Our third island stop was Oahu. We arrived on Friday, Jan. 27th, just two days before the Pro Bowl. There were tons of people everywhere, and the traffic was terrible.
We rented a car with pick-up at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki. The hotel was hosting some Pro Bowl events. We stood in line for 1/2 hour at the Hertz kiosk to get our car. For a number of reasons, this was not a good experience with Hertz.
When we were here in 1987, the Hilton was one tower. It has grown into a huge complex with five towers and more being built. Waikiki was a tourist trap back then, but it’s much worse now. You can’t even see the ocean anymore unless you’re staying at one of the hotels. This area was by far my least favorite stop on the trip.
We finally were able to get out of the traffic jams and headed to Pearl Harbor. We had all been there before, but wanted to get our National Park Passports stamped. This is another area that has grown tremendously. There are now several ships you can tour. In order to get out to the USS Arizona Memorial, you better be there when the ticket windows open or forget it. We couldn’t even see the movie because you needed tickets which were already given out until late in the afternoon. We looked around a little, got our books stamped and moved on.
Our plan was to stay away from the touristy area and drive around the north side of the island. We had heard this was the time of the year the surf competitions were going on, and that the surf on that side of the island was amazing. So, we spent most of the day in the car driving around the entire island. We found the beach known as the Bonzai Pipeline. There was a surf competition beginning within the next few days.
There were quite a few surfers in the water. We were told the surf was actually not big enough and that’s why they weren’t competing yet. It looked pretty big to me. I wouldn’t want to be out there.
As we continued around the island, we saw some amazing scenery. There have been quite a few movies and TV shows filmed among the mountains here. One of the most memorable is Jurassic Park. We saw some breathtaking scenery that looked just like the movie. It was difficult to get good pictures because the sun was right over the mountains, but trust me when I tell you it was amazing.
We also stopped at the Dole Plantation.
There was a little train ride you could go on that took you around the plantation. We saw lots of different types of plants including pineapple fields. It takes around 15 months for a pineapple to grow. All of the planting and harvesting is done by hand. As labor intensive as it is to grow them, I’m surprised they’re not more expensive.
Here’s a banana tree.
The next day our stop was Kona, on the opposite side from Hilo on the Big Island. Once again I was up on deck to look for whales. This time there were several humpback whales off the coast. We actually saw them breach out of the water three times, but I didn’t get any pictures of that. Here’s one of them waving his flipper at us. It was an amazing site.
We had purchased an excursion through the ship for Kona. Kevin and I and Joan and Al went on the Zodiac snorkeling trip. I think it was one of the most fun things we did. I don’t have any pictures because I didn’t want to risk getting my camera wet. The Zodiac boats are the same types of rubber rafts you see the Navy Seal teams use in the movies. There were 16 of us on the boat. Our captain took us out into the ocean and we saw a huge Manta Ray, a school of Spinner Dolphins and some Bottlenose Dolphins. One of them jumped out of the water just like Flipper. We were very close to all of them.
Then we headed to a Marine Preserve area for snorkeling. This was only my second time snorkeling, and I enjoyed it much more than the first time. I saw all kinds of beautiful colorful fish and incredible coral.
On the way back, the captain showed us some sea caves and lava tubes. It was about a 3-1/2 hour trip, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
After the trip, we stopped at the Kona Brewery and sampled some of their beers. We walked around and did a little shopping. Kona was the only port where the city was within walking distance of the pier. Most of the ports were in industrial areas and there wasn’t anywhere you could walk to from the ship. I think Kona was my favorite stop.
Back on the ship, we were treated to a breathtaking sunset.
Our last island stop was Kauai. We had again rented a mini-van through Hertz. The rental process on this island was very smooth.
We drove about an hour to the Kalalau Lookout where we were actually above the clouds.
Then we headed to Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. More breathtaking views.
There were some goats up there, too cute!
We stopped at the Kauai Coffee Plantation. I didn’t really know how coffee is grown. They grow it on these trellises and have a huge machine that fits over the tops of the plants and “tickles” the ripe coffee beans off the plants with fiberglass fingers. Very interesting.
Here are the beans.
Our last stop was Wailua Falls which were seen on the old TV show, Fantasy Island. We were lucky enough to see a double rainbow created by the falls. This may be the most beautiful waterfall I have ever seen.
Kauai was the shortest stop on the trip, so we weren’t able to see more of the island. I had read that it is called The Garden Island because of all the lush vegetation. We didn’t get to see that part of the island. One of the peaks of this island has the greatest annual rainfall amount in the world with over 460 inches per year.
There were so many beautiful flowers on all of the islands. I put together a collage of a few of them.
So, we left the Hawaiian Islands and spent five days at sea. On the fifth day, we stopped in Ensenada, Mexico for the evening. There is a law that requires the ship to stop in a foreign port before returning to the US, so that’s why we stopped in Mexico for five hours.
We got off the ship and took a shuttle the two miles to Ensenada. We were in search of a good margarita. There were tour guides at the bus stop to help tourists navigate their way through the town safely. Tony, one of the guides, showed us a bar where he said they had the best margaritas. It was owned by a friend of his. I had a mango margarita for $3. It was huge, but I don’t think there was much tequila in it as I barely felt a thing.
We walked along the main street for a few blocks and saw all the typical tourist stuff. I did buy some vanilla for my mom. We talked to Tony, the tour guide, for a while. He was raised in the US by Mexican immigrant parents, but returned to Mexico with his family several years ago.
He claims the biggest problem in Mexico is not drugs, but illegal smuggling of people. He claims they get between $10,000 and $20,000 per person. He liked the idea of the border wall. He also told us that the children selling gum are rented out by their parents to a boss. The boss brings them to town and has them pester tourists selling gum. What a shame.
Well, that’s the end of my Hawaii posts. We’ve spent the last few days catching up on things here at home. We’ve been hiking in the desert for an hour each day, and we did play Bean Bag Baseball today at the park. We’ll probably join in on some of the other activities they have here before we leave.
Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!