Travel Log – March 2010

SATURDAY 20 MARCH 2010 – SAN FRAN TO HONOLULU

We were woken by our alarm at some ungodly hour and whisked to the airport by shuttle bus. Once at the airport we checked in and cleared security in minutes and set about the serious business of finding breakfast.

Sandwich and coffee later we checked out the shopping then settled down to wait for our flight. No delays this time and we were soon on board and comfy. It seemed that the turbulence pixies were out in force and the airplane was bouncing about quite a bit.

The descent into Honolulu was a surprise. It seemed that one minute we were above the clouds and the next we were taxing to the terminal. More a drop than a descent.

Another efficient airport, so a matter of half an hour to get through all checks and get our bags. We took one of the airport shuttle buses which took us to the Cruise Ship terminal. We were both stunned by the size of the ship. Once on board, we explored for a few hours and we still only scratched the service.

There are diners, restaurants, bars, pools, and even a basket ball court. We had tea and a beer then sleep once again caught up with us. So far, Hawaii is lovely. All blue sea, blue sky and palm trees. Everyone is friendly and eager to help. One good nights sleep will see us ready to explore more.

SUNDAY 21 MARCH 2010

We  were both awake for some reason at 5am. We took advantage and after a shower and an early breakfast we walked around the ship as it came into port of Kahului on the island of Maui.

We had booked transport into the old whaling town of Lahaina and took our bus there in the warm morning. By the time we go to Lahaina it was hot. We strolled along the sea front enjoying an ice cream and cookie sandwich and looking for a good beach.

The search didn’t take long and we spent a few wonderfully lazy hours sunbathing and people watching. We paddled and watched the local surfers riding the waves – awesome.

We enjoyed a couple of cold beers at a small local bar and then walked back through town. The town boasts the continents largest Banyan Tree and the local hula school were performing in its shade. We watched the incredibly cute dancers then went to catch our bus.

On the way back we could see lots of whales blowing just offshore – apparently the humpback whale population is growing at a very encouraging rate and they use the sheltered waters to mate and give birth.

Even back on the ship we were able to sit in the sun with a beer and spot whales playing in the pacific – just amazing. We tried another of the ships restaurants and then ended our night with a cocktail. Another lovely day.

MONDAY 22 MARCH 2010

Today we were on a snorkelling trip and so we got up early and breakfasted and gathered our essentials for the day. Snorkels, fins and underwater camera – check.

The trip started out in a fun way with our bus driver spending the ride to the boat singing Hawaiian songs, holding the mike with one hand and conducting himself with the other.

As we sailed out to the Molokini crater to snorkel we were constantly seeing whales blowing and surfacing.

At the crater the snorkelling was incredible, the water was clear and warm and the reef was teeming with brightly coloured fish. When we dived down away from the surface noise we could hear the whales singing a few hundred meters away – magical.

The views got more astounding as we sailed to the second snorkel site. Michelle caught a whale leaping clear of the water on video – incredibly rare and incredibly cool.

At the second site we were lucky to see sea turtles and an octopus – once again in clear warm waters. Hawaii was living up to its paradise reputation.

Back on board we ate at the buffet diner and grabbed a cocktail before heading to see the comedy show – which was very funny. Then we went to the “white hot” party which was funnier. Another great day with some unforgettable moments and some great laughs, spent together having fun.

TUESDAY 23 MARCH 2010

No real plans today.

We decided that we would head into downtown Hilo. We took the local bus and having been delivered downtown, we had a browse around a few shops and then set off to walk the two miles to the rainbow waterfall.

Two miles up hill and the Hawaiian heat isn’t easy. We needed needed assistance, which was found in the shape of an ice-cream half way up.

The falls were pretty but there was little else around, so we headed back and took the bus back to the ship. Once back on board we found some empty sunbeds and spent on unashamedly lazy afternoon in the sun, snoozing and sunbathing.

We finally prised ourselves away after watching the sun set and got ready for dinner. As we were pulling out of the harbour we stood on our balcony and were treated to the sight of a dolphin leaping and playing in the ships bow wave. We ate at one of the posh restaurants and it was delicious.

