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Jamaica

We knew our trip to Jamaica would be special from we began planning it as we would be spending a great deal of time with Winsome’s cousins.  Her cousin Jeanne and husband Phillip who live in Kingston and cousin Suzette and her husband John who joined us from Grand Cayman. We decided it was going to be a time to do many things that we had not done before – yes, we are from Jamiaca & there are many things we had never done.

We decided to split our trip into  four main destinations: Kingston, Flamstead, Treasure Beach & Trelawny, beginning in Kingston & ending inTrelawny.
Look out for the posts on these locations!

Bethlehem Home – Kingston, Jamaica

It takes a visit to a place like Bethlehem Home to realize how fortunate we are. Bethlehem home, which opened in 2001 is a safe haven for disabled children in Kingston, Jamaica.  The majority of the children are severely handicapped and will require care all of their lives. Many of these children have been abandoned as their parents are unable to care for them. We were privileged to visit Bethlehem with Winsome’s cousin, Jeanne Croskery.  Jeanne donates her time tirelessly to Bethlehem and it is wonderful to see how the children interact with her. The home presently houses over 60 children.
Bethlehem House is administered by the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP) and its founder & spiritual leader, Father Ho Lung. They receive no government funding and as such it relies greatly on volunteers like Jeanne and donations of funds and items needed for the kids from people that recognize the good work that Bethlehem does on a daily basis. If anyone would like to make a small donation please let me know I will ensure that the money gets to the right place before I leave Jamaica.  A tax receipt may not be possible.  Bethlehem also welcomes visitors and volunteers from all over the world. Thank you.

Oahu

The first stop on our Hawaii adventure was the lovely island of Oahu where we spent nine days. During this time we took one night and two days to visit the island of Kauhi. Our visit to Oahu was enhanced as we were very fortunate to rent a lovely furnished apartment from friends, Janice and Tenny, on the lower level of their split level home in Honolulu. Janice and Tenny moved to Hawaii from Canada several years ago.  They were amazing hosts and treated us like royalty . While in Oahu we went on a number of tours including Pearl Harbour and the Polynesian Village, but the best were Janice’s personalized tours to places around the island that a majority of tourists would never even know about – the real O’ahu!

Pearl Harbour was an incredible experience, and although we spent 6 1/2 hours there it was not nearly long enough. The Arizona Memorial which pays tribute to the 1,1,77 lives that were lost is a memorable experience and there was an eerie quiet on the tender that takes visitors out to the memorial that was built over the remains of the ship. Small amounts of oil can still be seen leaking from the ship. Walking through the submarine, USS Bowfin, and her very cramped spaces, one can only wonder what the crew endured for months at a time.  The battleship USS Missisouri, on which the Japanese signed the official surrender on September 2nd, 1945 was spectacular.  The various museums that have videos and interactive displays related to Pearl Harbour were very interesting and required more time to do them full justice.

We spent a full day at the Polynesian Village where we learned about the cultures of the the various Polynesian Islands and then enjoyed a lovely luau style dinner and the incredible show, Ha, The Breath of Life.

While in Oahu we spend two days at the Mona Surfrider hotel on Waikiki beach. This is a very touristy area with many high end shops and restaurants. The beach was very crowded and apparently that way at all times. The highlight of our Oahu trip was the personalized tours that Janice took us on.  She took two entire days of her vacation to drove us all over the island exploring amazing beaches like Hanuama Bay, lagoons, the Bishops museum, palaces, etc.  We would highly recommend her as an Oahu tour guide!  Many thanks, Janice, and Tenny too – you surely made our visit complete.

Maui

We spent a great six days in Maui. Like the rest of our Hawaii trip we were on the move all the time with very little time to relax.

During our stay in Maui, we experienced a very chilly sunrise at Haleakala, a wonderful evening at the Old Lahaina Luau,  a cruise on the beautiful 65 foot custom-built catamaran, Alii Nui, where we were fortunate to see a whale right along side our boat, even though the whale watching season was at an end and the amazing road trip to Hana with its 620+ curves and over 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one lane wide. Eeks!!!  Lionel cringed many times when the bus was on the edge of the road & he looked out his window down the precipice thousands of feet below.  That’s why the Road to Hana is also known as the “Divorce Highway,” – it has caused quite a few arguments among couples. On our Hana tour we were fortunate to be in a small comfortable tour van with twelve fun people, all from our hotel. We kept each other entertained the entire trip and our driver was exceptional often pulling off on the wrong side of the road for us to take pictures.  It was a very long day as the left the hotel at 6:40 am and returned after 6 pm.  However, the drive is worth it and offers many scenic views of Maui’s northern coastline, rainforests, fabulous black-sand beaches, waterfalls and lush tropical vegetation & some awesome freshly baked warm banana bread made with apple bananas!!!
When we were not on organized tours we were out driving, exploring the area, shopping, eating at great restaurants and visiting spots like the Nakalele Blowhole on the northern end of the island.  Nakalele Blowhole is the result of the ocean wearing away the shore below the lava shelf. With each wave, water is forced through a hole in the lava shelf resulting in the “eruption” of water similar to a geyser. Very cool to watch as the water can shoot up 100 feet but don’t get too close.  The most recent disaster was last July, as his girlfriend and dozens of tourists watched, a man was knocked off his feet by a wave and sucked into the blowhole never to be seen again.

