Monday, September 16, 2013

Hawai'i, a.k.a. the Big Island

Early sunset at Mauna Lani resort, Big Island Hawai'i

Okay, so I was a bit over-the-top in my critique of Kaua'i - my travelling companions violently disagreeing with my negative take on the isle, btw - but now, in any case, I'm too knackered to carp.
    And, honestly, who would want to? Big Island is so eco, so green, so organic and cool... I love it and wish we could stay longer.
  Am dead-beat this evening, however, because we've been going for over a week now and apart from a two-day 'break in' period, it's been go, go, go, as we traverse each island and hike to waterfalls, helicopter over volcanoes, hike some more, cycle here, zipline there, and then see some more. By six pm, I'm parched for a cocktail after hours in the heat rehydrating with my ever-present bottle of H20.
The waterfalls at Big Island's Tropical Botanical Gardens
     So, we've been on Big Island for three days and this is the youngest of the eight Hawaii'an islands - 'young' in that it is only 500,000 years old and still, as a result of its great youth, has active volcanoes. We helicoptered over smouldering lava today ... needless to say, home properties in the area are going for a song!!! The last time a volcano erupted here was in 2007, then 2011... so we're talking "active" alright, and you wouldn't want to get in the way of a volcano in a huff.
    Population here is around 150,000, compared to Kaua'i's 59,000, and Oahu's 1.2 million (with 800,000 of these living in Honolulu). We've been hearing a lot about King Kamehameha (sounds like Big Daddy Ha Ha), an especially aggressive seafarer who subjugated all the Hawaiian islands under his rule.
 One of his descendants was responsible for his men spearing Captain Cook to death in 1779... a fact I did not know, having never learned Australian history. Fascinating to think that all Cook's travels blew up in the bay about 10 kilometres north from where our glossy Mauna Lani resort nestles...
  Highlight of this island sojourn was a visit to an ocean cliff tropical botanical garden that had me, the world's worst photographer, snapping at every beautiful bloom in sight. I want to edit all the floral shots to a gentle piano sonata, if there is such a thing, and let it all wash over me again...
  Next stop: Oprah's favourite island, Maui, which is more hip and trendy. Definitely something in Hawai'i to suit all tastes!!!!
The sunset at Mauna Lani resort en route to beachside dinner

Friday, September 13, 2013

Kaua'i, the Garden State of Hawaii....

I had a moment yesterday before we left Kaua'i when I felt a visceral disgust for the Yanks' paucity of culture. As I sat there, my middle-aged waitress dishing up platitudes in lumpy thighs and styleless black shorts, and I gazed at a menu bereft of tantalising-sounding dishes, I wanted to levitate immediately from our shore-lined restaurant/bar and find myself, once again, somewhere with discernment and taste.
What have the Americans given us in the past 100 years, really?  A thirst for armament? The Tea Party? Drone strikes?  McDonalds? Hugh Hefner?  The Kardashians????
   You're getting my drift by now, I'm sure. On the second island of Hawaii we visited - Kaua'i, 'the Garden State' - we struggled to find anywhere decent to "hang".  We hadn't booked into a ritzy resort this time; instead we booked into a B&B tastefully "decorated" a la Elvis in his Blue Hawaii period. Oh my lordy, I have taken an iMovie of our suite - such decor you have never seen!?! You needed sunglasses simply to feel reposed.  But ... we did choose it - the best of a bad bunch - and that's probably because Kaua'i is Hawaii's version of Nimbin.
   This northernmost island of Hawaii has a population of around 58,000 and most of these citizens look feral. Sorry folks, but I am gonna 'call a spade a spade' here. Individually, each also seems parched for conversation because anyone with whom you cross paths talks and talks and talks... until you run away.
One of many exquisite views from the top of Waimea Canyon
    Luckily for the four of us, we are of completely like minds, so we reassure one another that we are not going loopy, and that a less-than-salubrious moment is excellent to 'compare and contrast' the Hawaii island experience.
   Yes, we got to see the Waimea Canyon - 'the Grand Canyon of the Southern Hemisphere' -  and we did that by helicopter as well - but for the rest of it, you could honestly give it a miss.
   Aloha Kaua'i, we won't be visiting your shores again any time soon. And, oh yes, a toast of sparkling champagne to my travellin' compatriots who kept us laughing and chugging along nevertheless!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Turtle Bay, Oahu

Hawaii is the land of long white surf
Aloha on day 3 of our holiday... or is it day 4? The days are already blurring into one another as all we seem to do is eat, sleep, drink, lie by the pool, swim in the sea, and relax. I play bridge tournaments online as I soak up the warm 28 deg C sunshine, but all the Mai Tais (is that how you spell them? I only spill 'em) I'm imbibing don't help my bridge score at all!
Our resort at Turtle Bay, Oahu

 We drove straight from Honolulu airport to Waimea Bay on Oahu's North Shore which is famous for its surfing beaches; and, sure enough, as I sit tapping here I can see a handful of determined surfers trying to ride a becalmed sea silvery with sunlight after a light shower.
   Hawaii has natural beauty galore - a breathtaking coastline with volcanic mountains as backdrop - and a surprising lack of commercial overtone.  At least, so far. Everything is laid-back. The place is a little stuck in a decade of yesteryear and everyone speaks in a sing-song voice, but who's complaining? Not me! As long as you order one meal for two, because the portions are off-puttingly enormous,  there is not a thing these gentle folk won't do to make your holiday a stress-free, restful one.
A surf shanty in the historic town on Oahu's north shore
  I was pretty tense and uptight by the time we boarded the plane for Hawaii, God only knows why, but I think it might have something to do with my ongoing "to do" lists. I arrived here determined to make an iMovie about Hawaii and I've already given up on that idea because...oh hell... it's too much like hard work.  See? Hawaii is working on me already...
Barack in his Hawaii childhood days
Swimming in Waimea Valley waterfall pool
All I can say is, no wonder Barack Obama always looks as loose as a goose. If you grew up here, you'd have Rastafarian fluid flowing in your bones, dat's for sure. Tomorrow we fly to rustic Kaua'i for three days ... the names of places here are impossible to pronounce or remember, by the way - # holiday dementia - and so far the only local word I've learned is "mahalo" which means 'thank you'.  The four of us decided to give the Pacific Cultural Centre a miss and so far have summoned the energy to go strolling in one of the most beautiful botanical gardens we have ever set eyes on. It was an easy one-hour round trip rewarded with a swim in a waterfall pool... if one felt so inclined. Aaaaaah, I feel relaxed... hope you're chillaxing too!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hawaii, September 2013

Aloha gentle readers, 
I will be honest and say I know pretty little about Hawaii apart from the very interesting history of Molokai, one of its islands, to which persons suffering leprosy were once sent. Molokai is today one of Hawaii's many tourist attractions and Hawaii boasts plenty. However, it is most famous for its fabulous weather, beautiful beaches, volcanoes, marine life and laid-back lifestyle. Sounds like Australia to me! We will see... here are some photographs I grabbed off the Internet, but soon hopefully I will be posting more of my own. I plan to master iMovie on my MacAir. Let's pray I am not being overly ambitious; it wouldn't be the first time (wink wink)!