numerous one lane bridges and passages. Just slow down and get on Maui Time.

We got to Wainapanapa State Park by about 11:00am and stopped for lunch. I was hungry after all those curves. We didn't take much time to explore Hana but we did walk down to Hamoa Beach which was beautiful and almost deserted. We headed out to the 7 Sacred Pools at O'helo Gulch which is actually part of Haleakala National Park. We walked the loop trail enjoying the vistas.

Here are some photos of the Road to Hana on the north side of Maui. I'll blog later about the *return* from Hana after our return home. We're flying tomorrow - I'm not ready to leave but it is time to go.

Hana Highway - Maui

Hana Highway - Maui

Hana Highway - Maui

Honokalani Black Sand Beach

O'heo Gulch Pools - Hana

Return from Hana - Piilani Highway

Piilani Highway - South Maui

We finished up our visit to the Ohelo Gulch and contemplated our return. It was only 1 o'clock so we decided see if we could find Charles Lindbergh's grave. I thought it would be marked but it was not. We totally spaced the directions and drove past Kipahulu. Suddenly we realized we were quite a ways past it and on the country dirt road along the bottom of East Maui! The Piilani highway that everyone warns about and the car rental companies don't want you to drive. Okay... it would take a bit to go back to Hana which was about 12 miles away. I was up for a challenge - and on we went.

The worst part of the road was at the beginning especially where you drove up along the initial steep cliffs. It was mostly narrow one lane. This tough section is about 20 miles long. Part - about 5-10 miles - are dirt.The dirt part is not actually too bad - it is the semi-paved portion of the road that is very very bumpy. The worst parts are at the beginning from the Hana side. It is also a difficult after the small village of Kaupo. There are rolling hills with limited sights on each hill. You never know if you are going to crest the hill and come face to face with another car on the one lane road.

What a contrast. It is very dry grass scrubland along this hot wind blown area. It looks a lot like Baja California. So different from the tropical jungle like area just 20 miles north. We continued along seeing few other cars and only one store - Kaupo General. Lots of cattle and goats.

The pavement smoothed and we headed back down to civilization for some food and on back to West Maui - 12 hours later! The south road only took us about 2 hours to travel. It takes us almost 1 hour to drive from Kihui in South Maui to Napili so in a way.... it was a breeze!

Piilani Highway - South Maui
We knew we had gone too far when we saw this sign!

Piilani Highway - South Maui
Narrow Blind Turn on the cliff

Piilani Highway - South Maui
Part of the road is dirt

Piilani Highway - South Maui
So different from the tropical Northeast portion of Maui

Piilani Highway - Kaupo Gap
Looking up the Kaupo Gap on Haleakala

Piilani Highway - South Maui
Southern slopes of Haleakala

Piilani Highway - South Maui
Windsweep land

Piilani Highway - South Maui
Sea Arch west of Kaupo around milepost 28

Piilani Highway - South Maui
Note the car at the bottom - another reason not to crive too close

Piilani Highway - South Maui
So barren and windswept

Piilani Highway - South Maui
Definitely very windy

Piilani Highway - South Maui
Hui Aloha Church west of Kaupo

November 14, 2010

North Shore of West Maui

View East from Nakalele Point - Maui
View east from Nakalele Point

Dateline: Tuesday November 9th

I'm going to catch up with a couple of additional posts covering some of the other areas we visited on Maui. We decided to slow down and hang out for a bit on West Maui in between our visit to Waikomoi Preserve and Hana. It was a beautiful sunny day on West Maui. A few clouds, a slight breeze and lots of sun. We spent the morning relaxing on our lanai watching the families on Napili Beach. I went for a swim and noticed a crowd around the rocks. Honu! A sea turtle had been spotted. I joined the crowd to watch it eating off the algae on the rock. It would poke its head up to grab a breath and then the tail would come up. It was very large. Much larger than what we saw in the Ocean Center.

Around noon, we headed out to explore the area north of Napili. Napili is pretty far north along the coast. The next big area is Kapalua resort area. This is a beautiful resort that put in a lot of effort to preserve both the marine and mountain areas near the resort. I wish we had had more time to explore some of the areas near the resort such as Kapalau beach and the seaside and mountain trails.

