Big Island & Kauai - September 2002

My first trip to Hawaii I chose the Big Island and Kauai based on what I had read and heard. It was a great choice and the Big Island was quite impressive. It is the largest and southern most in the chain. Because there are still 2 active volcanos on the Big Island, it is still growing. To walk across the spot where the volcano had erupted not all that many years earlier where there is steam coming out of the ground, to see and feel lava flow...it was like a different planet.
After several days on the Big Island hiking across a dried volano crater, kayaking across Kealakekua Bay surrounded by dolphins and having them jump just feet from my kayak (it was shortly after breeding season and the babies were still quite young and very cute), visiting a coffee plantation and learning the entire process, driving around the entire island, visiting waterfalls and botanical gardens it was off to Kauai, the 4th largest of the Hawaiian Islands and the nothernmost. Known as the garden island, it was quite different but still somewhat similar. The experiences here were just as amazing. I kayaked up the Waimea river, parked the kayak and hiked another hour to a secluded waterfall they I had all to myself with the exception of a cat and several roosters and chickens - which were seen all over the island. As it was told to us, the island has a huge population of wild chickens and roosters that were set free during one of the hurricanes that hit Kauai several years earlier. Also hiked along the Napali coast here on cliffs that dropped straight off on one side and wild orchids growing on the other side of me. Also hiked in the highest swamp (swamp lands at the highest elevation in the world). It was an amazing trip.

Akaka Falls - Big Island

Coffee Field
Kona Coffee field - Big Island

Coffee beans
Coffee beans - have you ever seen coffee beans on the vine? Who would have thought?

Hanalei Valley
Hanalei Valley - Kauai. Hanalei was the backdrop of the 1958 musical film South Pacific.

Hanalei Valley

Tom on Hawaii with dried crater behind me
Notice the setting behind me. That is the mile path the goes right across the top of the dried volcano crater...very cool!

Another view of the crater.

This was near where the lava was flowing into the ocean. It was a beautiful and interesting setting and as you can see, the wind was blowing like mad.

Behind me is the lava flow across the road. There is still lava flowing inside this flow and into the ocean just 10's of yards away.

Ahhhh...to view the island of kauaii via helicopter...absolutely amazing if you can do it on such a perfect day. Our pilot told us there are only a few days a year that the copter can descended into the creator of the ancient volcano (Mount Wai'ale'ale) - it was so incredible. It is ordinarily the wettest place on earth with over 400 inches of rain or 350 wet days. This trip was a great choice because while there were other tours that were done in a plush, enclosed, comfortable helicopter, I chose this small machine that was completely open with no doors. We enjoyed some of the most breathtaking views while flying over the west "Na Pali Coast". Much of this coast can be seen only from the air, by boat, or by hiking as I also had the pleasure to do, as there are no roads in this rugged region.

One of the greatest things about this island was the variety of climates, flora, fauna...from one extreme to another. This was taken at the Botanical Gardens on the Hilo (aka the Wet Side) side of the Big Island.

I really hate using chemicals and insect repellents. At the entrance to these botanical gardens they had a can of off for all visitors to use. I told them I didn't really want to use it, but they told me I would be very sorry if I didn't. I went back to the car and put sweatpants on instead of shorts which helped, but the misquitos were intense.

Back on the Island of Kauai, this would have to be one of the most popular photographs taken of lighthouses - its a beautiful setting and easy to reach.

View of Kauai from the helicopter.

More helicopter views of Kauai.

Views of the Napali Coast of Kauai from helicopter - one of the few ways to see it - by foot, by helicopter or by boat.

More Napali Coast of Kauai.

Napali Coast

Napali Coast

Napali Coast

Pololu Valley

My close-up on the helicopter.

After the helicopter ride I drove our rental car to the top of Waimea Canyon, over 4,000 feet in altitude. At the end of the road was an amazing hike through woods of ferns. Occasionally vistas would open along the ledges and grand views presented themselves down to the distant shorelines with the Pacific glistening in the distance. The "forbidden" island of Ni'nhau 17 miles away rose majestically into its own crown of clouds and weather.
More of Waimea Canyon - called the Grand Canyon of Hawaii.

Waipio Bay

copyright protected - photos by Tom Whalen

Drop me an email Tom Whalen takeoff321@aol.com