Amanda’s Trip to Hawaii – Final Blog

Well I’m sad to say that it’s time to say goodbye to Waikiki.  I’ve had a great last few days here.

We went to the Chief’s Luau and it was great. The chief is really a chief and the luau is very traditional showing various dances from the various Polynesian countries.  We were picked up at our hotel and had a short 25min ride or so to where we needed to be.  Our host on the bus was very entertaining and kept us laughing while debriefing us about the night.  We arrived at Sea Life Park, where the luau takes place in a big outdoor area. They bring people in by wristband color as each represents a different package that people paid for.  They had some fun activities to do while waiting to eat such as, temporary henna tattoos, stick dance, hula dancing lesson, headbands woven out of palm leaves and spear throwing.  Then we got to eat, and when we were finished eating the luau began.  It was very intriguing and had lots of audience involvement.  Even called up all those celebrating special occasions and had a little something special for them all.  It was a great experience and would definitely recommend it to everyone. Just a heads up that we were picked up at 420pm, got into the luau area with the activities about 530 and was eating at 630pm. The luau started about 7pm and lasted at hour.  We were very hungry by the time we ate so would recommend preparing for a late supper.

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We took a short 5 min walk to Kings Village where there were a bunch of little shops.  Very cute and good prices.

The fireworks tonight were good but we were under the impression that they would be about 15mins long…they were 5mins.  They were at the Hilton Hawaiian Village hotel.  They are supposed start at 745 but was about 8pm. There were a lot of fireworks shot off all at once.  It was about a half hour walk back to our hotel.  The main street is very pretty to walk at night as they has torches and lights up everywhere for lighting.

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Our last day we started at the International Marketplace, then popped in at Duke’s Lane for last minute shopping as well as Kings Village which we found had better prices.

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Then we went to the zoo as it was only a 10min walk from my hotel.  It is a 40 acre zoo with a lot of birds and African animals.  We were there 2.5hrs or so and that included having lunch there.  The food is reasonably priced which was a nice surprise, around $8. Admission to the zoo was $14USD for an adult.

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Tips for travelers:

-Bring good walking shoes
-Make reservations for Duke’s restaurant ahead of time.
-Friday night fireworks at Hilton Village if you’re interested.  Their restaurant called Tropics was packed and a long line up, so prepare for that if you want to eat there.
-Book Friday night dinner cruise ahead of time as they stop to watch the fireworks too.
-There is no free WiFi at the Honolulu airport, but you can buy WiFi time.
-Most of the shops don’t open til 10am.
-If you want to surf, shop around for pricing if you have the chance as they do vary.
-The Chiefs Luau and Magic of Polynesia shows are great to see.

I really enjoyed my time in Waikiki, Oahu. I highly recommend visiting this lovely destination and I would love to help you with this fabulous vacation.

Thanks and Mahalo.

Amanda’s Trip to Hawaii – Blog 2

Aloha again from Waikiki, Oahu. Today was a great day as I got to do a tour around the island called “Grand Circle Island Tour.” We were picked up at our hotel and rode in a coach bus. We only had a couple of other pickups before we were on our way. The driver was our guide as well. He gave us a lot of interesting information about not only Oahu but all of Hawaii when we were driving between stops. He made jokes and was pretty entertaining.

Our first stop was Hanauma Bay which is a great place to snorkel. Lots of coral there. It was raining pretty hard when we were there so didn’t stay long. There is limited bus parking there so could only stay for 15 mins.

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Hanauma Bay

It looked like scuba divers go there as well as there was a group of them and separate booth for them. They also had a tram that brought them from the top down to the beach.

Saw lots of beaches where the pros come to surf and do other water sports.  Lots of golf courses here that are used for big championships. We stopped a macadamia nut store and I tried them for the first time! There were many assorted flavors and I think one of my favorites were the cinnamon covered macadamia nuts.

We went along the East Coast past many beaches, we stopped at a Buddhist Temple  and also went through the Dole plantation.  Who knew you could make such many things with pineapple?  The pineapple whipped ice cream was very yummy.

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A neat stop was at Kualoa Ranch where I found out lots of movies were filmed here like Jurassic Park, Karate Kid, and many others.

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Kuaola Ranch

There were a few other stops on this tour and I’d be happy to share about them sometime if you’re going to Oahu and think you’d be interested in this tour.