After dinner we watched outside as we sailed past one of the Kilauea’s Lava flows. Pin pricks of red light flared and were gone as the lava fell into the sea. Feeling lovely and relaxed we retired for the night.

WEDNESDAY 24 MARCH 2010

We woke with two things to do – a glass bottomed boat trip over the reef at Kona, and then we planned to hit the beach.

The cruise ship was anchored off the shore so we needed to be shuttled ashore on the lifeboats (tendering)

The glass bottomed boat was brilliant. The crew were constantly pointing out different species and provided and provided a really informative talk abut the reed and its life.

Having watched the fish from the boat we wanted to see them up close and so hit the beach and went for a snorkel. Once again the water was clear and the reed was teeming with fish. Dami was pleased to finally get a picture of the elusive humuhumunukunukuapuaa which is the state fish of Hawaii.
We dried off and bathed on the beach for a while then returned to the boat to hit the pool. The afternoon passed in a haze of sunbathing and dozing.

After dinner we met up with Missy and Jeff, an American couple we had met on the trip. The evening became a darts contest then just chatting and a beer. In a bizarre twist we ended the night in the ships night club with some drunk Australians.

THURSDAY 25 MARCH 2010

We treated ourselves to a beach day at Nawiliwili. It was fab, lazing on a sandy sun drenched Hawaiian beach watching the surfers riding the pacific swells whilst fish swam in the crystal clear waters and the palm trees swayed in the gentle breeze…sounds good? It was 100x better!1

We thought about going into the water but in the end just enjoyed sitting on the beach and getting a tan. We had booked tickets for a traditional Hawaiian Luau or feast.

Being that we were on holiday we naturally spent far too long by the pool after getting back from the beach and has to get ready in double quick time. The Luau was at an old sugar cane plantation and after a tour on the old train we settled down to a few Mai Tai’s and then the feast and entertainment.  The show was quite spectacular with dancing and fire juggling telling the discovery of the Hawaiian islands. The food was delicious – the highlight was purple coconut mash. When we got back to the ship we ended the night in the bar with Missy and Jeff and a final beer.

FRIDAY 26 MARCH 2010

We only had half a day ashore so made the most of it with a trolley bus tour of some beauty spots on Kauai. It was worth it with stunning valleys and waterfalls and a backdrop of the mountains – the mountains are actually the rim of an extinct volcano. The rim has a diameter of about 30 miles!

This was our last day cruising and we were told to look out for some famous and beautiful cliffs that have been in a number of Hollywood movies like Jurassic Park and Tropic Thunder. One would have thought that cliffs were cliffs but these were simply spectacular. To add to the sense of occasion a whale breached a couple of times as we sailed by.

We packed our cases and reflected on the cruise. It had exceeded our expectations. The crew had been friendly and fun, the dining had been perfect both in terms of venue and food, and the locations were had visited had been idyllic.

We were very much going to miss the ship and the island hopping, but we were also excited and looking forward to Waikiki.

The night ended with us getting drunk with some Australians…. Again. Cool!

SATURDAY 27 MARCH 2010

We said our goodbyes and left the Pride of America to start phase 3 of our honeymoon adventure. Our hotel was a short cab ride from the port and as our room wasn’t ready for us, we left our luggage and went exploring.

We walked along the Ala Wai which is the man made waterway slightly inland from the beach. The water was clear and teeming with fish. The local racing canoe racing club were training and there was a baseball game in full swing in the local park. Once we had checked in and found that our room was fabulous and had a balcony overlooking Waikiki beach, we decided to hop on the bus to Pearl Harbour.

Pearl Harbour was interesting for us as we had seen the effective end of the war in the Pacific at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and here we saw the start of it. It is a somber place but is tastefully presented in a refreshingly matter of fact way.

We ended our day with Margaritas and a lovely meal at Jimmy Buffetts.

SUNDAY 28 MARCH 2010

Today was surfing day. We took a lesson from one of the beachside surf instructors (as it turned out, the grumpiest in the world). In what seems like no time we were up and standing. Longest ride of the day award went to Michelle.

