Stepping off the plane in Honolulu, we were greeted with a traditional Lei welcoming and I knew right away we were going to have a fantastic time on Trafalgar’s Hawaiian Explorer trip.
We arrived at the Marriott Waikiki Resort in the early hours of 4:30am and I was hugely impressed to find that our Travel Director, Michael, was waiting to welcome us. Our first day on Oahu included an emotional day out to Pearl Harbor, visiting the USS Arizona memorial, the USS Missouri Battleship and the Bowfin Submarine, followed by a drive through Punch Bowl Crater to take in the phenomenal views of Honolulu. In the evening, we had dinner at the Beach House restaurant at Moana Surfrider Resort, often referred to as the ‘First lady of Waikiki’. Our table overlooked the ocean allowing us to watch the surfers whilst we tucked into lobsters, steak and crab cakes.
The next day we jumped on the plane for a short flight to Hilo, on Hawaii, the Big Island. We were picked up by Captain Rob – our animated Trafalgar driver for the day. We explored Volcanoes National Park, searched for turtles on the black sandy beach and walked through the rainforest to cave-like lave tubes. All of us were surprised by the varying microclimates found around the island. Hawaii Island has all but two of the world’s climates – we went through drizzle and fog to glorious sunshine, to windy volcanic deserts and lush rainforests in a matter of minutes. In the afternoon we visited a Kona coffee plantation and learned how coffee is made, including tastings! Then it was back to our ocean front hotel the Royal Kona, where we experienced our first Hawaiian sunset.
The final day on the Big Island was spent exploring the ocean. It started with a morning snorkel tour, making our way to Captain Cook’s Monument and the Kealakekua Bay on a stunning catamaran with only eight other guests on board. We saw a huge pod of dolphins as we reached the first location, and spent a few hours taking in the dazzling underwater world. After relaxing on cabanas, we had dinner and boarded the Hokuhele boat once again for our evening manta ray experience. The giant manta rays we saw were out-of-this world, the biggest being over 16ft in wing span.
Onto our third and final island of the trip, Maui! After a short transfer from Kahului Airport we arrived at an organic family run farm called Oo’s. The entertaining and informative tour taught us about the issues facing small farmers on the island and the best way to use your environment to your advantage. We sampled delicious product and headed to a Be My Guest lunch at a restaurant in Lahaina called Pacifico’s. We tried coconut crusted ahi with succulent steak, with a side of vegetables straight from the organic farm – delicious!
We then took a drive through Lahaina a quaint historical whaling village, with lots of shops, restaurants and art galleries. Lahaina is actually known as the art capital of the Pacific and home to the world’s second largest Banyan Tree cover a whopping 1.2 acres of land.
Our last day in Maui was spent soaking up the sun on Kaanapali Beach whilst appreciating views of two of Hawaii’s smaller islands Lanai and Molokai. After returning to our hotel – the Royal Lahaina, the group glammed up to celebrate our last night in true Hawaiian-style at the hotel’s infamous Luau. On the menu was a full pig (head and all), which came straight from the underground fire pit. It was more than enough to feed the 500 guests at the luau, teamed with local purple Maui sweet potato, mahi mahi, teriyaki steak, pasta salad and more. While we ate, we were all treated to traditional dancing by the Hawaiian locals. The whole experience was superb!
It was sad to say goodbye to the islands, but I’m sure we’ll be back to experience Hawaii again. The Aloha Spirit is too infectious not to return!
Rachel Booker from Hawaii Tourism