The Hawaiian Islands
The major islands include Maui, Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island, Hawaii. The other islands close to Maui are Lanai and Molokai. Lanai consists of one road with a harbour filled with dolphins. It was the pineapple growing island but because it does not get enough rain, Dole, the owner stopped growing them. You can go over to the island on a ferry from Lahaina harbour if you wish for the day. Molokai has many native Hawaiians living there who like to live in the manner of their ancestors. Most cowboys live here. This was the island where the Hawaiians who had leprosy were dropped off near a port. Many drowned or died because no one wanted to take care of them for fear of catching the disease. There is a small hospital there now but visitors are not able to visit.
Of the 4 major islands we recommend that your first visit be to Oahu, Maui and the Big Island . We think your second visit might include Kauai which is very rugged and is known for the movie, South Pacific being filmed there. It also has a small version of the Grand Canyon. There is a spot on the island where the most rainfall in the world occurs. This island has suffered a lot of devastating hurricanes. Each island has its own unique beauty which you will appreciate. The island Nihau lies beyond Kauai where native Hawaiians live like their ancestors. No visit is possible. These Hawaiian islands which extend all the way to Alaska were formed by a volcano deep in the Pacific Ocean. It is located under the Big Island now. Due to the movement of tectonic plates the islands move about 1 inch a year.
Hawaiian Standard Time is 5 hours behind Eastern Standard Time, but 6 hours behind when it changes to Eastern Daylight Saving time. Hawaii is very “laid back”. Hawaii time simply means late and no one worries about it. The climate and weather are fantastic. Temperatures range between a daytime high of 30 degrees centigrade (86F)in summer and a night time low of 18 degrees centigrade (64F) in winter. There are no distinct seasons. The coldest months are February and March. The hottest months are August and September. The climates range from deserts to rain forest. The temperature drops about 3 degrees for every thousand feet of altitude, so this means snow is found on the upper slopes of Haleakala on Maui and The Big Island’s Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.. Rainfall varies with the heaviest rains between October and April. Most local rains are short, often during the night and followed by a rainbow. Rainfall is heavier in the upper reaches of valleys where the clouds never leave for long. Kauaii has the wettest place on earth, the grand canyon of the Pacific.
Humpback whales come to the islands from October to May to birth and to breed. They come from the Arctic, a distance of 2800 miles in an estimated 80 to 100 days. They do not travel in herds From London, Ont., the travel time is 4 hours to the west coast and another 6 hours to Oahu. You can take inter-island flights from there to whichever island, in 20 to 30 minutes. Direct flights into Kahului, Maui are available from most west coast cities of Canada and the US. Many airlines offer cheaper packages when the air and car rental are included.
The following is a list of the highlights of each island which we consider worth visiting.
Oahu is the capital of Hawaii. You arrive at the Honolulu International Airport where you can rent a car and drive around the island in one day. Stay in the Ilima condo in Waikiki where you can make a breakfast of papaya, pineapple and guava juice, etc. Walk down to Waikiki Beach and stroll along the beach. You can drive to the Polynesian Cultural Centre where you will spend the afternoon and evening. This attraction is a must. On your way, go by the north shore to see Hawaiian surfing. In Honolulu there is a Hawaii Maritime Centre, a museum which is really informative. You should spend up to two whole days at Pearl Harbour to go through the museums and the Missouri, after visiting the Arizona Memorial. There you can tour the museum while you wait to take the boat over to the Arizona Memorial, a radiant white structure that straddles the sunken hulk of the USS Arizona where 1102 men died one Sunday morning. Afterwards tour the Bowfin, a World War II submarine which is open for self-guided tours, and the submarine museum. Then take a shuttle bus to tour the new WWII Aircraft Museum and the battleship Missouri which has been recently opened for guided tours by veterans. Spend a half day at The Punchbowl Cemetery, The National Memorial of the Pacific which is located in the caldera of the ancient volcano. Spend a half day visiting Iolani Palace,the former residence of the last Hawaiian monarchs, and The Mission Houses Museum, which is run by descendants of the missionaries. The furnishings are the original ones.
Time Allotment for Oahua:
- Polynesian Cultural Centre and the North Shore
- -1 full day and evening.
- Hawaii Maritime Centre and Waikiki
- -1 day
- Pearl Harbour
- -1 -2 days
- -1/2 day
- Iolani Palace and Mission Houses
- – ½ day
- 4-5 days
Maui is our favorite island. You fly into Kahului airport where you can rent a car and stay in our condo, at Kahana, 10 minutes drive north of Lahaina. One of the main attractions here are the whales who come seeking warm waters (24 degrees) and the shelter of leeward bays. Spend one solid day in the old whaling port, Lahaina. Walk Front street, the main street to get the ambience of the place. The Pioneer Inn built in 1901 was Maui’s major hotel until the 1950’s. The Old Lahaina courthouse was built in 1859. Next to it is the Old Fort built in 1830’s and was used as a prison. The Banyon tree is nearby. It was planted in 1873 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Lahaina’s missionaries. Today the tree covers a square more than half an acre….. a gathering place for mynah birds as well as crafters and artists on weekends.
