About This Blog

This blog is to share with you some of the highlights of my visits to Hawaii and miscellaneous Hawaiiana. Hawai'i has had a great impact on my life. To see more on why I keep this blog, see: The Impact of Hawai'i in My Life.

Also, check out the Hawaiian Trivia Quiz.


April-May 2000 Trip to Kauai, Maui and Oahu

The first morning on Kaua'i we drove up to the Wailua River and took a cruise to the Fern Grotto. There weren’t many people on the first boat, which made it nice. I hate being tourist cattle. Here, DeNeise was able to get a feel for the beauty of this island. After the cruise, we drove inland to take a jungle hike near the Keahou Arboretum, after a stop at the Opaeka’a Falls lookout. I couldn’t get the car to go as far as I wanted it to on the unimproved, potholed road, so we stopped and walked a ways down the road to in the lush foliage. It was beautiful! We vowed to come back here with a jeep some day and take the road as far as we can into the jungle areas that lay ahead.

We later stopped at the Kilauea Lighthouse and enjoyed the view. It’s such a beautiful spot with beautiful views of the shoreline. Nearby is a bird sanctuary, with lots of red-footed boobies – what a name! We came upon a bird nesting in a little cave-hole in a hill side near the path. Further down the road, we stopped before the bridge at Kalihiwai, and walked halfway across to get a view of the valley and waterfall. A tropical Garden of Eden, spoiled only by the passing cars. Then we came to the Hanalei Valley overlook, another edenic spot.

Next was a place called Queen’s Bath, a volcanic rock tidepool next to the ocean that is occasionally fed by high waves splashing over the rocks. The water is cool, not cold, and calm. There are some fish in it, but they don’t mind sharing the water with you. It’s really an idyllic place, great for swimming, diving and sunbathing, with a great shoreline view. This was an extremely enjoyable place – one which has captured my heart and has beckoned me to return.

That evening we went to the luau at Smith’s Tropical Paradise – a large garden with a dining pavilion and amphitheater for the night show. It was a pretty place, a good meal and a fun show – not as exciting as the Polynesian Cultural Center, but still enjoyable. We watched the kalua pig being unwrapped and lifted out of the luau pit. At dinner, we consorted with a peacock, and during the show, we heard a bunch of them cawing each time a loud noise or bright flame occurred. It was surprising to see a whole flock of them roosting in the trees.

The next morning we drove out to the west side of the island, through some beautiful landscape. Man, this is some island! Outside the small town of Waimea we boarded the Na Pali Kai, a power catamaran with Liko Kauai Cruises. From 7:30 to 11:30 am we were treated to a fantastic journey up the Na Pali coastline. I took some drammamine just to be sure I would be able to enjoy the trip – I think it helped. I wanted to see this coastline by either boat or helicopter, and I finally decided maybe my stomach could handle the boat better than the helicopter. Someday though, I still want to try the helicopter! On the way we saw tuna, dolphins and a turtle. The weather was perfect and the water was calm.

The cliffs are so beautiful and spectacular – something you just don’t see many other places in the world. Looking up the canyons and seeing waterfalls, sea caves and secluded beaches made an awesome and interesting ride. I loved it! Since it was a good day, the captain took us farther than usual up to a sea cave that had a little waterfall coming down at the entrance. He took us right under it and got us wet on the way inside. It was great!

On the way back, we stopped at a place for snorkeling and lunch. Sometimes I wish I were a fish! It is so fun swimming around with them. Aaaahhhh – communing with nature! Lunch was yummy, and the ride back was fun, though a bit bumpier. I really hated leaving the coastline – what gorgeous nature the Lord has created!

In the afternoon, we drove up Waimea Canyon to enjoy the cliffs from another view, especially the Kalalau Valley. After stopping at the Waimea Canyon lookout, and the Kokee Lodge, we came to the Kalalau Valley lookout for our first view of the magnificent valley and cliffs. The view at first was partially hidden, and the whole thing was mystical. We stayed there for a while and watched the mist and clouds roll in and then dissipate. It’s such a beautiful sight. I’d love to be able to explore that valley! (I did later. See My Journey to Kalalau)

Then we took a hike on the Pihea Trail and saw some fantastic views of the valley and cliffs. It was a 2-mile round-trip hike along the top rim of the Kalalau Valley.

