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This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I, or Jennifer and I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

Paris over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 |

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2009/08/11 Honeymoon in the Hawaii Islands
π 2009-08-11 00:00 in Trips
I started planning this trip for our honeymoon about 6 months prior thanks to the help from the excellent Wizard Publications Hawaii books (unfortunately Jennifer was quite busy with work at the time and didn't get much time to plan the trip with me, so I did the best for the both of us).
First, reading the books, taking all the relevant notes and planning our trip out of it was close to an herculean task (took days of work to find out what we could/should do, and where, and then plan out trip out of it).

Hawaii aka The Big Island is to the Hawaii islands what Tahiti is to French Polynesia: one Island in a chain. In this case however, one flies to Honolulu in Ohahu since it has a bunch of big ass runways, some now unused by the military.
Ohahu seemed to be the least exciting of the 4 main Islands, so I focussed on the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai.

Months later, with expert help from Lei from Value Vacations/Boutique Travel, we had a trip lined up:

  • first the Big Island to see the Volcanoes, Mauna Kea (highest mountain in the world when measured from where it starts in the water) and everything else that's on the Island.
  • then, going on the Aggressor liveaboard diving boat for a week's worth of diving around Kona
  • Maui was the next Island, only a puddle jump away. First 3 days to visit the Island and then diving out of Kilei
  • Kauai being last, but not least for at least a day of hiking in its nice hills, diving in the morning and visit of the smaller island in the afternoon when we felt like it.
  • I also recorded a GPS track of our trip including the dives and flights, showing a good visual overview of the trip:

    But let's go back to the beginning


    The Big Island

    Our plan was to spend 2.5 days on the East/Hilo side, see Volcanoes National Park, Hilo, and visit the East side before taking Saddle Road to the West/Kona side. This is indeed what we did but the weather wasn't great to say the least. On the first day we couldn't see anything due to low clouds and light rain, and the upcoming days were only marginally better. We also found out that the Big Island currently has near permanent poor visibility due to the volcano smoke.

    Our rental 4x4 Jeep Rubicon
    Our rental 4x4 Jeep Rubicon


    Volcano Park



    The day we arrived in Volcano Park, the visibility was quite poor and we just couldn't see anything from the rim edge. That however didn't get in the way of visiting the Thurston Lava Tube since it's pitch dark inside anyway :)




    Next day, the weather was good enough to have a slightly better view, do a few hikes on lava, and drive down Chain of Craters drive to the old 130 highway that got overtaken by flowing lava. Walking on the road up to where it's filled with lava is actually a cool sight.









    Oh crap, I'm going to have to make a U turn then :)
    Oh crap, I'm going to have to make a U turn then :)


    The bad news however is that to get anywhere close to the lava flowing into the sea that you can see in a distance, you now have to drive 90mn all the way around to get there. This is what we did and we arrived there just after sunset where you can see the glow of the lava reflecting in the water vapour smoke (during the day, all you can see is the smoke).



    Volcano rock can be very porous and light
    Volcano rock can be very porous and light


    Hilo/East Coast

    Except for the stupid mosquitoes, Naali Plantation was great
    Except for the stupid mosquitoes, Naali Plantation was great

    Ants hard at work
    Ants hard at work

    After a night at a nice Bed and Breakfast, Naali Plantation, we drove up the East side of the island to visit a few points along the way.




    Among those was the very nice botanical garden.



    Cat whiskers
    Cat whiskers






    The majestic Akaka Falls
    The majestic Akaka Falls

    Jennifer was very happy picking up random fruits on the side of the road :)
    Jennifer was very happy picking up random fruits on the side of the road :)

    As far north as we got
    As far north as we got

    Waipio Lookout
    Waipio Lookout

    At the end the plan was to drive down to waipio valley and make use of the 4WD jeep we had, but the weather was just poor the steep road down was wet and slippery, and Jennifer was just very tired so we turned back towards our next room for the night.
    We stayed at a nice Chinese decorated hotel by Kulaniapia Falls with a view of the nice falls from our window.

    great decors
    great decors

    nice view for a hotel window
    nice view for a hotel window



    Saddle Road/Mauna Kea

    The next morning was time to drive Saddle Road towards Mauna Kea and drive up to the peak, which is almost at 14,000ft.

    little cave that was on the way
    little cave that was on the way

    the famous sinuous Saddle Road
    the famous sinuous Saddle Road

    weather was not good
    weather was not good

    this is probably the best view we got that day
    this is probably the best view we got that day

    the road up to Mauna Kea
    the road up to Mauna Kea

    after not seeing so much at the top, back on the sinuous road
    after not seeing so much at the top, back on the sinuous road

