September 23, 2012

Travel to the Hawaiian Paradise

Photo Credit: Chante Ramsey/Vysyn Photography
In late August, I escaped New York City for a much needed vacation to the other state of the U.S.A. – Hawaii. To say that this trip was an escape to paradise is an understatement. The beauty that was seen was beyond words can describe, the welcome that was shown was genuinely amazing and the traditions learned will linger with me for a long time.

Along with my travel buddy (Charles), we took this journey via an 11-day island-hopping cruise that allowed us to see all of the Hawaiian destinations for a day or two. The cruising life aboard Norwegian’s Pride of America was an experience within itself that I highly recommend for single folks, families, groups of friends and couples. Between the plethora of food, the on-board amenities and the friendly disposition of all staff, it was hard to say goodbye to the place that we called home for over a week.

Photo Credit: Chante Ramsey/Vysyn Photography
The first destination was Waikiki, Honolulu which was somewhat reminiscent of South Beach in Miami filled with plenty beach realty, bars along the shore and water sports plus shopping districts - a tourist’s dream. It took a minute to adjust to the six hour time difference. We would wake up at 3am (9am in New York) ready for breakfast but luckily Waikiki had a couple of 24 hr foodie stops to quench my hunger. Besides the time adjustment, I used those first two days to simply begin to soak in the customs, sights and sounds of the Polynesian culture in America. While I was here in Honolulu, I visited Pearl Harbor, both a spiritual and humbling experience, to say the least.

The next stop was the island of Kahului, Maui home of the Haleakala crater (the world’s largest dormant volcano). If you are a water sports fan – this is the place to go! I saw here plenty of people surfing, boating, kayaking, body boarding, etc. on this balmy mid 80 degree weather. Since I’m not a swimmer, I opted to keep dry and stop by the town of Lahaina in west Maui for some shopping, gallery hopping and eating, of course.

Photo Credit: Chante Ramsey/Vysyn Photography
The third stop was to the Big Island - the Hilo side - where I visited the Volcano National Park to see the Kilauea, the most active volcano on the island. Although I was not able to see molten lava, I got a chance to see the steam vents, the botanical life and the arbor beauty that lay in the aftermath of lava flows that occurred many years ago. It was sheer beauty! In between volcanoes, I checked the Big Candies Factory to see the workers in action making delicious sweet treats for public consumption– macadamia nut cookies, candies brownies, chocolates, etc. (drool)

The fourth stop was to the other side of the Big Island, Kona, the land of fruits and coffee. The trees here birthed delicious fruits that anyone is welcomed to pluck and eat – from bananas to limes to avocados  While I was docked here, I stopped by the coffee plantation for a tasting, a tour and to grab a few bags of coffee to take home - my favorite was the coconut macadamia nut roast! I also visited the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau Historic Park, on the black lava flats of the southern Kona coast, this site is a remnant of the Polynesian rich history of rituals and where royal chiefs resided and sacred grounds for defeated warriors and noncombatants in time of war.

The final stop was Nawiliwili, Kauai home of the Waimea Canyon also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. And Kauai is also home of the Na Pali area of the island that is only accessible by hiking, sea or air and is the location of many movies such as Jurassic Park and the Pirates of the Caribbean. On this island, I sampled more of the island cuisine, mainly seafood, did more shopping in the town of Kalapaki and connected with craft artists – they are extraordinarily talented!

Photo Credit: Chante Ramsey/Vysyn Photography
During this entire trip, we learned quite a bit of history about the 50th state. From the tour guides and chats with the locals, I learned about the smorgasbord culture of the Hawaiian people due to the various periods of migration throughout history to this then unknown destination, the main industries that fuel its economy and, the strength of the Polynesian culture that is alive and well in the daily living of the Hawaiian people.