We headed instead up Highway 30 towards Kahakuloa. This is another one of those "don't take your rental car on" roads. It turns into narrow, one-lane, cliff-hugging road. We had read and viewed videos on the web and knew that it was not that bad of a drive up to the Nakalele blowhole which is only about 8-10 miles from Kapalau. This area is paved and two lanes although there is no yellow or white line.

What a gorgeous drive. It is not as lush as the road to Hana but still very green compared with South Maui. The land is red which contrasts with green flora. The hills are lined with Furcraea which is similar looking to the century plant agaves. There are ironwood trees and lush bananas along the bays. It actually was similar to the drive from Monterey to Big Sur - just a little more tropical looking. We choose a perfect day. Blue skys and a great view across the sea to Molokai. It was pretty windy especially at the blowhole which is near the northern point of Maui.

We traced our route back to Napili and then on to Ka'anapali. We wanted to check out this area even though it really isn't our style. We found a parking spot in the public parking next to the Whaler's Village. I wanted to go to the Totally Hawaiian Gift Gallery to look for another Hawaiian quilt pillow. I really wanted one in red but they were out so I found a nice pineapple motif in dark blue.

We headed back to Napili stopping first at the Time Supermarket to pick up a few supplies and a nice Ono filet for dinner. Perfect day in West Maui.

Blowhole at Nakalele Point - Maui
Blowhole at Nakalele Point

Honokohau Bay - Maui
Honokohau Bay (note - you can see the road coming down on the opposite side)

Punalau Beach - Maui
Punalau Beach

Honolua Bay - Maui
Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay - Maui
Honolua Bay - A favorite of snorkelers (note - you can see the road coming down on the opposite side)

D.T. Fleming Beach
D.T. Fleming Beach

Ka'anapali Beach - Maui
Ka'anapali Beach - just opposite the Whaler's

Napili Bay - Maui
Napili Beach Panorama - View from our lanai. (View Larger)

Haleakala Summit

Haleakala Summit

Dateline: Sunday November 7th

We arrived back at the start of the Sliding Sands trail hungry after our morning hike into the crater. The parking lot for Sliding Sands is actually not at the summit. We decided to drive up to the actual summit and have our lunch. It was pretty windy by noon so we ate in the car.

There is a small lookout and a couple of paths at the summit area. We walked up to the lookout and we had a great view over to the Big Island. You can actually see Mauna Kea. There is also a great view down into the crater. I can how this would be a great place for the sunrise.

We returned to the car and what did we see? A group of birds looking for handouts. I thought they might be Nene but they really didn't look like geese. They were chukars which actually came from India. Bummer - I had wanted to see a Nene.

It was time to head back. We headed back down and stopped in Paia again for some more fish at the Fish Market. Ono for me and Ono burger for G. It was an early night for us.

Silverswords in Haleakala Crater
Mother, Father and baby Silversword along the Sliding Sands Trail

Silverswords in Haleakala Crater
Another view of the silversword gardens in the crater

Silversword at Haleakala
G up close and personal with a silversword at the Haleakala summit

View towards Central Maui from Haleakala Summit
Amazing views across the top of clouds covering Central Maui from Haleakala Summit

Haleakala Summit
View to Sliding Sands Parking lot

Chukar at Haleakala parking lot

Haleakala Summit
Over 10K at the summit.

I also wanted to show the contrast of areas of Haleakala. Here are shots from the crater rim looking towards Kaupo Gap and looking back at the gap from the Kaupo side from the Piilani Highway.

Looking towards Kaupo Gap on Haleakala
Looking towards the Kaupo Gap (center)

Piilani Highway - Kaupo Gap
On the opposite side of the Kaupo Gap

October 16, 2012

Kona on the Big Island

We're heading for the Big Island tomorrow. It will be good to get back to Hawaii and to see a new island. We are staying for a week at this condo at Kanaloa at Kona. No view of the ocean this time but it looks to be very well equipped. The owners have been great to work with.

We hope to do a little bit of hiking such as Kilauea Iki trail across the dormant volcano crater. Of course we will also take in a garden or two including the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. A lot of sightseeing and eating local.


November 1, 2012

Big Island - Arrival in Kona

I need a spur to get back to blogging. It is November and time for the NaBloPoMo - National Blog Post Month at BlogHer. It is the push I need to do some blogging and get my travels recorded. Join me in the fun if you want. Just make the commitment and sign up on the link by clicking the image below.


To start, let me tell you about our recent trip to the Big Island in Hawaii.

