Sunday, February 27, 2011

Maui, Hawaii- Iao Valley State Park

The lovely, deep valley of Iao features the Iao Needle, a natural rock pinnacle which rises 2250 feet above sea level, presiding over the Iao stream and surrounded by the walls of the Puu Kukui Crater. Once used as a natural altar, the 2,250-foot stone pillar covered in green, is a basaltic core that has survived eons of swirling water.

Iao Valley is a peaceful lush area with easy hikes, exotic tropical plants, and clear, natural pools. The ridge-top lookout offers a fantastic view of the valley and Kahului Harbor.

Iao Valley is the site of one of the most famous battles that occurred in 1790 and changed Hawaii history forever when King Kamehameha I destroyed the Maui army in an effort to unite the Hawaiian Islands.

Photos: From the top: Iao Needle, View of the creek from the trail through the park, Mountains in the Iao Valley, the lush Valley, Taro growing, Mountains in the Valley.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Maui, Hawaii- Paradise on Earth

Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands and is the third most populous after Oahu and Hawaii. It is called the Valley Island for the large isthmus between its northwestern and southeastern volcanoes and the numerous large valleys carved into both mountains.

It was our favorite because it is so beautiful and is a great combination of the perfect size with plenty to do and see, but not so large that it is overcrowded and too commercial.

We were lucky to stay at the Napili Kai Beach Hotel right on the Napili Bay on the northwestern coast. The accommodations are wonderful and the staff is extremely helpful and friendly. There is a coastal walk that we took for several miles from bay to bay. I think Napili Bay was the most beautiful. We were a mile away from the Ritz Carlton Hotel. This area was so beautiful as you can see from the photographs above.

The day we arrived there was a storm that beat a 19 year record of 6" of rainfall so many roads and beaches were closed. We did not care. We had landed in Paradise! Just looking at the gorgeous scenery and walking between the drops in 70 degree weather when it was 20 degrees at home made us happy!! We stay around the hotel for 2 days before we could explore more of the island which I will tell you about in the next post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kauai, Hawaii- Waimea Canyon State Park

Kauai is an island of discovery, from the soaring cliffs of the Napali Coast to the vast chasms of Waimea Canyon. Kauai embraces the senses like no other destination as we discovered 50-miles of heavenly beaches. Along the southern route, we also found our way to Waimea Canyon State Park and the exquisite canyon, described by Mark Twain as "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.".

Waimea Canyon is the largest canyon in the Pacific and truly a dramatic sight to behold. The canyon measures 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and more than 3,500-feet deep. It was carved thousands of years ago by rivers and floods that flowed from Mount Waialeale's summit. The lines in the canyon walls depict different volcanic eruptions and lava flows that have occurred over the centuries. Even though smaller than the Grand Canyon of Arizona, Waimea Canyon rivals the beauty. Numerous lookouts and hikes offer terrific views of every aspect of this natural wonder. The canyon is protected by the Koke'e State Park which encompasses 4,345 acres of land and has 45 miles of trails that run through the canyon and the nearby Alakai Swamp.

What struck me beside the amazing visual beauty was the absolute stillness of the area. It was very quiet- no rushing water, loud birds, or hordes of people. The landscape is so breath-taking, mesmerizing and silent, it transports you to another place. I have rarely been anywhere like it. It brought tears to my eyes; it felt like holy ground.

Photographs: From the top: Waimea Canyon, closeup of the walls of the canyon, Looking down from another area approaching the canyon

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kauai, Hawaii- The Garden Island

Kauai is the fourth largest Hawaiian island and the oldest at 6 million years old. One of the wettest spots on earth, with an annual average rainfall of 460 inches, is located on the east side of Mount Waialeale. The high annual rainfall has eroded deep valleys in the central mountains, carving out canyons with many scenic waterfalls. On the west side of the island, Waimea town is located at the mouth of the Waimea River, whose flow formed Waimea Canyon, one of the world's most scenic canyons, and which is part of Waimea Canyon State Park. At 3,000 feet deep, Waimea Canyon is often referred to as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific."

