A Travellerspoint blog

March 2011

Hawaii Revisited-Maui & Kauai

A Return to the Hawaiian Islands brings Information and Enlightenment

My first visit to Hawaii and the island of Oahu was and wonderful 7 day vacation with my husband. My return to Hawaii on this trip was a solo sojourn for the purpose of seeing what the islands of Maui and Kauai had to offer. As a meeting planner and travel consultant for my company Meetings & Events Unlimited, it is often my responsibility to recommend a meeting or vacation destination to my clients. Before I make any recommendations on a destination, I always try to learn everything I can about that destination, including the hotels and accommodations, culture and activities available for visitors. With this responsibility in mind, I eagerly accepted an invitation from the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau and Successful Meetings Magazine to visit the islands of Maui and Kauai with other planners and travel consultants for a week on a Hawaii familiarization trip.

Two weeks after receiving the invite, I found myself on a American Airlines flight to Maui, Hawaii. After 10 hours of travel from Alabama, I met fellow planners at the Maui airport where we all became acquainted on the drive to our hotel. While I enjoyed the scenery and the conversation, I was beginning to feel the effects of the long trip. Upon finally arriving at our destination, I found my accommodations at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa on Ka’anapali Beach well worth the all effort it took to get there.

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

Located at the end of the beach at historic Pu'u Keka'a (Black Rock), the Sheraton Maui Resort has 23 oceanfront acres and the hotel is part of the Ka'anapali Beach Resort community which includes the Ka'anapali Golf Courses and Whaler’s Village Shops and Restaurants. The resort is located 45 minutes from Kahului Airport and is a short ten minute drive from historic Lahaina. Noting that our schedule for the rest of the day included an outdoor reception in less than 2 hours time, I immediately headed for my room right after checking in. My "room" turned out to be a lovely 2 room suite with a fantastic view of the resort grounds and the beach. The afternoon sun was starting to set so I got my camera out to record the gorgeous view and the amenities of my suite.


View from my balcony

After taking a short time to relax on my balcony, I changed clothes and headed downstairs to the outdoor area near the beach where the Welcome Reception was about to start. It was a lovely event! The weather was warm and there was a breeze off the ocean. Our hosts for our visit made sure that we all had a chance to relax with some great food, music and tropical drinks. I thoroughly enjoyed myself networking with my new friends. A couple of hours later, I found the long day catching up with me, so I decided to turn in for the night. My first day on the island of Maui ended with the sound of the ocean coming in from my open balcony door, lulling me to sleep. The next day we would explore several Maui hotels and resorts and find out from our hosts what made this island special. I was looking forward to it!

Welcome Reception preparations

Reception in full swing, a good time was had by all!

Next up, more of my visit to the island of Maui. To be continued.......

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner & Travel Consultant
Meetings & Events Unlimited

Posted by Gerriv 13:33 Comments (0)

A Visit to Hawaii IV-Remembering Pearl Harbor

Touring a Shrine to American History

December 7, 1941 "a date which will live in infamy". That is how President Franklin D. Roosevelt described the day Japanese air and naval forces bombed Pearl Harbor, a US Naval base in Honolulu, Hawaii. The attack is frequently cited by Historians as a major turning point in World War II because it forced the United States to join the war effort against Japan and its allies. After Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, the majority of Americans thought the country should not intervene in World War II. This feeling fell in line with the policy of isolationism American leaders had implemented at that time.

The United States and other nations had placed trade embargoes on Japan to check its expansion, but toward the end of 1941, Japan had managed to capture key territories and oil resources in parts of Asia. America had refused to lift existing embargoes unless Japan left some of these territories, so Gen. Hideki Tojo secretly decided that Nov. 29 would be the last date Japan would accept a settlement with America to lift trade embargoes. When the date passed, Japan devised a plan to invade territories across Asia and the Pacific but was afraid of interference from the U.S. Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor. Thus, they commenced the attack on the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor.

As a student of History at Auburn University, my major area of concentration was American History and in particular the World War II period of time. The bombing of Pearl Harbor had always fascinated me. I read everything I could about it and now that the country of Japan is a close friend and ally of the United States, there is much more information on Japan's point of view and decision making process available to history lovers like me. It was therefore, with a great deal of anticipation and excitement, that I looked forward to my visit to Pearl Harbor on the last day of our Hawaii vacation.

