Na Pali Coast
Kauai - Pali means cliffs
After an (8) hour flight we landed on the island so notorious for surfing, sun and fun. However, we would have to wait to see Hawaii a bit longer than anticipated as the US Immigration officer that we were to go through, did not speak English and could not phalom the idea of traveling the world, especially visiting such terrorists hot spots of Egypt and Morocco - What a Joke. After standing at the booth for 30 minutes, and being asked such moron questions as "Can you show me your Employment Identification Card?" and "What is a CPA/CA?" we were written up as terrorists and asked to go to the security area unfortunately reserved for those that visually look a wee bit suspect. Upon approaching the "terrorist security area", the security guy startled to chuckle and shake his head. We said to him, we don't understand the problem and he replied "Could the person speak English?" We all broke into laughter and he insisted that he would remove our "rap sheet" that had minutes before been written up - although in what language we don't know!
Our itinerary was as follows: Oahu (5 days), Maui (5 days), Big Island
(5 days) & Kauai (4 days).
Our Hawaiian experience was a lot different than what we had expected it to be. Honolulu with 75% of the states residents residing on the island is like any other US city, 12 lane highways, loads of SUV's, outlet malls with ridiculously cheap prices, huge food portions and last but not least the consumer and capitalist is king! Prior to arriving in Hawaii we had been warned by numerous people about the high cost of the Islands. However, after spending (1 1/2) months in Australia and New Zealand Hawaii was cheap cheap cheap. Of course you can make it as expense as you like but we opted for the more sensible root. Food - how cheap is it, you get a Foodland and/or Safeway card and you are good to go. Obviously eating in restaurants gets expensive, but we opted for the fresh Ahi (Tuna) and sushi that is so easily purchased at Foodland. All in all, you can easily eat for less than $15 a meal and cheaper if you make it yourself. Accommodation is certainly no more expensive than other world renowned sun destinations and when compared to the price
of hostels, motels and hotels down under, Hawaii is a bargain. Island hopping is easily done, for $29 and a 15min ride you can easily hop from one island to the next - very hassle free.
Oahu has everything America has to offer and more. We stayed (5) nights at The Equs Hotel ($83 a night, great location, price and the most heavenly bed!) What a great location, just a minutes walk from the Ala Moana Center with Waikiki Beach down the road. We, like a lot of other tourists and locals took advantage of the awesome "Around the World" Food court. We ate sushi and Thai every day, in fact my Pad Thai was $5.69 - got to love the US. Although we had to pay $15 a night to park at the hotel, we never ever encountered the nightmare of parking that is so written about in Waikiki. In fact two blocks from the world famous beach we found a huge parking lot that costs $0.25 an hour, maximum (4) hrs.
Oahu was our favorite island for a number of reasons. The mountains are beautiful, it has something for everyone and the weather
is consistently better here than anywhere else. We drove the entire island and checked out every beach and surf imaginable. However it must be said that Hawaii in general does not have the greatest beaches, Australia and South East Asia are in a complete different category. If you surf that's a different story, but as far as long wide sandy beaches with calm waters for swimming - Hawaii doesn't even make the top 15 beaches we have seen on this trip. Oahu ranks in the top 10 of the number of millionaires that reside in the city but there is a different side to be seen than just the money, beaches and beautiful ocean front houses and condos. Like any other city there are homeless people, and it is very visible as you make your way along the west side of the island. We enjoyed all parts of the island, and both the windward and leeward sides of the island have spectacular scenery with the mountains coming right down to the rugged coastline.
Maui is a complete polar opposite of Oahu. The most obvious difference is the lack of Asians, with 1.5 million Japanese visitors a year
Oahu has a very Asian feel. Maui is the vacation home to the North American family and over 50yr crowd. Maui offers what most North Americans look for in a vacation - a warm destination without having to leave their comfort zone. Again, we drove the island up, down and sideways. We continued to have great weather with the exception of the Haleakala Crater, which was a wee bit cloudy. We stayed at the Outrigger Condo (5 days, great location on Kannapali Beach and between the 4th & 6th holes of the golf course). The great thing about the condo developments in Maui, may it be Kaanapali, Kapalua, or Wailea, is that they all have beautiful walking paths along the ocean front which are accessible by the general public. The best beach we came across in all of Hawaii was the Big Beach on Maui.
The Big Island
We stayed at the Kona Pacific Condos (good location, a wee bit old, but very spacious). The big island had a lot less to offer than either Oahu or Maui. In fact we were scratching our heads after day three. The beaches are minimal at best and the main attraction
is the Hawaii Volcano Park and the Lava Flows. Staying in Kona is convenient from the perspective that it is close to town and a good Pho restaurant! However, the main attraction is (2)hrs away and makes for a very long day. Unfortunately, when we visited the lava flows, there were a (2 1/2)hr hike over old lava flows, which is incredibly difficult in the pitch dark. Needless to say we along with the majority of the tourists did not venture out to see the lava flows. In fact the night we went you couldn't see the lava either illuminating or see it flowing into the water. If your adventurous enough to attempt the walk out to the lava flow be prepared it is not easy and you need a flashlight each, as can be confirmed by a group of (8) whom the night before took (7) hours to find their way back to their vehicle in the pitch dark!
We stayed at the Islander on the Beach (right on the water, and great location). Kauai is definitely the home to the best beaches in Hawaii, however the issue is getting a dry and sunny day to
enjoy them. Kauai like the other islands has a rainy side and a drier side. The down fall of Kauai is the good beaches are located on the North shore, close to what is said to be the wettest place on earth with 350 days of rain a year. No doubt, when it is not raining Kauai is extremely beautiful with its lushness and wild flowers. We found Kauai to be a wee bit to quiet for us.
Well that's a rap on our last destination before heading back to where we started this incredible journey. Before heading home we are stopping off in Calgary to see friends and the magnificent Banff and Jasper National Parks.
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