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Our three islands in two weeks trip to Hawaii!!!

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May 19th, 2014, 12:59 AM
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Our three islands in two weeks trip to Hawaii!!!

Trip to Hawaii 10th May 2014 – 26th May 2014

This is not a nice relaxing at the beach type of vacation, it was all about seeing as much as possible of Hawaii in the two weeks we were there.
DH and I left Auckland at 10.45am flying Air New Zealand , a nine hour flight arriving 9.45pm at Honolulu airport. Due to the time difference we actually arrived the day before! The flight was fine, just long, and DH said not to sleep as there was only a two hour time difference between NZ and Hawaii (well actually 22 hours) so we should be able to sleep okay once we got there. After watching two movies, and staring at the flight distance map watching the miles go by, we finally arrived.

Our DD (who lives in New York) was meeting us at Waikiki her flight was 11 hours, and she arrived mid afternoon Friday so had some time to get some groceries etc.

I had ordered a car service to pick us up at 10.30 pm this was through GO8Express and worked out very well. The charged $ 30.00 for two people for a pick-up after 10 pm. ( $25.00 before 10 pm). We also used them for our return to the airport the charge was $ 30.00 for 3 people. We got through Immigration in about 20 minutes as they let us foreigners go through the US line.

We were staying in a condo at the Waikiki Baynan, this was close to the beach, handy to bus-stops, restaurants etc. The building itself is a bit run-down currently being renovated but our condo was fine, although the pull out couch in the lounge that DD was sleeping on wasn’t that comfortable. She wasn’t originally coming and I had already booked a one bedroom condo, it was lucky there was a place for her to sleep. She decided just to sleep on the couch without pulling it out as she didn’t feel the springs this way.

Day One

As we were only in Oahu for four days we had to plan out our days to some extent. Our plan for today was to climb Diamond Head. I had read that this should be done as early as possible to avoid the hottest part of the day. We took the number 2 bus, which happened to stop at the Farmers Market just by Diamond Head. Bus fare $ 2.50 and you could use your ticket again within two hours. We found this very handy).

We had a look around the Farmers Market. DH and I were fascinated with all the different types of fruit that you don’t see in New Zealand and the tropical flowers were just gorgeous.

We then walked to the visitor centre at Diamond Head, it took about10 minutes or so, from the Farmers Market. Admission was
$ 1.00 per person, or $ 5.00 a car. If you go by car you can go straight to the visitor centre and avoid some of the walk from the bus stop.

I found the walk up to the top of Diamond Head okay, but needed to take a few breaks, I actually handled it better than I thought as I am not very fit. It was also a very hot and humid day even if it was still the morning, and I decided to avoid doing the second lot of steep stairs at the very top and went the alternate route to the left. I had read where some people find the tunnel very dark and a bit challenging but I found it okay. My DH and DD had no problems at all and took off to the top without me. I left them to it, and enjoyed the view until they came down. I thought the walk was definitely worth it though and when you are standing at the bottom and look up to where you have been it looks a long way up. Seeing the long line of people walking up the hill one after the other reminds you that this is a popular tourist spot.

After Diamond Head we took the bus back to the condo. This took awhile as we got on a bus going in the wrong direction and to wait for one going the right way. DD downloaded an App called DaBus which showed which routes the different buses went and also gave the real time so you knew how long you had to wait.

After a well-earned lunch we spent some time on the beach, took lots of photos of the view, and also did some window- shopping. That night we went to Dukes for dinner (a great suggestion Giovanna) and I had my first Maitai, it was fabulous!! There was some great music playing at Dukes which we enjoyed, the place was packed. We had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. Well actually when we saw people were planning to leave we grabbed the table before anyone else could get it.
After Dukes we walked to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, to see a concert. It was on the Great Lawn, and there was a $ 25.00 admission.There was only an hour left so we stayed outside the fence and listened to some great Hawaiian music. The concert finished with fireworks, which was a bonus, normally these are only on Friday nights. By this time I was exhausted and had very sore legs from the hike in the morning. DD and DH took awhile trying to figure out which bus to take home, we walked to various bus stops, finally found the right one!! I would have taken a taxi back myself but was outvoted.

