Vacations can be educational, entertaining, enlightening, exciting, maybe even euphoric in parts.  This one was all of that but it was also exhausting because of all of the sightseeing and the long flights.  Hawaii, however is above all else wonderful and well worth the effort.  The scenery, the culture, the people, the flowers and the music are gentle and beautiful.  Here is what we enjoyed with our morning coffee on our balcony overlooking Waikiki Beach.

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We had flown in to Honolulu and spent the night, boarding our cruise ship the next day.  The ship headed out that night for a seven day inter-island cruise.

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I had taken such a cruise in 1997 aboard the U.S.S. Independence, a handsome, Gatsby-like throwback to the days of luxury cruising, with largely open sides on the common decks (closable in bad weather) such that one felt more a part of the sea and the islands.  Now, a modern, plastic cruise ship with six dining rooms plus buffet, and seven bars (not sure we made it to all of them).  The soft background music throughout the ship was gentle, mellifluous Hawaiian, and the screechy loud noise that defines pop music was limited to the pool decks ( I know, I know…showing my age).  In any event I think the inter-island cruise is the best way to get a convenient, easy taste of several of the islands.


After a bumpy and rocky overnight cruise we pulled in to Kahului on the island of Maui for a two day visit.  I was relieved that I wasn’t the designated pilot.

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The first of several day tours took us to the Iao Valley State Park where we viewed the lush vegetation, rain-swollen streams and waterfalls, and foliage covered volcanic mountains.  The Asiatic architectural motifs relate to the arrival of Japanese farm workers beginning in 1868 to work the cane fields.  By the time that World War II broke out there were some 41,000 Japanese residents on the islands.

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We also enjoyed the Maui Tropical Plantation with its cultivated displays of island flowers and foliage, some of which we’ve enjoyed at locations of comparable climate.  The Heliconia below (commonly, Lobster Claw) is an example.

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Then, off to Hawaii, “The Big Island” where we tied up at Hilo the first day and Kona, the second.  More tours?  You bet.  A day long outing took us to Volcanos National Park on top of Kilauea Volcano, ranked among the world’s most active volcanos.  The crater rim road took us along the caldera  from which steam and fumes escape from molten rock in the Halema’uma’u Crater below.   In 1997 one saw hot lava pouring into the ocean from a lava tube draining the crater, dramatic as we cruised past at night.  Kilauea is regarded as the home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, and she is apparently not presently upset ….maybe just a little steamed.

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This landscape is tough for a landscape photographer.  All of the islands were created as volcanos pushed up from the sea floor, beginning some 5 million years ago (Kauai) and continuing to Hawaii, itself, about half a million years ago.  Continual eruptions of lava and volcanic ash add “land” and elevation to the islands.  The ash provides a soil in which drifting or bird-deposited seeds can establish themselves.  Meanwhile, it is a harsh environment.  In such context the islands’ history of sugar cane and pineapple is impressive.  Incidentally, sugar cane lost out to producers closer to demand, and labor costs drove pineapple to the Philippines.

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Other days, other ports, other tours, other beautiful spots, and bussed back to the ship late afternoons, weary from the day.  One hears that cruising results in weight gain because of the food services.  Au contraire, we lost two to three pounds and we think it was from the daily touring.  It was a relief and a pleasure to sit on our balcony and just enjoy a little cruising.  Here’s a short clip to try and give you the feel of it all, enhanced by Richard Rodgers’ stirring Song of the High Seas.  (Speakers on?)  In my Navy days we called this kind of thing shipping over music.  It was thought it would make one nostalgic for days at sea and want to reenlist.  (I’m still vulnerable.)


On the last afternoon of our cruise we passed Na Pali Coast State Park, one of Hawaii’s many dramatic sights.  It’s located on the northwestern edge of Kauai and is extremely difficult to reach on its land side.  The scenery may well be reminiscent of Jurassic Park as much of that film was shot on Kauai.  It was a powerful scene.

