Friday, 29 September 2017

Hawaii Day 6 - Maui

Time to leave the big island and head to our second island stop, which was Maui. Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands.

We landed really early and grabbed our hire car, which was a Mazda CX5, and set out to explore the NW corner of the island but after driving for more than an hour along the winding Kahekili highway, we found that the road as blocked before Nakalele point! I took some pictures to prove we were out that way, and then we headed back to go from the other side, with a stop in Lahaina for lunch.

Lahaina was the former capital of Hawaii, and the Front Street seems to be where all the tourist action is. We had lunch at the Paia Fish market, which was quite popular and the fish was quite well done as well. The kids enjoyed their fish and chips, whereas I had the fish tacos and hubby had grilled Mahi Mahi.

There are some huge Banyan trees in the park!

We then drove further up to Ka'ananpali looking for the Whaler's museum which turned out to be closed for renovations, so the kids went to the beach which was quite lovely.

Further up we got to a blowhole and heart shaped rock which needed a bit of walking to get to (but the blowhole could be seen from the car park). If you caught it at the right time, there was a rainbow in the droplets from the blowhole!

We stayed at the Four Seasons in Wailea, which was our splurge hotel of the trip, and it was a really lovely hotel. When we arrived our car was valet parked (which unfortunately was at a cost of $30 per day and not very convenient to us) and we were given leis of flowers and nuts as a welcome. The children were made to feel very welcome too, with an octopus soft toy and sponges near the bath spelling out both their names. Small notes to the kids, and room amenities like beach bag, nice slippers, and robes for all four of us made it feel that much more luxurious.

And the view from our balcony was pretty awesome!

After cleaning up we went down to have dinner at Spago's, which was one of the restaurants within the hotel. It's an upmarket modern hawaiian restaurant, and they had a kids menu as well as colouring to entertain them.

I ordered 2 mocktails - one for the kids which my daughter quite liked.

Entrees were Japanese Hamachi and Ahi Poke cones. I quite liked the crispy cone that my poke was in (poke is raw sliced fish salad, and ahi is tuna) and it was quite spicy. However, it clearly wasn't for everyone as the next table barely touched theirs, and I almost felt like asking to eat theirs for them so it wouldn't go to waste!

For mains we had caramelised pork chop and macadamia encrusted mahi mahi. Both of which were on a beetroot flavoured poi base (taro) which made the poi so much more palatable.

For dessert we had Kaiserschmarren creme fraiche strawberry souffle pancake, which basicallly looked like an exploded souffle. It was very tasty, but we were so full by then, it was difficult to enjoy. The restaurant looked over the pool which was nicely lit at night. Time for a well earned sleep in our comfy 5 star hotel beds!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Hawaii Day 5 - Kona

Kona is on the western side of the big Island and there is a road cutting through the middle of the island from Hilo to Kona called the Saddle road. It's actuallly a nice big freeway but also a nice drive as you see the volcano scenery on either side of you.

It takes about 2 hours to drive it (depending on how fast you drive), and when we arrived at Kona it was a very different atmosphere to what I'd been used to in Hilo. Now THIS is a resort town! Fancy shops lining the beachfront streets, and just many more people around in beachy gear.

Dropped by the market but it was a bit of a tourist trap, nothing that I would recommend buying there. We had a submarine tour with Atlantis to get to so we headed up there, stopping to do one of those Pearl in an Oyster things, which yielded us 2 pearls.

The reef is quite good in Maui so there was a lot of fish, and we even saw a white tipped reef shark underneath a shipwreck. There was a skeleton tied to the shipwreck as a bit of a prank, which actually had an amusing story to it - it was put there as a halloween joke by some divers but they secured it with wire which rapidly rusted and broke, leaving the skeleton to wash up on the beach in Kona much to everyone's surprise that year. We even saw dolphins on the way out.

We went for lunch at Sushi Shiono's which was rather good, with quite fresh fish. We ordered the Shiono special, a chirashi sushi, some salmon avocado rolls for the kids, and uni (sea urchin) ships extra.

This made us late for our Big Island Bees tour, but we managed to arrive just in time to catch the end of it. I learned a lot about bees!