The Pihea Trail is a walk through gorgeous, tropical nature. The mist came over us every once in a while. We could see into the Alaka’i swamp area - beautiful and lush with birds chirping. At the end of the trail (before it turns in to the Alaka’i swamp area), it got pretty rough. I climbed up to the Pihea Vista, from where I could see the whole Kalalau Valley – the mist being kind enough to dissipate for a few minutes. What a view! I wish I could have stayed there for a long time. But the memory of that experience will stay with me for a long time.

That night we ate at the Brick Oven in Kalaheo and had some of the best tasting pizza I’ve ever had! Yum, yum! In review, this was one of the best days of my life.

I arose early to watch the sunrise over the ocean – always awesome – and then we found a nice place for breakfast in Lihue called Hawaiian Classic Desserts. It had an outdoor deck with a beautiful mountain view. The food was ono (delicious)!Afterwards, we drove up to Wailua falls, made famous for the opening scene of the “Fantasy Island” TV series. It’s a beautiful place – we stayed a while and checked out the wares of local craftsmen on the roadside. At a road viewpoint, we saw another waterfall in the distance amidst the lush countryside. The rest of the day we spent exploring the north shore and all of its beauty. We stopped to buy a couple of leis and a yummy fruit smoothie at Banana Joe’s roadside stand. We enjoyed the view of Hanalei Bay at the Princeville resort, and then drove up into the lush Hanalei Valley. We drove up about a mile or so and ended at a bamboo forest. Such a beautiful setting – its an idyllic paradise. The Hanalei Bay beach attracted us to pull over and stay for a while. Nice sand and low waves.

Then, at Lumahai Beach, I took a run down the beach and climbed on rocks. I began thinking of how blessed I am to be here! I love the ocean. Part of my spirit dwells there. To top the day off in a grand way, we drove through the tropical splendor to the end of the road to Ke’e beach. The water was shallow way out on a reef, and we had a great view of the Na Pali cliffs. We stayed here for a while to enjoy the sunset. It was beautiful and peaceful.

The next morning we drove out to the Lawai (McBryde) National Tropical Botanical Garden, near the Poipu area. We had reserved a tour, which was a small group of 8 people led by a great tour guide named Lee. This part of the gardens is only open for tours on Monday – so it was a unique and specialized program. We boarded an old ’51 DeSoto tourist cruiser, which soon had a flat, and then switched to an old Dodge, same kind of car – a fun way to take the tour! It was a 2½ hour tour through some very beautiful gardens – full of all kinds of tropical plants, including the ficus trees with the huge roots, that were used in the Jurassic Park movie. Lee was very informative and a lot of fun. Man, to have a garden like that!

Then, on to the Spouting Horn, where the water shoots up through a lava tube. We did some shopping at the outdoor gift booths set up here. After lunch, we spent an hour or so at Poipu Beach Park, where we soaked up some sun. I think I must have been a beach bum / surfer dude in another life. I enjoy it too much there. I have never tried surfing – but wish I would have. It looks like a lot of fun! Through Koloa town, and after getting some ono ice cream at Lapperts, we headed to Kipu Falls. This is another of my favorite spots. Beautiful and fun! There’s a rope to swing on out over the pool and drop in. It hangs from a huge tree which sits at the steep side of the pool. I had a blast and would have done it more than two times if the way back wasn’t so hard. I had to do some straight cliff mountain climbing with the help of a rope and the tree roots. Pools and waterfalls are one of the best things I like about Hawaii – nice beaches are another.

After a nice drive back, seeing the Menehune Fish Pond and the Kalapaki Beach at the Kauai Lagoons resort, we ended the day up at the Jacuzzi and pool at the hotel. It was our last night on Kauai, and though I was sad to leave, I was excited for what was to come. Kauai is a very special place for me – it’s my favorite of the Hawaiian islands. I’ll be back.

