This is my Big 62nd birthday so I decided to celebrate it in Hawaii for a week. This is about the fifth time I have been in Hawaii so decided to do the things tourists usually do!  Please see the map for a view of the layout of the islands and click on the history link for an overview of the islands.

Saturday - February 02, 2002: Checked with United but their package was over $1,600. So on to Suntrips and they were $850. A big  difference! I did the add on for an upgraded room and a buffet style breakfast for $150 and so I still had $600 to spend on side tours rather than taking the United so called package.

I went on Ryan Airlines and took off from the San Francisco International Airport and flew to Maui to pick up people before continuing to Honolulu. Maui was covered with large areas of water from very bad rains so wondered what Oahu was like!

I was met by the Suntrips rep with a lei creating and off to the hotel Miramar at Waikiki. I was told I would get a room facing the mountains, not the ocean and so on, such is the nature of a single traveler. Well I got my key and off to my room. On the 14th floor, number 1404, and started to walk toward it. Well guess what, it had a king sized bed, cable TV, coffee maker, huge bathroom and a balcony with chairs and table overlooking the ocean and the Sheraton Pink Palace, an old favorite of mine. So the upgrade was worth it this time!

After checking in I had to rush over to the Hyatt Regency for my afternoon cocktails. The hotel has twin towers and a great atrium, three stories high open to the sky and a huge water fall in it. The top has a bar and swimming pool that overlooks the beach and I just love it. The waitress and I become friends and she waited on me all week, knew what I drank after the first day. She said I was lucky as it had rained for two weeks in Honolulu and also flooded in Maui. She said it was the first time Diamond Head had been so green in five years!

View and the Hyatt Regenct Hotel

Overlooking the Sheraton Pink Palace Hotel

Hyatt Regency Towers

Hyatt Cocktail Lounge and Water Fall!

I did some shopping and had dinner and was going to nap but decided to shop some more and also get my post cards which I labeled and wrote short notes on so I was ahead of the game on my first day in H

Sunday - February 03, 2002: Early wake up as a free breakfast and a presentation as to the tours that were available. Lots to choose from and you will get to read about three of them I chose.

I met four women from Australia and they were unhappy as their dollar had fallen to about 42 cents to the US dollar! Everything was twice as expensive for them so they had to count their pennies as to what to do and see.

Then I decided to check out where the YMCA was located as I am a member in the City and did want to work out if time allowed. It is about ten blocks from the tourist area and next to the Ala Moana shopping center which is a great place to go for coffee and shopping.

I then found the Ala Moana Park across the street from the shopping center. A great park and beach, mostly Hawaiians and great views of Diamond Head and the outrigger canoes.

View from the Ala Moana Shopping Center and Park

Overlooking Diamond Head and Canoes

Back to the hotel to freshen up and cocktails at the Hyatt and then dinner. Needed to go to bed early for the bit 62nd birthday on Monday! I had to get up by 3:30 AM to catch a flight!

Monday - February 04, 2002: I have been on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, but never on the big island of Hawaii so decided to celebrate my birthday on Hawaii. Got up at 3:30 AM and off to the airport and a half hour flight to the island. We were met by a driver at the Kailua Kona Airport and put on a small van to view the island. We drove over 300 miles in about 11 hours and basically saw the entire island!

First stop was the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. It is on the black lava flats of the southern Kona Coast and preserves the traditional Hawaiian way of life. This is a picture of the royal grounds where the area was a refuge for defeated warriors in time of war or those that violated the kapu, the sacred laws. The traditional religious practices were abolished in 1819 by King Kamehameha II. The area became a park in 1961. Now turtles come here to relax and sun on the sandy beaches, one of the few natural sandy beaches on the big island.

We next saw the Ka Lae tip of the island which is the most southern point in the United States!

Next to the famous Punelu’u black sand beach which had a lava flow close part of it off years ago. The sand is more gray than black but it has a mineral in it that glistens in the sun. Very pretty. There were many large turtles there, some three feet long! Very impressive.