Day 2

Today was Mothers Day. This is a much bigger deal in the US than it is in NZ. Everyone in shops, cafes etc wished me a Happy Mothers Day, this doesn’t happen here.
DD’s plan for this morning was to cycle on one of the bike trails. DH and I have been doing a lot of biking lately so I was looking forward to it. Better than walking anyway as I still had sore legs!! I booked the bikes online through Hawaiian Style Rentals, they were about a two minutes walk away from our condo in Lemon Street. I had booked three comfort bikes which were okay but I should have ordered a ladies bike for me, as the morning went on I found it more and more difficult to get on, as my hips were starting to feel sore by this stage. We followed the trail to Magic Island, which meant you had to ride on the road for some of the way. I ended up riding on the side-walk which ran alongside the Ala Wai Canal, a beautiful ride. By following the map we had been given we eventually got to Magic Island. We had also passed the Hilton Hawaiian Village and the lagoon where we had walked the night before. Magic Island was beautiful and there were a lot of people out swimming, paddle boarding etc.

DD decided that we had to experience an I-Hop brunch so we stopped on the way back and had French Toast, pancakes and bacon for my Mothers Day Brunch. Any calories we had used up on the ride were put back on very quickly.

We made it back to the bike rental place safely. As we were leaving I heard one of the guys saying to the other employees, I am very impressed I didn’t think they would make Magic Island!! That made me feel good that we had made it, it wasn’t a difficult ride, the scary bit was riding on the roadway with the other traffic.

The rest of the afternoon was spent at the condo, DD and DH had a swim in the pool, and there was some good music happening at a Cook Out that was next door. I had, had enough exercise for the day so we had dinner in the condo.

Day 3.

This was the day we decided to hire a car and check out the rest of Oahu. DD and DH also wanted to try out paddle-boarding, and I managed to get a Living Social coupon for a two hour lesson and sea turtle tour for two people for $ 89.00. This was at Haleiwa about 45 minutes from Waikiki. The lesson was at 10am and I had booked a car through Dollar rental to be picked up at 8.45am. The plan sounded good in theory but when we arrived to pick up the car at 8.30 (we thought we were early) there was a huge queue, and it was well after 9am before we were actually ready to leave. Needless to say they were late for their lesson but it didn’t really matter as they were the only two people on it, and they thought an hour and a half would be long enough anyway.

I stayed on the beach and watched them and took the photos!!. DD picked it up very quickly and was soon standing on the board, DH on the other hand took a little longer. They actually disappeared for about an hour as they went onto a river, where it was calmer and DH could stand up, and this is where they saw the sea-turtles. They both loved this experience, even though DH got badly sun-burnt. By the time they came back to the sea, they were both handling the boards very well although DH did say his toes were constantly clenched trying to stay on the board.

We carried on driving around the North Shore stopping at several beaches, and at Giovanna’s shrimp truck for lunch. We probably waited in the queue for an hour as the place was jam-packed. The shrimps were so good though, and we didn’t mind the wait, we were on holiday after all. The scenery around this part of the island was gorgeous, very different to the built up area of Waikiki. The sandy beaches looked inviting but the surf and current were quite fierce at some of the places we stopped. DD thought she would go for a swim but changed her mind.

Our next stop was Kaneohe Bay to take some photos of Mokolil Island (also known as Chinaman’s Hat). There were very few people in the park where we had stopped, I guess everyone was at work or school seeing it was a Monday. We carried on a bit further and came to the Macadamia Nut Farm which we had been told was a must see. We loved this place, great free coffee, trying out the different varieties, and some great gifts. We had to buy some coffee, also chocolate macadamia nuts, and some presents for the grand-children. We dropped the car back about 5.30pm. We all thoroughly enjoyed the day. DD had also given DH lots of tips about driving on the other side of the road. It gave him a bit more confidence about driving by himself on Big Island and Maui. We went out for a meal, and then decided it was a good night to go and have a swim at the beach. It was about 8.30pm by this time. I was even brave enough to go in, there were quite a few other people still swimming at this hour. It was great swimming in the dark seeing all the buildings and lights everywhere.

Day 4.

