I luck out this morning, since I’m facing northwest as the Eurodam enters Hilo Bay early this morning. I have a perfect view of Mauna Kea as the Sun lights it up from the top down to sea level. The bonus is a Full Moon shining brightly above the sacred mountain with so many telescopes at the summit. Despite the early hour, I call my friends to come over to my verandah to share in the wonder. I setup my GoPro to capture a 4k time lapse video of the sublime view while I take still photos with my dSLR. The Eurodam slips into the dock and ties up while many are still asleep, however the Sun has risen and the day is warming.
A mutual friend who lives on the Big Island picks us up at 11AM just outside the gate to the wharves, and gives us a beautiful lei to welcome us to Hawai’i in the traditional manner. Our first stop is to have lunch at the Hilo Bay Cafe. Our table on the patio gives us a wonderful view of the bay while we have a beer and fish and chips as we catch up with each others’ lives.
After lunch, we walk along the shoreline by the Lili’uokalani Gardens and over the foot bridge to have a look at Coconut Island. Since it is Saturday, there are lots of families enjoying picnics and swimming and paddling in the bay. We have a look at the tsunami flood levels marked on a coconut tree, which illustrates just how high the water level has risen in past years within the shallow bay.
We decide to go see the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, which is along the coast just outside Hilo. It is quite a hike down to sea level and then back up the hill to the parking lot, however the foliage, spectacular flowers along the walls of the gulley are breathtaking. I remember this spot from my previous visits, however I used the public access to the shoreline, so missed the best parts.
We return to the ship by 4PM and sail out of Hilo Bay at 6PM, on our way to Honolulu tomorrow.
I wake up early, and Volendam is already docked in Honolulu harbour at Pier 11, right beside the Aloha Tower. My friends and I thought we could catch a free shuttle to Waikiki, but instead have to take a taxi to pick up our rental car for the day. This is a hassle and delays us a bit, but eventually we are off on our self-guided tour around Oahu.
We head out to Diamond Head, but after paying to get inside the crater, find out it is an hour and a half hike to the top and return. We don’t have time for this, so we don’t stay long. We drive a bit further to see Hanauma Bay – a very pretty coastal location where there is lots of coral growing. It is very popular for swimming and snorkelling and costs $14.50 to go down to the shore and use the beach, but only $1 to park and look around. We do the latter and then move on to Koko Heads – another spectacular sight – a blowhole and beautiful shoreline along the south coast of Oahu.
As we head north to the eastern shore of Oahu, it starts to rain. The vegetation is more tropical of course…the south shore is like a desert in comparison. The coastline around the Kaneohe area is very pretty, and the mountains are deeply grooved similar to the Napali Coast on Kauai. I guess the same processes are at work since they are both north-facing coasts – wind and water erosion. We have lunch at the Crouching Lion Bar & Grill in Kaaawa (now closed), and then head back to Waikiki to return the rental car and get back to the ship.
Volendam departs Honolulu at about 11pm, bound for Kailua-Kona and the Big Island of Hawai’i on a slow overnight cruise. We have another lovely dinner in the Rotterdam Dining Room this evening.
January 17, 2001 – Limahuli Gardens, Kaua’i, Hawaii
This botanical garden is located in Ha’ena, near the end of the north shore road. Be sure to allow yourself over an hour (two hours is better) to explore these botanical gardens. You don’t have to be interested in plants to appreciate the rare window to ancient Hawai’i which Limahuli Gardens offers its visitors.
Only basic facilities are available: composting toilets are located at the visitors’ center, drinking water is supplied along the way, and a guide book is part of the modest admission fee. Mosquitoes can be a problem in this wet area (Skin-So-Soft is provided), and rain showers are frequent but usually brief (ponchos and umbrellas are provided). Please stay on the well-marked pathway provided, and be sure to stay hydrated by sipping water from each station where it is provided for your use. Parts of the path are steep, and may not be suitable for those with mobility issues or certain medical conditions. Access beyond the parking lot for those who have limited mobility can be a problem, so check with the facility for current info.
Makana Mountain towers above Lumahuli, and was given the name Bali Hai by the producers of the movie South Pacific. In Hawaiian “Makana” means “gift”, giving us a clue to the importance of this mountain in ancient Hawaiian life. Makana was used for the ‘oahi fire-throwing ceremony, where light, dry logs were set aflame and flung off the mountaintop. The strong winds would carry the firebrands as far as a mile out to sea. This ceremony was reserved for very special occasions.
Pohaku-o-Kane means Stone of Kane. Ancient Hawaiian legend tells us this rock is very significant. Kane (the rock) and his brother and sister were rolling around on the ocean floor long before humans inhabited Hawaii. They all liked Kaua’i and decided to stay here. His brother and sister fell asleep on the shore nearby, but this rock was determined to climb to the top of the ridge. He tried and tried, but each time he fell back until Kane (a Hawaiian god) helped him to the top of the mountain ridge. In return, the rock promised to remain awake and watchful, and report everything he saw to Kane. Personally, I believe the legend – what other explanation can there be for such a large rock to be perched so precariously atop a high ridge, and remain there for so long?
Lumahuli is a special place which gives me good feelings. Take the opportunity to rest for awhile at the Lookout. Gaze around to fully appreciate the natural beauty, and soak up some of your own good feelings from this place to carry with you in your travels through these special islands.