Tag Archives: Hawaii

Dolphin Swim in Hawaii, 2014

The one thing that I definitely wanted to do while I was in Hawaii for my bestie’s wedding was swim with wild dolphins. I had previously had a Sea World dolphin experience with my bestie, where we had swum with trained dolphins, but I still really wanted to make contact with the animals in their own habitat, where it was their choice if they wanted to approach you. A few of the others had swum with manta rays at night, but this didn’t appeal to me, it was the dolphins that I wanted.

We took a boat trip out of Honokohau Harbour. It was lovely to get out on the water and get a perspective of the coastline and all the places I had seen while I had been here. We saw Kona town, Mokuaikaua Church, the bungalows where we were staying plus other mountains and beaches I had not seen on land.

In the water we saw manta rays, whales and of course lots of dolphins. I couldn’t wait to get in the water with them. We put on our snorkels and dove in. We swam next to a pod of Spinner dolphins and the first thing I noticed was that they were very fast! It was very calming floating above them and they weaved around below us, but also very tiring swimming in open ocean.

Back on the surface, the dolphins weren’t tired at all and seemed very fond of performing jumps, spins and flips. It was a wonderful experience and I was so glad that I had been able to have it along with my bestie’s parents, her new husband, Janeen and her boyfriend.

After the boat docked, it was time to leave for the airport for some last minute shopping on the big island before an overnight stay in an airport hotel in Oahu and an early morning flight back to Sydney and my little family.

Although being away from my husband and daughter had been strange, I wouldn’t have missed my bestie’s special day for the world and it also inspired the idea for us to take a child-free girls trip at least once a year no matter where we were in the world.

Related posts: A Hawaiian Wedding, 2014, Hawaiian Road Trip, 2014, Solo trip to Hawaii, 2014, USA, 1990

 

A Hawaiian Wedding, 2014

I had never been a bridesmaid before, despite having attended 50 weddings; so it was awesome to be asked by my bestie, have a dress and jewellery bought for me and get my hair and make up done. Most of all, I felt incredibly honoured to be a part of my bestie’s special day and to have the opportunity to feel like a part of her fantastic family.

The day of the wedding, it was raining. There had been talk among the locals of a 50-year storm that had been brewing, but I really hadn’t paid much attention until then. But raining it was, with waves so high, they were crashing over the sea wall onto the area reserved for the ceremony and reception.

Panic ensued, as well as a trip to Walmart to see if we could stock up on umbrellas, gumboots and tarps. With the ground soaked through and the waves and rain showing no sign of abating, the groom put in a call to the bride to postpone the wedding until the next day. My bestie took it quite well all things considered.

Being housebound due to rain, the evening turned into a pre wedding party with much drinking and dancing- Australian style. The groom was an Aussie after all, so there were enough of us around to take control of the tunes.

Wedding day take two went much more according to plan. The beauty team returned to make us all look more beautiful than we already were again and there was pre ceremony photos and champagne for the ladies of the wedding party.

The sun was out and the waves were still curling beautifully, but not too big; except for that one where my bestie, my bestie’s sister Janeen and I were taking sunset photos with our back to the ocean and it sneaked over the wall, making us run!

The ceremony was lovely and the guests were few enough that we could all fit on one long table under chandeliers for the reception. Dinner included gazpacho and lobster with an ice cream station- definitely my kind of desert.

It rained a little on the dance floor, but that didn’t stop anyone. Some of the wedding party ended up jumping in the pool, including the bride and her two bridesmaids. Hair and make up came out unscathed and the party continued – now that’s value for money.

Related posts: Hawaiian Road Trip, 2014, Solo trip to Hawaii, 2014, Canada, 2011, Fiji, 2011, Destination Thailand, 2010, The Seven Year Itch

Hawaiian Road Trip, 2014

My bestie’s sister Janeen was tour organiser extraordinaire and had many activities planned for us all while were in Hawaii for my bestie’s wedding. A girl after my own heart, she wanted to see as much of the big island as she could, so I was happy to tag along with the family and other assorted American and Australian wedding guests.

On my first day we headed straight to Kona Brewing Company for a morning beer tasting. In Kona town we checked out Mokuaikaua Church, Hulihe’e Palace and the harbour. We also found pearls in oysters at a local jewellery shop and some cocktails in a bar with a sea view. For lunch, we went to for a real soft shell taco Mexican lunch- very tasty.

The next day, a van of 11 of us went on a road trip to Umauma Falls to go zip lining. I was excited for the road trip and the opportunity to see more of the island, but not so much the zip lining. While everyone was busy doing flips as they zipped along I was apparently gripping onto my line “like a koala bear.”

The green countryside, the river and the waterfalls were beautiful though, and worth my discomfort. I also enjoyed the less adrenalin pumping activity of walking across a suspension bridge to a viewpoint of the falls.

On the way back we stopped at Akaka Falls State Park for a pleasant stroll through the forest to one of the highest waterfalls in the world- Akaka Falls- that drops into a crater.

