Hawaii - November 2012


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North America » United States » Hawaii » Oahu
November 24th 2012
Published: November 24th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

November 9, 2012

Oahu Seaplane Island Flight

My first encounter. In 1964 a friendly mentor, who happened to be a professor at Stanford University asked me if I had read James Michener’s Hawaii. Considering that I was 18 and just getting comfortable with English and although I did enjoy reading, most of what I was reading at the time were easy to read adventure themed books. None were over an inch thick and they were all checked out of the Santa Clara public library. I did not own a single book. Professor John W. O’Hara persisted and got my attention by giving me a hard back copy of “Hawaii”. I was obligated.

Anyone who has read the book or for that matter any of Michener’s books can attest to the fact that they are excellent examples of hard work and a tremendous amount of research. To read his books you have to be an endurance reader, slugging through the first couple of hundred pages takes perseverance. However if you make it past this, you will be rewarded by excellent narrative and can’t-put-it-down story-telling. More importantly his books will have a lasting impact on the reader. I was hooked.
Royal HawaiianRoyal HawaiianRoyal Hawaiian

It doesn’t get any better than this. Of course the Royal Hawaiian and the Moana Surf Rider are pretty extraordinary, especially if you are on your honeymoon or a milestone anniversary. These three resorts combined have welcomed guests for over 300 years!


And so it was for me with “Hawaii”. I could only imagine. Never did I consider that I would actually visit the Hawaiian Islands (named the Sandwich Islands by Captain Cook). I actually remember trying to visualize the color of the waters, the vegetation, waterfalls, the Pali coast, the friendly happy go lucky natives dressed in grass skirts dancing to soft enchanting music. And of course the beaches. All of this was well beyond anything in my experience, environment or background. Once the movie premiered in 1966, I was able to somewhat compare my imaginings.

In 1972 I had my first visit, since; I have visited the Hawaiian Islands at least 70 times. Unfortunately, I do not possess the “gift” to be able to adequately describe the beauty of the Islands and the very different life style that makes them so unique; even after all these years of outside influence. I would have to use the words, “great” and “beautiful” too many times. Hawaii is a special place, the people the ambiance the natural beauty and the diversity, in my estimation, are unmatched.

I have just returned from spending four glorious days in Oahu on Waikiki Beach’s
Our SeaplaneOur SeaplaneOur Seaplane

About to board our seaplane for the flight around Oahu. Captain Mike Hugkins of Island Seaplane Services (SeaplaneService@aol.com) is one of the most experienced float plane pilots around.
Halekulani Resort (five star rating). It doesn’t get any better than this. Of course the Royal Hawaiian and the Moana Surf Rider are pretty extraordinary, especially if you are on your honeymoon or a milestone anniversary. These three resorts combined have welcomed guests for over 300 years! And the folks at the Kahala would argue, with good reason, for their resort.

Since great and beautiful will not paint an adequate picture of how special these Islands are, I am including some photos that hopefully will give you a good idea. You can go to Tramex Travel Facebook to see many others.

As many times as I have visited Oahu, I had never done an air photography tour. Until now. The experience was breathtaking and exhilarating, not so much because of the flight (which was great), but because of the views. Captain Mike Hugkins of Island Seaplane Services (SeaplaneService@aol.com) is one of the most experienced float plane pilots around. The de Havilland Beaver feels like it flies at 40 miles an hour (90 actually) at barely 1500 feet and since it is a high-winged aircraft the view is unobstructed. I recommend you arrive at the floating office on the
From the Backside of Diamond HeadFrom the Backside of Diamond HeadFrom the Backside of Diamond Head

We had a perfect take off from the lagoon at around 9:30. Flying over Honolulu International airport with its maze of active and taxi runways, makes you wonder how in the heck pilots find their way. We quickly passed the Wharf area and downtown Honolulu. Waikiki beach and its numerous resorts sparkled with activity. Then to Diamond Head, which has a very different view from the air of a very dry volcano caldera. Many tourists hike in, I can’t say that it looks that appealing.
Keehi Lagoon, complementary pick up at Waikiki area resorts, at least 45 minutes to an hour early. Keehi is where the famous Pan Am “China Clipper” flying boats departed and landed. There are all kinds of mementos and historic articles around the office and if you are fortunate enough, you may have a chance to chat with the crusty old owner, Pat Magie. Pat holds the world’s record for number of flight hours on a seaplane, 32,000. At 83 he is one of the most experienced and respected seaplane pilots in the world. He tells me that he plans on flying for at least another 20 years.

We had a perfect take off from the lagoon at around 9:30. Flying over Honolulu International airport with its maze of active and taxi runways, makes you wonder how in the heck pilots find their way. We quickly passed the Wharf area and downtown Honolulu. Waikiki beach and its numerous resorts sparkled with activity. Then to Diamond Head, which has a very different view from the air of a very dry volcano caldera. Many tourists hike in, I can’t say that it looks that appealing. The next major milestone was Hanauma Bay,
Hanauma BayHanauma BayHanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, one of the most spectacular natural resources in Hawaii, is reaping the benefits of over a decade of moves to re-establish its pristine marine ecosystem.
as a national preserve, a great place to snorkel.