Day 1 - Arrival in Kona - October 17, 2012

We had timed our trip to Hawaii right as far as weather in Seattle. The fall had been glorious and felt a lot like summer until just a week before our trip. The temperatures had cooled and the daily gray mist had returned. It was a pleasure to think of a week of tropical temperatures.

Our flight left just before 9am which meant we didn't have to get up in the middle of the night. It takes us about 35 minutes to drive to the airport and about another 10 minutes from parking so we left about 6:30 and we were at the airport by 7:30 easily. We decided to pass on another cup of coffee and headed out to gate where they were just getting ready to start boarding.

The Hawaiian flight was full. We were to get breakfast on the plane but we should have gotten a sandwich instead. It was terrible. It was basically a bagel like roll, cream cheese and guava jelly. The dried tropical fruit was fine.

The flight to Honolulu took about 6 hours. I read my e-book and slept a bit so the trip went somewhat quickly. They served us a Mai Tai before we landed so we were in a good mood.

We had a 2 hour lay-over in Honolulu which gave us time to move between the main terminal and the inter-island terminal. We were hungry and the choices at the inter-island terminal were not much better than the plane; an American hot plate (beef and gravy), Burger King, Chinese Steam table and the bar with a menu that had no prices. G doesn't eat meat so we went with the Chinese steam table - bad move. It was over cooked vegetables and mystery meat for me. The noodles were fine.

The trip between Honolulu and Kona was easy - about 45 minutes in a Boeing 717. Fortunately our carry on fit on it. It is actually not that small of a jet unlike some of the other small jets like the Canadian models.

Landing in Kona is very different. The guide books warn you but you really do not fully imagine what it is like to look out the window upon miles and miles of black asphalt looking lava. Where exactly am I?

The airport is pretty small and it was easy to just follow the crowd out and to the shuttle to car rentals. We got our car from Avis since Costco had a deal with $35 off and low price - $225/week for a compact. No one else was there which was also great. Everyone had headed to Alamo where we usually rent.

We were off. G was navigating and our first stop was the Costco just about 2 miles from the airport before getting into Kona. You definitely need to have the "Big Island Revealed" guidebook to find it since there are no signs. Or do as I did - just follow the other cars.

Stopping at Costco has its pluses and minuses. It has a good selection and excellent prices - but the quantities are almost too large for 2 people staying a week. We picked up milk, POG, eggs, beer, bread, Mai Tai premixed, a salad for dinner, shrimp poke, chips and an opah filet. On hindsight, we could have used less milk since we had eggs for breakfast instead of usual cereal and we probably would have preferred not be limited to Kona beer for a week. I really wanted to try a couple of the other local beers but the case was going to last the week.

The traffic was pretty slow. It was probably 'rush hour' - almost 5pm - plus there was a huge cruise ship in port. It was about 30 minutes through Kona to our turn off to Keauhou and down to our condo. One more stop - at the Keauhou shopping center and the ATA for smaller items, like rice, butter, jam, cheese, etc .

We found out condo on Aloha Condos. I had used them for our rental in Maui two years ago and I really like their website. The site has lots of details and most importantly photos and videos of the condos. Each is privately owned so the decor is different. It is also very easy to use website.

We choose unit 203 at Kanaloa at Keauhou. It did not have an ocean view but instead a view to the golf course which was very quiet and relaxing. The birds in the morning on the fairway were enchanting. I loved the decor and it was exactly as shown on the website. It had everything we needed and was very clean and lovingly tended by previous guests. There were also nice touches such as an excellent welcome basket with lots of local fruit. Besides having a well stocked kitchen, it also had everything you needed for days at the beach. The bed was super comfortable and very fast internet. We felt it was also an excellent deal given the accommodation, location and facilities.

The only thing a little disappointing was the weather. It was overcast and pretty humid. Oh well... you can't have everything. We unloaded and relaxed in preparation for our week.

Condo - Kanaloa at Keauhou
Living room

Condo - Kanaloa at Keauhou
Dining area

Condo - Kanaloa at Keauhou

Condo - Kanaloa at Keauhou
Lanai in the evening

Condo - Kanaloa at Keauhou
Breakfast on the Lanai

November 2, 2012

Big Island - Pu`uhonua O Hōnauna

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau

Day 2 - Exploring around Keauhou - October 18, 2012

We were awake before dawn. There is a three hour difference in time between the west coast and Hawaii so we were wide awake by 5:30am. It is actually a good thing. There is about 12 hours of daylight usually from 6am-6pm so an early start makes the most of your time.