    It's almost like driving from the beach in California to the very top of Mt Whitney, the highest peak on the continental US, in less than 2H. Because of the speed of the ascent and the limited oxygen up there, visitors are strongly encouraged to stay at the lower visitor center for a while to acclimatize to the altitude, which we did. Unfortunately by the time we got to the top, the weather hadn't improved much and we weren't able to see much of anything from up there.

    a few hundred warnings
    a few hundred warnings

    half of the Keck observatory
    half of the Keck observatory

    it works in pairs
    it works in pairs

    many radio telescopes up there
    many radio telescopes up there

    We did have a quick visit of the Keck observatory and by sticking around a bit longer the rain soon subsided and we were able to get just a little bit of a view before heading down. Now is a time to mention that I was not impressed with the Jeep Rubicon we had rented: its 5.8L gas guzzling engine (5.8L! it's bigger than my 400HP (5.0L) and 490HP (4.9L) cars and properly barely delivered 300HP it seems) was not able to get us to the top in 2nd gear. At the end we had to climb in first gear due to the reduced manifold air pressure at 13,000ft, but still it was a pityful engine and whoever designed the stupid doors that never close deserves to be fired and not bailed out.

    But eh, since we had paid for the thing, and weren't able to use the 4WD to get to Waipio (while it was barely useful to get up to Mauna Kea), I decided to have a little fun on an ATV track off Saddle road recommended by our book


    This made the jeep a bit more useful and at home
    This made the jeep a bit more useful and at home

    Although the road was ultimately a one way up a dicey trail to the top of a peak so I turned around before pushing our luck too much :)
    Although the road was ultimately a one way up a dicey trail to the top of a peak so I turned around before pushing our luck too much :)


    Kona

    After that, we arrived in Kona in time for a sunset dinner.







    Dolpinquest

    The next morning we drove north to Waikoloa for the Dolphinquest encounter we were signed up for. Playing with the dolphins was definitely a lot of fun.

    Waikoloa Village is likely totally overpriced, but quite nice
    Waikoloa Village is likely totally overpriced, but quite nice







    Big Island Flight

    We had planned on doing a flight around the island when we were on the Hilo side, but the weather was just so poor that I had cancelled it. Thankfully 3 days later on the Kona side things were looking a bit better, so instead of visiting around Kona further, we headed for the airport and did a flight around the island. It ended up being well worth it and even if visibility was marginal for sightseeing in my book (we never saw the mountains in the middle of the island), it was apparently about as good as it gets. Touring the Island in about 2H by plane gave us a much better view of things and allowed us to see the lava flow from the top (although even from there it was mostly just the smoke from the steam generated by lava flowing in the ocean). That said, we saw some other cool spots in Volcano NP that we wouldn't have seen from the road. Incidently I also got a good shot from the pool we were in for our Dolphin Encounter a few hours prior.

    It was an old and slow carburated C172, but eh, it flew :)
    It was an old and slow carburated C172, but eh, it flew :)

    road across an older lava flow
    road across an older lava flow

    a couple of craters
    a couple of craters



    the 130 hwy stops where lava took over
    the 130 hwy stops where lava took over


    lava flow falling in the ocean
    lava flow falling in the ocean


    actual hot lava seen through a hole
    actual hot lava seen through a hole

    you can see the lava flow through 2 roads and a forest
    you can see the lava flow through 2 roads and a forest





    Waipio Valley, with a shot of the road down we didn't take
    Waipio Valley, with a shot of the road down we didn't take

    can you say waterfalls?
    can you say waterfalls?

    the local grand canyon :)
    the local grand canyon :)

    Waikoloa Resorts
    Waikoloa Resorts


    Dolphinquest in action
    Dolphinquest in action


    The Aggressor

    Having done a few liveaboard before, it seemed like a good idea there again: it's just a simple way to do a lot of diving without worrying about doing it from the shore with all the overhead associated. See the associated diving post for more.



    Maui

    After the Aggressor, Maui was next. We flew in the smallest commercial plane I've been in so far: a nine passenger single engine Cessna. The nice part is that because the plane was so small, we board on the GA side of the airport and did not have to go through all the TSA crap (I'm sure they would have tried to confiscate our fresh coconut because it had more than 3 floz of juice inside).




