Hawaii in Words and Photos

It’s been nearly a month now since Kristen and I returned from our Hawaiian Honeymoon.  We are still in our post-Aloha depression.  It gets better day by day, the freakishly-warm weather we’ve had on the East Coast helps a bit, but it’s still taking some adjustment.

I took several hundred photos during the trip, and while I posted quite a few while we were there, there are still too many to post (and almost too many to sort!).  I’ve put up a page with a few dozen images that I picked for… well, I picked them for some reason.

We started our trip in Waikiki, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?  You go to Hawaii, you go to Honolulu and Waikiki, because that’s where “Hawaii Five-0” is filmed and it’s what Hawaii is like.  We spent three days in a very nice and huge hotel on the beach and enjoyed the touristy things.  Just by chance a friend and his wife were in town as well, for their tenth wedding anniversary, and the four of us made a day of visiting Pearl Harbor (I’ll do a separate post on that) and then driving to Oahu’s north shore and down the eastern side of the island.  If you find yourself in Waikiki and Honolulu and overwhelmed by the crowds, definitely grab a car and head north; the beaches are larger, less crowded, and nature takes back the island from the buildings and roads.

On our third day we took a flight over to our ultimate destination, the Big Island, Hawaii.  Before researching for this trip I had no idea that the name Hawaii applies to the “big island” individually, as well as the state collectively.  It can be confusing at first, but probably no more so than New York City being in New York County being in New York State.

It pays to have friends in cool places.  Atsumi and Randy used to live two blocks away from us in Hoboken.  Two years ago they closed up shop here and moved to Kona.  Smart move.  They run a beautiful vacation rental setup with a few acres of coffee trees near Holualoa, just a few miles from the coastal town of Kailua-Kona.  It’s a perfect base of operations: the elevation provides an amazing view of the ocean and sunsets, as well as temperate weather that remains comfortable year-round.  The heat of the beach is twenty minutes away by car, the cooler northern mountains and cattle country are an hour to the north, and the variable climate of the volcano parks are a couple of hours to the south.

Our main focus of the trip was to do as little as possible.  Mission accomplished.  Most of our time was spent lounging around, reading and writing, and touring the island in our convertible rental car.  We cooked breakfast and dinner every evening, generally trying a local eatery for lunch.  Bite Me Fish Market has amazing fish tacos, and the Kona Brewing Company’s brew pub has exquisite beer, great barbeque, and some excellent pizzas.

We visited various beaches every day.  The good ones are hard to get to, but that makes them all the more worth the visit (car rental tip- get a four wheel drive vehicle!).  The most easily-accessible beach we visited was Kahaluu Beach Park, with a true parking lot and everything.  We’d been told the snorkeling there was exceptional, and that they had equipment rentals.  True on both accounts.  I’d gone hoping to see a Honu (sea turtle) in the wild, but only saw one at a distance from the beach.

We had one day of scheduled activities, a whale watching trip in the morning with Atsumi and Randy.  It’s mating season in Hawaii — for the whales, not the… well, never mind — and we saw a lot of activity on the water: dolphins following the boat, a mother and her calf cruising along just below the surface, and at one point several full breaches by a particularly active whale.  I took a TON of photos during the cruise, but most of them are at too much of a distance to be very good.  Yet another reason I can use to justify buying a big honkin’ zoom lens for my camera!

After the cruise, we made our way up to Waimea to see fellow Altered-Fluid member Greer and her husband John, who moved to the area ten years ago.  That evening they took us up to the Mauna Kea Observatory Visitor’s Center.  The drive up was through intermittent rain and cloud cover, but upon reaching the center at 9,000 feet, we were above all of the weather just in time for sunset.  We didn’t venture further up to the observatories at 14,000 feet, but the visitor’s center was ample.  The view is especially clear due to the altitude and the fact that all of the street lights on the Big Island are sodium based to reduce light pollution. One can make out the banding of the Milky Way with the naked eye. Park rangers mill about the parking lot, where a half-dozen telescopes are set up.  Views of Venus and the Moon through the telescopes were amazing, but the highlight was a large telescope focused on Jupiter.  Icould make out the color bands on the planet, and four bright points of light nearby: her moons, lined up alongside her.

Our last day on the big island we visited the beach at the Mauna Lani resort.  This place has large outdoor pools with tropical fish, sharks (hammerhead and black-fin), and even a few sea turtles (Honu!), that they keep until they reach adulthood and then release.  So at least I got to see my honu.

Our trip home took us through Honolulu again for one night.  Waikiki and the Big Island are so different that it was quite jarring when we checked into our hotel that last night and went out among the tourists again.  Not that there aren’t tourists in Kona, it’s just that the area is so much larger and the tourists so few, that in Kona you feel like you’re on your own, almost a local (just don’t tell the locals that).  As I told Kristen, I feel that Oahu is what Hawaii is supposed to be like, what we see in the movies and on television.  The Big Island, though, is so much more, so much better; more laid back, secluded, restoring.

We boarded our flight home well rested but sad to be leaving.  We’ve resolved to return to Hawaii as often as we can and figure out a way to live there eventually.  Yeah, we had a good trip.

You can see the photos HERE.


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