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Minutes later the wispy clouds moved to give us a magical effect.

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After which we began our return to Honolulu.

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Back in Honolulu for a few more days we continued sightseeing but with a much reduced intensity.  We spent an afternoon touring the Pearl Harbor memorial complex which was a sobering, poignant experience.  We also toured the palace, last occupied by the last ruler of the Hawaiian royalty line, Queen Liliuokalani, forced from power in 1893 by the islands’ agricultural interests supported by the U.S. Marines.

At day’s end our hotel room balcony overlooking Waikiki Beach provided these restful views.

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And as the sun sailed away and our ship sank slowly in the west, with the last drop of the last drink of the last cocktail hour of vacation we bid farewell to our vacation in Paradise.  With the beautiful Hawaiian word for “thank you” we say mahalo (ma-hah’-lo) for visiting this lengthly journal entry, and we say Aloooha!

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There is a gallery of these and more images of the trip.  Click Here.



26 Responses to “A HAWAIIAN VACATION”

  1. Jenn Says:

    I can’t share any of this with Norah, or I’ll be nagged in perpetuity!

  2. eajackson Says:

    The mountains at Na Pali Coast State Park certainly are gorgeous. So many beautiful shots throughout this cruise. Thank you

  3. Del Cannon Says:

    You’re an excellent tour guide as well as the tour photographer. That’s a trip I’ve always wanted to take, but never made it. Thanks for the tour, it saved me beaucoup bucks.

  4. Rich Lewis Says:

    Looks like a great trip. I was there in 1985 and remember some of the places you show above and in your gallery. Thanks for sharing your experiences and talent to stir a few memories. It was a very pleasant diversion from work this morning.

  5. Bonnie Says:

    Such a beautiful place. I looks like you had a wonderful time. The Na Pali State Park shot was wonderful. Welcome home.

  6. Pat Worley Says:

    Ralph, Another wonderful narrative and pictorial essay! I truly enjoy your humor and the beautiful pictures. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip and even happier you are home again safe and sound.

  7. Tracey Says:

    wonderful..thank you, Ralph

  8. Susan Angulo Says:

    As always many thanks for sharing! Sophie has been talking about visiting Hawaii. She has added Honolulu’s weather on to my phone. I better hide these pictures from her! They are lovely. Thanks again. Hope all is well.
    Your “old neighbor”,

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Nice to hear from you, Sue. Gosh you must be getting really old by now. Best to Sophie, Chloe, and Mike. I hope there are still some violets left on my property for the girls to pick for you for Mother’s Day.

  9. Ken Curtis Says:

    Like the others, I too enjoyed hearing about your wonderful vacation. It made me wish I could take a similar trip. Nice photos too.

  10. MikeP Says:

    Another place to put on my wish list… it looked like the cruise was the perfect way to see and relax over there. Thanks for the tour.

  11. denisebushphoto Says:

    Great Hawaiian tour in words and pictures Ralph! My favorite image is the one of Na Pali Coast State Park … just needs some dinosaurs!

  12. Ralph Berglund Says:

    Thanks, D. You have a knack for tongue-in-cheek observations and I liked the dinosaur reference. Na Pali was other-worldish and awesome.

  13. Sartenada Says:

    Sigh. Your gorgeous post brought up my mind when in visited Honolulu in 1972 ! 🙂

  14. eajackson Says:

    First I believe that the music that was being played on the pool decks probably sounded better and danceable after a few cocktails, right? Love the delicate floral photos and the contrast of the volcanic ash lands. Not sure if I will ever get there so thanks for sharing your adventure.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks, Beth. I love it there; I love their music, their flowers, the people, the scenery… I wish it weren’t such a long trip to and from. I miss seeing you once in a while but I’ve only been to one meeting this season and you weren’t there (Sara’s presentation.) (Not doin’ well medically.)

      • eajackson Says:

        Sorry to hear you are not doin’ well. I haven’t been to the club one time this year. Just not interested and work is rather consuming. Please get well soon.

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