After we got back from our tour we walked 20mins from our hotel to the Hard Rock Cafe.  The food was delicious and our server was great. He was very efficient and attentive.  The guitar covered wall was the neatest thing to see. (Fourth pic)

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As I said there are a lot of shops and open air shopping centers.  We walked through some on the way back to the hotel.  Also stopped in a very nice park that was lit with torches.  You would miss it if you weren’t looking for it.

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The International Market Place has been closed for two years and has its grand opening on the 25th so want to check that out sometime before we leave.

You definitely need really good walking shoes when you come here. There is also a cute trolley and city bus to help you get around as well.

Stay tuned as my adventure continues. Luau, International Marketplace, fireworks, and maybe the zoo, still to come.

Mahalo.  😊

Amanda’s trip to Hawaii – Blog 1

Aloha from Honolulu, Oahu!

This is my first time here. It was a good taking the Westjet 5.5 hour direct flight from Vancouver.  I was greeted with an orchid Lei at the Honolulu airport.  It was about a 20min shuttle ride to my Waikiki hotel, the Pacific Beach hotel. I was surprised how very busy it is along this main strip in the hotel zone of Waikiki. Lots of shops everywhere you go and people happily doing a lot of shopping.  The beach is great with powdery sand and clear blue water. It was sunny with some clouds yesterday and today was cloudy. It is supposed to be 28 degrees everyday, and some days feel more humid than others.

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Beach

Eating at the world famous Duke’s restaurant was great and had some entertainment as well. There was a guy playing his guitar and singing while we were there.  They have daily entertainment with local talent.  With the meals there is usually an orchid flower on the plate. They say the flower is edible, but I didn’t eat it as it is a real orchid flower.🙂

Entertainment

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All of the beaches are public so there are no chairs for you. Some hotels loan out chairs and beach towels for you to use.  The Magic of Polynesia magic show was spectacular. The performance included illusions and other magic tricks, fire and knife dancing as well as Polynesian dances like Hula! There is an option to just watch the show at $59USD per person for an adult or you can eat dinner before the show as well for an additional cost.

It was interesting to be stopped by police today on the sidewalk as they were filming a scene for Hawaii Five-O.  They closed sidewalks and an intersection to shoot the clip. Apparently this is a regular occurrence around Honolulu and Waikiki. It didn’t take very long and was a surprise as we don’t have that happen at home.
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I’m going to be taking the Grand Circle Island tour tomorrow.  Check back again soon to hear more about my wonderful adventures here in Waikiki.  Mahalo.🙂

Colleen’s Newfoundland Dream – Final Blog

We have come to Gros Morne to do some hiking and they have a lot of trails.  They have a listing of over 20 hikes from beginner to difficult.  The trails here are very well marked and we have no trouble finding any of the hikes we want to take.  One of the best hikes we took was the Coastal Trail that was 6 km return.  It takes you through forest, along the ocean and through some great wild strawberry fields.  Like most days it rains but it is nice to walk when it is a bit cooler.  This hike is a little more flat and would be good for anyone.  So we spend our days hiking or visiting some of the other areas around Rocky Harbour.  We go into a few very quaint towns, Norris Point, Woody Point and to the Tablelands.  I would recommend that you stay in Rocky Harbour as it is central for everything you would want to do.  There are some great restaurants in Rocky Harbour and we do our best to try them all.  The great thing about these restaurants is that the food is all home made.  When we were at one restaurant we asked how they did their pork chops and were told “Like my Mom used to make them” and that just about sums it up.  The food may take a little longer to get but it is great.

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Rocky Harbour Coastal Trail

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Rocky Harbour Coastal Trail

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Norris Point – Cat Stop Pub

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Trout River

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Trout River

 

We head out today for St. Anthony which is on the northern most tip of Newfoundland.  We are going to see L’Anse aux Meadows which is a UNESCO heritage site and it the home of the first inhabitants of NFLD, the Vikings.  It takes us about 4.5 hours to get there from Rocky Harbour and we head right to the site.  We walk around the exhibits and take in the short film before we head down to the site.  It is about a 10 minute walk to the site.  It is in two parts.  They have actually rebuilt three halls and five smaller buildings where the Vikings lived and worked.  The also have Viking re-enactors at the site.  Visit with merchant-adventurer Bjorn and his wife Thora, the blacksmith Ragnar and other members of the crew.  It is great fun as they tell you about life in their village and answer any of your questions.  They also have reproduction artifacts that you can try.  There was also the opportunity to dress up as a Viking.  We didn’t do this but many other did.  There are also still the traces of homes that would have been there.  Once we have been through the site we decide to do the Birchy Nuddick Trail that takes you along the coast and then back to the main building.  It has been a great experience and we are so glad that we made the trip.

