Hawaii – Days Four and Five – Kona

The ship traversed around the Hawaiian Islands south to north and now back south to the big island of Hawaii for our final stop in Kailua-Kona. Kona is on the dry western side of the island and receives 20 inches of rain a year compared to Hilo on the eastern side that receives 125 inches per year and this fact just about guaranteed we would have good weather. And we did.

It is too bad we missed Maui but I think that in addition to the waves that slowed us down from Long Beach to Hawaii, the other problem that put us behind schedule was all the alcohol that people tried to smuggle in their luggage.  I sat in a lounge by a window in Long Beach and noticed there were still six carts full of luggage still to be loaded on board at our scheduled departure time. The luggage was being brought in just down the hall from our cabin and every single piece was scanned and then opened if it had suspicious bottles or containers inside.  Ours was one of them!  Not until this cruise have we ever brought even one bottle of wine on a ship but knew we were allowed one bottle each and so this time we put some in a suitcase. Not until after we turned our luggage in at the port did we learn that it had to be carried in our hand luggage.  A letter was delivered to our cabin stating that dangerous items like weapons and alcohol were not allowed in our luggage and that we would get our wine returned on the final day of the cruise. Someone needs to rework that letter to say they don’t want us to bring alcohol on board so they can sell more at grossly inflated prices in the ship’s venues. One man told us about all the methods he used to  smuggle vodka on the ship in various bottles that look like water bottles and also hidden in his pockets.  Some of his gets confiscated but some makes it through.  Bottles that are disguised as something else are not returned.

Kailua-Kona doesn’t have a dock for cruise ships and so we were anchored in the bay and took tenders to the town.  There was a big fair in town on the first day with many arts and crafts and home made items. We bought some ginger and lemon seasoned macadamia nuts for Joy who had been taking care of Molly, and a smaller bag for ourselves.  We really wanted to find some books for the long trip home but were told there are no books sold in Kailua. 

1412Kona 3Kailua is the site of the Ironman Triathlon

1412Kona 2View from the tender/lifeboat window as we made our way to shore. It was a rough ride.

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1412Kona 7The Mo Kuai Kaua was the first church in Hawaii

We had arrived rather late on the first day and it took longer to get off the ship and back on again than our allotted time in the village. But that was fine because we had the whole next day for our Kona Historical Tour which was actually just 3 1/2 hours long but that gave us more time to walk around the town once we returned.  This tour was a pretty good one as it packed a lot into a short time.

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Our first and best stop was to the black lava flats of the southern Kona Coast and the site of Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.  This is a place where the royal chiefs established one of their most important residences. The temple and mausoleum has been rebuilt but once held the bones of 23 noble chiefs.

1412KonaTour 13This stone wall, built about 1550, separates the royal grounds from the pu’uhonua which was a place for defeated warriors and those that had violated sacred laws. In 1819, traditional religious practices were abolished and many of the old religious sites and structures were destroyed or abandoned.

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This spring and salt water pond held fish to be eaten by the chiefs

1412KonaTour 16Lava rock meets the ocean

1412KonaTour 25Ki leaves were hung from the roof of these structures. The leaves were tied to ropes to form nets for fishing in the shallow water.

1412KonaTour 32The next stop was to St. Benedicts Church, established1899

1412KonaTour 30The inside has vibrant murals painted by Father Berchmans Velghe from Belgium. Some of the murals told biblical stories as people could not read or write in the early 1900’s.

Our last stop was the Kona Coffee Factory with unlimited sampling in many flavors. Our favorite was Macadamia Nut Chocolate. Later that day the ship pulled up it’s anchor and headed for Ensenada, Mexico and Long Beach.  I was sure we would skip Ensenada since we were not scheduled to arrive until 8 pm and would leave again at 11 pm.  However, there is a law called the Jones Act with a provision that only US flagged ships may carry cargo or passengers from one US port to another or there would be large fines. This means that the cruise lines, which probably most if not all are registered outside the US, MUST make a stop in a foreign port to be in compliance. I read on a forum about an incident on a short cruise from Long Beach to Catalina Island (California) to Ensenada and return where a lady learned on Catalina Island that her sister had been in an accident. She wanted to return directly back to Los Angeles on another boat but had to pay a $300 fine and the ships agents had to also first get special permission from customs officials. If our ship skipped Ensenada, Carnival Cruises would have had to pay a $300 fine for each passenger.

One other event that happened on our cruise was that five days out from Long Beach, a passenger whose cabin was down the hall from ours, threw a glass at a bartender’s head and he had to have 5 stitches.  Security guards corralled the unruly lady and took her to the cabin.  For the next five days and nights, a security guard sat in a chair outside her door as she was under house arrest.  And then only females were allowed to bring her meals and clean her room.  She was taken off the ship in Long Beach and turned over to the police.  There is a website called http://www.cruisejunkie.com that lists events at sea in several categories.  Select the 2014 Events at Sea and you will be surprised at how much happens every few days. Take a look at an event December 23rd on the Queen Elizabeth when passengers practically mutinied.

I also was wrong in thinking absolutely no one would get off the boat that late in Mexico.  There were at least 10 busses at the dock and every one of them filled up with passengers going into the main part of town.  A big fireworks display greeted us on the ship and also an armada of 10 little boats decorated to the hilt for Christmas paraded around our ship.  It was a nice stop after all.

 

Hawaii – Day Three – Kauai

Kauai, known as the Garden Island, is lush and green. Because of this we booked the longest and most expensive shore excursion here but ended up being disappointed. The tour was by 12 passenger van but 50% of the passengers were in the obese times 3 group and so the other 50% were pretty squished.  There were sudden hard rains and wind that came at us sideways. The tour guide was bored. He took us to the scheduled places but still had too much time to fill and so he wandered here and there.  I was happy when it was over.

