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Archive for Hawaii

Aussie Clare Visits Hawaii

In September of 2015 I vacationed on the Hawaiian island of Oahu with a couple of friends from Melbourne. Our accommodation for the week was in one of the penthouse suites of the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel. The hotel is located in downtown Honolulu. The views were pretty great during both the day and the night.

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We decided we needed to plan our week out properly, so we stopped for lunch at a Japanese restaurant and took out the notebook. We found this restaurant as we wandered along Ala Moana Boulevard.


Now we were full of beans and Hawaiian water. It took us a couple of days to adjust to the humidity in Honolulu. I mean, we expected it to be hot there, but the humidity was a lot more intense than anticipated.


The Hawaiian Monarch Hotel was hosting a pool party on the Saturday we arrived…so we went downstairs to have a couple of poolside drinks, listen to the band, and soak up the vibe.


It was kind of like being in one of those cheesy American Spring Break films. When’s the beer pong starting??


Another thing we discovered about Hawaii when we were there was they love Spam. Like, they actually Really love it. This guy was wearing the coolest Spam board shorts.


Surfboards for hire.


My travel buddies. Also my work buddies. Sun hats and flip flops are essential in Hawaii.


There was a burger lounge on the street corner opposite our hotel called Cheeseburger Waikiki. The food and drink were great, and all the staff were really friendly. And they had a terrific beer selection, so all in all, check check check!


After a few days hanging out in downtown Honolulu we decided to get out of the touristy centre (which was filled with Aussies) and go and see where the real people of Hawaii lived. So we hired a car and drove to the North part of the island.


Those iconic Hawaiian mountains follow you everywhere you go in Oahu. The view on the other side of this photo, where the little house faces, is the Pacific Ocean. How amazing is that? Mountains in your backyard and an ocean in your front yard.


A Bud by the Pacific Ocean. It wasn’t mine. Wish I could say it was.


This is the waterfall at Waimea Falls Park. It was a 20 minute hike to the falls, where we found a lifeguard on duty who was looking after all of the tourists who wanted to go for a swim. The national park is filled with thousands of different plants, trees and flowers. Park staff provide visitors with historical information about the area. It was a great place to spend a few hours.


I’m not quite sure what this guy was doing. Or the one on the left.


This is Serg’s Mexican Kitchen, it’s known locally as Serg’s, and it is the best Mexican cuisine on the island. There are only a few Serg’s, but if you’re in Hawaii, find one with your Google map app and stop in for a meal. I didn’t get to find out what a Flautas is.


This was my lunch. Two grilled vege, soft shell taco’s and a mandarin soda. They weren’t licensed to serve alcohol, FYI.


This is the pedestrian crossing right in front of Serg’s, Manoa. It is one of the most scenic pedestrian crossings I have ever seen. It is located on the corner of E Manoa Road and Keama Place. Manoa is a great place to visit. It’s a really short drive out of Honolulu and is a university town.


Back at the hotel. When they say it is going to rain in Hawaii, it means that it will rain for five minutes, then the sun will come out again. But when it rains, it pours.


What can I say about Kailua Beach?? The next few photos speak for themselves. The water is as blue as that. The sand is as white as that. Kailua Beach is the most idyllic place I have ever been to (and I live in Australia!).



When I got back home to Melbourne, this photo was the screensaver on my phone for weeks. I hope I will go back to Kailua one day. The town itself is also terrific.


This is the car park at the beach. And there’s those mountains again.


I loved the colourful license plates in Hawaii.


Our day at The Pearl Harbor Visitor Centre was fantastic. It is such a well organised place. The video’s, the tours, and the museum explain the events of the attack in amazing detail.


After watching a short video in the theatre, that includes footage of the attack, we all took a boat across to the USS Arizona Memorial. The tour guide talked a lot more about the tragic events of the attack and encouraged people to pay their respects.


The flag at half mast. It was a nice coincidence that we visited Pearl Harbor on September 11th.


This is the entrance to the museum where you use a headset and audio guide to follow each exhibit in the room. The audio tour is voiced by actress Jamie Lee Curtis but also includes audio by survivors and sound bytes from the attack.


This happy couple were getting their wedding photos taken in front of the Hawaiian Theatre in downtown Chinatown.


2012 Cruise Part 6: Kaua’i, HI

Our last island stop was Kaua’i, which was probably the most lush and beautiful of the islands.  I would say it was probably the most Hawaii-looking, if that makes sense.  But having said that, our first stop was Waimea Canyon, which is the Grand Canyon of Hawaii.  And like that Grand Canyon, it really is quite overwhelming to stand before it.

The next brief stop was the Wailua Falls on the east side of the island.  Nothing major, just a really nice view as you’re driving along.

If you find yourself on Kauai at any point, be sure to take a drive along the north coast.  No place in particular, just go.  It’s all great; very green.  There are parking areas all along the way to stop and take in the views.  But be vigilant, we missed some great photo-ops that cropped up very briefly immediately following some of the many curves… and as soon as they came into sight, they were gone.  Unfortunately we couldn’t devote more time to it, but we were trying to get to our final destination for sunset.