Photo of the USS Arizona which suffered a direct hit during the Bombing

My husband and I decided to rent a car for the day so that we could take our time touring Pearl Harbor and all of the historic sites there, including the USS Arizona memorial. We arrived at Pearl Harbor early in the day and purchased tickets to the museums and the USS Arizona Memorial. There is much to see at Pearl Harbor, too much to see in a day but we would do the best we could. For information on the tour, see the following link:

Pearl Harbor Tour Website

Entering the facility we were told that it was best to start our tour with a short film containing actual footage of the bombing and its aftermath from 1941. From there we would board a shuttle that would take us out to the USS Arizona Memorial site. The film did not start for another 30 minutes, so Reginald and I decided to visit one of the museums. It was a very interesting exhibit containing battleship models and war memorabilia.



Before we knew it, it was time to get in line for the film and trip to the Arizona Memorial. The line to get inside the theater was not all that long and in no time we were seated close to the front where we had a great view of the movie screen. As the film began to roll, I was immediately transported back in time to circa 1940 and 1941 watching the people and events that lead to World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor. I was amazed at the footage of the actual bombing and the terrifying aftermath. The numbers of injured and killed during the event were staggering. Some 2,388 Americans died in the attack, 1,178 Americans were wounded and 21 American ships were sunk or damaged. It was a real shock to know that 1,177 Americans involved in the attack were serving on the USS Arizona which now lay at the bottom of the harbor with the bodies of all those that died aboard her still in entombed there. With these sobering images and thoughts in our minds, we boarded the shuttle to the USS Arizona Memorial after leaving the theater.

View of USS Arizona Berth at Pearl Harbor

USS Arizona Memorial site, sitting right over the submerged ship

Just before exiting the shuttle after the short ride to the Memorial, a US Park Service guide reminded us all that we would be entering "a church" and to treat the site with dignity and respect. Everyone on the shuttle, more than 50 people or so, heeded her words. You could hear a pin drop as we entered the facility. To say that I was moved beyond words is an understatement. The memory of looking out at the rusting hull of the once mighty war ship, knowing of the souls who still resided there under the waves is one that will remain with me forever.



Hull of the USS Arizona rising out of the water

The hull of the Arizona was so close under the water, I felt I could almost touch it with my fingers

The return trip from the Arizona Memorial was quiet, everyone seemed to be lost in their own thoughts. My husband and I stopped at the Visitor Center gift shop to buy some gifts to take home before heading back to our resort to begin packing for the trip home the next day. It had been a memorable day and a fine way to finish our trip to Hawaii. What can I say about my very first trip to Hawaii and the island of Oahu? The experience was more than I dreamed it could be. It was more than I could ask for and I will remember it always.

Next up, I make a return trip to the islands of Hawaii and learn more about Americas Islands of Paradise.

To be continued.......

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner & Travel Consultant
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 07:42 Comments (2)

A Visit to Hawaii III-Oahu in A Day

A Circle the Island Tour of Oahu

With only a few days remaining of our 7 day vacation in Hawaii, my husband and I booked a tour called "Circle the Island" tour of Oahu. Our tour guides, a married couple in a passenger van picked us up at the resort early in the morning. Greeting us both with a Hawaiian Lei necklace, Patricia or Pat as she had us call her, explained that we would be a small group of 10 taking the tour. Leaving the resort we headed toward downtown Honolulu and ran smack into the remains of rush hour traffic, backed up from an earlier car accident. Since arriving on the island, I had been completely appalled at the huge amount of traffic running in and out of Honolulu every day. While it would have been more convenient to stay downtown to be close to all the tourist sites, I was happy to return to the peace and tranquility of our resort after a long day of sightseeing.

Finally moving on with the tour after picking up the rest of our tour group downtown, we headed out of Honolulu up into the mountains. The scenery was beautiful, becoming more green and lush with every passing mile. Our first stop of the day was the Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, a favorite stop among visitors to Oahu. The panoramic views of the Windward side of the island from this lookout point really blew me away in more ways than one. Located at Nuuanu Pali State Park, the lookout overlooks the 985-foot cliffs of the Koolau Mountain Range. The first thing I notice upon exiting the van was that it was extremely windy. The trade winds blow through the valley between the high mountains on either side, forming a strong wind tunnel of sorts. I really had to lean into the wind to get to the viewing spot but the view was well worth it.



Leaving the Lookout, we headed down toward the windward side of the island that we viewed from above. Our tour guides provided fascinating commentary all along the way. Our next stop was a beautiful spot called the Byodo-In Temple. The Buddhist Temple located on the Windward side of Oahu is a replica of the Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Japan. It was simply stunning. There were koi ponds, gardens, a 3 ton brass bell, and a 9 foot lotus Buddha statue inside the temple. We got to walk along the gardens and enter the temple itself to take in the peace and serenity of the site.