The Masters Reading Room on Front Street between Dickenson and Papelekane street was built by missionaries in 1834. It is made of coral and is one of the oldest structures on Maui. The oldest coral stone house was the home of William Richards, the first protestant missionary to Lahaina. The above 2 structures flank the Baldwin Home museum. Hongwanji Mission on Wainee Street has been a Buddhist meeting place since 1910. It was built for Japanese labourers who came to work in the sugar cane plantations.
While in Maui do go to a Luau. Arrange to get tickets through our rental agent, Klahane Travel, Robyn and Jerry Downer, tel-1-800-669-MAUI(1-800-669-6284).The Old Lahaina Luau is authentic and memorable. You should have Klahani order the tickets as soon as possible in order to get seats. Tell them if you are celebrating anything.
Kaanapali, a resort on the way to Kahana has a string of world class hotels. In the centre of the hotel complex is the Whaler’s Village, an 8 acre site containing art galleries, whaling artifacts, restaurants and shops. On the 3rd floor you can visit the Whale Centre of the Pacific, the largest collection of whaling memorablia in the world. Directly across from this museum is Hale Kohola (house of whale) which is open daily. It contains whale exhibits featuring humpback whales.
Plan to take a tour of the Maui Tropical Plantation on Hwy 30. The tour, narrated by the driver lasts about 40 minutes on the Tropical Express. You see and learn a lot about Hawaiian Plants. The ride runs every half hour from 10:00 to 4:00 pm daily.
After this visit drive on to Wailuku-Kahului which has a deep port for ships. On your way you will see Central Maui which was formed by the gradual joining of lava flows and the West Maui Mountains. See the thousands of acres of sugar cane growing which is harvested by first burning it. Tour the sugar cane museum which is outside of Kahului. Drive Kaa-ahumanu Avenue that runs through Kahului and melds into Wailuku. The main street goes directly to become the Iao Valley. FromWailuku you see the Kepanwai Heritage formal gardens representing the peoples of Hawaii—the Portuguese outdoor oven, the Chinese moon gate, the Japanese tea house and the Hawaiian tea house. At the end of this road is Iao Valley State park where Maui warriors in 1790 fought with Kamahameha I who won. Walk up to the Iao needle which stands 2250 feet, is a very impressive sight and forms a dramatic centerpiece for the park. Stop to view the typical Hawaiian taro gardens at the beginning of the walk up to the Iao Needle.
North of Kahana where our condo is situated you can drive to Kapalua and Napili Bay Region to see the great scenery. You may see rocks piled on top of each other which is an old Hawaiian custom communicating with the spirits of their ancestors.
A visit to Haleakaula, the volcanic crater, will take one day but it is worth it. Call ahead to see if there is clear visibility (871-5054). When the clouds move in visibility is nil. So go early (well before 11:00 A.M) and wear your slacks, warm coat and hat because you will be at an altitude of 10,000 feet. You can buy pictures etc but remember to move slowly because you may have trouble breathing. On your way back stop at Kula to see the Botanicaal Gardens and severl farms with Protea flowers. Don’t purchase any because these plants are loaded with ants. Hwys 37, 377 and 378 lead to Haleakaula. Off Hwy 37 is the cowboy town, Makawao. Hwy 37 melds into 370 leading to Ulupalakua ranch where you can go to the Tedeschi Vineyards Ltd and taste Hawaii’s first commercial wine at 2000 feet.
At Kihei you can see windsurfing.
The Hana highway is an interesting drive which will take about one day because there are many scenic lookouts and rushing waterfalls. Use the tape commentary which explains everything as you drive along. Do drive back in daylight.
The Maui Ocean Center at Maalea is the newest and best aquarium full of oceanic life except whales.. You can see the whales off our lanai but you should take a guided tour.
The best snorkelling ecursion is the one to Molokini Crater. Clear water lets you see the bottom sealife at 100 feet deep or more.
Check with the Maui Dive Shop in the Kahana Mall for the best local snorkeling beaches, since they vary depending on the weather and time of year.
Ask Klahani which excursions you should take. Don’t forget to ask for a discount.
