Aloha, from Hawaii…..sorry couldn’t help it! Paradise in the Pacific?
I, like most I’m sure, had a very clear idea of what Hawaii would be like, without paying much attention to the fact it spans over 6 very different main islands, it’s a US state, granted in only 1959 and it’s not all Hula, surfing and palm trees. In fact when the missionaries came over along time ago they banned Hula and surfing, both thought of as very unchristian activities.
Parts of Hawaii fit the bill, the paradise islands with the palm trees, sandy beaches, turquoise water etc etc.
But there’s a whole lot that doesn’t. We’ve experienced both and as we left the resorts for the second week, we saw a little more of the real Hawaii.
We had to fly into Oahu, which for those lacking knowledge on the islands’ names, as I did before I arrived, is the most populated one, that boasts the world famous Waikiki beach near Honolulu. We gave it a wide berth, and drove a little further staying in the spare room of a strange ladys’ house. We were at first a little disappointed, Oahu seemed pretty run down, very American and a little depressing. So not much else to say really, it’s the childhood home of Barack Obama, a pretty island in parts, huge waves and Kona beer, which Mitch has become very fond of. But, apart from the one pretty beach we found, I have to say I hadn’t found paradise yet. We did pay a fleeting visit to Pearl Harbour, which was interesting, especially after having visited Hiroshima not long ago.
So, we hoped for better from the next island, Kauai, the garden isle. First impressions not so good, lots of places are very run down and there seems to be quite a bit of poverty. I guess I wasn’t expecting the 50th American state to have an air of the developing world about it. One thing that is strange is that every few miles there’s a burnt out or dumped car, we reckoned they don’t have any scrap yards, so people just leave them strewn about the island, looks a little untidy.
However, when we got up to the north coast of Kauai it was quite a different story. Here it is mostly small resorts, with a quaint little town in the lovely bay of Hanalei. So, here we found a little slice of paradise, a little too resorty for me, but I did I enjoy our 6 nights……the bed was very comfy, and I appreciate that a lot nowadays.
We spent our days beach-hopping and snorkelling, which Freda was amazing at.
The only worry with Kauai is the surf and currents in the water, it’s fierce and very dangerous. When boarding our little Prop Plane over there, the airport official warned me never to turn my back on the ocean. So I didn’t, and on quite a few days we couldn’t even go in the sea at all. Some of the beaches are protected by reefs, which is where, while snorkelling, Mitch came across a gigantic green turtle. I said it must have been amazing, his reply was “it was good, but I was quite scared!” bless!
The North shore is dominated by the Nepali coast, maybe the most spectacular scenery we’ve seen to date, and it has a lot to live up to!!
We managed a little steep walk on a small section of an 11 mile hike, branded as the most dangerous hike in the US. We also decided to do a helicopter ride,
a massive luxury, but what an amazing place in which to do it. I was humbled by the beauty of nature, I know its cheesy, but it really was awe inspiring. Being in a chopper was pretty cool too.
Mitch and I were going to get a babysitter and go up together, but we both agreed that if we crashed we would feel awful leaving Freda orphaned in Hawaii. So, we went up separately, both hoping we weren’t the unlucky survivor left to look after Freda alone!
On the island we made it out for a posh meal to celebrate 9 years together. We forgot our actual anniversary, which was quite amusing, as we were flying from NZ that day and as we went back in time we had the same day twice, so we missed it twice!
We became pretty comfortable living our secluded resort life, and felt it was time we moved on and went back to the real world! So, we hopped on another rubbish little plane (which was so rubbish this time that they had to change it in Oahu because it broke down) for our next stop, the Big Island. It’s really called the Island of Hawaii, but that would be a bit too confusing. As its name suggests it is the biggest of the islands, but most of the room is greedily inhabited by its 5 volcanos.
The first two nights we stayed in what could only be described as a rather pleasant garage, just down the coast from Kailua in a place called Captain Cook. This is where the Captain met his demise at the hands of the Hawaiians, apparently the local children ate his heart, only though because they thought it was a dogs. We had one of the best days I’ve had on the islands, when we went down to a local beach, and saw 8 green turtles.
One while snorkelling and some others coming out the sea to rest. We had a great spot to snorkel and then to top it off, saw a whale breaching……what a DAY. We dined at the oldest restaurant in Hawaii, which showed its age, and reminded me a bit of the Balham Bowls Club (for anyone that’s been). Although this place really was old and shit, not just pretending to be. But, the food was simple and pretty good, which was unusual as the food was pretty bad in Hawaii! I guess when the only thing to come out of a country is a pizza with pineapple on, you know it’s not going to be great.
Next place we stayed I would normally skip, but it was so bad, I feel it needs a mention. It was booked in desperation for one night, a lovely sounding place called Ocean View. But, actually it was Dungeness, American style, a development in an old Lava trail. They built hundreds of roads, but hardly anyone bought the plots, it was truly depressing, no paradise to be seen here, I felt like we were on a film set for an armageddon movie!
Next, on to the south end of the island where everything claims to be and is the USA’s southern most anything, restaurant, bar, toilet!!
We stayed in, at last, a lovely Hawaiian hideaway, surrounded by an oasis of fruit trees and beautiful birds.
One reason for coming down to the south end of the island, and really to the island as a whole, is a Volcano, Kilauea. It has been erupting constantly since 1983, but has had some major eruptions in recent history. So, there’s a good chance of seeing lava, without dying! When we arrived we found out lava was pouring into the ocean, but it was quite a trek to get to it, about a 4 hour round trip. However, you could drive an hour to the other side of the lava tube and then hire a bike, so off we went.
The bike riding took us through an amazing lava field, we finally arrived and the lava flowing into the sea was quite a sight.
Freda managed to get lava rock in her hand, so a nice Ranger helped her out…..they love her accent here, so he let her have ago on the megaphone!
It was late when we headed back from the lava tube, cycling back an hour in the dark and then we had another 2 hours to drive home, so we had no choice but to get some fast food for dinner. Freda sampled her first McDonald’s!! Her response was that the McNuggets tasted old and disgusting, the fries also weren’t eaten. She did though enjoy the milk and apple slices, that’s my girl!!
We then drove up to the north of the island and stayed in a nice little town called Hawi. We had a lovely walk to the Pololu Valley and Freda made friends with a group of American children. They invited us to their amazing place overlooking the ocean where Freda played in the pool and we had a nice chat. Obviously Trump came up and we were very pleased they weren’t supporters, thanks guys.
Once again, amazing friendliness from random people around the world. It was a great end to our Hawaiian fling.
It’s been nice, but I wasn’t that taken with Hawaii, I feel the State lacks identity, its past is somewhat forgotten, and the traditional Hawaiian spirit is somewhat muted by American rule. In a distant past, I imagine it was one of the most beautiful places on earth, but like with so many, history’s greed and corruption has put pay to that. One thing I will say, the wildlife in Hawaii has been amazing, we have seen so many humpback whales, sea birds, turtles and tropical fish, it’s been a pleasure. Not to forget the bright green geckos that shared our breakfast with us on the Big Island, they practically ate out of our hand.
But, money doesn’t go far in Hawaii, so we needed to moved on, somewhere we can finally afford with our rubbish Pound, thanks brexit! I’m thinking somewhere that serves the best Margaritas in the world, a country with a vibrant, rich culture and where the food is to die for…….bring on Mexico!