Hawaii 1: Arrival and Maui

Planning for this trip began in the fall of 2019, and before leaving, we were debating whether we should go or not. The coronavirus was starting to be talked about and raise serious concerns. In the end, we decided that that trip was on. On Monday, March 9, 2020, we took a 5:30 a.m. flight from Raleigh to Dallas with a connection to Honolulu. We arrived around 1 o'clock in the afternoon; Eric was there to pick us up, and after stopping in town for a decent cup of coffee, we walked around Waikiki and its beach. We then checked into our hotel, and Eric took us for a drive along Kalanianaole Highway, skirting the eastern shore of Oahu. We stopped at two lookouts to admire the spectacular scenery. Seeing the Pacific Ocean, it was hard to remember that we had just left Chapel Hill that morning! We made it an early night, first because we were tired, and also because we had to get up early to make a 9 a.m. flight to Maui where we were scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. whale watching tour. This is the first page documenting our Hawaiian vacation; from here, you can also access page 2, page 3, and page 4.

Click on any image to see a larger (2400 x 1600 pixel) version!

Arrival: Oahu


Waikiki Beach Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach


View from the Hālona Blowhole Lookout View from the Hālona Blowhole Lookout

View from the Hālona Blowhole Lookout

View from the Hālona Blowhole Lookout


View from the Hālona Blowhole Lookout View from the Makapu'u Lookout

View from the the Hālona Blowhole Lookout

View from the Makapu'u Lookout


View from the Makapu'u Lookout View from the Makapu'u Lookout

View from the Makapu'u Lookout

View from the Makapu'u Lookout


The Pacific Ocean and Mānana Islandseen from the Makapu'u Lookout

The Pacific Ocean and Mānana Island seen from the Makapu'u Lookout

Maui, the Valley Isle

On the way to the airport on Tuesday morning, we were notified by text message that our Southwest Airlines flight to Kahului on Maui had been canceled. We immediately rebooked a later flight on Hawaiian Airlines, but the problem was that the arrival time was 10:50 a.m., much too late to pick up a rental car and make the whale watching tour. Fortunately, Eric was able to change our reservation to 4:30 in the afternoon, and off we went.

We had to modify our schedule and move the drive to Haleakalā to the morning, so we picked up our rented Ford Fiesta and hit the road. The journey was spectacular: in a very short distance, one climbs from sea level to just over 10,000 feet (3,000 meters). During the first portion, we had sunshine, then it got progressively cloudier. At some point, it was raining and we were surrounded by a rather dense fog. The higher we drove, the more fog and rain gave way to a lighter sky, and a short distance before the summit, we broke throgh the clouds an entered an area of blue sky and sun. There were still plenty of clouds, but they were below us.

,
The Haleakalā Observatory

The Haleakalā Observatory


Plaque by the Visitor Center Near the summit

Plaque by the Visitor Center

Near the summit


Above the clouds A glorious landscape

Above the clouds

A glorious landscape


A gigantic rock garden... ...with just a few plants thrown in for good measure.

A gigantic rock garden...

...with just a few plants thrown in for good measure.


Quite an altitude, yet as the crow flies, we're only 79 miles from the coast It looks as though one could walk on these clouds

Quite an altitude, yet as the crow flies, we're only 79 miles from the coast

It looks as though one could walk on these clouds


A last look before driving back down into the clouds We photographed this nēnē in the rain near the visitor center

A last look before driving back down into the clouds

We photographed this nēnē in the rain near the visitor center


On the way down Haleakalā, between ocean and clouds

On the way down Haleakalā, between ocean and clouds

Once we had arrived at sea level again, we drove straight to the Pacific Whale Foundation in the harbor of Maalaea. That's the organization we had booked the whale watching tour with, and after a brief safety briefing, we all made our way to our boat, the Ocean Voyager. This vessel accommodates around 140 people, but for this sunset cruise, we were probably around half that.

We were absolutely amazed by the number of whales we saw! There were several pods in the bay, so it's hard to say whether we sometimes saw two different humpback whales or the same one twice; what is certain is that we frequently saw several at the same time. I did see whales breaching on a few occasions, but either I was on the wrong side of the boar at the time or not fast enough to react; suffice it to say that I did not manage to capture a breaching whale. The whole experience was incredible, though, especially as I had never seen a whale in the wild before.


The harbor of Maalaea Ready to board the Ocean Voyager

The harbor of Maalaea

Ready to board the Ocean Voyager


Leaving Maalaea harbor for our sunset whale watching tour

Leaving Maalaea harbor for our sunset whale watching tour


The first thing one usually sees is a blow... ...or a fluke.

The first thing one usually sees is a blow...

...or a fluke.


A humpback whale passing our boat We were extremely fortunate with the weather, too

A humpback whale passing our boat

We were extremely fortunate with the weather, too


The fluke (tail) of a humpback whale can be as much as 5.5 meters (18 feet) wide

The fluke (tail) of a humpback whale can be as much as 5.5 meters (18 feet) wide


Evening light over Maalaea bay Given the size of these animals, the dorsal fins seem tiny

Evening light over Maalaea bay

Given the size of these animals, the dorsal fins seem tiny


Experts can tell whales apart by the pattern of scars on their bodies

Experts can tell whales apart by the pattern of scars on their bodies


Admiring the scenery Showing off a pectoral fin

Admiring the scenery

Showing off a pectoral fin


Having fun Looking east across Maalaea bay

Having fun

Looking east across Maalaea bay


Each humpback whale has a unique fluke... ...that sets it apart from all other humpback whales.

Each humpback whale has a unique fluke...

...that sets it apart from all other humpback whales.


This one came pretty close to the boat It was hard to say how many whales there really were

This one came pretty close to the boat

It was hard to say how many whales there really were


Vicki and Eric Vicki and Daniel (photo by Eric) Eric and Daniel (photo by Vicki)

Vicki and Eric

Vicki and Daniel (photo by Eric)

Eric and Daniel (photo by Vicki)


Waving good-bye (or so it seemed to us)

Waving good-bye (or so it seemed to us)

We ended the day eating a light dinner and checking into our hotel. We would spend one night in Kahului on Maui before heading to the island of Kauai. This is the first page documenting our Hawaiian vacation; from here, you can also access page 2, page 3, and page 4.

The photos on this page were taken on Monday, March 9 and Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

The 203 photographs of all four Hawaii 2020 pages may also bee viewed in a Gallery or a Slide Show.





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