This was our last day on Oahu. We were flying to Big Island at 5.40pm and DD flying back to NYC at 8pm. We booked the car to pick us up at 3.45pm so had most of the day to fill in. Check out time was 11am. We decided on the spur of the moment to do a quick trip to Pearl Harbour. We left at 10am, took the No 20 bus which took an hour and 15 minutes. Meant we only had about two hours to spend at Pearl Harbour. We did get free walk-up tickets for the Arizona but they were for a 2 pm tour so couldn’t use them. We opted to go and look at the Pacific Aviation Museum as DH is ex Air Force (instrument technician) so was keen to see some of the aircraft on display. He was reminiscing about all the old instruments and how he used to repair most of them. If we come back to Hawaii we will definitely have to spend a lot more time here and go on some of the tours. It was sobering seeing all the names of submariners killed on the Bowfin. Even though it was short it was worth the visit. We were waiting to catch the bus back, when a shuttle van pulled up and offered to take passengers back to Waikiki for $ 4.00 per person. We jumped at the chance and made it back just after 2pm. We had time to have some lunch before our cab arrived to take us to the airport. Our driver Rodney from GO8Express was a very friendly person, joked and told stories the whole way to the airport. There was a lot of traffic but got there in 40 minutes which was plenty of time to check in go through security before our flight. DD had another three hours to wait for her flight.

We loved our stay in Waikiki, very full on that’s for sure. Next stop Kona.
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May 19th, 2014, 02:38 AM
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Very much enjoying your report nelsonian - looking forward to your Kona installment, one of my favorite places in Hawaii!
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May 19th, 2014, 04:17 AM
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Amen - Nelson -love reading reports from people who travel to places for the first time. And kudos to you for doing/seeing a lot and I/we always make a pilgrimage to the North Shore - as we have friends living on the edge of Waimea Bay.

As for hiking up the Diamond Head steps - I have probably traveled to Oahu 30+ times since the 70's - and while I have hiked around the base of Diamond Head (nice view of Hono and the Ocean) - have always wanted to drive into the Crater and hike up.

But - for whatever reason - (will do it next time sort of thing?) - just have never done that - so again - good for you.

Looking forward to your next installment.
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May 19th, 2014, 04:21 AM
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BTW - what are you planning to do on Big Island (where you staying?) and what is your next island - Maui or Kauai?
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May 19th, 2014, 05:59 AM
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Aloha, Nelsonian. Really enjoying your report. So glad you're having such a nice trip. Sounds like so much fun. Looking forward to the next installment!
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May 19th, 2014, 06:47 AM
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Nelsonian, I am so glad to hear you are having a good trip. Looking forward to the rest of your report. I am so glad you got to spend time with your daughter.
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May 19th, 2014, 06:34 PM
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Your hike up Diamond Head reminded me of ours. We were in our early 70s and walking a bit more slowly than our kids were, but we enjoyed it and loved the view. On the way down, a young woman passed us and then turned around, came back, and said, "I just want to congratulate you two for doing this" and went on. We just looked at each other. It's bad enough to get older without having some young whippersnapper congratulate you on it!
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May 21st, 2014, 12:57 AM
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Our flight from Honolulu, leaving at 5.40pm arriving at Kona 6.50pm was with Hawaiian Airlines. As we were approaching the runway in Kona DH and I both commented on how different the landscape was from Oahu. Everywhere was just vast amounts of black volcanic rock and very little colour. It was dark when we landed, and we had to go pick up our rental car. Dollar Rentals run a shuttle from the airport to their depot, there were only us and one other family who had travelled from India so it was only a few minutes before all the paperwork was sorted and we were on our way. Well actually it did take awhile to set up the GPS etc, and it was now raining so DH had to drive in the dark, in the rain, on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and didn’t have DD’s help this time. We did get a tad lost, the GPS landed us in the middle of what it called Ali’i Drive but in fact was the middle of a highway, a bit disconcerting really!!! We had to try and work out where we were, and found the old-fashioned method of asking at a shop worked well. We were only about a mile away and on the right road. We eventually found the sign for Kona Shores, I was very relieved, it was now 8.30pm! If we had followed the owner’s directions instead of the GPS we would have got there a lot sooner, Our accommodation was very nice http://www.vrbo.com/472968 loved the view and the pool.