After that it was time to hit the road to go home - it was a long drive back in the dark on unfamiliar road (not to mention still getting used to this driving on the wrong side of the road business). It was our last day on the Big Island, and we had an early start the next morning!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Hawaii Day 4 - North west Big Island

We had a big day planned with a tight schedule! Our first stop was to be Umauma falls and the Zipline experience there, but we had some time to kill before that so we went off to look for Akama falls. Unfortunately, Google maps directed us to some private property with a clear "no trespassing" sign. So that idea was bust!

Heading back we noticed a different sign pointing us to the falls but we were out of time!

Umauma falls is on a private property that not only has the ziplines, but is a working fruit and cattle farm.

There were a total of 9 ziplines, the longest being over 600m! The first four were dual ziplines, where you could race together, and the remaining 5 were single ziplines.

The views were cool and the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They were a bit lightweight and a number of times didn't make it to the end of the line and had to be "towed in" by one of the guys who had to climb out then run like a spider back to the end, towing our kid.

A cool suspension bridge that we had to hook onto (weird considering we have similar bridges back home that look way less safe and we don't hook onto those)  that went over the river and a lava tube.

It was a nice day out, hot but fun. It was easy too - we didn't have to do anything, just jump and zip! The guides did all the hooking on and putting on of our gear and made sure we made it safely across each zipline.

We had to rush off straight after to make it to our lunch booking, which was at Merrimans in Waimea. Merrimans restaurant was the first restaurant venture of chef Peter Merriman, who was known as the pioneer of regional Hawaiian cuisine, and using local produce to create great dishes.

Ahi Poke with Maui onion and Molokai sweet potato chips
Kalua Pig and sweet onion Quesadillas

Island Fish sandwich

Island Fish Tacos (Mahi Mahi)

Pork Saimon with Togorashi spice Noodles and Kauai prawns
Service was outstanding and the kids were made to feel welcome. We even got a free soup for having to wait a bit longer than usual (Brocollini and cheddar) which was quite nice.

After that a drive around the North West coast, where we went to Pololu valley where there was a beach at the end of a steep 10 minute climb.
There's a beach down there?

Oh THERE it is

This was the easy stretch!
On the drive back, you could see Haleakala on Maui from the north west section of the freeway!

Phew! That night we had a simple dinner of fast food (Maccas, I think!) where a different thing on the menu was Taro pie (instead of apple pie). I liked it but nobody else really did...

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Hawaii Day 3 - Volcano National Park

Today was our day for exploring the Volcano National Park, and so we set off early (with iPads in tow for the drive) as we headed out to our first stop at Punaluu beach, another black sand beach. This beach was more popular (and more like a real beach) with a reasonable length beach of sand, and a lifeguard.

Sometimes you can see turtles on the beach and we were lucky to be able to see one in the water in the shallow rocky area. If you ask me it looked like it was having trouble getting out of the shallows to get back to the sea.

Next stop was a green sand beach at Papakolea beach. Like many of the cool beaches on the big Island it was a  bit of a hike to get to the beach - it's a 4km one way trip from the parking lot to the beach in the blistering sun with no shade! Fortunately there are some entrepreneurial fellows there who charge you $20 return on a 4wd ute (where you ride in the back or in the cab, Mexican style) to take you to the beach. The trip is rough and dusty - much like a ride at Disneyland! I would not recommend standing in the ute part if you're unsteady on your feet or have back pain.

It's well worth the trip. The sand is green due to olivine crystals from an eroded volcano cone that formed this beach. The sand is green mixed with black sand and white sand.

As you can see there are no lifeguards at this beach so swim at your own risk. The walk down is a little steep but you could make it in beach sandals, but probably not thongs.

By that time it was 1pm and it was getting really hot. We left there and headed to Punaluu Bake Shop which is quite popular for their sweet bread. We had lunch there, tried their portuguese donuts (which was like a jam donut with icing) and took a bag of guava sweet bread with us for nibbles on our road trip.

Now it was time to go to the Volcano National Park! It does have an entry fee of $25 per vehicle but for $30 you can buy a 3 park pass. We stopped by the steam vents - there wasn't much of a sulphur smell there...

We still had time to kill before sunset (where you could see the glow of the volcano) so we did the crater drive down to the sea to look at the Hosei arch and lava landscapes. The Thursten lava tube was good to walk through as well.

Even in the late afternoon you can see lava spitting up a little!

But by sunset, the volcano cone looked really impressive with it's red glow. The car park was very full too! I would recommend going there about 45 mins before sunset and just wandering around the Jagger museum waiting for sunset.

Gorgeous! Well that's the last lava I'll see for a long time.