Time Allotment for Maui:
- 1 day
- 1 dinner and Hawaiian Culture; 1 evening
- Whaling Museum and whale tour: 1 day
- Haleakula, Hula, Makawo and Kihei:
- 1 day
- Hana Drive:
- 1 day
- The Maui Aquarium:
- 1/2 day
- 5 ½ days
The Big Island
The Big Island has been very significant in Hawaii’s history because it was the birthplace of Kamehameka I who eventually united all the islands under his rule. His statue is seen along the roads. He died here. Captain Cook visited these islands, then known as the Sandwich islands, and was killed here at Kealakehua Bay where a white cross is erected in his memory. This island has 2 deep harbours, Hilo and Kawaihae. It also has the 2 tallest peaks in the Pacific, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea where the world’s most important observatory is located.
Sugar cane was harvested as were pineapples which failed to become a major crop. This island has become the site of the world’s largest macademia nut orchards in the world. Papayas and bananas are grown commercially as are orchids and anthuriums. Coffee Plantations on the Kona side produce gourmet coffee. Vast cattle ranches are found in the Kohala District with the cowboys, paniolos.
Six geographic districts are found on this island:
- West coast, Kohala and Kona: coffee and macademia nuts grow in lee of the ocean
- Southwest portion, Kau district: old Hawaii has vast macademia orchards
- Southeast portion, the Puna District is where volcanoes flow.
- Hilo district grows sugar cane, macademia nuts, orchids and anthuriums.
- Hamakua District grows sugar cane and macademia nuts.
- Northwest district is the cowboy area with cattle ranches.
The airport, Keahole is located 7 miles north of Kailua-Kona.where you can rent a car.
A variety of different Hawaiian and natural wonders are worth vissiting:
These 3 activities would take ½ day:
1. Ahuena Heiau, a place of worship has been restored and reconstructed near the Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua-Kona. Free guided tours are conducted along with displays in the hotel.
2. Hulihee palace, the summer residence of King Kalakaua is free to tour.
3. Mokuaikau church was erected by the first group of missionaries.
Spend a ½ day on these 2 activities.
1. Coffee Plantation tour (323-2911: tour the plantation and taste test or go to the Royal Kona Coffee Mill and Museum (329-3347.
2. Macademia Nut tour- Mrs. Fields Macademia Nut Co. 322-2133: tour and taste.
Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park or City of Refuge can be toured in ¼ day. On-site interpreters offer greater insight into the role this place of refuge played for defeated warriors facing death, innocent victims of war- fearing persecution and even for law breakers.
Volcanoes National park is huge. It has 344 square miles. Take hwy 11.
The Kilauea Visitor Centre 8:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Watch a film of recent eruptions shown hourly. There are 5 volcanoes here. Crater Rim Drive encircles the Kilauea Caldera and the Halema’uma’u firepit to the Thurston Lava Tube which you can walk through. Wear rubber soled shoes because there are puddles of water there.
Devastation Trail meanders through ½ mile of thick pumice. A boardwalk is installed to walk on. This takes one full day so leave early in the morning to see this park.
This is the highlight of the Big Island for us.
Spend a half day at the Parker Ranch Visitor Centre and Museum as well as the Waiipio Valley Wagon tours (775-9518) to see the various kinds of vegetation. If you continue on to the east side of the island from the Parker Ranch, the Botanical Gardens at Hilo are well worth a visit. They supply umbrellas if it’s raining.
Saddle Road Area is located between 2 mighty volcanoes, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, a 55 mile stretch. This is Hwy 20 which runs between Hilo and Waimea. Check to see if rental car companies allow travel on this road. If it is possible to go, be there in the evening between 6:30 and 9:30 and go to the Keck visitors centre, 10,00 feet to look through telescopes at the planets and their moons. Phone ahead for the schedule. 961-2180. More information is available here.
Time Allotment for Big Island:
- Heiau and Hulihee palace:
- 1/2 day
- Coffee Plantations and macademia orchards:
- ½ day
- City of Refuge:
- ¼ day
- Volcanoes National Park:
- 1 full day
- Parker Ranch Visitor Centre and Museum and Waipio Valley Wagon tour:
- ½ day
- 3 ½ -4 days
These islands offer about every sport there is. Golfing and snorkeling are available as well as scuba diving. A guide book is definitely a must.
The Big Island has active volcanoes so you may experience the vog(volcanic smog). Many people suffer from respiratory problems when here for a long time. It often depends on whether the trade winds are blowing .
Beaches and Sun Safety:
Be very aware of the sun. Wear sun screen every day to prevent burns. The ocean is a big attraction so talk to the lifeguards if they are present Heed all warning signs. Wave action varies with the local shorelines and the seasons. Many beaches have coral reefs so you should usually wear beach shoes, because coral cuts can get infected easily and don’t heal well. Be careful!
Hawaii is truly a paradise. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.