Here today, gone to Maui. We said goodbye to Kauai this morning and flew to Maui. We rented a convertible for the day today, which was spent on the Road to Hana. It was a very beautiful day and drive – sometimes sunny and sometimes cloudy / misty. I had forgotten just how beautiful that road really is. It is just breathtaking – I know of no other place in the world like it. You really need more than a full day to explore and see everything. There are a lot of back roads and trails I’d love to explore. DeNeise and I decided we’ll have to come back and stay in Hana for a few days to really enjoy this lush, tropical Garden of Eden.

We stopped and enjoyed the Puohokamoa Falls at mile marker 11 on the road – the same pool and waterfall that I first came to 19 years ago with Kelly Parker and the crew we were with. I jumped off the 35 foot ledge, again, like I did back then. It looks a lot higher from the top looking down than vice-versa. I almost chickened out, but made myself do it. It was a thrill! This is another spot I really enjoy and have etched into my memory and soul. Aaaaahh – Hawaii!

We stopped at the Wailua town overlook where DeNeise decided she had found her paradise, and told me that she was going to buy a muumuu and stay, and that her parents could raise the kids. Yeah, right. Hana looks like a nice little town worthy of some exploration. Then we went past the point where I had driven before – on to the Seven Sacred Pools at Oheo Gulch. It’s just amazing how this road just goes on and on in lush, tropical, narrow, winding beauty. You get to the point where saying “this is so beautiful” becomes tiresome and insufficient, and you just marvel at the ride in silence. It’s really a heaven on earth!

By the time we got to the Seven Pools area, it was 6:00 pm. We unfortunately didn’t have time to really enjoy or appreciate the area, so this is a definite must for return. A quick hike gave us a look at the pools, but only made me wish I had another day here. Someday, definitely!

Well, from there the experience went from beautiful to interesting to scary to frustrating to maddening. Oh well, that part only lasted a couple of hours. I had decided to continue on the road and circle the island to get back to the airport, since it was shorter and we were pushing the time. But I’ll never take that way again. I had heard that there were parts of the road that were unimproved and had some potholes, but I was not expecting what we got. The road became less winding, but also became even narrower, very bumpy and the landscape became ugly and dry. It’s amazing how different it can be within a few short miles (short distance-wise, not driving time). We drove through about 20 miles of this bumpy, God-forsaken area at an average of 20 mph. It might not have been so bad if 1) we weren’t pushing the time to get back to the airport, 2) it hadn’t got dark on us about half-way through, and of course there are no lights out there, anywhere, and 3) we didn’t have to watch out for cattle crossing the road – we got real close to a big black bull and his harem of cows coming around a sharp bend! I was white-knuckled and DeNeise was very scared! Well, we finally made it through, and even caught our flight on time at 9:00 – barely!

As I said to DeNeise, every rose has a thorn, and we need to try to remember the beauty and fun we had through most of the day. The saying on Maui is “Maui No Ka Oi” or “Maui is the best”. Well as far as the scenic beauty is concerned, nothing tops the Road to Hana! (Okay, the Na Pali cliffs and Kalalau Valley are also great!) There’s just so much here!

The next day on Oahu we slowed the pace a bit, went shopping and enjoyed Waikiki
In the evening, we enjoyed some tropical drinks while overlooking the beach and the view of Diamond Head from the Royal Hawaiian’s Mai Tai Bar. It was nice to soak in the mood, the view and listen to some Hawaiian music entertainment. I kept thinking it was hard to believe being back in Hawaii. I think I belong here!

One of the things we wanted to do over here has to go horseback riding. We arranged a package at Kualoa Ranch, on the east shore, on the way to Laie and the north shore. We started by taking a boat across an inside bay to their private beach, and spent some time snorkeling. It was fun, but time seemed to go by too fast before they were rounding us up to go have lunch and then to the horseback ride. We ate a good lunch at a terrace, changed clothes, and then went to the stables. It has been a long time for either of us being on a horse – so it was an exciting venture. I was chosen to take the lead horse (other than the guide), on an hour and a half ride up a country road with Monkey Pod trees, and then along the hillside with a beautiful view of the ocean, and then down into the Ka’a’awa Valley – the site of many film locations, including Jurassic Park. It is such a beautiful (over-used word, but the best description) valley. I wanted to be able to leave the group and ride further up the valley. But after and hour and a half on a saddle in the hot sun, it felt good to be done.

