Monthly Archives: June 2016

Oahu – the last stop

Our final stop on this fantastic adventure was the island of Oahu. Both of us had been there before; Liz for a brief visit and I was stationed there ’73-’76.  The Solstice docked early in the morning and our flight outbound was not until later in the evening. We decided to sign up for a tourist trap bus tour of southeast Oahu.

From the Hawaiian monarchy to the attack on Pearl Harbor, an exploration of Oahu’s history reflects the key influences that have impacted all of Hawaii. In 1795, King Kamehameha I led his forces in the legendary Battle of Nuuanu near the scenic precipices of the Nuuanu Pali Lookout. This pivotal battle resulted in the conquering of Oahu and the eventual unification of the Hawaiian Islands under one rule in 1810.

Seven Hawaiian monarchs followed after Kamehameha the Great. King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) permanently established the Hawaiian Kingdom’s government on Oahu. King Kamehameha IV (Alexander Liholiho) and his wife Emma’s summer retreat, the Queen Emma Summer Palace, can still be visited in Honolulu’s Nuuanu Valley today. King Kalakaua, also known as the Merrie Monarch, built the majestic Iolani Palace in Downtown Honolulu. Queen Liliuokalani was Hawaii’s last reigning monarch after American colonists overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom in a controversial coup in 1893. In 1898, Hawaii became a territory of the United States.

The 1800’s were a time of great change for Hawaii. Christian missionaries became influential after King Kamehameha II (Liholiho) ended the traditional kapu (taboo) system. Many of the historic churches on Oahu are reminders of Christianity’s influence, such as Kawaiahao Church in downtown Honolulu, which was a place of worship for Hawaiian kings and alii (royalty). Soon, new commerce emerging from whaling, sugar and pineapple industries resulted in an influx of western settlers.

As agriculture boomed in the late 19th century, plantation owners found themselves in the midst of a labor shortage. Immigrants from Japan, China, Korea, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Russia and the Philippines arrived to work in the plantations. Today, this mix of ethnicities is the source of Hawaii’s multicultural population. Visitors can step backward in time to explore this era at Waipahu’s Plantation Village. You can also still see the smoke stack of the old Waialua Sugar Mill as you drive toward historic Haleiwa town.

In the early 1900’s, agriculture began to wane and Hawaii’s visitor industry began to grow. In 1901, the Moana Hotel opened on the beach in Waikiki. Today the Westin Moana Surfrider is Hawaii’s oldest resort still in operation. The Halekulani Hotel opened in 1917 as a cottage colony and was rebuilt as a luxury hotel in the 1970s. The Aloha Tower opened in 1926, and was the tallest building in Hawaii for four decades. In 1927 the iconic Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened and was nicknamed the “Pink Palace.”

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor pushing America into World War II. The surprise attack was aimed at the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy and its defending Army Air Corps and Marine Air Forces. The attack damaged or destroyed 12 American warships, destroyed 188 aircraft and resulted in the deaths of 2,403 American servicemen and 68 civilians.

In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States. Completed in 1969, the Hawaii State Capitol is located in Downtown Honolulu, behind Iolani Palace.

From the largest museum in the state, Bishop Museum, to the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, Oahu is home to numerous landmarks and significant points of interest that shed light on the fascinating facets of Hawaii’s past.

Rabbit Island away from Oahu

Rabbit Island

Waimanalo Bay Beach not like Oahu

Waimanalo Bay Beach

Waimanalo Bay Beach

Waimanalo Bay Beach

lighthouse

Makapuu Point Lighthouse

Kaluahole Channel

Kaluahole Channel

Halona Cove

Halona Cove

nuuanu pali pass

nuuanu pali pass

Lookout

Nuuanu Pali Lookout

Hawaiian Chicken

Hawaiian Free Range Chicken

Posted in Hawaii, lighthouse, photography, travel

Bora Bora and Maui

I am combining our stops to Bora Bora and Maui because our stop in Bora Bora shoud be called Poura Poura! It rained hard all day long. We did take a tender from the ship to shore but quickly saw that we would soon resemble drowned rats if we stayed. We got underway early that evening and after five sea days arrived in Maui!