Royal Grounds and the Famous Punelu’u Black Beach

Royal Grounds

Punelu’u black sand beach

Now we saw in the distance, the Hawai’i Volcanic National Park consisting of several volcanoes. We drove to the Crater Rim Drive to the restaurant and had lunch over looking the Kilauea Calderas which was breath taking. We then drove up to the crater where we could walk to the edge and peer into the calderas. It is several miles across and the lava flow is about 800 feet below the crater. Looks just like the volcano on Mars! There were holes in the ground where the volcanic vents > had sulfur steam roaring out of them. I walked off the beaten path and suddenly near the edge, saw cracks in the ground two or more feet wide, ten or more feet deep, and running for hundreds of feet. Scary! I was told when there is an earthquake, theses sections fall off. You could also see huge deposits of sulfur on the bottom of the crater. Needless to say, I decided to move. A cute story, on the way to the crater edge, a woman from Iowa informed everyone I was going to the be "virgin" sacrifice in case the goddess Pele was irritated at our visiting the volcano. I did not think that was funny, especially since I doubt Pele would think I was a ‘virgin"! The next volcano had the huge observatories on the top and was covered with a huge layer of snow. Very beautiful as next to it is a tropical rain forest!

Hawai’i Volcanic National Park

Overlooking the Volcano

The Crater

Looking into the Calderas

Hawai’i Volcanic National Park

Volcanic Vents

Deposits of Sulfer

This Day not Much Activity in the Calderas!

Next to the Rain Forest and the Thurston Lava Tube. The tropical rain forest was fantastic, huge tree ferns at least 15 to 20 feet tall! The lava tube is about 15 miles long but we only walked about 100 feet before walking up some stairs through a break in the ceiling. Something I have always wanted to do!

Rain Forests and the Famous Lava Tube

Tropical Rain Forest by the Lava Tube!

Lava Tube

Next to Hilo and a tour of an orchid nursery. Acres of greenhouses and every type of orchard.

Then to the Rainbow Falls in Hilo and a visit to a farmers market where the avocado were about a foot long and ten inches around! Four for a dollar! Couldn’t go wrong for that price!

Hilo and the Rainbow Falls

Chuck and the Rainbow Falls

We drove around the Parker Ranch, hundreds of thousands of acres in the ranch, lots of beef cattle and some farming.

Then a drive around the west side of the island where there is nothing but black lava flows and multi-million dollar hotels and golf courses. Nothing else, a mile of black lava, a hotel built on crushed lava and imported soil. The Chinese and South Koreans are now buying many of the hotels from the Japanese. Also this is hard to believe, there are no sandy beaches there so they are filling ships with sand from China and importing it to the beach areas of the hotels on the big island. From the sound of it, big shots, movie stars, and so on, visit these resorts. Well there is nothing there, no towns, just the hotel and a golf course. Also, there are time share condos, get this, $50,000 for a two week time share!

Well after an 11 hours 300 mile tour, we got back to the airport in Kona and we caught an earlier flight back to Honolulu. Got back to the hotel by nine PM and we were pooped. Time to hit the bed before tomorrow. A great way to spend my birthday!

Tuesday - February 05, 2002: Another early morning and off to Pearl Harbor for a tour. Got there and we had a great movie about the attack. Then to the launch to go out to the memorial. Very nice and you could see the gun platform on the stern and also you could see the bow under the water facing the Missouri.

Launch to Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor Memorial

Gun Platform

Then to the Missouri for a tour. We then got to see the war room and I got to sit in the Captain's chair and tell the computer personnel to launch the Side Winder Missiles. We had a group shot of us on the deck in front of the huge guns that could shoot over 20 miles and also saw a plaque where the Japanese Surrender was signed.

Photos on the Missouri Battle Ship

Chuck in the Captain's Chair

Computer Personnel

Group Shot in Front of the Big Guns!

