Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hawaii Travelogue -III - Day Trip to Maui

It was hard to believe that we had already spent 2 days of our vacation in Hawaii. And it was the second consecutive day of our day tripping - day trip to the beautiful island of Maui. It was a 30-minute flight from Honolulu to Kahului, Maui. Maui is known for its pristine, serene beaches with sparkling crystal blue waters and the tropical winds. Most of Maui beaches have white sand but black and red sand beaches are not uncommon. The black and red sand beaches are formed due to the volcanic activity in the area.

We rented a car from the Kahului Airport and decided to drive the 53-mile stretch of Hana Highway. This was the most recommended activity that the local people suggested us to do, since this was a day trip. Hana highway is 53 mile drive from Kahului to Hana, on the rugged terrain of Maui. Mind you, the 53 mile drive is not an easy task. The highway is just a single lane on each side with winding roads (more than 600 curves) and small bridges. The bridges are so rustic that only single lane goes through most of the bridges - one needs to yield to the oncoming traffic. The drive winds its way through bamboo forests, taro plantations, ocean views, beaches, bridges and waterfalls. There are many lookouts marked on the way that offer majestic views of ocean. The end of Hana Highway is the Pools of Oheo, which are a group of seven crystal and rock bound pool bordered by cliffs. We could not complete till end of Hana Highway, since we were running late and we were exhausted after the drive. So, we decided to turn back towards Kahului.

Many places on the Hana Highway and parts of Maui are featured in the movie Jurassic Park. Unfortunately, batteries of our camera died that day after clicking some pictures. So, I just have this picture from the Maui trip. But shows some of the beautiful pictures at each milepost on Hana Highway.
Some of the things that we missed on our day trip, but worth giving a thought when you plan Maui trip is the Helicopter ride to see the "Wall of Tears" and visit to the Haleakala national park.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Incredible India - Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day to all!

I salute our Father of the Nation, Gandhiji and the fellow freedom fighters for their perseverance and sacrifice.Without their efforts, we would not have seen this Incredible India. I miss my homeland today . My heart is full of thoughts about India.

The following video depicts our dynamic, growing country. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hawaii Travelogue - II - Day trip to Big Island

It was time for the day trip to Big Island, Hawaii. We boarded the Go Airlines flight from Honolulu (in Oahu) to Hilo (in Big Island). After a 45-minute flight, we reached Hilo - luscious green, mountains far and wide, very different from the cosmopolitan Honolulu. It is said that in Big Island, one can find about eleven different climate zones ranging from arid deserts to snow-capped mountains and also the rain forests. Isn't that unbelievable for an island which is only 4000 square miles?? Its about 1/40 of the State of California.

It was drizzling when we reached Hilo, and the smell of the sand and the overcast clouds made me nostalgic - took me back to Kerala, my native place!!

We rented a car and started our drive towards Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Park is known for the active Kilauea volcano. The various craters and old lava flows are best viewed with the 11-mile drive called the Crater Rim Road. The place looked eerie - sulphur fumes all over giving off the smell of rotten egg, black hardened lava on both sides of the road. We witnessed many craters along our drive through the Park, the largest one being the Halema'uma'u crater(See the picture). Halema'uma'u is home to Pele, Goddess of Hawaiian Volcanoes. Native Hawaiian people still follow the ancient tradition and culture. Legends has it that people who carried away the black sand or rocks from these islands suffered great loss and bad luck at the hands of Goddess Pele.

One can see that all life forms were completely obliterated which came on the way of the lava flow. But it was nice to see that some vegetation growing back after years of hibernation. The lava here flows from the mountains to the ocean and this is clearly seen when the drive takes you from the mountain top to the ocean side. Very hard, black igneous rocks are formed when the molten lava hits the water and sometimes it forms sea arches and other various structures(View picture below). There are helicopter rides over the active Kilauea Volcano which gives an opportunity to view the molten lava flow. But since it was raining, we skipped that part.

The last point of interest was the Thurston Lava Tube. These are underground cave-like structures formed by the lava flow. The trail to the lava tube was damp, with little sunlight, birds chirping and very cool compared to the eerie, black, sulphur smelling volcanic craters. It was really unbelievable to see that these two different climates in just about 5 mile distance.

We spent time till afternoon exploring more places in the National Park,grabbed some lunch from the refreshments area in park and headed back to Hilo.

The next destination was Akkaka Falls (see picture). The drive to Akkaka Falls was along the coastline from Hilo. One the way, we also drove through luscious rain forest, local farms to reach the Onomea Bay. After visiting Akkaka Falls, we made our trip back towards Hilo, visited the Rainbow Waterfalls and the Boiling Pots waterfall.

And then, it was time for bid good bye to Big Island but with the promise of coming back next time for more days. We were awed at the experience that we had during the day seeing volcanoes, rain forests, pristine black sand beaches, waterfalls.... Some things that we missed, but readers should consider while visiting Big Island are watching molten lava from helicopter or by 8-mile hike during night, Mauna Kea, hike through Waipio Valley, visit Kona coffee plantations and orchid plantations in the area.

Next post will be Hawaii Travelogue-III - Day trip to Maui.