Hawaii – The Plans Begin to Take Shape

“Oi kau ka lau, e hana l ola honua”

Live your life while the sun still shines

Our plans are beginning to take more shape for our 10 days in Hawaii. Our accommodation has been decide and booked, along with some of our day trips – and even more ideas have been found.

We have booked a little studio apartment in the Banyan Kuhio Aparthotel. This nice little place is quite conveniently located within 5 minutes’ walk of Waikiki Beach and world-class dining and shopping along Kuhio Avenue and Kalakaua Avenue. Quite handily, there is a guest launderette on site, meaning we’ll arrive to Australia with clean clothes; an ice machine (Ronan will be able to keep cool in the Hawaiian heat now) and the aparthotel also offers beach towels, mats and umbrellas. Hotel Kuhio Banyan is located on the public bus line that offers transportation to all major attractions on Oahu and Honolulu International Airport is 20 minutes’ drive away. The location, facilities available and most importantly, the price, made this an ideal place for us to stay during the start of our big trip.

Most excitingly (for me anyway), is the confirmed booking for the Jurassic Park Waterfall Adventure. We booked this through Oahu Nature Tours and sounds like it will be an amazing morning of hiking. We decided to go on the earlier option of an 8am start, meaning we will return to our hotel at about 12.30pm (I can still hear a sigh of relief from Ronan about not hiking when it’s too hot). There is also an option to start the tour at 2pm. This adventure will hopefully fulfil all my fantasies about Hawaii’s lush rainforests, giant ferns, cascading tropical waterfalls and picturesque streams. This trail, which was used by Spielberg while filming Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, leads to the tallest accessible waterfall on Oahu, deep within a prehistoric landscape.

The price includes transportation and centralized pick up locations in Waikiki. They send you a confirmation email with the closest centralized pick up location to your accommodation. If you are staying outside of Waikiki, they recommend meeting the tour at the Ala Moana Hotel, as there is ample parking available at the Ala Moana Shopping Centre if you have a rental car. The main focus of the tour provider is conservation through education, while having fun at the same time. Their professional, knowledgeable and CPR /First Aid-trained guides will accompany the guest on the entire trail, explaining its geological formation, historical facts, legends and show you its unique species, all while providing a safe and memorable experience. Backpacks and walking staffs are even provided for everyone.

We still plan to book the 90 minute tour of the Ka’a’awa Valley, also known as Hollywood’s “Hawaii Backlot”, to see where over 50 of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster movies and TV shows were filmed, including even some of the 1960’s Elvis classics.

Unfortunately, it is still too early to book the Pearl Harbour Tour, so we will more than likely be booking this in November or so. We have decided to book directly with a tour provider, and not the third party we had looked at previously, which I talked about in my last post. The tour we plan to book still includes a round trip from the hotel to Pearl Harbour, a professional tour guide, tickets to the Arizona Memorial, admission to the Battleship Missouri, admission to and a guided tour of the Pacific Aviation Museum and admission to the Bowfin submarine. It’s a long day with a 6.30am pick up and a 5.30pm return, but it’s jam packed with things to do.

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As most people would know, gun ranges and shooting is a very popular past time in many American States and Hawaii is no exception. Having gone shooting while we were in New York (in an amazing range called Gun for Hire in New Jersey), we were delighted to see we would have the opportunity to have a “shot” again during our trip. The Hawaii and Waikiki Gun Club has over 20 years of experience of providing a safe environment to enjoy firearms at an indoor shooting range. They are conveniently located in the heart of Waikiki in 2 different locations and provide services to locals, the military, people from the Mainland, and visitors from over 50 different countries. It also happens to be a 7 minute walk from our accommodation in Hawaii. They have the safest indoor shooting range in Waikiki ad is the most visited indoor range by celebrities.  They offer various packages to suit everyone from the first time shooter to the more experienced shooter looking to try something a little different. I know Ronan already has his eye on trying an AK-47 again…

Along with having his eye on using an AK-47 while we are in the gun range, Ronan also has the slightly crazy idea of going swimming with sharks – without a cage. This is really a once in a life time opportunity for a shark lover like Ronan, and “One Ocean” are the first cage-less shark research and diving programme in Hawaii. Ronan discovered this amazing opportunity after watching a fascinating talk on YouTube by Ocean Ramsey, the lead shark conservationist with “One Ocean”, about how sharks affect us all. This is an amazing video to watch, and I would really recommend everyone to set aside 15 minutes someday to watch it.

At first, I did think Ronan was a little mad thinking this would be a good idea, but it sounds like such an incredible thing to do. When you arrive at the swimming site, the marine biologist/dive master will enter the water first to identify what animals are present, determine the most dominant individuals, and number of pelagics present for the research data set.  After the initial information is shared with the captain on board the first three individuals will don their snorkel gear and walk down the swim ladder and into the water to float on the surface while the sharks and other pelagic species swim around the boat.  The marine biologist will constantly monitor the sharks, other pelagics, and public program participants for changes in behaviour and social dynamics.  The in-water guide will periodically relay information to the captain or one of the research interns on board for the research data set.  After the initial 20 minutes, the first three people will exit the water and the second group of three will enter. Sometimes it is possible to rotate in water based on current conditions and animal behaviour. Depending on the animals behaviour, water conditions and individual persons comfort and snorkelling abilities it is sometimes possible to allow more than three people in the water at a time. After the first rotation both groups will switch and have an additional 30 min each in the water.  Depending on weather conditions, animal behaviour, commuting to and from site, and groups showing up and leaving on time, putting on and adjusting gear and getting in and out of the water, the average person spends around 45-95 minutes in the water.

Naturally, no trip to Hawaii would be complete without a bit of surfing. We certainly won’t be missing the opportunity to rent some boards and get some waves while we are there, and get some practice before we get to Bondi – by which time Ronan hopes to have his own surf board.

The dreaming and planning continues….


Note: Links to the tours we booked can be found by clicking on the links within the  post


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