We flew into Honolulu airport on O'Ahu to begin with. Although O'Ahu isn't the largest island, this is where most of the population of the Hawaiian Islands live. Honolulu itself feels a bit like Florida in as far as it is a large, very developed American city with lovely beaches on tap.
First thing we went to visit was the memorial to the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbour. The USS Arizona was blown to pieces during the attack on Pearl Harbour that brought the US into the 2nd World War. Over 1177 sailors died on the Arizona alone. A very sobering, but informative trip.
Next up, we drove across to the North Shore. The is the home of the famous Pipeline waves and was in the middle of staging the finals of the annual surfing championships while we were there. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't really working for us, so the waves were relatively tame. The tubes were there, but were quite small ( about 5' , so some people were still managing to surf through them ). Still looked bloody scary to me !
We polished the day off by snorkeling in an ancient volcano crater that had been flooded by the sea. Loads of amazing tropical fish and turtles and stuff to be seen by simply walking in from the beach. Bonza.
Next up, we jumped across to the island of Hawai'i. This is the biggest of the Hawaiian group of islands, and whilst all the islands are volcanic, this one is home to the most active volcano on the planet. Or it was until July. Bah ! Still the scenery around it was spectacular ( see the video clip taken from near the top below ) and we got to crawl though some of the old lava tubes left behind from previous eruptions( photo on the right ) Some of the lava formations left behind were also really fascinating. They looked like they were made in treacle rather than molten rock.
On the far side of the volcano we found the perfect beach. Unfortunately, it was blowing a gale, so although it looks absolutely idyllic, when we were actually there, it felt more like Skegness. Rats. The weather was not being kind to us here.
Now I'm thinking that you're all thinking that Hawai'i sounds fantastic.. Well, there is a down side. Hilo, ( pronounced Heelo ) the town where we were staying, has more than it's fair share of rain. In fact, it is the wettest spot on the surface of the planet ( along with somewhere in India - near Goa I think ). At times Hilo could have been Manchester.... Lesson here is read the climate tables in a guidebook before booking your accommodation.
Here's the view from the top of Hawai'i - on the side of the Mauna Lao volcano.