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 We drove 1/2 an hour to stop at this waterfall overlook.

Kauai 1The Wailu River is the largest river in Hawaii 

Kauai 5Several van loads of us got on a boat like this one for a trip to Wailu River State Park Fern Grotto

Kauai 4Kauai 3The river is very busy with rowers, kayaks, and fishermen.

Kauai 6We were entertained at the fern grotto

Kauai 7The fern grotto was a high rock wall dripping with water and this fern like growth coming out of the rock

Kauai 8I don’t think the ocean views were as pretty as those on Oahu or maybe it was the ugly day that made it seem that way.

Kauai 10Alison 

A lunch was included in this $150 each tour so our guide took us to a beach and we all got under a small covered picnic table out of the rain and had a skimpy sandwich on a hot dog bun. For $150 I would think we could have had a better type of bread.  Chips, a cookie, and a beverage were included. 

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The prettiest place we went to I didn’t even get the name of. It was a tiny beach town on a curving bay. It reminded me of a beach town in Mexico that we hope to spend some time in this winter. 

Hawaii – Day Two – Downtown Honolulu

After we returned from our Oahu tour and had some lunch, Alison and I walked to the Iolani Palace and were then planning to catch a taxi to Waikiki Beach afterwards.  One block before the palace there was a Christmas display with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus Hawaiian style.

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There were many more displays on this street and a security guard told us that the lights would be on at dark so we left for the palace to come back later.

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Queen Iolani Palace. We were not able to tour the inside as it closes at 5 but the grounds were open.

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Without searching for it, we saw the capital for the state of Hawaii when we walked around the back of the palace. The building is different from most capitals in the US in that it is much newer since Hawaii was made the 50th state in 1959.  The downstairs is open from front to back and the offices are on the sides and around the second floor.

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After wandering a bit more we headed back to the Christmas displays on King Street and there we stayed oohing and ahhing for a couple of hours.

HonoluluChristmas 29City Hall has a big open area on the bottom floor that was filled with themed Christmas trees and displays. Santa was there too with children on his lap making their wishes.

HonoluluChristmas 35HonoluluChristmas 36My pictures were not clear enough to show you all the pretty trees but this one was decorated with tropical flowers

HonoluluChristmas 31HonoluluChristmas 32Trolleys drove by regularly for the passengers to view the lights and displays. I don’t know if these were special or just normal Honolulu transportation.

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HonoluluChristmas 34P1020774P1020779P1020794Alison and I went across the street to listen to the carolers and look at this church.

P1020795We were standing outside the gate when a lady came and grabbed Alison’s arm and pulled her closer to the church.

P1020796She brought Alison to this lady who then said a prayer over us called the Queen’s Blessing. We both would have liked a few days in beautiful Honolulu before moving on to the other islands.

Hawaii – Day Two – Oahu Tour

The tour was called Natural Highlights of Oahu and covered the southeast part of the island.  Our tour guide said that Honolulu is second after Los Angeles for the worst traffic in the US and yes it was congested and slow going to get past Waikiki and out of the city limits which covers quite a distance. Our first stop was inside the crater of Diamond Head.  I would have liked to have enough time to walk up on the rim or at least walk one of the paths. As it was I didn’t think the scenery was interesting enough to take a picture.  The most interesting scenes were all the bright yellow fire trucks, ambulances and helicopters taking care of people who had heat exhaustion. The guide said that is a common occurrence when people over exert themselves by walking up to the rim. Good thing we didn’t have enough time for me to try it.

OahuTour 5We caught glimpses of the beach in Waikiki as we drove through and it sure looked inviting with the light sand and pretty water

OahuTour 6Our tour guide stopped at several overlooks

OahuTour 7There are many chicken running loose on the island and we were told these are “feral chickens” and that they are mean and will win a fight with the also “feral cats.”

OahuTour 8OahuTour 9Remember the movie with Charlton Heston and Deborah Kerr called On The Beach? It was filmed here.  There are many shows and movies filmed in Hawaii and we saw signs that Hawaii 50 would be filming in the area the following day.

OahuTour 11The Monk Seals blend right in with the rocks

OahuTour 12This guy was sitting peacefully just watching the waves until these big ones hit and he jumped up and became pretty wary after that

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Hanauma BayOahuTour 16I was looking at this scene when suddenly one military helicopter after another came out from behind the big rock.  It reminded me of a movie scene but I can’t remember which one.

OahuTour 17We had the beach side of the bus and Allison had the mountain side. If you remember, Allison was on the Australia cruise in September and we sat at the same table in the dining room. Now she and her sister-in-law are coincidentally in the room next to us. Allison is a cruising maniac. This is her 6th just this year.  We talked to one lady who had gone on this very Hawaii cruise 12-15 times! There are so many people that cruise for the sake of cruising instead of the destination.  This particular cruise has a passenger population of very large people. By large I mean obese times 3 or more.  I can understand why cruising is a good way to travel for the mobility impaired.  I would bet there are a few hundred people in either wheel chairs, scooters, walkers, or with canes on the ship.

OahuTour 19OahuTour 20OahuTour 22OahuTour 23The Pali Lookout in the Koolau Mountains.

After the tour was over we returned to the ship for a quick mid-afternoon meal.  Then Allison and I struck out walking on our own and did not return to well after dark.  Steve had cut his gum the day before while eating an apple and the bleeding would not stop so he went to bed with a compress.  Allison, who is a nurse, told Steve that putting pressure on his gum was the only way to stop the bleeding. Steve is on a high dose of blood thinners and every once in a while a minor cut gets rather serious.

One more hour and the ship will leave for Kona on the big island of Hawaii.  I will have plenty of time to write about the rest of our visit to Hawaii before we arrive in Long Beach on Sunday.  Until then, Aloha!