Date of Trip: March 2007
We booked passage on the Pride of America. The first stop was in Hilo and we booked the helicopter tour of the Kilauea Volcano. The company we chartered was the Paradise Helicopter Volcano and Waterfall Adventure Tour. They did not have a van to pick us up so we had to hire a taxi to take us to the airport. The helicopter fit only 4 people, 2 in the back and 2 in the front. The pilot was very informative and told us about everything we passed. This was the first time either my wife or I were in a helicopter and the flight was very smooth. The waterfall was like any other waterfall. Not very spectacular and we did not spend any time there. It was like, "There it is and see ya!" We then flew to the volcano which was awesome. The pilot flew right over the crater, where we could see the lava bubbling and feel the heat from it. We also were able to see a molten flow of lava. The pilot went back and forth so both sides could see inside the volcano.
The next island was Maui, where we took the Maui Mountain Bike Sunrise Tour. We were picked up at the dock at 3 AM by Lisa, who was also our bike tour guide. We were brought back to their home base, and then to the Haleakala Crater, which is a mountain 10,000 feet high. If you take this tour, make sure that you bring "warm" clothes as the temperature on top of the mountain was 30 degrees and very windy. We were up on top of the mountain before sunrise and were able to witness the sun rising on top of the mountain. If you like to see the run rise in the morning, you will love this trip.
What I liked about this particular company was their concern for safety. Before we got on the bicycles they gave us the rules: what we could expect from them and what they expected of us. There is one winding road up to the top of the mountain, that is also used to get down by both bicycles and cars. Lisa led the group, on her bike, while Rob followed us in the van and trailer. Rob was our protection, shielding us from the cars coming down the mountain. When he saw that there were a lot of cars behind him, he would notify Lisa by walkie talkie to pull over in a safe place to let all the cars behind us to pass. We did that several times on the way down. For someone over 60 it was nice not having to worry about dodging cars down the mountain. It was a magnificent sight seeing the sun come up and it was awesome seeing the valley and ocean below us as we coasted (no need to pedal) down the mountain. For a while you are in the clouds and then the whole valley opens up to you. We also could see a rainbow all the way down.
We went to the luau on Maui, which was nice. We also saw the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. I thought the luau on Maui was much better. It was a production and entertainment, however, I thought that it would be different. The Maui Luau had Hawaiians as the dancers and performers, while the Cultural Center had students doing the performances.
At Kona we snorkeled, which I felt was a waste. I have snorkeled before, but the reefs they showed us were small and did not have a lot of different fish. We had planned to snorkel on Oahu, which we were told is much better, but because of our flight being canceled due to a snow storm we missed out. If you have snorkeled before you will probably not like Kona.
We rented a car on 3 of the islands from Enterprise and Thrifty. If you like to explore and just enjoy the islands, you will enjoy driving around yourself. If you do rent a car, though, make sure that you make your reservation 3 or more weeks ahead of time. Several people came to the car rental place looking to rent a car and were told there were none left to rent.
When we arrived back in Honolulu, at the end of the cruise, NCL had an 11 1/2 hour tour available that took us to see the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and to the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). At the end, the bus dropped us off at the airport at 7:30 PM, in time for our late night flight home. The PCC was very interesting and had information and exhibits for many of the Pacific islands.
Some of the websites you can go to to get information are: GoHawaii.com, 101ThingsToDo.com, ThisWeek.com, SpotLightHawaii.com, Aloha-Hawaii.com, PleasantHolidays.com and PleasantActivities.com.
Aloha! Have a great time!
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