Walking out of the Temple, I headed over to the gift shop where I purchased a miniature gong shaped like a Dragon. I keep it on my family room mantel where I can see it and remember this lovely place. Around noon we stopped for lunch at an unusual place. Our guides found a "shrimp truck" where we stopped to sit outside and eat some delicious shrimp scampi and rice. It was a fun eating experience as you can see at this website:

Giovanni's Shrimp Truck

I have to admit that I went back for seconds, the food was so good. My husband teased me about that the rest of the day. The next stop on our tour was Laniakea beach or Lani’s is also referred to as “Turtle beach” because this natural sanctuary attracts so many of the endangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle or “Honu”. Since the year 2000 the turtles have been basking on the beach enjoying the warm sun rays, and the abundance of seaweed growing on the rocks which they feed on. On the right hand side of the beach is a small cove in which the turtles make their way in to the shore thru the channel, the large numbers of boulders and coral reef act as a deterrent to the turtles predator, tiger sharks. We took a few minutes to enjoy the crashing waves of the ocean and the sleeping turtles on the beach before moving on.

Laniakea Beach

The most enjoyable part of the day was the time we spent at Kualoa and the 125-acre Moliʻi Fishpond, one of Hawaii’s most well preserved ancient Hawaiian fishponds. We enjoyed a guided tour of the gardens and learned how ancient Hawaiians developed aquaculture and agricultural practices. Kualoa has been a prime Hawaii film location for TV series and movies. Kualoa has served as the backdrop for the TV show LOST, the original Hawaii Five-0, Jurassic Park, Godzilla and Fifty First Dates movies. Here is a video of what you will see:

Kualoa Ranch Video

It just so happened that the day of this tour was also our Wedding Anniversary. So the guides had some fun with Reginald and me doing a game show where we won a prize. It was so much fun!

Reggie & Me at Kualoa Ranch

Our final stop of the day was the Dole Pineapple Plantation. We were all pretty tired by then so we just looked around a little, bought a few souvenirs and then headed back to the van. It was a beautiful place. Soon enough we were headed back to our respective hotels. It had been a long day, but a wonderful one. I did not see everything there was to see on the island of Oahu, but what I did see, I loved!


Next up, a tour of Pearl Harbor and a journey through one of the United States darkest times in history.

Too be Continued........

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner & Travel Consultant
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 10:02 Comments (0)

A Visit to Hawaii II-Honolulu & Waikiki Beach

Sightseeing on Waikiki Beach and Lunch at a Hawaiian Landmark

The world-famous Waikiki Beach is located on the south shore of Honolulu and was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Known in Hawaiian as "spouting waters," Waikiki was introduced to the world when its first hotel was built on its shores in 1901. Today, Waikiki is Oahu’s main hotel and resort area and an exciting gathering place for visitors from around the world. All along the main strip of Kalakaua Avenue one will find world-class shopping, dining, entertainment, activities and resorts. Reginald and I left the Ko Olina resort midmorning on a shuttle that dropped us off near the Royal Hawaiian Resort on Waikiki Beach. Built in 1927, the iconic Royal Hawaiian Resort, known as the "Pink Palace of the Pacific," is an exclusive destination known for luxury and romance with unbelievable panoramic views of Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach and the sparkling Pacific Ocean.

Waikiki Beach


The Royal Hawaiian Resort

Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki

Walking along the busy streets in Waikiki we craned our necks looking at all of the high rise resort hotels, shops and restaurants along the way. The weather was warm and sunny with a nice breeze off the ocean. We finally stopped at the Waikiki Beach Walk development to do a little shopping and more sightseeing before heading back to the Royal Hawaiian for lunch. Our waiter showed us to a nice covered table out on the patio of the hotel restaurant where we had an excellent view of the beach and the imposing sight of Diamond Head Volcano in the background.




Diamond Head is a crater that has been extinct for 150,000 years. The crater is 3,520 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit. When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, harbor defense became a primary responsibility, so one of the major defense forts, Fort Ruger, was built in the Diamond Head Crater. An observation deck was constructed at the summit in 1910 to provide target sighting and a four level underground complex was built within the walls of the crater as a command post. Today tourists often hike some 99 steps to the observation deck to take in the spectacular views of the entire west side of the island.