Back in the van, we drove on the Saddle Road from Hilo through the middle of the island in volcanic fog- a gentle reminder that we were living on an island with an active volcano. I had seen some amazing pictures of lava flowing into the sea at an art gallery in town and wish that I had more time to travel over to the other side of the island to see that.

We stopped an the infamous Fish & Hog café for dinner which had great American diner style food, including the biggest slice of lemon meringue pie I have ever seen in my life.

The day before the wedding Janeen and I donned our custom made bridesmaid t-shirts and took the bride for a manicure and pedicure in her matching bride t-shirt. In an impromptu hen’s night, we decided to go to the luau at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel for a dinner and show with my bestie’s cousin Lyle as the honorary male bodyguard.

We got seashell necklaces, tried to dance the hula and twirl balls on string. Dinner was a traditional pig dug out if the underground oven and as much punch as you could drink. The show started with the shell trumpeter of the royal procession and there were dances from all the islands of the South Pacific including fire dancers. On the way back to the car we met a man with a macaw.

Related posts: Solo trip to Hawaii, 2014, USA, 1990, It’s a South Pacific Thing

Solo trip to Hawaii, 2014

My first solo trip in many years was when my bestie got married in Hawaii and asked me to be a bridesmaid. Leaving my one year old at home with my husband for 8 days, I flew to Kona on the big island of Hawaii via Oahu.

Most of the wedding party was staying in a few private bungalows on the property where the event itself was to be held. It was strange to be travelling alone again and it took me a while to get used to only having to feed and cloth myself again. But before long I fell back into old habits, heading to my bestie’s parents house every morning to be fed breakfast. Unfortunately I never really got out of the habit of waking up early.

The bride and groom to be were staying in the main bungalow with large living areas, a pond with koi and a pool with spa. Most importantly, the house backed onto the ocean with a sea wall separating the garden from the rocks and waves. This is where both the ceremony and reception was to be held.

My bestie is a master of décor having renovated many houses around the world as they moved around for work; so the main house was also being utilised as decoration making central. Everything from the hair pieces to the table settings was made with the love and care of many helping hands.

The verandah off the main bungalow was utilised for social gatherings and sunset watching and what beautiful sunsets they were. Living on the east coast of Australia, I relished the opportunity to see the sun dipping into the water just as it should be.

There were some small markets across the road from the bungalows where you could buy food for lunches and souvenirs. I purchased a t-shirt for my husband and the cutest little blue Hawaiian dress for my daughter, with a matching flower bracelet of course.

After the sunset on my first night, a few of us walked to the Royal Kona Beach Resort for dinner. The hotel looked like a cruise ship pointing out to the ocean, affording fabulous ocean views from Don the Beachcomber Restaurant which specialised in Mai Tai’s.

With only 30 or so guests attending the wedding and everyone arriving a week or more earlier, it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with some like the groom, my bestie’s sister Janeen and her boyfriend; and meet others like my bestie’s brother Chris’s new girlfriend and the groom’s best friends who would make up the other half of the bridal party.

Related posts: USA, 1990It’s a South Pacific Thing, The Seven Year Itch

It’s a South Pacific Thing

The South Pacific has been largely romanticised by the musical of the same name. As an Aussie, I feel like the South Pacific is not so much of a novelty as it close by and therefore accessible.

It is also cheap and an easy beach holiday destination with built in babysitting services for families. Of course, some may be more expensive than others. Any island carries higher prices on food due to transport, which is why you may choose to stay on the mainland when visiting Fiji.

The South Pacific has also become one of the places to go for a destination wedding with 5 star resorts catering to every need.

Personally, I like the friendly people, having a cocktail in the pool bar and the beautiful sunsets.

But what do you do when the weather is bad?

This happened to us on a trip to New Caledonia- it rained all week. So we focused on the food and indoor activities such as shopping and museums.

And of course there are other cultural experiences you can partake in like visiting a cultural village, drinking cava and experiencing the local market.

In more developed islands such as Oahu and Hawaii, there are so many activities to choose from that it’s hard to pick no matter what the weather is like.

The South Pacific is about palm trees, drinking out of fresh coconuts and listening to the ukulele. It’s scuba diving, poolside time and smelling the Frangipani’s.

Sliding down a waterslide, visiting a waterfall and watching as the night time torches get lit. It’s bright tropical colours, shell necklaces and endless lazy days.

Crazy cool resorts like the famous ones in Bora Bora and Vanuatu plus lots of little islands I’ve never even heard of.

And of course, you could always fall in love and have a real South Pacific story of your own.

Related posts: Fiji, 2011, Fiji, 2008

The seven year itch

I have been to 50 weddings in my life, 40 of those in the last seven years. This is not an exaggeration- I have counted. I know it seems a little excessive, but the only explanation that I can give is that of a Catholic family and country school mates. Or maybe it’s just that I am really sociable and a fun wedding guest?!