Our last stop for the sunset was Kee beach in Haena State Park.  This beach is basically the end of the line as far as drivers go (as you drive counter-clockwise around the coast of the island).  Only people on foot can continue from there, and brave ones at that.  This was a terrific place to watch the sun set into the ocean; we were not the only ones there waiting with cameras.  Once again, rain came and went several times.

Once we had left the island, our captain made sure to cruise around the Na Pali coast on the north shore for everyone to take in it’s majesty.  Pretty impressive stuff; lots of great formations.  This is the area just west of Kee beach and can only be reached by hiking, with terrain that doesn’t look very casual.

The end

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2012 Cruise Part 5: Kona, HI

Kona was the second day on the big island.  Hilo on the east, and now Kona on the west.  This is the only place we went where the cruise ship couldn’t come right to shore.  Life boats took people in groups of 40 to port every few minutes.  The rest of my party went on a tour of the Kona coffee factory while I stayed in town along the shore.  This was going to be a relax and take it easy day for me.  Walked around, took photos, visited the local farmers market, and drank Kona coffee.  Which I can tell you went down smooth.

2012 Cruise Part 4: Hilo, HI

The idea of going to Hawaii was a pretty exciting one, but if there was one thing I could point to as my main source of interest, it would have to be the black sand beaches.  I’ve always been fascinated with the sight of them.  Outside of the badlands found in the west, it seems to be one of the most surreal types of landscapes to possibly visit… and now I was getting my chance.  Hawaii has several black sand beaches, and luckily one of the best ones was going to be in our reach!  Just an hour south of where we docked in Hilo (east side of the big island) was the Kaimu black sand beach, which is one of the more volcanic looking of the black sand beaches.  My dad and I broke off from the rest of the group, rented a car, and headed out.  We had about 6 hours for our day’s trip, but I could have stayed days.  I’m glad I was finally able to photograph this wicked looking place!

Before closing out our day we made a quick stop at Volcanoes National Park which was just north of the Kaimu beach.  It contains 2 volcanoes; Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

2012 Cruise Part 3: Maui, HI

Maui – a really gorgeous place, with postcard worthy images wherever you turn.  And to start it off, we decided to go on the most nerve-racking expedition possible… the Road to Hana!  It was only after we made the trip that we started noticing t-shirts for sale in most shops proclaiming ‘I survived the Road to Hana!’.  52 miles, 617 curves, 56 bridges… all of which takes place on a winding road just beside a cliff with little (and sometimes no) railing to protect you and yours.  And some of those bridges are only one way, just to pile on the panic.  Not to mention the big slap in the face destination, which one begins to assume must be absolutely amazing as you snake your way up this trail of terror.  But the end of the road only brings you to the small nondescript town of Hana.  It’s only at this point that you realize that the attraction was the drive itself, and not the destination.  Believe me when I say that this comes as a heavy blow.  Especially when you consider that you need to go back the very same way you came…. But the views are peachy!


To change course as drastically as possible, we decided to spend the rest of our stay in the tranquil town Lahaina.  A small whaling town on the west shore, this place was just a picturesque delight.  Mostly shops, restaurants, arts and craft vendors, and the like.

2012 Cruise Part 2: O’ahu, HI

In O’ahu, we spent most of our time in the capitol city, Honolulu.  Our hotel was right along the beach, providing us with a terrific view.  Activity along the strip was pretty active as you would imagine.  Even going out at 5 in the morning, people could still be found lounging around the shore.  The fickle weather was soon discovered to be one of the biggest learning curves of this trip.  You could count on rain to crop up about every 2-3 hours, yet subside after only a few minutes.  Sometimes it would last longer, but it always cleared after not very long.  The wind also became a force to reckon with depending on where you went.  And seeing as how I couldn’t bring my tripod on this trip, that was going to be a foe to face time and time again.

Our first full day was spent on a Polynesian tour around the island.  We made stops along the way at various cliffs, beaches, and mountain views.  One of the main stops was the Dole plantation where we had time to explore the grounds and enjoy some of the best pineapple ice cream you’re ever likely to have.

The last stop on the tour was the Polynesian Cultural Center.  Owned by the mormons, it’s a sort of cross between a theme park and a cultural museum.  We stayed there for the later part of the day and into the evening, taking in food preparation customs, dance and music lessons, tree climbing demonstrations, and all sorts of goodies.  The night ended with a  big meal and a live show (not to be photographed).  It was a good time for all.

At the end of our cruise, we sailed back to Honolulu and spent the last day visiting Pearl Harbor before flying back home.  We visited the USS Missouri and the USS Arizona Memorial.  Note the oil slick still sitting on the water surface.

2012 Cruise Part 1: Ship and Ports

Flew into O’ahu and stayed there for the first two days of the trip.  Hotel was in Honolulu right on the beach providing a terrific view.  After the first two days, we boarded the ship and set sail.  Here are a few shots around our ship, followed by a selection of shots taken at all the ports of all the different islands we went to.  All port shots taken while aboard the cruise ship.