We relaxed over breakfast on the lanai. Scrambled eggs, toast, coffee, juice and wonderful fresh fruit - pineapple, papaya and banana. The magpies chattered and we watched the colorful array of birds.

We did a quick walk around the complex. The Ocean pool is beautiful. The complex is on the rocky lava shore and there is a small pool that overlooks the crashing waves. We also went for a walk along the seawall. There are two other pools; one for families and a quiet pool for adults only.

We make a call to Leilani Nepenthes to make an appointment to visit. We suggest Friday at 11:00 and it is arranged. We decide to explore the local area. Pu`uhonua O Hōnauna (City of Refuge) is just a short distance south of Keauhou. We drive along Hwy 11 and turn off at Napoopoo road. It is narrow and winds through coffee, papaya farms. We love the tropical trees and plants that line the road. After a short while, we turn onto lower Napoopoo Road and head towards Kealakekua Bay. I notice a farm stand along the way. It is a plumaria farm and they are selling leis for $3.00. I make a note to come back this way.

The small village around Kealakekua Bay looked interesting. I wanted to check out the bay but there is very crowded at noon. We see little parking and it looked like someone was collecting for entry/parking at the park. We decide to continue on to Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunaand turning on to Puuhonua Road.

What a contrast! Suddenly we are transported from the coffee plantations to the stark emptiness of a black lava flow. The road is straight and narrow up into the horizon and beckons us to continue - more to escape the starkness.

The road takes us to the turn off to Pu`uhonua O Hōnauna and we make good use of our America the Beautiful Pass. It covers the $5.00 fee for parking and entrance.

I loved slowly walking around the site and reading the Park service brochure. It was a place of refuge and forgiveness for people who had broken laws. It is also a burial ground and royal grounds. It is also very beautiful.

We continued up towards Hwy 11 to stop at the Painted Church. It is a small Catholic Church built in 1899. The walls were painted to teach Hawaiians the Catholic religion. The two sites give so much background into the spiritual lives of Hawaiians.

I remembered the farm stand with the leis for sale so we traveled back so I could buy one. There was a cooler where you could select a lei and a honesty box to pay. They were in pretty good condition and we put it in our cooler to keep until we returned to the condo.

We were hungry and it was about 1pm. It did not take long to tour both of the sites. We decided to head back to Kona to go to Kona Brewing. We found it after one or two wrong turns and of course there was a group waiting. But also many people leaving. We only had to wait about 15 minutes and got a seat outside.

We had a couple of the locally brewed beers that they did not bottle. Kona does much of their brewing and bottling on the mainland because of the cost to transport supplies and ingredients to the island. So that case we got at Costco was probably brewed in Woodinville just about 15 miles from where we live! G had a Castaway IPA and I had a Hula Hefeweizen. For lunch, I had a marlin sandwich and G a pizza. Later we split a fresh hopped season ale which was very tasty. Similar to an IPA but you could really tasty the tangy astringent flavor of the hops.

We went back to the condo, relaxed a little and went for a late afternoon swim in the Ocean pool. It was overcast so no sunset but a great way to end the day.

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau

Turtle at  Pu'uhonua o Honaunau


Pu'uhonua o Honaunau

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau

IMG_0792Two ki'i guardians at Pu'uhonua o Honaunau

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau

Painted Church

Painted church

Kona brewing growler shack

Fresh Hops at Kona Brewing

Lovely lei

November 4, 2012

Big Island - Leilani Nepenthes

Leilani Nepenthes

Day 3 - Leilani Nepenthes - October 19, 2012

It was back bac in June when we were discussing where to go for a week. I had one more week vacation. We looked around at different options – Arizona, San Diego, New York, Hawaii. There were pluses and minuses for all. We weighed the cost of the airfare along with accommodation. Airfare to New York was pretty low but hotels in October are very expensive. Hawaii airfare seemed expensive when we first look at flying out on Friday/Saturday. San Diego was the temporary plan for a long time.

G has been growing nepenthes - carnivorous plants also known as pitcher plants. It was part of the reason why we went to Malaysia. He suggested going to the Big Island and visit Leilani Nepenthes Nursery . I decided to look at airfare mid-week. It was a lot cheaper – we’d just lose 2 extra days since we wouldn’t be flying over a weekend. But it was the winner.