Knowing that the Royal Hawaiian would be our last stop of the day before catching the shuttle back to the Ko Olina Beach Club, my husband and I decided to indulge ourselves with some seriously large tropical cocktails and some appetizers. Taking the recommendations of our waiter, we ordered Garlic Shrimp and Garlic French Fries to go with our drinks (we really like garlic). Oh. My. God. Wonderful does not begin to describe our meal. The fresh perfectly cooked boiled shrimp and crispy shoestring fries were drizzled with melted butter and minced fresh garlic. It was to die for. We slowly sipped our drinks, ate our lunch and soaked up the astounding views of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. It as a fabulous afternoon spent watching the surfers in the ocean and the families enjoying themselves on the beach.



Arriving back at our resort later that evening, we relaxed in our villa and reflected on the lovely day we spent in Waikiki. Oahu so far had been a delight and we were excited about doing the “Circle the Island Tour” we would be taking next day.

Coming up, exploring the island of Oahu, more garlic shrimp, giant sea turtles and famous movie and television film sets. To be continued........

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner/Travel Consultant
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 08:24 Comments (0)

A Visit to Hawaii

The Island of Oahu, American History & Island Cultural Diversity

For most of my life, the state of Hawaii appeared to be a far away paradise filled with palm trees, sandy beaches and the home of Hawaii Five O and the Magnum PI television series. It was not until I studied World War II and the bombing of Pearl Harbor at Auburn University as a History Major that I realized what a huge part of America the Hawaii Islands really are. When my husband and I finally decided to take a resort vacation to that state, I did not hesitate to suggest our first trip be to the island of Oahu and the city of Honolulu, the location of Pearl Harbor.

The Hawaiian Islands are Americas 50th state and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It occupies most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of Australia. Hawaii has natural beauty, a warm tropical climate, inviting waters and active volcanoes. It is a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists. Because of its mid-Pacific location, Hawaii has many North American and Asian influences along with its own native culture. Hawaii has over a million permanent residents along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. Its capital is Honolulu on the island of Oahu.

Hawaii is one of four states that were independent prior to becoming part of the United States. The Kingdom of Hawaii was sovereign from 1810 until 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown by resident American and a few European businessmen. It was an independent republic from 1894 until 1898, when it was annexed by the United States as a territory, becoming a state in 1959. Hawaii was the target of a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan on December 7, 1941. The attack on Pearl Harbor and other military and naval installations on Oahu, carried out by aircraft and by midget submarines brought the United States into World War II.

Our 7 day vacation on Oahu began with an 8 hour flight from Atlanta to the city of Honolulu. After several months on a waiting list, I was fortunate to secure our accommodations at the beautiful Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club, about 20 minutes away from downtown Honolulu. My husband and I arrived at the resort late in the evening after the long flight and we were anxious to get to our villa unit. Walking through the door we were very pleasantly surprised at the accommodations. Comfortably furnished and beautifully decorated, the 1 bedroom villa was everything we could ask for and I knew we would not miss the absence of an ocean view. Too tired to fully unpack, we decided to call it a night and start fresh in the morning.

Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club

Villa Kitchen and Dining area

Villa Living room

Villa bedroom

The next day brought a clear warm sunny morning. The first order of business for me was buying groceries to eat during our stay. I had been warned that food on the island was pretty expensive because much of it had to be imported from the mainland. I made a quick trip to a nearby shopping mall on the resort shuttle and was completely taken aback by the grocery store prices. $10.00 for a pound of ground beef was a lot to take in and the prices for milk and cheese was just as off the charts. I would not be gaining weight on this vacation!

After breakfast I set about planning our itinerary for the week. I planned our activities around those of the resort, which included everything you can imagine as well as a Luau near the beach. My plans included a trip to downtown Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, a circle the island tour, and a visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial for our Wedding Anniversary near the end of the week on December 6th. This day, our first full day on the island was reserved for rest and relaxation beginning with a walk around the resort. The Ko Olina was a stunning property. We walked around familiarizing ourselves with the layout of the resort before finding a lounge chair near the beach to relax and look at the ocean.

Ko Olina pool area

Ko Olina beach area

Later that evening Reginald and I had a great time at the resort Luau. Sitting with other resort guests eating delicious island food as the sun went down was a fantastic experience. The entertainment was wonderful and the drinks flowed freely. Everyone enjoyed themselves late into the evening.
Our first day on this island paradise was just as I had hoped it would be and I was excited about visiting Honolulu the next day.

Ko Olina Luau

Luau Dancers

Coming up next, a visit to Waikiki Beach in Honolulu and a circle the island tour. To Be Continued.......

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 07:39 Comments (8)

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