My husband has been dragged to many of these wedding with me and vice versa. He has been in many bridal parties, has been the MC and an usher- while I have sat at the singles table. The only wedding that I have been in the bridal party for was my best friend’s wedding earlier this year.

What I know about weddings could fill a book. I have been to big weddings, small weddings, full catholic ceremonies, quickie celebrant ceremonies, church weddings, house weddings, reception hall weddings, hotel weddings, RSL weddings, fancy restaurant weddings, cocktail party weddings, sit down weddings, stand up weddings, garden weddings, beach weddings, winery weddings, weekend away weddings, destination weddings, a wedding in a courthouse, one in a library and a wedding on a tugboat.

I have been to weddings in Terrigal, the Hunter Valley, Berrima, Mount Wilson, Wollongong, Kangaroo Valley, Berry and Sydney. I have travelled to attend weddings in Melbourne, Hobart, Cairns and Darwin. I used to have a no overseas wedding rule, but after getting married in Thailand myself, I couldn’t really use that as a reason not to go anymore. So I have now also been to weddings in Fiji, Hawaii and Canada. The money I have spent on travel, accommodation, kitchen teas, hen’s nights/weekends away and wedding presents is a sum I don’t even want to think about- but it was all in good fun and each wedding has been special in its own way.

With my events background I would probably make a great wedding planner and I have considered this. I have a friend who does hair and make up, one trained in floristry and a friend that does photography. But the bottom line is that I could not deal with bridezillas.

Even the most sane and sensible people who swore they would never get caught up in the commercial hoop-la end up worrying about things like what is on the place cards. For my own wedding I did not give a toss about the details- I just got the hotel to do it all and make all the decisions. The cake was hideous- but who cares- I didn’t even want a cake and I didn’t choose it.

It dismays me when I see people getting caught up in all the little things, succumbing to family pressure and losing sight of themselves and what’s really important- two people making a commitment to each other and an excuse for a really good party. No one else is going to notice if the vase on table 1 is different to the vase on table 2, so just relax and enjoy the day.

The cost is also ridiculous- just mention the word wedding and the price triples. That’s why I was “shopping for my thirtieth” when I found my red wedding dress. Why would I wear white when red is my best colour? The average Australian wedding costs 50 thousand, which is enough for a long honeymoon and a good start on a flat deposit. Who wants to start their married life in debt?

And then there is the question of the second weddings. I have not been to one yet, but with a few friends divorced, it could happen. Do you automatically get an invite to the second wedding if you have been to the first or are you automatically excluded? Wether you go or not, do you have to buy another wedding present?

At the end of the day, each bride (and groom) needs to make the choice about what they want and be happy about it. If a big wedding with all the trimmings and a white dress is what you want, then go for it, but just be honest and say that is what you want from the beginning.

Related posts: I first started writing, Home is where you make it, Travel rememberings, Friendship: Great Expectations?, All Creatures Great and Small, Canada, 1990, TV replays and Movie Marathons, USA, 1990, By special request

All Creatures Great and Small

I have always been a great lover of animals. From an early age I remember watching nature shows with my dad and can still tell the difference between an albatross and a seagull thanks to David Attenborough.

In primary school I completed elaborate and illustrated projects on animals that were four times as long as they needed to be just because I was so interested in the topic.

I begged for a dog as a child, but my parents liked a nice garden with birds so all I could have was a guinea pig, a budgerigar or a pet rock.

I choose to have a budgie called Kiki who flew away soon after when my mother made me clean the cage outside.

Then there was Skye who was my favourite and actually lasted a long time until we left him when we went to Sydney one weekend and he was found dead upon our return.

Next there was Benji who actually turned out to be a girl and was very cuddly as a consequence. She looked hot one day so we watered her down using the sprinkler but accidentally left it on her all day and she caught a cold and died.

The last one, Kokopetal, almost lost his head during an argument with my dad. When I ran into my room my dad said not to slam my door so of course I did and my budgie was on top of the door and the door caught his neck. He survived for a week longer but his neck was so damaged that he could not eat. So that was the end of my pet ownership.

I have always loved dolphins and have seen pods of them many times from boats. I also had a Sea World experience on the Gold Coast where I got to swim, touch and play with a dolphin and it was great. This year I finally got to swim with wild dolphins in Hawaii which was fantastic.

Having a love of dogs, I have always loved wolves and huskies. A few years ago I had the opportunity to play and run with the Malusky husky dog sled team in the Hunter Valley. They are beautiful hard working dogs and I would really love to see them in the snow on the Iditarod trail in the USA.

Working with Labradors and retrievers at Guide Dogs has cured me a little of my rose coloured glasses around dog ownership. Don’t get me wrong, I still think they are cute, loyal and the most lovely bundles of unconditional love. But they can also be stubborn, demanding, constantly test your boundaries and limit travel possibilities.

Related posts: I first started writing, Travel rememberings