Later, we visited the Byodo-In Buddhist temple and enjoyed some peaceful moments in that pretty spot. The highlight was the birds which eagerly landed and fought for a spot on our out-stretched hands. I’ve never seen that before! We rounded off the day by visiting the beaches of Lanikai and Kailua, both of which have a beautiful setting with soft, white sand and low tide. Both of these have been listed on the “Most Beautiful Beaches in America” lists. I love the beach – have I ever said that before?

The next morning we drove out to Hanauma Bay for a wonderful time of snorkeling and soaking up some sun. We thought it might be real crowded there, but it really wasn’t that bad. And the fish were fantastic! This is really a great place for snorkeling. There’s lots of coral reefs with inlet valleys and holes for discovering fish. I think these are my brethren – I need to commune with them. We enjoyed this place for about three hours. After Hanauma Bay, we drove up the coast a little and stopped at the majestic scene at Makapu’u point. It was fun to look down on Makapu’u Beach below, where 19 years ago I did some fun body surfing and got churned up in the tide.

Then we drove over the lush, green Ko’olau mountains and into the central valley of Oahu past miles of pineapple fields. We had to make the obligatory stop at the Dole Pineapple Plantation and get a Pineapple Whip frozen dessert. We saw many different varieties of pineapple in their display garden. At the little town of Hale’iwa, we stopped at a roadside stand and bought some seashells, and then made our way to the Hale’iwa Beach Park and watched the sunset. It was gorgeous, of course, and was added to by the outrigger canoes rowing by. We ate dinner at Pizza Bob’s, where we got a table outside on their deck and listened to a Hawaiian band which played both contemporary and traditional songs. Great food, good time!

The next morning, we drove up the lush eastern coast of Oahu to go to a session at the Laie LDS Temple and spend the day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The grounds outside the temple are very beautiful, and demanded some of our time and attention. A beautiful, serene, holy place!

The Polynesian Cultural Center is always a place you have to go to. The whole feel and experience of the place is very unique and cultural – like you’re in another world. Part of me must be Polynesian – I really soak up this stuff. I was chosen to come up and make a fool out of myself in the Tongan village with one of the drummers. It was actually quite fun! I had to put on this grass skirt and beat on a drum while mimicking what the other guy said. We yelled out “Ah-vay, ah-vay!” and other Tongan yells. Then, he went on a tangent and spewed out a long bunch of words, and then he looked at me – I said “Ditto!"

We felt a little rushed to see everything before the Luau started, and actually wish we had skipped it. It wasn’t worth the extra money we paid – I would rather have spent more time in the villages. The Luau was very crowded and had cheesy narration at the kalua pig pit and so-so entertainment. The food was also so-so as luaus go. So, a lesson learned there. Next time we’ll eat at a snack bar or the buffet restaurant instead. But, the night show was just as spectacular as ever, and made up for the prior disappointed feelings.

We started our last full day here on the islands with brunch at the Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Bar, and enjoyed the beach and Diamond head view one more time. That’s a nice spot. I took a little walk on the beach to sink my feet into the sand and water. You know, there’s something about water…

In the afternoon, we decided to take it easy on a beautiful beach - we chose to go back to Kailua beach. It’s a popular place for wind surfing and surf sailing – something I hadn’t seen before. Surfer and board are attached to a sky-diving sail that goes up pretty high, following the wind. Fun to watch. I ran about a mile or so down the beach and then back. Every once in a while I jumped in the water, laid down on the sand – the soft, warm white sand. Listening to the waves. Watching the pretty clouds. Wow. Can this day go on forever, please?

DeNeise and I played games and read. What a nice day! We stayed as long as we could before it got dark – who wants to leave? I scooped up some sand to bring home. Too bad we can’t bring everything home. But, we sure have some great memories of a fantastic trip that will stay with us for a long time. Aloha Oe!

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