After passing Hanauma Bay, Sandy Beach is the next highlight, long reputed as one of the best body-boogey board surfing beaches in Hawaii. However you should note it is one of the most dangerous (nicknamed break neck beach). So unless you are a world class swimmer, leave it to the experienced and simply enjoy the fantastic beach.

Next the Makai Pier is visible. You can walk out to the pier, the scene for T.C.’s Island Hoppers in the Magnum P.I. series, but more importantly home to Hawaii’s Underwater Research Laboratories. The folks at the lab are unusually friendly and are always willing to give you a tour and tell you more about their work than you will ever remember.

Along this East Coast there are innumerable white sandy beaches, few really frequented by tourists. On the right hand side off the coast there are several smallish islands, Rabbit and Kaohikai, they are simply foreground to your photos, adding contrast to the incredibly varied colors of the ocean. On a clear day you can also see Molokai. I believe the beaches around Kailua are among the most beautiful; uninterrupted
Sandy BeachSandy BeachSandy Beach

After passing Hanauma Bay, Sandy Beach is the next highlight, long reputed as one of the best body-boogey board surfing beaches in Hawaii. However you should note it is one of the most dangerous (nicknamed break neck beach). So unless you are a world class swimmer, leave it to the experienced and simply enjoy the fantastic beach.
soft white sand as far as you can see. The water color is hard to describe. You have to see the photos.

Next we try to touch the tip of one of the Ko’olau Mountain peaks and then sailed on the right side of verdant sheer slopes. In the seafoam colored water of Kaneohe Bay is the very distinctive Chinaman’s Hat Island. We pass the valley where among many others, Jurassic Park was filmed. The logs that saved the movie stars from the stampeding dinosaurs are still in place.

Next is the big wave famed North Shore. Sunset, Banzai and Waimea Bay beaches are among the most well known. The beaches are phenomenal, ranked among the finest, however when the big waves come (December through March peak times) it is best to simply admire other’s skills. If you are driving in this area, stop off and have lunch in Haleiwa. Along the boat harbor there are several modest restaurants and local establishments. The town is charming and as in most towns outside the major population centers there is a general store that harkens to missionary times, or so it seems. Not too long ago in another town’s general
Rabbit and Kaohikai IslandsRabbit and Kaohikai IslandsRabbit and Kaohikai Islands

A great contrast background for your photographs.
store I actually saw washboards for sale! Inland, surrounding Haleiwa, you can see some of the most incredible earth colors. Patched like bright quilts of orange and red with occasional greens and fringed by the most vivid blues of the ocean.

As we turned left, right down the midsection of Oahu, I could not but think of the movie Tora Tora. We followed the same route and altitude that the Japanese used to attack Pearl Harbor. We flew over Schofield Barracks, and a number of mothballed war ships before our first sight of the memorial. At first a small white speck on greenish waters that grows into the unmistakable Arizona Memorial. From the air you see the entire Battleship’s outline underwater. A moment to reflect and give thanks to the 1177 sailors and marines that went down with the battleship. My spirits were lifted immediately by the stoic, impressive standing-of-the-guard by the great battleship Missouri, its massive guns trained over the Arizona’s resting place, as if daring anyone to disrespect its sunken comrade. The way it should be.

Punctuating the change in times and strategies, a modern submarine was being escorted out of the harbor. In the adjoining
WatercolorWatercolorWatercolor

Hard to describe these water colors - you have to see them.
pens there were five more.

The landing was delightful barely, creating a splash. I had taken over 600 photos.


Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


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Ko’olau Mountain PeakKo’olau Mountain Peak
Ko’olau Mountain Peak

Next we try to touch the tip of one of the Ko’olau Mountain peaks and then sailed on the right side of verdant sheer slopes.
Chinaman's Hat IslandChinaman's Hat Island
Chinaman's Hat Island

In the seafoam colored water of Kaneohe Bay is the very distinctive Chinaman’s Hat Island.
The Famed Big Wave north ShoreThe Famed Big Wave north Shore
The Famed Big Wave north Shore

Next is the big wave famed North Shore. Sunset, Banzai and Waimea Bay beaches are among the most well known. The beaches are phenomenal, ranked among the finest, however when the big waves come (December through March peak times) it is best to simply admire other’s skills.
HaleiwaHaleiwa
Haleiwa

Patched like bright quilts of orange and red with occasional greens and fringed by the most vivid blues of the ocean.
Pearl HarborPearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor

A moment to reflect and give thanks to the 1177 sailors and marines that went down with the battleship. My spirits were lifted immediately by the stoic, impressive standing-of-the-guard by the great battleship Missouri, its massive guns trained over the Arizona’s resting place, as if daring anyone to disrespect its sunken comrade. The way it should be.


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