Tropical Hawaii

Eoin Walsh 17 May 2018

When the opportunity arose to travel to Hawaii it felt like I had won the lottery. It was my first time travelling business class and Virgin Atlantic more than impressed me. Upon arrival I was greeted in classic Hawaiian style with Orchid Leis placed over my head! Within no time I was driving up the scenic Honoapiilani highway in a rental car. Paddle boarders and surfers dotted the sparkling shoreline before I finally arrived at my destination, the Hyatt Regency Maui.

This resort certainly has a lot to offer. Equally suitable for families, friends or couples, the Hyatt is set upon 40 acres of pristine beach and gardens. I was pleasantly surprised by the array of wildlife throughout the resort including penguins, flamingos, macaws, and white and black swans. But by far the main attraction and highlight of this fine resort, is Ka'anapali beach. After sunset, a buffet dinner and a couple of Mai Tais, I was invited to the famous Lu'au. Drums of the Pacific Lu’au is a journey through traditional Polynesian dance and culture.

One of the highlights on the island is the stunning Hana Coast. As I travelled along the scenic route I encountered some dramatic landscapes including lush rain-forest, black sand beaches and incredible waterfalls. After 11 hours on the road I arrived at the amazing Hotel Wailea and treated myself to a couple of well-deserved beers. With a champagne breakfast and some poolside refreshments I quickly settled in to the magical retreat. Designed specifically for couples, the peaceful retreat is nestled within a lush tropical hillside perched 300 feet above the sea. Spoilt with a sunset dinner and incredible service, the Hotel Wailea ticked all the boxes and was very hard to leave. After a brief trip to the beach the following morning, I was on my way to my next adventure.

The Molokai Voyage is a two-island helicopter experience. The next 55 minutes was truly breath-taking and difficult to describe in words (see images above!) Untouched by man, Mokokai is one of wettest places on earth. After flying over the coral reefs between the islands, the helicopter flew into a lush volcano crater and we were suddenly surrounded by dozens of waterfalls - Spectacular!

The Big island was next, where I travelled to the summit of Mauna Kea as part of a small group tour. Mauna Kea is the world’s tallest mountain, rising more than 32,000 feet (9,754 meters) from the ocean floor to its summit. The road climbs 13,796 feet (4,205 meters) above sea level. Once at the summit, we experienced a spectacular sunset above the clouds with views of Haleakala on Maui, Mauna Loa and Hualalai. Mauna Kea’s summit is also home to a world-class array of telescopes. After sunset, you will descend to 9,000-foot elevation for a special stargazing show from a very informative astronomer. Wrapped warm in provided Arctic parkas, we enjoyed hot beverages and cookies while marvelling at the brilliance of the Hawaiian night sky. After a truly unique experience, I returned to my hotel in Kailua-Kona.

Hawaii is full of myths and legends. On the big island it's hard to ignore the presence of Pele, the fire Goddess. It is said that if you remove her lava rocks from her island home, you will be cursed until these are returned. To this day, thousands of pieces of lava rock are mailed back to the island from travellers all over the who insist they've suffered bad luck and misfortune as a result.

It took me 2 hours to drive from Kona to Volcano House Hotel which is located in Volcano National Park. From the hotel's bay windows, I could see the volcanic ash billowing from the massive crater. At sunset, I cycled to the observatory which is at higher ground, so I could get a better look at the lava. As it got darker I could see the red glow of the lava in the distance. It was only when I looked through the telescope I realized what was going on down there. The lava lake was incredible (think Bowzers Castle from Mario!) Only five of these exist in the world and I felt very privileged to have witnessed this.

A trip to Hawaii wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Honolulu's famous Waikiki Beach and the postcard perfect beach did not disappoint. After a couple of hours in amongst the waves I made my way towards the department stores that run parallel to the beach. As it was my last day I picked some new clothes to bring home from this wonderful trip. I met some colleagues for dinner and cocktails to discuss the last few days. We all agreed that Hawaii is a special place that everyone should experience at least once in their lives. Although disappointed to be going home, after nine days on three different islands it still feels like I had won the lottery, Aloha!