15.06.2007 30 °C
The torrential, persistent rain of Sydney this week is a bit difficult to return to after almost two weeks in the sun and warmth of the Northern Summer. Was it really only a few days ago that I was swimming alongside a pod of pilot whales that we happened upon while cruising to our dive site? What an amazing experience to join them in their exodus, if only for a while as these whales were on a mission, and impossible to keep up with.
We had to slip quietly off the back of the boat so as not to spook them. The first time we were unsuccessful and they elusively changed direction when they felt our presence. So we motored up in front of the pod and tried it gain. We slipped in and swam along side about half a dozen of them. Apparently they only see them every 4 to 6 weeks, so we were very lucky. I had not seen them before. From a distance they look like a big dolphin, but their heads are shaped more like white beluga whales. A highlight of the dive. The diving itself was wonderful as well, complete with sea turtles and giant manta rays.
We visited both Waikiki beach on Oahu and Kailua-Kona, home of the Ironman competitions, on the big Island. I preferred the smaller, more relaxed atmosphere of Kona, but Waikiki is great for enjoying Mai Tais at sunset at some of the old beautiful hotels built back in the early 1900s.
I met a guy on the shuttle to my hotel the first day who travels frequently from Sydney to Honolulu so we met for dinner and drinks and he showed me all the sights and gave me the history of Honolulu. I was introudced to my new fav drink, the Mai Tai. Perfect for watching the sunset.
Continuing my history lesson, I visited Pearl Harbour. They have built a monument right over the boat so you can see straight down into it the USS Arizona, as the water is very shallow. Oil still bubbles to the top, 65 years on, leaving a slick the length of the boat, a kind of message from below.
The island are quite small so its great to just drive along the coast road, exploring. We rented a red mustang convertible to make the most of the drive. So while vineyards were flooding and wharfs were sinking back in Sydney, we were were cruising with the top down, sun on our faces, wind in our hair. Lucky us! We visited Oahu’s North Shore, home to 40 foot waves in the winter time where people sometimes get dropped from helicopters to ride the waves! Much calmer this time of year, perfect for snorkeling.
On the big Island we drove around the entire island, ending up at the volcano. It’s the world’s most active volcano and its lava flow is continuous. Evidence of each year’s lava flows seep down the side of the mountain into the sea. At the top of the volcano you can stop for a quick facial and where steam shoots straight up from the cracks in the mountain.
Then you drive down Crater Rim drive where the 2003 flow slid straight down to the ocean, and covered a mile or so of the ocean road. You can drive down to the literal ‘end of the road’, park and walk out onto the lava.
You sit and wait for sunset when you can see the red smoke shooting into the sky where the lava is pouring into the sea 5 miles away.
Nearly 10 days in Hawaii and only visited 2 of 8 islands and saw about half of the things I wanted to see, so plan to be back in the near future. I already miss the fabulous Ahi (yellow fine tuna) that we ate for lunch and dinner nearly every night. Would have had it for breakfast too if they were serving it!
It’s an interesting mix to be surrounded by island culture and American culture all in one place. A bit of Walmart meets Waikiki. But somehow, it works…