Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hawaii - Oahu and Maui September 2018

Dear Friends and Family,

We found so much joy, education, cuisine and multi-cultural couth in Hawaii in recent years others might be interested to read some of our observations of these wonderful islands.  [see photos below]

Waikiki Beach is the great draw-card with excellent hotels, restaurants and a marine beachfront without peer in view of Diamond Head, a massive extinct volcano.  It dominates proceedings just as Ben Buckler does at Bondi in Sydney.  Yet the latter is a 15 minute walk while Diamond Head might take a couple of hours in tropical heat and humidity.  Waikiki Beach is almost entirely man-made and is over 3km in length. 

After a top time in Oahu and Honolulu’s deep-water port, Pearl Harbor, we spent 4 days on Maui, a glorious piece of paradise on earth.  It is essentially two volcanoes joined by a large arable area with beaches on both sides.  We stayed at Kula in ‘Up-country’ Maui which is at 1000m (and thus less humid and lower temperatures) and on the way to Mount Haleakala at 3000m with telescopes and enormous sunken lava crater 16km long and 5km wide.  We drove up one morning which takes about an hour on an excellent but rather serpentine sealed road.  The very top is like a Martian landscape of red volcanic eroded mounds and ‘cinder-cones’.  We were able to clearly see the Big Island’s Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (of Kona coffee fame) from the top as the Kiluea ‘vog’ (volcanic fog) was blown south that day – and any cloud cover was well below us. 

Unlike Mauna Kea (4000m) on the Big Island, there is much to do and see on the way up to the summit of Haleakala: long hikes, eucalypt forests (!), remote farms, colonial relics, etc but we just had a look around, took a few photos and had a brief talk with a knowledgeable park ranger about the place.   There are demonstrations of the unique flora and fauna at this altitude including the famous ‘silver sword’ bush which lives for 50 years and only flowers once to produce seeds.  We then drove back down the mountain to our digs at Kula. 

It was nice to lunch with some American opera friends at Hali’imaile General Store, one of the best restaurants on the island.  They gave us a tip to see giant green turtles and we were not disappointed at a sandy beach nearby … and not far from another famous eatery called Moma’s Fish House (next trip maybe!). 

Food is generally very good but quite expensive so a $40 main course (“entrĂ©e”) becomes $46 with a tip, $51 with tax and then $63 with the exchange rate.  Add a starter, wine and/or dessert and you are up for A$100 each in no time.  We later ordered wood fired pizza for dinner - $27 for two.  The view from Kula Lodge includes much of the island’s lowlands from ocean to ocean and the opposite mountain which has an entire ridge of wind turbines reducing the need for fossil fuels.  The airport is at Kahului, a twin town which includes Wailuku. 

We flew back for our last 4 days at Waikiki Beach with an anniversary medical function on the Saturday night and a lovely BBQ on the east coast at a private home with friends we met a year before plus some new friends and an acquaintance from Manhattan.  More food, salt water and ‘recreating’, to use the vernacular.  Speaking of which, we learned quite a few Polynesian words, some of which have entered the English language: wiki (quick); tapu (taboo); kava; aloha (hello) and mahalo (thanks and greetings). 

Notes written by Andrew Byrne .. 

 Waikiki Beach with Diamond Head crater. 

Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki Beach

AB on Mount Haleakala (sunken crater below)

Silver sword bush

View from lanai (deck) at Kula Lodge, Maui. 

Giant green turtles on Maui.