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Video from our trip to Hawaii. Some of these clips are cut from a longer segment, so should be played in order. Run times in minutes and seconds are shown after the link.

A day by day diary of our trip, including comments about pictures

Saturday (Chinatown and the bus) – We went to Chinatown to walk around and eat dinner, We took the local bus. We paid $25 each for a pass that’s good for unlimited rides for four days. It’s a pretty good system, going everywhere on the island, but I don’t think there’s a good map available. If you want to go a fairly long distance, it will take a long time.

Chinatown was kind of crummy. There were very few tourists, it was kind of run down and there were quite a few homeless. Our driver from the airport told us that there were about 12,000 homeless on Oahu out of the 900,000 residents.

After walking around a bit, we picked out a restarutant. It was good and inexpesive ($25) for a seafood entrée and one vegetarian entrée. The food was similar to Pearl in Rancho Bernardo.

Sunday (shopping and submarine) – We went to a ‘free’ breakfast at the Hard Rock Café sposored by the company AAA used to book our vacation. We sat through a presentation of the various tours that they offered, and had a good buffet breakfast. After the presentation, they sat down with us and tried to get us to book as many of their tours as possible. I think their prices were good, but they did not have all the tours we wanted to go on. We had planned to go to Pearl Harbor after breakfast by bus, but the people there said that the tickets to the Arizona Memorial sold out fairly early in the morning. So, we booked one their tours to go to Pearl Harbor. We also booked a ride on the Atlantis Submarine for Sunday afternoon. They had some free shopping shuttles from the Hard Rock to a store called Maui Divers Jewelers. Janice wanted to go, so off we went.

The Jewelers show you a seven minute film on how they get the coral to make their jewelry and then you tour through the jewelry making area. Then you wind up in the gallery, where salespeople are ready. Janice bought a ring. I really liked their etched turtles, but they did not have one in a ring, so I did not buy anything. I did like their jewelry, but not quite enough to buy anything.

Then we took another free shuttle to a store called Hilo Hatties. This store was mostly touristy stuff. We took a free shuttle back to our hotel.

We ate sushi for lunch at the hotel. It was good, but a bit pricey. The we went on the boat to get to the submarine The boat goes out a ways and you get a good view of the beach from the water. Some people saw a whale, but I missed it. The submarine surfaces, and you then get on board the submarine. The submarine ride was 45 minutes, and it goes down to a depth of 90 feet below. But we did not see much that was interesting. A few fish and some wreckage was about all we saw. We thought this was kind of a waste.

For dinner, we went to a marketplace called the International Center in the middle of the Waikiki area. They had mostly cheap jewelry, t-shirts, other clothes, souvenirs and crafts. We bought some seafood and Korean food at their food court. The food was pretty good, and not expensive.

Monday (Hanuama Bay and hotel luau) – We took a tour bus to Hanuama Bay. The guide was interesting and told us about how Hawaii had the most millionaires per capita of any state, and we saw lots of very nice houses along the way. They also supplied fins and snorkeling equipment, and showed me how to use it. To get down to the bay, you have to pay a fee and watch a short film about how you should avoid hitting the coral and not harm the sea life. The walk down to the beach is steep, and they have a bus, for $1, that will take you down or up. I went snorkeling, Janice hung out on the beach. At first, I did not see anything. Then I changed location, and saw lots of fish. It was great. I had to get close to the coral to see the fish. That made it difficult to avoid the coral, because the waves pushed you towards the coral. I found that I had to circle around to avoid the coral. The only bad thing about the snorkeling was that it was kind of crowded, and people (usually kids) would just run into you, even if you were pretty still.

After snorkeling, we had a hard time finding a place for lunch because it about 2:30. We settled on a Greek place near the hotel that was pretty good. After lunch, Janice went to the beach, while I walked around the hotel taking pictures of the buildings, animals and other attractions on site.

That night, we went to the hotel lauau. They gather you in a big group and march you to the luau. It was a buffet dinner that was pretty good, followed by a show. The show was decent. We paid for 'special seating.' This got us to the buffet earlier, and we sat one table closer to the show. It was not worth the extra money.