Japanese Surrender Plaque

Next we went to the Punchbowl Cemetery where thousands of Navy are buried. It is called the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. It is in the crater of a volcano in the middle of Honolulu and has fantastic views of the entire city. We had a tour that detailed the major Navy battles in the Pacific and all in all, a very good tour. This crater also contains the Honolulu Memorial which is a fantastic statue overlooking the cemetery. One of the astronauts is also buried there from the Challenger disaster.

Punchbowl Cemetary Memorial

Views of Honolulu

Punchbowl Cemetary

Honolulu Memorial Statue

Next we drove around the city for a while and finally back to the hotel and I could then go off to the Hyatt for my afternoon Passion Cocktail!

Wednesday - February 06, 2002: Finally a day off! Slept late and then breakfast and off to the YMCA for a work out! Then to the Ala Moana Shopping Center for a latte and then to the Ala Moana Park to sun bath and swim in the ocean. Then walked back to the hotel and freshened up and went to the local bar a few blocks away named "Angels" for a few drinks!

Punchbowl Cemetary Memorial

Ala Moana Shopping Mall next to the YMCA

Ala Moana Park

Thursday - February 07, 2002: Another tour! This time a lunch and whale watching cruise on a catamaran to the Maunalua Bay. A good sized ship with huge pontoons under the ship to keep the ship above the waves while speeding around Diamond Head! We had a great lunch and two cocktails and then onto the front of the ship. First we saw a school of spinner dolphins, about 25, speeding in front of the pontoons and jumping out of the water about three feet! Very exciting. The we saw three different pods of humpback whales! A mother and baby, the baby kept practicing his tail flapping! Then two males fighting over a female and another pod of two males. We saw one whale up close who surfaced and then lifted his tail in the air so we got four shots of this exciting scene! The captain said it was rare anyone got to see so many whales at one time. He didn’t want to return to the dock either, he said he was enjoying himself too much! So a great day on the water viewing the dolphins, the whales, and Diamond Head and the city skyline from the ocean!  Time for my cocktails and dinner and more shopping!

Fishing for Whales

Bow of the Ship

Dolphins Riding the Bow Wave

Whale Mother

And Her Baby!

Photo Sequence of Whales Breaching the Waves!

What a Wonderful Way to Celebrate My 62nd Birthday

Friday - February 08, 2002: Well the weather finally caught up with me. Very windy and stormy which was a good thing. I was very sun burned, my face was peeling. Yuck! So off to the YMCA to work out. As you can see by the picture, very rainy!  Then shopping at the Ala Moana and coffee and then to a huge new condo and on the ground floor, a coffee and internet shop. So of course, I wrote an e-mail to everyone while having a nice coffee.

YMCA Rain - New Condos

Photo of the Rain

New Condos all Over!

I decided to walk to the aquarium after stopping off at the hotel around two but as soon as I got outside, another big down pour so off to Angels to sit on the terrace, watch the rain and have cocktails and gossip with the locals about rent and food prices, a gallon of milk is around $7.00. I don’t think so!

Angels Bar in the Rain!

Talking with the Locals

Then to dinner and a final shopping trip to the International Market next to the hotel. Huge banyan trees covered the shops and tons of useless nick-knacks to buy and give to people that act pleased to get them but in reality, just have more junk to put away! This is the final evening and a beautiful sunset to finish my stay in Honolulu!

International Market - Sunset over Honolulu

Talking with the Locals

Talking with the Locals

Saturday - February 09, 2002: The last morning and off to the airport at 10 AM to get checked in and go through security and so on. Not much of a hassle. Saw some military cargo planes as we taxied to take off. A great flight, window seat and no one next to me so I had three seats to stretch out on! Some turbulence but not bad and back to the City by 9:30 PM and caught a cab and home by ten. Great to be on vacation but always good to be home again! A great week and a great vacation!

International Market - Sunset over Honolulu

Ryan Airlines

Sun Trips Vacation Package

Aloha from the Islands!


  Charles Walter Buntjer

San Francisco California
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