We stayed at the Sheraton Kauai in the south where the people could not have been nicer. The road goes around the island like a C, going everywhere but through the Napali Coast. We took the northern route one day and the southern route to the canyon the next day. The beaches on the northern shore are beautiful, the surf unpredictable like the weather. January is rainy season so we had some rain and then it would clear up. But a few storms made the water too rough to go in. The surfers use boards. Norman is an Atlantic Ocean body surfer so he had a hard time finding the right beach with the appropriate waves and flooring for body surfing.

More in the next post about the southern route.

Photographs: From the top: Route 56 north beach, Route 56 north beach, Sheraton Kauai Palm Trees,, Sheraton Kauai view from our room.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii- National Historic Landmark

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, brought the United States into World War II.

Aircraft and midget submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy began an attack on the U.S. The Americans had deciphered Japan's code earlier and knew about a planned attack before it actually occurred. However, due to difficulty in deciphering intercepted messages, the Americans failed to discover Japan's target location before the attack occurred. Under the command of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the attack was devastating in loss of life and damage to the U.S. fleet. At 6:05 AM on December 7, the six Japanese carriers launched a first wave of 183 aircraft composed mainly of dive bombers, horizontal bombers and fighters. The Japanese hit American ships and military installations at 7:51 AM. The first wave attacked military airfields of Ford Island. At 8:30 AM, a second wave of 170 Japanese aircraft, mostly torpedo bombers, attacked the fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor. The battleship Arizona was hit with an armor piercing bomb which penetrated the forward ammunition compartment, blowing the ship apart and sinking it within seconds. Overall, nine ships of the U.S. fleet were sunk and 21 ships were severely damaged. Three of the 21 would be irreparable. The overall death toll reached 2,350, including 68 civilians, and 1,178 injured. Of the military personnel lost at Pearl Harbor, 1,177 were from the Arizona.

The Arizona remains in the water. There is still a film of oil in the water around the ship. Our guide who was born after 1941 tells how her father was a civilian worker at Pearl Harbor and was on his way home from work when he heard about the attack on the radio and went back. There were no lines of communication then. The only way her mother knew if he was dead or alive was to read the newspaper every morning and see if his name was on the list of dead. Many people were connected to the military in the 40's as they are even today in Hawaii. Visiting this tragic watery grave was a very moving experience.

Photographs taken by Linda Dubin Garfield: from the top: view of Pearl Harbor from the water, oil on water, view of USS Arizona in water, tanks from ship, close up of tank, rusting part of ship from original ship at Pearl Harbor

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hawaii- Honolulu City Tour

Honolulu means "sheltered bay" or "place of shelter." Honolulu has been the capital of the Hawaiian Islands since 1845 and gained historical recognition following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor near the city on December 7, 1941. It comprises the majority of the population of the Hawaiian Islands.

Ala Moana stretches from Honolulu Harbor to Waikiki and is home to Ala Moana Center, once the largest shopping center in the United States and today the largest open air shopping center in the world. Chabad Hawaii where we ate Shabbas dinner and lunch is in this area, a 30 minute walk from our hotel.

Waikiki is the tourist district of Honolulu, located between the Ala Wai Canal and the Pacific Ocean next to Diamond Head. Numerous hotels, shops, and nightlife opportunities are located along Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues which are like the Boardwalk in Atlantic City with constant foot traffic. It is a popular location for visitors and locals alike and attracts millions of visitors every year. A majority of the hotel rooms on Oahu are located in Waikiki.

We took a 5-hour city tour with Polynesian Adventure Tours which took us around the town. These photos of(from the top: Cemetery of the Pacific, Palaces in the downtown area and Downtown) were part of the tour. In the next post, I will share the highlight of the tour- Pearl Harbor.