25.05.2008 - 29.05.2008 30 °C
Our arrival in Honolulu was after a long day of travelling however we enjoyed the fact we had 3 meals in 3 different states: breakfast in Anchorage, lunch in Portland and dinner in Honolulu! What fun we have had and we thought by now we would be ready to come home but we really are having too much fun and definitely have the bug now to see so much more.
Our room at the Waikiki Banyan was not yet ready so we unpacked our bathers and took off to the pool to enjoy some sun and relax while the kids enjoyed the pool and a few kids to tear around with. We were in a great location only one block from Waikiki beach without the Beach price tag. It felt great to get out of all the heavy jackets and jeans and into some more summery clothes with temperature about 30 degrees during the day and dropping to about 25 at night! Gorgeous..
With 5 nights to spend here we didn't have too many plans other than to relax for a while and break up the trip home.
Denver was keen to have a surf lesson so after checking out what was available around the area we decided to book a lesson for both Wayne and Denver on Waikiki later in the day when things weren't so busy. These plans worked to our advantage after paying for a group lesson, Wayne and Denver were the only 2 booked for that time so got a teacher to themselves.
They had a great time on their enormous long boards, built for success, they worked a treat with Denver catching his first wave and getting up on his feet to ride it into the shore. With such long waves it took them longer to paddle back out to the break than anything else. Wayne, on his board that he descibed as "bigger than Texas" also had success catching enough waves to be happy with his achievements as well.
The Waikiki area is very touristy but lots of fun with some great shopping, markets and restaurants.
Sadly Hawaii has become very expensive, importing everything, so much that many of the native "Polynesians" have had to leave to live on the mainland in more affordable states like Nevada and Arizona. Many of those living still in Hawaii are working 2 or 3 jobs to be able to provide for their family.
These beautiful birds were earning their keep on the street by having their photo taken.
We had planned to go out to Pearl Harbour while we were here until we found the tours leave at 6.15 am and only small groups head out to the memorial for 15 minutes each. After considering all our options we decided that the early morning get up at this stage of our holiday was not high on our list of priorites and we figured Pearl Harbour wasn't going anywhere - it could be something we do next time. The islands of Hawaii are another destination we will certainly return to with more time, money and energy to explore.
We did spend a big day on a tour out to the Polynesian Cultural Centre on the other side of the island. We were picked up about 10.30am by coach and entertained all the way by our guide "Cousin Billy" from Samoa. The cultural centre is on about 42 acres of gardens and villages representing the 6 island cultures that make up Polynesia: Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, New Zealand and Hawaii. We love the whole island culture represented here and even amongst Waikiki, the people are incredibly friendly, welcoming and with an incredible sense of humour. Cousin Billy was a wealth of knowledge along the drive pointing out places where many movies have been filmed, including Jurassic park, Lost and Karate Kid. It was wonderful to see the villages away from the city streets and how people lived along the magnificent coast and mountain ridges. They are obvioulsy not concerned about the whole land slide issue!
The cultural centre was a fabulous day. With Cousin Billy as our personal guide for the day he kept us busy and ensured we got the most out of our day. I was so impressed with this knowledge of all the cultures as he shared the way of each of the islands and focussed on the family beliefs and every day life on each of the islands. Most of the young people that work at the centre are attending school at the college adjacent to the centre. Interestingly the centre is a not for profit "business" that puts all the monies from tourism back into the college to help fund the island youth go to school here. As the students from other islands are considered aliens, the cultural centre is the only place they can work. However, I was extremely impressed at how proud these young people were of their culture and their plans for the future.
Denver got to make his way onto the Samoan stage during the demonstration of coconut husking and cracking. The samoan finally convinced Denver that it was ok to drink the juice from the coconut, however it did take a lot of persuasion. I think all the jokes the guy had cracked previously had made Denver think that he was about to be the subject of the next joke!!
The day was concluded with a traditional hawaiian buffet complete with luau of roasted pig and native foods followed by coconut, pineapple and guava flavoured desserts! yum.
To finish the evening, all the islands performed traditional dances and songs in an amazing open air theatre. This was a truly spectacular performance involving hundreds of performers with amazing skills and costumes. The Samoan fire display was like nothing we had witnessed before and definitely something we won't be repeating at home.
Around the coast about 10 mile from Waikiki is a beautiful well known bay called Hanamau Bay. A preserved National Park and Marine park, it is the remains of past volcanic activity, a magnificent bay teeming with numerous fish species and coral reefs. We organised a shuttle service out to the bay which included all our snorkelling gear with a return pick up later in the afternoon.
This marine park was under very strict management with park services with many restrictions on the number of people in the area and for how long in an effort to reduce the impact on the reef and marine life. Every visiting adult was charged a $5 entrance fee and were required to view a 20 minute video on the bay, its history and what you may find there. Obviously the do's and don'ts were well covered but it gave visitors an insight into how precious and special this area is.
After a very steep walk down to the beach we ventured out into the beautiful waters and within metres were surrounded by fish of all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes. Jaimie and Denver had snorkelled before in Malaysia but this was Mackenzie's first real effort with mask, snorkel and fins. It is times like this that I become appreciative of the hundreds of dollars and hours spent on swimmimg lessons as we all swum out comfortably over the reef, marvelling at all there was to see.
Mackenzie managed like a star with only the occassional splutter and swimming around together holding hands I didn't have to keep looking out for where she had gone. It was amazing how strong the current was so I was happy to be able to have hold of a hand and we explored together.
Later in the day, Wayne and I swum out a bit further past the first reef to check out some more coral when we came across an enormous green sea turtle. It was obviously quite accustomed to snorkellers as it went blissfully about eating and swimming occassionally rising to the top for a breath. When I realised this turtle was not going anywhere too quickly I suggested Wayne swim back in and get the kids. I knew they would be so disappointed if we got to swim with a turtle and they missed out, we would never hear the end of it. So as Wayne swam back into get the kids, I tracked the turtle, hoping all the time he didn't decide he'd had enough of the bay and venture out into open water again. The kids made it backto me in time to also enjoy the magic experience of swimming about with the turtle and watching him eat the weed off the rocks with his huge beaked mouth. He was so comfortable with us. We all kept our distance from him and probably swam about for about half an hour. At one point I thought Mackenzie was going to walk on water to get out of his way. Just as we floated over the top of an over hang, where the turtle had disappeared underneath, he began to rise up for a breath right under her. I'm sure she thought he was coming up to have a piece of her as she took off like I'd never seen before. She could make it to the Olymic trials in a few years if she keeps up that speed!