The last time I had been to Maui was in 1975 and I was looking forward to going up to the Haleakala crater.  The island of Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands. Native Hawaiian tradition gives the origin of the island’s name in the legend of Hawai’iloa, the navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. According to that legend, Hawai’iloa named the island of Maui after his son, who in turn was named for the demigod Maui. The earlier name of Maui was Ihikapalaumaewa. The Island of Maui is also called the “Valley Isle” for the large isthmus between its northwestern and southeastern volcanoes and the numerous large valleys carved into both mountains.

Haleakala Observatory is one of the most important observing sites in the world. Lying above the tropical inversion layer it experiences superb seeing conditions and dominant clear skies. The University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy has managed this site for over 4 decades as a location for conducting dedicated astrophysical experiments. In most cases these are programs that could not be conducted anywhere else on Earth.

The Silversword is an exceptionally rare and endangered plant native only to the island of Maui and the Big Island of Hawai’i (all other occurences being introductions). Silversword is itself a very unusual plant. A very striking silvery-light-green color, this almost metallic looking plant consists of very dense rosettes of yucca type leaves that radiate out from a base. The leaves are thick and taper to a point at the ends. These rosettes can range in size from a few inches for babies to three or four feet for mature healthy adults.

However, what is really strange about Silversword is how it flowers. Silversword will live for 40 to 50 years before flowering once and only once. When it is time to flower the leaves seem to invert and bend upwards and out of the center rises a huge 4 to 6 foot stalk from which radiates hundreds of drooping yellow flowers. The entire result is something that resembles a narrow 6-foot tall mushroom – a very impressive sight. Once the plant has flowered a single time, the entire plant dies.

We left Maui late evening and set sail for Honolulu where our cruise ended. Stay tuned!

Welcome

Welcome

Park Sign

Park Sign

Silver Sword

Silver Sword

Silver Sword

Silver Sword

Observatory

Observatory

Observatory

Observatory

Crater

Haleakala Crater

Crater

Haleakala Crater

Crater

Haleakala Crater

Posted in art and entertainment, Cruise, French Polynesia, Hawaii, Maui

Moorea – Tahiti’s Little Sister

Moorea

Believed to have inspired the mythical Bali Hai from James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, Moorea is one of the most scenically striking islands in French Polynesia. Despite her immaculate beauty, she is far from unapproachable. Possessing a relaxed vibe and welcoming spirit, Moorea is just as warm and inviting as the Tahitians lucky enough to call this island home.

Located only ten nautical miles from Tahiti, Moorea is easily accessible by ferry or plane from Papeete. This proximity, coupled with the island’s receptive and neighborly nature, makes Moorea a favorite destination for couples, families and even locals. Still, Moorea has managed to maintain its small island feel despite this popularity and the presence of a few internationally branded resorts.

The attraction toward Moorea comes as no surprise; the island is a geographical marvel. Eight voluminous mountain peaks rise from its translucent lagoon, creating a distinctive and rugged silhouette visible from the western coast of Tahiti. Splitting the northern shore are two symmetrical bays: Cook’s (Paopao) and Opunohu Bay. The island is roughly shaped like a heart from overhead; and in the theme of love and romance, Moorea is one of the top honeymoon destinations in Tahiti—second only to Bora Bora.

Moorea is the pride and joy of French Polynesia. She may be considered Tahiti’s little sister, but she steals the spotlight every time. The island is a true reflection of the laidback Tahitian lifestyle and the warm, welcoming character of French Polynesia and its people.

solstice

Celebrity Solstice at anchor

Harbor

Harbor view

docks

View from docks

BOP

Yellow Bird of Paradise

Bali Hai

Bali Hai through the clouds

Tiki

Carved Tiki

 

Posted in Bird of Paradise, French Polynesia, Tahiti, travel