Third week in Hawaii – Big Island and Oahu (again)

The largest
island in Hawaii is Hawai’i, but to avoid confusion it is usually called Big
Island. It is also the newest and most active volcanically, and sometimes you
can see lava there flowing into the sea. However, this stopped shortly before
we got there so we didn’t see any. We had four nights on the island, two nights
in each of two separate locations.

The first place
was Kailua-Kona, on the west coast, one of the main resort areas and close to
the airport. From there we did a day’s circular tour of the northern Kohala
region, which majored on the exploits of King Kamehameha I, who unified the
Hawaiian islands in the 18th century. We saw the temple he built to
fulfil a prophecy that if he did so he would rule all the islands, and a bronze
statue of him that was lost at sea and recovered from the Falklands Islands. We
also visited an old Hawaiian fishing village and saw the remains of the lives
of ordinary people.

While at Kailua-Kona
we visited a hill village called Holualoa, with many quaint buildings including
a pink hotel with toilets built out over the hillside. We found a nice
restaurant there and went back to have a meal the next evening. The following
day we set off, driving halfway round the island to the second biggest town,
Hilo. On the way we saw a couple of nice waterfalls and a little island
connected to the mainland by a short bridge, from which we could watch a number
of sea turtles grazing on seaweed. 

From Hilo we
drove round to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, to stay at a village called
Volcano just outside the park. Our accommodation was in a chalet, shared with
some other couples, but the main problem was the weather which was cold, wet
and miserable. We had a day in the national park, and managed to walk into
Kilauea Iki crater, which is a solidified lava lake created following an
eruption in 1959. We also drove down to the coast and saw where a recent lava
flow had come over the road. In the evening we went to an overlook where we could
see the glow from one of the active craters shining in the dark.

When we left
Volcano the weather was still bad, but a few miles down the road it cleared and
the sun came through. We stopped at a painted church and another historic
Hawaiian site on the way to the airport, and then got a midday flight back to
Oahu and Honolulu, where we spent another three nights in a Waikiki hotel. That
afternoon we went to Diamond Head, a volcanic crater near Waikiki with a
walking track up the inside to a viewpoint. This was pretty busy with other
walkers, and some of the steep stairs got quite crowded. From there we walked
back along Waikiki Beach, which is popular but less sophisticated than we had
expected.

The next day we
visited Pearl Harbor, going to see the Arizona Memorial which sits over the
sunken battleship where more than 900 sailors are still entombed. We also
visited the USS Missouri (the last battleship ever built, on which the
surrender document was signed at the end of World War II) and the submarine Bowfin
which was active during the war in the Pacific. In the afternoon we went down
to Waikiki Beach and swam in the sea, and then walked over to downtown
Honolulu. We saw some of the sights there, including the state capitol and the
old royal palace (and a replica statue of King Kamehameha I). We went round
Chinatown and had a meal there before getting a bus back to Waikiki.

The following
day we did a full-day ‘Lost’ tour. We have been avid viewers of this series for
six years, and discovered when we arrived in Oahu that virtually the entire
thing was filmed on the island and that you could do tours to view key filming
locations. So, with a knowledgeable guide and four other ‘Lost’ nerds, we set
off on a tour round Oahu viewing relevant locations. It was amazing how many
places which appear to be on a deserted island were filmed close to houses or
busy main roads, and how locations which purported to be in Australia, Korea,
or Iraq were all filmed on one small and crowded island. We had a good time and
had our photos taken being attacked by the Smoke Monster, though in a rather
low-tech fashion.

Finally it was time
to fly out of Honolulu, say goodbye to Hawaii, and move on to Florida to meet
Claire and Charlie.

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