Jun 03, 2015
Hawaii, or the Aloha State, provided a fantastic and culture-rich experience. Plenty of warm sand, sun, and lush greenery made you feel like you were in a tropical rainforest.
The Hawaiian islands we visited were Honolulu, Kaui, and Maui. We traveled between islands by the local airline. I highly recommend visiting the islands by air. We passed ship harbors and it appeared that the ships docked in undesirable locations. I would imagine you would incur some driving time to get from the docks to your points of interest. On ships you have assigned times to be back on board. If you do a cruise, I would opt for one that offers plenty of time to be off and on again.
We started in Honolulu. I was surprised by what a busy city it was. There are many hotels, high rises, and shopping malls here. Waikiki Beach is absolutely beautiful. The sand is a soft, brown sugar color and easy on your feet. The water is a beautiful blue with hues of deep green. There are many people on this beach, sun bathing and swimming. One of the nicest things about this beach is that the waves are gentle and swimming is easy for young and old alike. You can enjoy the beach and walk to any nearby restaurant or shop for a break from the sun. If you enjoy a metropolitan type spot with an awesome beach, Honolulu is your place! Walking the city, you are sure to find any shopping you wish, as well as fun night spots. When in Honolulu, you must visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial. The memorial is well done and offers not only the memorial site, but an outdoor/indoor museum that is full of relics and history.
Kaui was our second stop. It is full of greenery and long strands of beach lining the ocean. Kaui is closely guarded from billboards and commercialism. This island strives to preserve the Hawaiian feel, and it shows. Here you can tour the Dole pineapple plantation and pick anything pineapple flavored you can think of. The pineapple soft ice cream is delicious! Here we visited the Kaui Coffee Plantation. This is a great stop and offers free tastings, fabulous coffee for sale, and a tour of the coffee plantation. There was also a wonderful Macadamia nut farm that offered free samples of many favors of their nuts. Of course you could also purchase these too, along with fresh baked Macadamia nut bread. Don't miss this!
Maui was our last stop, and my personal favorite. The island is everything you imagine Hawaii to look like. Rugged terrain, beautiful beaches, palm trees, black sand, and more. An option on this island is to take the "Road to Hana" tour. This is an all day tour with a dedicated driver that takes you along the road with several stops in a 12-15 passenger mini bus. I definitely recommend using this service as opposed to driving yourself. The road is narrow, winding, and often doesn't have guard rails along steep drop offs and hair pin turns. It was obvious along the ride that the tourists driving themselves were white faced and nervous. The mini bus drivers are locals who know that road and drive it accordingly. It also affords you the opportunity to sit back and relax and enjoy the views. You go through 11 of the 16 climates on that one island. The scenery changes from white sand beaches and palm trees, to rugged mountains and waterfalls. You will stop at black sand beaches, and climb through lush vegetation to view some of the largest waves you will ever see. This one tour, on this one island, was one of my most memorable travel experiences. A must see and do experience!
As always you get some fun travel facts while touring. For instance, did you know that Hawaii was offered to sign with the United States of America as the 49th state but declined? Yes, they waited to be number 50. Hence the reason for the TV show named "Hawaii Five O." Interestingly enough that show also coined the phrase for police as the Five O not only in Hawaii, but all over the U.S.
When in Hawaii, do try the pineapple. It melts in your mouth! Also, try an apple banana. This is a banana about half the size of a regular banana and has a pink tint at the top. It tastes just like an apple and is fantastic! Also try the coffee, don't just stick to the Kona or you will miss out on some great stuff. The Hawaii-made wines are delicious, so buy a bottle to bring home and reminisce upon. If you see a roadside stand selling fruit or banana bread, stop! It is delicious!