We called Sam at Leilani Nursery. He would be able to show us around the nursery on Friday. According to Google maps, it was going to be a 3 hour drive from Kona to Pahoa outside of Hilo. We made our appointment for 11 o’clock and we were on the road before 8am just to be on the safe side.

Highway 11 is pretty congested south of Kona for a few miles. It was slow going for a bit and then the road gets windy before South Point. There are some interesting villages such as Ocean Vista where the houses are built across a lava bed. Once you past South Point, the hills become much greener and you start to realize you are now on the wet side of the island.
Two hours after leaving our condo, we arrive at Volcano. We make a quick stop for a break and to check out the park. We plan to return later to hike. We ask them how long the drive to Pahoa is. They said it would be 45 minutes to hour. We better get going.

We had used Google street view to locate the nursery. We arrived just before 11. What an amazing place. Sam was a gracious host showing us around the nursery and sharing stories about growing plants in the sub-tropics. We found out that he could ship to the mainland so G was like a kid in a candy story picking out a couple of plants to ship back.

We left after 2 hours and headed out to the coast. This area is a little wild. Our first stop was at Ahalanui Park where we ate our picnic lunch. We didn’t bring our suits so we couldn’t go for a dip in the hot springs but they looked very interesting. We continued on through the dense forest to the end of the road. It abruptly ends at a huge lava flow at Kalapana. If the volcano is active, there are trips from this point to see the lava flowing into the ocean. You can also hike across the lava to a black sand beach. It was time to head back. The weather was deteriorating and it was three hour drive back to Kona.

We made one more stop at The Star of the Sea church. It is another painted church dedicated to Father Damien and the lepers of Molokai. We filled our tank and headed north. The rain started coming down. We had one break and a beautiful rainbow before it downpour returned. It was dark, the road was narrow, the traffic was thick and I couldn’t see. It was definitely a stressful drive for the last hour.

Leilani Nepenthes
Leilani Nepenthes

Leilani Nepenthes

Leilani Nepenthes

Leilani Nepenthes

Outside Pahoa
Forested road in Puna district outside Pahoa

Ahalanui Park
Ahalanui Park

Ahalanui Park
Ahalanui Park

Ahalanui Park
Ahalanui Park

Trail box for trail to black sand beach
Trail box for trail to black sand beach

Lava flow at Kalapana
Lava flow into ocean

Star of the Sea Painted Church
Star of the Sea Painted Church

Star of the Sea Painted Church
Star of the Sea Church interior

Highway across the lava - Big Island
Beltway Highway across the lava just before Volcano National Park

Rainbow on Hwy 11 - Big Island
Rainbow after the downpour

November 5, 2012

Big Island - Farmers Markets and north

A Beach
"A" Beach - Kohala area Big Island Hawaii
Day 4 - Big Island Farmers Markets and North - October 20, 2012

Saturday is the main farmers market day on the Big Island. There are several markets being held including Hilo, Waimea and in our neighborhood at Keauhou shopping center. We decided we didn’t want to drive across the island again so we planned to visit the market at Keauhou and then go for a drive up to the northern point at Hawi. We were hoping to include a stop at Big Island Brewhaus and check out the beaches at Kohala area.

I really liked the farmers market at Keauhou. It is a little small and you have to get there early but they had a great selection of fruit which is what I was looking for. I really wanted to pick up some dragonfruit which I heard was growing on the island. We had dragonfruit in Malaysia and loved it especially the pink fleshed varieties. Dragonfruit is the fruit or pod of the night blooming cactus. t It is similar to the fruit of the prickly pair cactus which I know by the Spanish name of tuna.

We got to the market about 8:30 and I found the pink dragonfruit. One vendor was selling two different varieties of the pink. The smaller pods were delicious, super sweet. The larger a little less. There were also vendors selling the larger white variety with yellow skin but I decided to pass since the white ones I had previously were not very sweet. BTW, they are somewhat like a kiwi.

There were lots of other fruit; papaya, starfruit, fruit similar to longan, different types of bananas, breadfruit, calamansi limes. I got papaya, starfruit and some apple bananas for the next couple of mornings. There were also several vendors selling Kona coffee, vegetables, fish, frozen meat along with jams, flowers, soap and a food stand.