By the way here is the link to our condo in Oahu http://www.vrbo.com/493158

Day 1 Kona (Day 5 Hawaii)
When we woke up this morning it was still raining, I was not anticipating rain). However when we looked at the view there was a cruise ship anchored just off the coast, the Pride of America, and we could see the passengers being tendered into the harbour, what a great sight. We decided to check out the Kona shopping centre, there were a lot of tourists wandering around most of them from the cruise ship. We went to the Farmers Market and spent an hour or so wandering around the shopping area, before we decided to go and check out the beaches and drive some of the southern route down the coast. It had stopped raining by now, and was very pleasant, not too humid.
We had overheard a tour operator telling the cruise ship people that you could see sea turtles at a bay only 15 minutes away and only cost $ 30.00. We decided to check this out for ourselves. On the way we stopped at La’aloa Bay ( White Sands Bay) and thought we should come back later and have a swim. It was only 10.30am or so and was busy. Next stop was Kahalu’u Beach Park (Turtle Bay). When we went down to the waters-edge there was a group of people having snorkeling lessons, and then we saw a few people looking at a rock!. We realized it was a Sea Turtle basking in the sun. The first time I had ever seen one, it was huge, apparently he is there every day for most of the day.

I then decided I wanted to see Captain Cook’s memorial. We got lost a couple of times and called in at a historical society place at Kealakekua for some directions. The woman looked at us and said you don’t want to hike to see it do you? I wasn’t sure what she was talking about but said no, we want to drive. She gave us directions to Kealakekua Bay and said you just look across the water and you will see it in the distance. We found the bay okay and saw what she meant about not being able to drive to it., but we did get to see it from a distance and Warren zoomed in with the camera and got a great photo. This was a very beautiful bay and we did get to see the monument that was put up to commemorate the first Christian burial in the area, which was performed by Captain Cook.

We continued driving and saw signs for the Painted Church. I hadn’t read about this in my research but thought it would be a good place to visit. What an amazing place, the paintings were so beautiful, and the church was in such a picturesque setting. I enjoyed reading about the history and about the Priest who had actually done the paintings. I would have loved to walk around the cemetery but the gate was locked.

We decided to head back home after this, for a much needed cup of tea, and a glass of wine. I looked up some Trip Advisor reviews for restaurants in Kona, and decided to give Huggo’s on the Rocks a try for dinner. It had started to rain again but we got a park close by and thoroughly enjoyed our meal and the entertainment. Kevin Teves, singing and playing the electric ukulele and a hula dancer.

Day 2 Kona (Day 6 Hawaii)
This was the day I had planned to go up Mauna Kea, we were hoping to get up to the Observatory but DH said it was very cloudy and the chances of seeing a sun-set were rather slim. We weren’t going to leave until 1pm so went for a swim at La’aloa Beach first. Well I went for a swim, DH chickened out. I must admit I didn’t stay in long the current was quite strong. There were a lot of kids playing with boogie boards a great place for them to learn.

We went and bought some sandwiches to take up the mountain, had water, and warm clothes packed in the car. We headed off then DH decided maybe we should fill up the gas tank, so had to backtrack back to Kona. He paid $ 30.00 thinking this would fill the tank and was very surprised when it stopped at $ 15.00. Petrol is certainly cheaper in Hawaii than in New Zealand!!, Also the Mazda 2 only had a small tank. (I booked an Intermediate size rental car, I am sure the one we got was not an Intermediate). DH went back to get a refund of his $ 15.00. We started off again. By the time we got onto the Saddle Road it was raining again. Further on, it was very foggy, and I was thinking this is a waste of time we are not going to see anything. A short time later we were through the fog, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. We turned onto the Access Road and was doing fine until the last little patch before the Visitor Centre and the car decided that this was a rather steep and started protesting. We just made it to the Centre and DH said there is no way we are going to the top. It was cloudy anyway so wouldn’t have been able to see anything. I was disappointed but we definitely needed a more powerful car. We had a look at the Visitor Centre then headed back down. About half way down DH pulled over to take a photo, and as soon as we went back on the road, we realized we had a flat tyre!! DH managed to change it okay, the spare was one of those small space-saver tyres. We made our way slowly home, again we hit dense fog, and heavy rain on the Saddle Road, it was a slow trip back. We actually went back to the Airport to exchange the car. We were given a Toyota Corolla a much nicer and higher CC rating than the little Mazda 2. We finally got back home and ended up eating our mountain sandwiches, and having a glass or two of wine for dinner!
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May 21st, 2014, 12:58 AM
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We are now in Maui, I am a few days behind in this trip report. Three more days on Big Island to go before Maui!!
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May 21st, 2014, 02:15 AM
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Keep it coming...
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May 21st, 2014, 05:33 AM
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Enjoying your report. I remember all your planning and discussing where to go. Just an FYI. You must have a 4WD to go to the Summit of Mauna Kea and the only rental car company that allows its cars to do that is Harpers. It is a good thing you didn't try to go to the top as your insurance would have been void (both rental and personal) and had anything happened, it would have been a BIG bill.