After 1 ½ hours surf lesson, we took a much needed rest on the beach and aside from a stroll around the shops to cool off we spent most of the day sunbathing and watching the surfers and waves.

Pretty much the whole day was spent soaking up the sun and simply enjoying the warmth and the fantastic feeling of sand under your toes.

After a final cooling dip in the pool, we showered and changed for dinner. We wanted to watch the sunset from the beach and so took a walk. We were rewarded with one of the most breathtaking sunsets either of us had seen.

For dinner we went to a restaurant called The Cheesecake Factory. When you see the picture of the menu, you will understand why.

Again, a lovely tasty meal was followed by a pleasant stroll home through the manic evening throngs on Waikiki front.

MONDAY 29 MARCH 2010

Our adventurous side go the better of us today, and we decided to take the hike up the famous Diamond Head volcanic crater.

Formed by a steam explosion a long time ago, diamond head dominates the coastal skyline in Waikiki.

The US navy built forts along the craters rim looking out to sea to defend the island. Luckily it has never been used.

The hike was pleasant but quite steep in places, and we were both glad o the bottled water we had taken.

The views from the top were worth the effort and we found a nice quiet spot for a picnic on the way back down. Spectacular views, cartoon blue sky, sushi and us – perfect.

We got back to the base and decided not to get the bus but to walk  the couple of miles back to the hotel. We headed to the beach and once on the sand, kicked off our shoes and walked back along the sand. We got bac to the hotel and the dived into the pool for a cooling dip. Back in the room we treated ourselves to cheesecake (takeout) and a cold beer before we treated ourselves to a snooze.

For our evening meal we went to the Atlantis restaurant and Mich was treated to the biggest Corona ever. Another great meal and then very tired we collapsed into bed.

TUESDAY 30 MARCH 2010

Our last day in Hawaii today, so we decided to make the most of it. After breakfast we hit the beach and enjoyed the sun for a whole morning of lazing, reading and swimming in the sea. We were still astounded by the number and variety of fish swimming close to the beach.

We decided that our last day should be marked by another round of surf lessons. We found a local instructor who introduced himself as Willy. He was everything a surf instructor could be expected to be – laid back, smiling and passionate about surfing. Between the waves that we caught he was surfing backwards or sideways, wiping out and surfacing giggling. He was very encouraging and gave us tip after tip as we caught wave after wave. Once again Michelle managed to get the longest ride of the day.

For dinner we had reservations at a revolving restaurant with night time views over Waikiki. It was fab, both the food and the views. It was a fitting and lovely final night in Hawaii. We spent the meal chatting over the holiday, reliving the best bits and laughing the laughs. The night ended with a pang of sadness at the prospect of leaving the magic of Hawaii but excitement at the next leg of our adventure.

WEDNESDAY 31 MARCH 2010Hawaii to Vegas

Travel day.

We progressed through the airport very smoothly (apart from overweight luggage and a short delay) And were soon waving goodbye to Hawaii as we hurtled skywards from this little speck in the Pacific.

Hawaii had been magical, it had given us friendly people who really lived the Aloha Spirit, whales, volcanoes, dolphins, turtles, surfing and the stunning blue pacific all with a backdrop of volcanic craters, palm trees and perfect beaches.

The delay gave us a little but of a tense transfer at LAX but luckily with judicious use of elbows we hurtled onto our flight to Vegas in time. It was a much shorter hop to Vegas than we had expected and by 1.30am, we were at our hotel and check it out.

We had thought that it was a smaller place and having driven down the strip past the big names, we were ready for a TravelLodge – wrong. It was huge, with 3 towers, a pool and a casino the size of a football field. Cool hotel.

We had a taster of the Vegas magic as we walked to a 24 hour diner for a 2am dinner. Vegas was gobsmacking – a sea of neon.

We had a great meal and then went to bed to prepare for an early start for a full day of sightseeing and sampling Vegas

NOTE: We had such a busy time we failed to write up anything about Vegas, but safe to say we had a brilliant time.