I haven’t forgotten that I owe you one more Hawaii post. I can’t say that I did anything amazing, but it was a lovely button to my cruise ship adventures. So here’s a brief photo essay, capturing my final travels aboard the Ruby Princess.
Our first stop, as always, was Hilo, an island of which I didn’t have a great opinion, given our rather industrial-looking port and my usual trip to Wal-Mart and/or a simple mall. But some friends I worked with told me that I just hadn’t seen the real Hilo! They recommended I rent a car and visit a few places they suggested, so I took their advice and ran drove with it.
First we visited Rainbow Falls, a simple stop near downtown Hilo. It’s very appropriately named (the mist at the bottom creates constant rainbows on sunny days) and really worth the 20 minutes or so it takes to get there. Beautiful, very Hawaiian, and there’s a great little café across the street that serves AMAZING ice cream. My friend Candace bought a coconut and the shop owner cut it open with a machete so that we could eat the meat. Perfect breakfast, n’est-ce pas?
Then we drove out to Volcano National Park. If I went back, I’d probably just walk most places in the park, as it’s well designed for simple hiking. But it was such an otherworldly environment! From the steam vents that looked like dozens of small brush fires to the colored sulfur deposit “garden” to the giant smoking crater pictured below, it was much more thought-provoking than ooh- or awe-prompting. (Interestingly, I just read an article about some astronauts preparing for a Mars mission at one of these Hawaiian volanoes! Great read.)
The best part of the whole day was probably the Thurston Lava Tubes in the park. It’s hard to describe, given that it’s just a cave-like tube where lava once flowed, but after seeing so many volcanic landscapes that day, it was different to walk through something you knew lava had flowed through.
The next day, we were in Honolulu, the island about which I’ve raved for too many weeks, I know. I spent the morning working (had to prepare for going home!) but then headed to Waikiki for the evening, to have dinner at my favorite restaurant (the Barefoot Bar of Duke’s Waikiki on the beach!) with several friends. We ended up meeting some of the other cast members, including a few of the singers from the new cast we were handing over to during that final cruise, so it was a very fun night. (Which didn’t end when we got back on the boat – an epic session of Family Feud ensued, interspersed with Hamilton sing-a-longs. I hate Family Feud.) Here are a couple of my favorite shots, taken while waiting for our table. Best way to wait for a table ever…
Our final day was in Maui, which I spent with some friends who live there. Great pizza, great company, and they took me to the most incredible beach on the north side (I think it was called Paia?), the one where lots of surfing competitions happen. My photos don’t even begin to capture how big the waves seemed, but I think there are a couple surfers hiding in the photos below. Given that you can’t see them…that might help your sense of scale?
Just over a week later, I was packed and ready to disembark, crazily enough. Due to the snowstorm, my first (and second) flights were cancelled, and so I was up a little earlier than I needed to be for disembarkation. I took the opportunity to call family and take pretty pictures of the L.A. sunrise (love that morning star!). An excellent finish to a grand adventure!