    When we got off the plane, we went directly to Laihana to see a doctor for Jennifer who had had some vertigo problems which must have been diving induced (just a tiny bit of anything in the wrong place in your ear can cause that). We didn't get a silver bullet answer (never got one), but at least she didn't have a bad ear infection and it eventually cleared up by itself (although it was only fully gone after we got home).
    The plan for Maui was to do the smaller west loop on the first day and end back up in Kahului for the next early morning activity. After driving a bit quickly through the fairly nice Laihana, we continued the loop north beyond the allowed or recommended driving zone for rental cars (hard to tell because the rental lady went as far as lying to us about the road being closed in somewhere, apparently because she was tired of tourists with the "Maui revealed" book going to see all the nice spots on the Island that she deemed should be for locals only). The guide books point out that the road is sinuous and not so well paved (if paved at all) in some places on Maui. It's true that the portion of road north of Laihana eventually became unpaved, one lane only, with many blind turns and occasional fallen rocks. For the average driver this would likely have been scary, but I found it fun :)

    Dragon's Teeth
    Dragon's Teeth


    Blowhole
    Blowhole

    This was nothing, there were some nice sized rocks in the middle of the road
    This was nothing, there were some nice sized rocks in the middle of the road


    Haleakala

    We slept in Kahului where we had landed so that we could drive down in the middle of the night to Haiku for a van ride up to Haleakala to see a beautiful sunrise from above 10,000ft. After the indeed beautiful sunrise in chilly windy weather with headlamps, we headed back down to the staging area where the road is a bit safer and rode all the way back down on bikes that came up with the van (they used to let people bike down from the top, but eventually some sleep deprived and likely unfit to bike in the first place person rode off the road and died, so they only allow biking from lower down where the road is a bit safer.

    03:00, way too early
    03:00, way too early

    still night
    still night

    and cold
    and cold

    layers and gloves helped
    layers and gloves helped

    light is...
    light is...

    ... slowly ...
    ... slowly ...

    ... coming up
    ... coming up

    there ...
    there ...

    ... it ...
    ... it ...

    .. .is
    .. .is
















    cute pet piggy we saw on the road
    cute pet piggy we saw on the road


    North Maui loop drive to Hana

    After the biking down from Haleakala and breakfast, we took a leisurely drive to Hana, with a few stops along the way for sightseeing and eventually arrived in Hana. That part of road was sinuous, but quite scenic and enjoyable in my book.

    local ducks
    local ducks







    the road to Hana
    the road to Hana


    Maui has many mongooses
    Maui has many mongooses


    We had for a nice home cooked dinner in a fully equipped hut. Watching the sunset from the long chairs outside was however not a great plan due to hungry killer mosquitoes outside (those bloodsuckers were all over the islands and much of a pain in the ass, or whether they bit you).





    South Maui loop drive to Kilei

    The next morning, we went to check out the nearby red sand beach, and had a dip in a closeby black sand beach before heading back on the road for the other half of the loop. We soon got to the 7 sacred pools, part of Haleakala NP, and they were worth the stop, as well as a dip for swimming behind the waterfall. We also had time to hike up a trail to the first waterfall, but I didn't want to get too far behind daylight wise and Jennifer was still tired and dealing with occasional vertigo, so we didn't hike all the way up to the higher waterfall. Maybe next time :)


    red sand beach
    red sand beach




    seven sacred pools
    seven sacred pools


    behind the waterfall from sacred seven pools
    behind the waterfall from sacred seven pools




    The road past the national park indeed became unpaved and not always very wide, but I had no trouble keeping a good pace on it even with the no too great PT cruiser rental we ended up with. On the way to our hotel we stopped by an ER to have Jennifer checked out again as we weren't sure whether she'd be ok to dive the following days as per our schedule and reservations. They found nothing wrong with her but indeed advised that she take it easy until her vertigo mostly subsided.

    pavement wasn't too good, but the nets on the mountain catch fallen rocks
    pavement wasn't too good, but the nets on the mountain catch fallen rocks


    road builders were a bit drunk, but it made the road fun to drive
    road builders were a bit drunk, but it made the road fun to drive

    We caught a nice sunset while driving to Kilei

    sunset from the side hills of Haleakala
    sunset from the side hills of Haleakala




    Once we got in Kilei, we scored a nice free upgrade to a dual unit condo which was way too big for us, eh, who's complaining :).
    The next 4 days were scheduled for diving in the morning and resting/beach time in the afternoon, which worked out just fine for Jennifer who did need the rest (we also had some time to do some visiting around Kilei, which has quite a row of shops and restaurants). Jennifer was understandably happy that we could stay in one place for a while and cook at home after having filled the fridge.


    Jennifer made some king crab for us, quite yummy :)
    Jennifer made some king crab for us, quite yummy :)


    Maui Diving

    Details are in the associated diving post. Jennifer unfortunately had to skip two days of diving to rest, but thankfully she was able to come to the two better days out of the four we had.