Looking forward to reading more on the Big Island report!
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May 21st, 2014, 05:54 AM
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So happy to find your report. Can't wait to read more
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May 21st, 2014, 07:30 AM
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If anyone reading here is thinking about going to the top of Mauna Kea, please take a tour. The OP was lucky to have only a flat, and not to have to call the rental agency for assistance. Please don't render your rental contract void by going off road. (People try this on Maui, too -- back side of Haleakala and 'over the top' between Kapalua and Wailuku. Get into trouble and you are on your own.)
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May 21st, 2014, 09:37 AM
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Actually. Our rental company never mentioned any exclusions, and neither did our contract. I actually sat down and read it. I have read many many reports in my research of people going up in cars that were not 4 wheel drive. the one we had was not powerful enough but we would have no problem in another car.

Also we upgraded to an SUV car in Maui as the rental car company told us specifically we could do the whole round trip on the Road to Hana. A lot of New Zealand roads are one lane, parts are not paved, and one lane bridges are common, DH is used to driving these types of roads.
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May 21st, 2014, 09:53 AM
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As a local, I am also very impressed that you biked from Waikiki to Magic Island and back. Honolulu is not a very bike friendly place.
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May 21st, 2014, 10:21 AM
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For those who are interested in going to the Summit on the Big Island. The Hawaii Drive O map that they give you with your contract lists, in red letters, the roads you cannot drive on. They are the unpaved roads so the trip from the Visitors Center to the Summit on Mauna Kea, the drive into Waipio Valley and South Point Road. Harper's will rent you a 4WD to go to the Summit. Do what you want with that information. Some people are happy to ignore the rules and have done so successfully.

I think the issue with the Summit is not so much the ascent as the descent. It is a lot of elevation in a very short time on a narrow switchback road with no guardrails. Brakes overheat without the ability to downshift into a lower gear. The cinder road can get slippery anytime and of course, you can have ice and snow up top. It can seriously damage the car. Several people have died and others injured by making this trip in the wrong car. Of course, the really expensive cost of pulling the wreck off the mountain and then the replacement value of the car will come out of your own pocket as no insurance will cover you. It's not with it. If you want to do the drive, rent from Harpers.

Can't wait to hear the rest of your report.
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May 21st, 2014, 11:46 AM
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Great report! I love reading about first-timers experiences! Have a great time on Maui! Can't wait for the rest!
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May 21st, 2014, 12:36 PM
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WHOO-HOO!! What a great trip report. Mahalo for posting.

I have one teeny tiny addition for others reading, on Day One Oahu... the Farmers Market is only on Saturday mornings (when you were heading towards Diamondhead) so you just lucked out on that one!
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May 21st, 2014, 08:14 PM
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Taitai we had drive guides from Dollar nothing in red writing. DH either disengages the overdrive or selects a lower gear and uses gears not the brakes when he is driving on steep roads. Today we did the round trip on the Road to Hana more about that later!!!
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May 22nd, 2014, 03:11 AM
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LOL - nothing like that Kiwi spirit. Why let a little rain, driving in the dark on the opposite side of the road with a goofy gps (I never trust the things) - or later up a steep road and then getting a flat tire on the way down get in the way of having fun eh?

Keep it going. Luv reading about your adventures.
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