We dropped off our purchases and then headed to Waimea. I am so amazed at the different terrain that you find just driving a few miles. Waimea is uphill at about 2300 ft. The road takes you from the tropical foliage to a more dry Australian type of semi-desert to a Mediterranean climate at Waimea. We located their farmers market. It was a little late so some of the vendors had already gone home for the day. They had a great selection of orchid plants for ridiculously inexpensive prices under $10.00. We almost bought some as flower bouquets. I did get some delicious goat cheese and a tasty glass of passion fruit juice.

We headed out to Kawaiihae and drove up the coast. Kawaiihae is a large container port but it did have one or two good restaurants including Cafe Pesto. Further north, this is definitely the driest part of the island. Lots of scrubby land until we went around the tip and entered the wet area again. We headed to Polulu Valley overlook to check out the view from the end of the road beyond Hawi. The road narrows and is windy with little one way bridges. it reminded us of the road to Hana but it is so short before you come to the end of the road. If you drive out, be aware, there is just a little bit of room to turn around and very little parking. We were able to park a bit down the road and then walked down the very steep, rocky trail to an outlook in the pandan trees to the beach below. The weather was changing again so we decided to head back to Hawi.

Hawi is an interesting little art community. It reminded me a lot of Paia on Maui except without the surfers. We stopped in Tropical Dreams for some killer ice cream; passion fruit sorbet and macadamia nut ice cream. The macadamia nut was excellent. The passion fruit was also good although a little tart. It is sold in other places on the island in little containers but it is best fresh in Hawi.

We headed back to Waimea stopping at an overlook to eat our picnic lunch. It was raining again and we had only the view of the low gray clouds. We stopped at Big Island Brewhaus. It has a tiny parking lot but I spied a place. The alternative is to park at the large church just down the road.

They had a long list of brews - over 12 or more varieties. They have one awards in the past for several beers including their IPA and Porter. I decided to have a sampler and G the IPA. I tried their lighter beers - wheat, pilsner, ginger, pale ale, IPA and smoked bock. All were excellent. The smoked bock was really different. I think I liked the pale ale the best but I usually do. They also had an interesting Mexican menu but we passed on lunch so we could eat back at condo. That is another disadvantage of buying supplies at Costco - it forces you to eat in.

Now it was off to the beaches of Kohala. Our first stop was at Hapuna Beach. What a beautiful beach although the surf looked a little rough. There was a lot of good body surfing going on. I was surprised at the amount of young kids playing in what looked to be a rough surf. But lots of family activity and fun on this Saturday. The dark clouds gave it a great spooky ambiance.

Next it was to check out Anaehoomalu Bay commonly known as the A-Beach. What a contract. It is much more gentle and lined with palms. People were longing on chairs reading their kindles. We heard the vows of a wedding across the way. It had great facilities and was super clean.

The evening was approaching and we headed back. We made one more quick stop at Maniniowali /Kua Bay Beach which I read was one of the more beautiful beaches. It was very crowded on Saturday and smaller than I anticipated.

Kona was not far now. The sun peaked out just as we came down Kamehameha III and a perfect ending to the day.

At The Farmers Markets
Keauhou Farmers Market Keauhou Farmers Market
Keauhou Farmers Market
Keauhou Farmers Market
Bouquet at Waimea Farmers Market Keauhou Farmers Market

Polulu Valley, Hawi and Big Island Brewhaus

Polulu Valley Polulu Valley
Polulu Valley Hawi
Big Island Brewhaus Big Island Brewhaus
Kohala Beaches - Hapuna and A Beach
Hapuna Beach Hapuna Beach
Hapuna Beach A Beach

Kona Sunset

Kona Sunset

November 7, 2012

Big Island - Kilauea Iki Hike

Kilauea Iki Trail
Kilaueau Iki Trail from parking lot vista point

Day 5 - Hiking in the Kilaueau Iki Crater - October 21, 2012

One of the items that was top on our list of 'to-do' on the Big Island was the Kilauea Iki Trail hike in Volcano National Park. In November 1959, the crater erupted in to a bed f lava. It spewed molten rock and lava lake in the crater. Remember those films of volcanoes erupting that you saw during the audio-visual period in grammar school. I'm wondering if it was a film of the Kilauea Iki crater erupting.

Today the crater is safe to walk across. It is still active with several spots where you can feel the hot rocks and see steam if there has recently been a rain storm. Overall the trail is rather easy - 4 miles long with an elevation gain of 400 ft to climb back out of the crater.