Tuesday (Pearl Harbor) – We left the hotel at 6:10 AM to go to Pearl harbor on our tour, and got there at about 7 AM. We got tickets to the 8:00 AM showing of the movie you have to see before going to the Arizona Memorial. The movie has footage of the events leading up to the war and then the attack. You take a boat to go over to the Arizona. The Arizona is almost completely underwater, so you only see a bit of the ship. The ship is still leaking oil, but I did not really notice that or smell it, but Janice did. There's a big wall at the memorial with the names of everyone who died on the Arizona. That’s all there was to that. Then our tour took us to the Missouri. You go through that ship. It’s interesting, but very similar to one of the WWII ships we walked through in San Diego, so this was not a very new experience for us. Then, our tour went to the national cemetary called the Punchbowl. It was a very pretty place, but we could not get out to take pictures. There’s also a great view of Waikiki from near the entrance to the cemetary. But, again, we could not get out to take pictures. That was the end of the tour. I was a bit disappointed in the tour because there was a submarine there that you could walk through, but the timing of the tour did not really allow us to see that. There’s also a Naval Aviation Museum there that looked interesting, but we did not see that either. There are other tours that give you more time. I would either take one of those tours, or just rent a car and get there early if you want to see the Arizona Memorial. The tour people were right about getting there early, by about 8 AM, the earliest ticket to the Arizona you could get was for 2 PM.

That night, we went to Roys for dinner. Very expensive, but excellent food, using local foods. It was also within walking distance. We also walked around the area around Roys. It was a lot like walking around the stores inside the Vegas hotels, mostly upscale stores, but also some inexpensive places mixed in.

Wednesday (hiking) – We took a tour that we thought would be a walk through the forest and see some birds and a waterfall. It turned to be a pretty difficult hike through the rainforest. We did see a few birds and a small waterfall. There were also some nice views of one of the bays. But it was a hard hike. On part of the trail we had to use some ropes to get down the trail. The guide also pointed out some old interesting buildings in Honolulu, inlcuding churches designed with an Asian motif. When we go to Honolulu again someday, I would like to take a tour of the city. There are a lot of old buildings that must have an interesting history.

Wednesday night we had dinner at a good, anbd not expensive, Indian restaurant near the hotel.

Thursday (Polynesian Cultural Center and the Mormon Church) – We paid for the Amabssador package, which got a guided tour through the park and better seating for the show at night. We were also told our tour would start after lunch. We had to pay extra for lunch. The Cultural Center is a park where they try to reproduce buildings and every day life for people on several of the Polynesian islands. They also have various shows and demonstrations at scheduled times. The tour was worth it, because they walk you through the park to see as many demonstrations and shows as possible. Then we went to the luau there. The food was like the one at the hotel, and it was a buffet also. They had a little entertainment during the luau. After the luau, they leave about a 45 minute gap before the show. You can either shop in their tourist trap shop, or go see the Mormon temple, which is close. It turns out that the Mormons built the Ploynesian Cultural Center to make money. There’s also a branch of BYU there, and many students work at the Center to defray the cost of their tuition. The show at night was pretty good. The story was a about a boy from his birth until the time he first becomes a father. The show has a big cast, and lots of music, dancing and lighting effects. But the two highlights are the fire parts of the show. In one part, guys walk and dance over fire. They even set their grass skirts on fire. The other part is the fire knife dancing. That’s also pretty spectacular. It’s similar to the fire knife dancing at the hotel luau, but with more people. Unfortunately, no kind of photography was allowed during the show.

Friday (Circle tour) – We took a tour from Discovery that takes you up the center of the island then around the North Shore and back to Waikiki. Our tour had an extra option to go the the Arizona before the rest of the tour. This was unfortunate, because the bus was a bit late picking us up, and we had to stop and wait for a while at Pearl Harbor before starting the tour. There are lots of other Circle island tours, so I would take one of the other ones. But we did see lots of cool stuff. We went to the Dole Plantation. There’s everything pineapple there. You can also take a train ride through the plantation, and tour a garden and get lost in a maze shaped like a pineapple. But we did not have much time there. Janice ate some kind of dessert and I took pictures of some pineapple plants.

Then we drove to and through Haleiwa. There were some intereing looking shops there and a nice park with a beach. We drove by several beaches and stopped at Sunset Beach where the biggest waves can be found. But it was a low surf day, and it rained heavily for the few minutes we had there.