Flowers of Hawaii

The yellow hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii but there are many other beautiful flowers on the islands including other amazing varieties of the hibiscus.

Paddle Boarding

The last time I tried something this challenging was when I was learning to windsurf and I was 20 + years younger. This was lots of fun but after 45 minutes I was bruised and exhausted.  While out on the board, I was worried about getting hit in the head by the board when I fell.  Although, I escaped that injury I  did manage to whack my lip with the paddle and scrape my chest badly climbing back on the board on the FEW times I fell!
Next up, kiteboarding!!!

Kauai – The “Garden Isle”

Kauai is Hawaii’s fourth largest island and is sometimes called the “Garden Isle,” which is an entirely accurate description. The oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain is draped in emerald valleys, sharp mountain spires and jagged cliffs, aged by time and the elements. Centuries of growth have formed tropical rainforests, forking rivers and cascading waterfalls. Some parts of Kauai are only accessible by sea or air, revealing views beyond your imagination.

We took two days out of our trip to Oahu to visit Kauai. As promised , it was a beautiful island. The ocean and rock vista falling into the ocean made for amazing scenery. As we had a car we were fortunate to visit many parts of the islands and find more out of  the way restaurants.

We did the helicopter tour on our first day on the island which was enjoyable but unfortunately, we had lost our microphone switch just prior to take off and we were unable to ask our pilot, Julie, any questions. Our position, in the helicopter offered us great views on each side of the aircraft and also of the cockpits instruments. All was good until Lionel noticed an alert constantly flashing, “terrain ahead” – it may have had sometime to do with the share rock faces we were constantly approaching –  we were very glad that we choose the tour company that did not have open doors on their helicopters!

The following morning we set of for a drive to Ke’e beach on the north side of the island which is not difficult to find as you drive until the highway ends. From Ke’e beach there are amazing trails on which you can venture at your own risk. We walked the beach and saw rain falling in the trees a few hundered feet away – even though we were still dry.

The drive back was lovely with stops for various photo opportunities  and unique shops along the way.

Later that afternoon, we took a leisurely river boat cruise down the only navigable river in Hawaii, the Wailua River. The boat cruise ended at a beautiful fern grotto.

More pictures will soon be posted in the Kauai photo gallery.

Amazing Race – Sarah’s Challenge

Put a pink Hawaiian flower behind your ear and have your picture taken

Sarah, you may want to move the flower from your right ear to your left. Wearing it on the right means you are available!

The yellow hibiscus is the state flower of Hawaii. There are amazing flowers of incredible colours around the islands and I will do a separate post with some of the most spectacular.

Bonus Photo.

The sweet fragrant Plumeria is the most common flower that you’ll find in Hawaii since it is used in most leis that are given to visitors. It is, however, not native to Hawaii. It is native to tropical and subtropical America. It was named for the 17th century French botanist Charles Plumier who documented numerous plants in the Americas.

 

 

Hawaii Primer – More to Come

This is just a very short post to say we have not abandoned our blog and hope to catch up sometime soon. Hawaii was non stop action from we arrived in the Islands and we had little time to even download our pictures.  In Oahu we were given the royal treatment by friends, Janice & Tenny, who took days out of their lives to show us the “real Hawaii” which most tourists never see. Waikiki beach, although great, is not what Hawaii is about! We spent two days in Kauai and two & a half days on Big Island and then six days in Maui – & we arrived back home in Toronto at 7:05 am this morning.
An example of a typical day – leaving our hotel at 2:25 in the  morning for a two hour + drive to Haleakala in Maui to be awed by the amazing sunrise. It was very cold – 5 degrees celsius with a biting wind at the viewing centre. Most tourists took the blankets and towels from their hotels in an attempt to stay warm.  Winsome used her beach towel as a scarf!  We arrived at our viewing spot at an altitude of 9,740 feet just after 5 am to wait for the 6:04 am sunrise. It was worth the wait and on the plus side I now know I don’t need to spent a fortune on Hermes scarfs for Winsome – any old towel will do!
Hope to update you further with photos, etc. as soon as we get over our jet lag & hopefully before we leave for Jamaica on the 19th.