I also recommend getting the National Park brochure on the hike which sells for $2.00 at the visitors center or at the trail head. There are about 18 marked spots along the way which are talked about in the brochure.

Our friends from Vashon were arriving later in the day so we got an early start on Sunday. We left Kona before 8:00am. The drive on early Sunday was so beautiful and relaxing. It had turned out to be a beautiful morning with little traffic. We arrived at the trail head before 10am. Note - don't forget to bring your America the Beautiful National Park and National Forest Parking pass. It will save you $10.00 entrance fee at the park.

From the parking lot, there are several vista points down into the crater. The trail goes counter clockwise from the parking lot. It starts down steeply along some steps to enter the rain forest that rings the top of the crater. The morning was filled with bird song and we even spotted an Hawaiian Hawk perched above the crater. They like to soar across the lava searching for food.

The trail goes about 3/4 to a mile before starting down a rocky slope and switch back to the barren lava floor. You definitely need a lot of coverage from the sun since there are no shady places. The floor looks like a broken up asphalt road with its heaves and dips. You can see the large lava hill where the lava spewed from during the eruption. There are a few plants across the lava - mostly ōhi‘a which is one of the first plants to colonize the lava. The seeds are brought in by the wind and take root in the cracks. The trail is easy to find - just follow the cairns or ahu - stacked rocks to mark the trail across the crater floor.

After crossing the crater, the trail climbs in broad switchbacks up to the rim at the Thurston Lava tube. You knew you were approaching it even before you could see it from the hum of voices and rumble of the bus engines. We had not brought a flashlight so we passed on going in.

The trail continued for about another 1/2 mile before returning to the parking lot. It took us about 3 hours to meander along the trail. We always are stopping for photos or exploring the plant life. You could probably do it in about 2 hours typically.

We had a couple of hours before needing to return to Kona so we drove to the Jaggar Museum which is a great overlook to the Halema`uma`u Crater. Lava has been building in the crater so it has been quite busy at night. You can supposedly see the red glow of the lava if you come up at night. We had been checking out the status of the eruption and would have loved to see it but neither of us wanted to drive the 2 hours at night to see it. It is best to stay in Volcano or Hilo so you can easily drive up. We also heard a suggestion to get up early in morning before dawn to see it so you can then spend the day at the park instead of driving up in the evening and waiting for it to get dark enough to see. They also had closed the crater rim drive because of the activity and sulfur emissions from the crater. We were fortunate that the trade winds were flowing most of the time we were in Kona so we didn't have any VOG.

We started back but first we drove a short distance up the road to Mauna Loa to the Kipuka Puaula (Bird Park) picnic area. We were just approaching the picnic area when we saw the signs to slow down warning us of Nene geese in the area. There they were! A pair was right by the road. It was so cool to see them. We also saw a couple of partidges along the way.

We ate our lunch in the empty picnic area and then headed back. Our friends arrived safely and checked in to the condo. They came over and we celebrated their arrival with a mai tai and we enjoyed a BBQ fish dinner together before heading off to bed. Tired but very content.

Kilauea Iki Trail>
Rainforest along the Rim
Kilauea Iki Trail
Hawaiian Hawk
Kilauea Iki Trail
Tiny hikers on the crater floor
Kilauea Iki Trail
Steaming rocks
Kilauea Iki Trail
George along the Trail
Kilauea Iki Trail
Following the cairns
Kilauea Iki Trail
It looks like a destroyed road
Kilauea Iki Trail
But there is signs of live
Active Crater
The main active crater
Active Crater
Nene geese
Warning signs for NeNe crossings
Nene geese
Beautiful pair of NeNe Geese

November 8, 2012

Big Island - Day at the Beach

Hapuna Beach

Day 6 - Time for the Beach - October 22, 2012

It was time for a relaxing day after our trip and hike at Volcano National Park. We lounged around and had a leisurely breakfast. I wanted to also get a Hawaiian quilt pillow. I try to purchase one on each trip. I got the first one on Kauai in 2008 at Kapaia Stitchery in Lihue. It is a great little fabric store filled with lots of tropical and Asian fabrics. They had a great selection and I purchased on with a ulu (breadfruit) leaf pattern. Botanicals are my favorite.