After those beaches, you go past the northernmost part of the island and pass all these food places where you can get fresh shrimp. They have shrimp farms there, and there’s a national wildlife refuge there with wetland birds. I don’t think there’s public access to the refuge, though I saw one tour that said that they go into the wetlands. We then drove by the Mormon temple and stopped at a place called Laie point. It’s a good place to take pictures.

We then stopped for lunch at a ranch where you can ride horses or ATV vehicles near the site where they filmed part of Jurassic Park. We just stopped there for a plain lunch.

The next stop was a coffee and macadamia nut farm. I guess they grew those things there, but all we saw was a store that sold coffee and nuts. You could get free samples. You could also crack open the nuts for free.

Next stop was the Pali lookout. It looked like you could get a spectacular view of the ocean from there, but it started raining hard, so we did not get out. Our guide told us that parts of Ouahu get around 280 inches of rain per year, so some of the interesting sites get frequent rain.

We then drove through a neighborhood of native Hawaiians. This gave the guide a setting to tell us about the political historiy of Hawaii. They really wanted to be an independent country, but American businessmen used their influence to get the US to annex Hawaii, and then Eisenhower wanted it to be a state so the US could have guaranteed military bases there. Many of the natives still resent what the US did, and you can see signs and flags in that area reflecting their feelings.

The next stop was Sandy Beach and the Halona blowhole. The surf was much more active there than North shore. The blowhole is a hole in the rocks where the water is forced through, like a whale spouting out water.

Then we toured through some of the very expensive neighborhoods near Diamonhead and saw some very expensive houses. The next stop was near where the Diamonhead trail starts. The view was not all that great, but I got a few pictures of a bird.

Then it was back to the hotel. Overall, it was a nice tour, and we got to see some great scenery. But we should have made more picture stops. The driver would sometimes announce when we’d pass by something photogenic, but the bus was moving a bit too fast to get decent pictures.

Friday night, we went back to Roys. We both had a set dinner that consisted of an appetizer sample, a choice of one of three entrees, and a choice of one of two desserts. You could also get three wines to match your three courses. We got the wine, the same entrée (macadamia nut encrusted fish). We got each desert and shared that. It was another great meal. Pricey, but great.

Saturday (shopping and circle tour reprise) – On our last full day, we decided to rent a car and check out the flea market at Aloha Stadium, to be followed by revisting some of the sites we saw on Friday that we wanted to see again. The flea market was mostly cheap junk. But I bought some shirts and a hat. I also saw a really nice t-shirt with a turtle design on it, but it was kind of pricey, and I did not feel like spending any more money on shirts.

We set our GPS to get to Haleiwa. We had a bit of a hard time finding the exit from the stadium, and some tour guide gave us directions. He told us that at one point, it would seem like we would go back the way we came, but then we would take a turn towards Haleiwa. Things went like he said, but we followed the GPS instead of his directions. We saw some spectacular scenery, but, in the end, we wound up going all the way back to Aloha Stadium. Then the GPS sent us the right way to Haleiwa.

After a stop in Haleiwa, we ate lunch at Giovanni’s, which had been recommended by the tour guide on Friday. We also got some BBQ corn. It was great food, but it took a while to get it. We also saw Brian Grazer there, I think. Check out the pictures and decide for yourself.

I wanted to return to Laie pont to take long exposure pictures. It was hard to find the Point, because there are no road signs. We stopped at one beach first, where I took some pictures of some guys floating in the high surf. Then we found the point, where I took pictures of the surf and bay.

Our final stop was the coffee and macadamia nut farm we hade visited on Friday, because Janice wanted to buy some coffee. We were there at about 4, and the place was pretty empty. The place was packed on Friday, because there were several tour buses there.

Then we set the GPS to take us back to the hotel. This bypassed the route we had taken Friday, and saw mountain and forest scenery we had not seen before.

Overall, this was fun, we saw some things we had not seen Friday, and, in some cases, got a better view of things from the car (like the wind farm near the shrimp place) than from the bus.

For dinner Saturday night, we went to an ordinary Chinese restaurant and picked up dessert at the Cheesecake Factory. We also stopped at some of the pricey shops along the way. When we went to Hermes, a saleman kept his eye on us.