    Laihana, Warren and Annabelle Magic Show

    As per our guide book's recommendation, we went to see the Warren and Annabelle show. I expected the guidebook writers to of course easily impressed because they are not used to rating magic, and being the son of a professional magician I was curious to know how the show would be. So, the entrance and piano playing ghost is a full ripoff of the Magic Castle in Los Angeles, but eh, for people who don't know, who cares? :) and their version was pretty good too.
    Warren's magic show itself was actually quite good. His tricks were both good and well executed. The only thing I didn't care for as much is when he stalls the show for about 20mn while asking people where they're from and making not so funny jokes about their location, or showing off all the states and associated state motos and capitols he memorized. It just wasn't up to the level of his magic.

    All that said, we had a good time, and walking around downtown Laihana before the show while enjoying yummy shaved ice, was enjoyable too.

    Laihana
    Laihana







    Kauai

    On the way:

    nice south coastline of Molokai
    nice south coastline of Molokai

    Last, but not least, was time for Kauai. The Island was much smaller so we were able to just stay at one spot and visit the Island from there (besides there is no road that loops the Island, so when you've reached the end on one side, you have to go all the way around for the other side anyway).

    The first day, after we arrived, we were able to see a hike by a nice waterfall, and attend a local fair with cute animals and overgrown vegetables and fruits that made Jennifer's mouth water :)


    petting zoo at the fair
    petting zoo at the fair

    kauai is overrun by chicken
    kauai is overrun by chicken

    fruit and vegetable contest
    fruit and vegetable contest


    nearby Wailua Falls
    nearby Wailua Falls

    we hiked down to it
    we hiked down to it

    did I mention Kauai was overrun by chicken? :)
    did I mention Kauai was overrun by chicken? :)

    this was indeed the best shaved ice on the island
    this was indeed the best shaved ice on the island


    I found a nice place, Kauai Cottages, close to where we were going to dive most days. We were also able to eat there thanks to a nice kitchen.




    Kauai Diving

    There again, see the associated post.


    West Coast of Kauai

    Our first afternoon after diving, we drove up the coast to see the sights and make it to the end of the road. There were a few nice things along the way, but nothing too earth shattering :)


    finding an Enzo on a small island which even lacks a road that circles the island ...
    finding an Enzo on a small island which even lacks a road that circles the island ...

    ... was unexpected, especially when many of the roads aren't all good and would scrape the front
    ... was unexpected, especially when many of the roads aren't all good and would scrape the front

    finally, we got to see a Néné north of the Island
    finally, we got to see a Néné north of the Island

    the northmost point of all the Hawaii Islands
    the northmost point of all the Hawaii Islands



    Birds of Paradise

    After our last day of diving we had a free day which was meant for touring a good portion of the island in trikes (think handglider with propeller). Unfortunately the weather was just crummy (strong winds causing our ground speed to be a mere 25mph, and clouds obscuring the view of the ground). In hindsight I should have called flight services myself and likely would have been more pushy about either cancelling the flights altogether due to winds or just doing a 30mn flight to try the trike but not burn needless money going nowhere without really seeing anything (which is a shame as there would have been much to see weather allowing).
    The worst part is that the overpriced pictures we had to buy were few and most were junk as their lens fogged up after a rapid descent (I wasn't allowed to use my own camera from which I would have gotten better shots since it was deemed unsafe due to the spinning prop behind me, which is half understandable).
    Oh well...





    Waimea Canyon

    After the short flight, we drove up Waimea Canyon. That was truly beautiful, and after visiting the different points there, we hiked around 6 miles round trip to a very nice vantage point on top of the Canyon.

    this shows how the Islands, mountains and volcanoes were formed: the plate was on a north western conveyor belt while magma was coming to the surface
    this shows how the Islands, mountains and volcanoes were formed: the plate was on a north western conveyor belt while magma was coming to the surface





    chickens everywhere, remember?
    chickens everywhere, remember?

    I managed to grab one, although it wasn't too happy about it :)
    I managed to grab one, although it wasn't too happy about it :)

    fresh coconut juice with pulled pork for lunch
    fresh coconut juice with pulled pork for lunch


    the trail we hiked
    the trail we hiked

    the vantage point at the end of the trail
    the vantage point at the end of the trail



    That's all folks


    After a bit more than 3 weeks, it was time to go home. What we learned from the trip was

  • don't plan the busy days right at the beginning of the vacation in case we're tired when we arrive
  • big Island overall weather is not known for good visibility (Kona mostly gets localized sun, or at least no rain, but that does not make Mauna Kea or Volcano visibility any better).
  • Maui probably had the best diving of all 3 places if you don't count the Manta Ray dive in Kona. It also had a lot to see and do with better weather.
  • Kauai is quite nice too, especially for hiking. Diving wasn't bad either.
  • Going to Niihau for diving is nice with the monk seals, but it's just damn far and an unpleasant boat trip.
  • Mosquitoes were bad almost everywhere, as announced.
  • All in all it was quite nice, and there is plenty more we can still see there.
  • See more images for Honeymoon in the Hawaii Islands

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