I did not look for one while Oahu although I remember finding some at the Honolulu airport but decided not to get one. I regretted it and decided to definitely track one down when we went on our trip to Maui. Hawaiian Fabric Mart did not have any. But I did find several at the Totally Hawaiian shop in the Whaler shopping center at Kaanapali. I brought home a pineapple pattern.

So the search was on again. I first went to Hawaiian Quilt Collection in the Queens Marketplace in Waikoloa. They had several and they were beautiful but a little too pricey for me. So we later stopped at Quilt Passion in Kona. They had a good selection although most were turtle pattern which I did not like. I did find a nice pattern with a cattleya orchid on philodendron leaves. It wasn't exactly like the other ones - a bit bigger so I was a little disappointed still.

It was sunny and warm so we headed for the beach. We decided to go back to Hapuna beach. We loved the large sandy area and there was a lot of parking. But was it hot - hot - hot. I was pretty worried about getting burned because there was absolutely no shade near the beach. We changed and went ahead and slathered on the lotion. The surf was a little rough but what the hell - we only have two more days. We waded in since it was too rough to swim or float. The waves battered us but what fun. Occasionally they would knock us down and we'd be thrown up on the beach and dragged through the sand. But it was exhilarating.

We decided to all it quits after about an hour. We went to change and found sand *everywhere*. We tried to shower it off but it wasn't possible at the outdoor showers at the beach. We moved up to the shade and had our lunch.

We made an early return to the condo and relaxed before getting together with our friends for a seafood pasta dinner which was excellent. They had spent the day at the condo pools. We were all tired so we called it an early evening.

Hapuna Beach




November 10, 2012

Big Island - Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Day 7 - Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden - October 23, 2012

It was our last day but one of the best days. Our friends are also into gardening. They had been to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden near Hilo on a previous trip and highly recommended it. We were looking forward to visiting it with them since we both love plants.

We took the top road from Kona to Hilo through Waimea. The surrounding became more and more tropical as we approached the coast. The Hilo side of the island is the rainy side and you can definitely tell by the plants. After reaching the coast, the road traveled along the ocean side winding down into the valleys where we ooh'd and awe'd about the plants. It took about 2 hours before we arrived at the garden.

We brought along our lunch and ate next to the gift store where it was sheltered. It was a light rain, humid but not too hot. We grabbed a couple of umbrellas, paid our entrance fee and crossed over the road to the entrance.

The website says it is "Garden in a Valley on the Ocean". The path meanders down a steep valley lined with tropical plants. It focuses on ginger but I recognized many of the plants as plants you see as house plants. Large philodendrons, staghorn ferns, elephant ear plants, crotons, diffenbachia, umbrella plants, and many palms. It was like walking in a conservatory but without the glass.

The path levels off and there are many different areas to explore. A lovely stream lined with palms, an orchid garden with an exciting cannonball tree nearby, macaws, and finally a view to the ocean.

Unfortunately, you do have to climb back up to the road. We took our time and since the day was not as warm, the climb was enjoyable. They do have a small golf cart that will help people back up to the road - for a nominal fee of course.

We started back but first we stopped at What's Shakin' for a smoothie. I had a delicious papaya, orange guava smoothie with passion fruit. They also had some beautiful ripe fruit for sale. I got a papaya for our last day. It was also the one place where we saw the dragonfruit cactus growing. They also had some good looking food. One thing to keep in mind, the smoothie is pure fruit and it is a long drive back.

We made one more stop along the way at the overlook to Waip'o Valley. It you have a 4-wheel drive you can make the steep drive down into the valley or you can pay for the shuttle. We were fine with the view.

The day and our vacation was coming to a close. The sun was golden over the ocean as we dropped down to our condo. We did a fast pack and then headed over to join our friends for a pizza. An enjoyable week in Hawaii.

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Hawaii Botanical Garden

Waipiʻo Valley
Waip'o Valley

Goodbye to Kona
Aloha to Kona

November 25, 2012

Ziplining in Kauai

Zip Line Kauai

I'm still going through a lot of my older pictures. I came across this one from a trip to Kauai that I did in 2008. I met up with a good friend from high school. She was finishing up a convention and planned on staying a couple more days. I was unemployed so I flew over. I had not been to Hawaii for over 20 years.

It was great fun - but one of the best things we did was go zip lining. We decided to do the zip line at Princeville Ranch - mainly because they were the highest and you could do 7 zips and end with a swim and picnic. It was a blast.

Just so you know it is me in the picture above - here is close up.

Zipline in Kauai

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