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Published: February 4th 2015
Day 18 – Jan. 28, 2015 – Port of call: Honolulu, HI on the Island of O’Ahu – Weather forecast: mostly sunny – temperature: 75°F/24°C – actual 82°F/28°C – experienced foggy conditions in the higher regions of the island usually described as “vog”
As we were docked here overnight departures for shore excursions today were moved on an hour later than yesterday. Still we opted for a wakeup call at 6:30 and breakfast delivered to our room at 7:00.
Today we decided to take the shore excursion called: The Grand Circle Island Tour, which is expected to take approximately 8 hours. The official description calls for a 120-mile trip around the island, driving past majestic vistas, scenic shorelines, and world-famous surfing beaches. Drive to Pali lookout for awe-inspiring views of the windward coast. Visit the Byodo-In Temple (based on the Kyoto Temple of Equality), Makapu’u Point, Sandy Beach, Halona Blow Hole, Hanauma Bay Marine Preserve & the Dole Pineapple Pavilion.
After picking up our tour guide and his 24-passenger bus outside the passenger terminal we headed off in the direction of the south shore passing on
the way Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. We did not stop at either one of those locations but Brooke was able to capture a few photos from the bus as we sped past. Our first stop was at a lookout dedicated to Amelia Earhart who was the first person to fly alone from Hawaii to North America on January 11, 1935.
Our next photo stop came at the very popular Hanauma Bay, which is part of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Sanctuary. Unfortunately there were no whales, other than the human type in view. Back on the bus we took a quick hop down the road to the Halona Blowhole; where on one of the inlets nearby the beach scene from “Here to Eternity” was shot. Today as the wind and the sea were quieter than normal the surf was subdued and the blowhole was not active.
Rounding the southeast tip of the island we headed north toward the Byodo-in Temple, which is an exact replica of the Kyoto Temple of Equality. The temple is set on a secluded portion of a large cemetery and is surrounded by a large pond filled with
coy and houses its own Buddha.
On our drive up the Windward Coast through beautiful scenery we stopped for a buffet lunch at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The center is billed as “Hawaii’s No. 1 Paid Attraction” covering 42 acres and features 6 island villages, dining and entertainment experiences, one-of-a-kind shows and hands on demonstrations of island cultures. Shopping opportunities are included.
Following lunch we continued northward along the Kamehameha Highway, which passes by the Turtle Bay Resort and Golf Club where the PGA held the Hawaiian golf championship a few weeks ago. Rounding the northern tip of the island we headed south and ended up at the Dole Plantation. At this stop because Brooke had a discount coupon from Maui Divers Jewelry to “Pick A Pearl” she decided to try her luck with finding one. She actually found a very nice specimen and had it set in a pendant. As a reward for making her purchase she was allowed to select a second oyster that produced two pearls, which she had mounted on studs.
journey back to Honolulu we passed through a number of long tunnels, which made the trip back to the ship much shorter. After clearing one tunnel we turned into a park that provided access to the Pali Lookout and a stunning view over the island. Fortunately for us we were heading the right direction into the city core and did not get caught up in the afternoon outbound traffic congestion. A short drive through the business and financial section of the city returned us to the dock.
The male singers of the Veendam cast provided the evening’s entertainment.
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