We head back to St. Anthony’s to check in to our hotel the Grenfell Heritage Hotel.  This is an older hotel but in great shape.  We get a room with one bed and full kitchen.  This hotel sits on the ocean so depending what room you get, you would have an ocean view.  When we check in at the counter we are told that the last iceberg of the season is here so we decide to take a tour to see it.  We are directed to across the street to the Northland Discovery Boat Tour.  This is probably the best boat tour we have taken to date.  The young guy who works on the boat starts talking the minute we leave the dock and talks about NFLD and what we can expect to see.  We are out on the water probably 5 minutes when the captain puts the boat in reverse so we don’t run over a whale that is right out front to the boat.  We see humpback whales and a group of about 16 dolphins following the whales.  Not sure what to look at so decide to watch the dolphins are they look so graceful when they travel together.  It takes about 20 mins to get to the iceberg and it is massive.  About 4 stories high and we are told that it is melting quickly.  We stay there about 20 minutes as they drive around the iceberg and talk about where it came from and how long it is expected to last.  They usually don’t get icebergs this late in the season so we are lucky to see one.  There are pieces of iceberg floating around and our guide put in his net and brings a bergie bit on the boat for us all to try.  It’s hard to believe that this ice is thousands of years old and that we have the opportunity to try it.  We head back in and are surprised by more whales.  It has been a great tour and I will probably not see another iceberg in my life time.  Quite the experience.

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St Anthony Iceberg Bergie Bit

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St Anthony Grenfell Hotel Lobby

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St Anthony Viking Village

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St Anthony Viking Village

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St Anthony Viking Village

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St Anthony Iceberg

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St Anthony Iceberg

 

 

We are headed home today but I can say that this is one of the Top 10 trips that we have taken and we will definitely return to Newfoundland.  We have gone from coast to coast and to the top of Newfoundland.  I would just like to leave you with a few tips.

  • Make a reservation. We saw so many people who couldn’t find a hotel room.
  • Make your car rental reservations early. It is a small island and not many cars.
  • Take a rain jacket. We used our jackets a lot.  The weather does not get very warm so it’s nice to have a jacket.  Use the layer method.
  • Get Screeched In and become an honorary Newfoundlander!
  • Stay for the music. Music is everywhere in Newfoundland.

If you are thinking that Europe may not be for you this year then consider Newfoundland.  All prices are in Canadian dollars and you can use your debit card.  It is a beautiful island and the people are its strongest selling feature.  We will be back.

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Colleen’s Newfoundland Dream – Blog 6

We wanted to come to Gros Morne to do some hiking and to go up to L’Anse Meadow later in the week.

We start the day with a tour to Western Brook Pond.  There is about a 30 minute walk to get to the dock but the hike is worth it.  It goes through some beautiful country and it is our first experience with bogs.  You sure wouldn’t want to step in there.  We arrive at the dock to find a large building that houses a ticket office, shop and restaurant.  We are the first tour so we get right on.  Western Brook Pond is a freshwater lake that goes through some fjords.  The scenery here is beautiful and the tour takes about 2 hours.  We arrive back to hotdogs on the BBQ.  We head back home for a rest before the Anchors Aweigh show at the Ocean View Hotel.  This hotel is right on the main strip and if you get a room out front, you have an ocean view.  We are told to get to the hotel about 6:00pm as the show is very popular and people come early to get the best seats.  We had booked the show from home and were glad we did as the show is sold out.  When we get there at 6:00pm there is not much seating left and we are glad to get a table for all 6 of us.  This show is not to be missed.  They are 5 guys from Rocky Harbour that can sure play a good East Coast tune.  They sing, tell stories about NFLD and jokes.  We were thoroughly entertained.

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Rocky Harbour Western Brook Pond

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Rocky Harbour Western Brook Pond

COLLEEN’S NEWFOUNDLAND DREAM – Blog 5

We have done George Street in St. Johns and the whale tour so now it is time to continue our journey in Newfoundland.  In order to truly appreciate Newfoundland, you have to head out of St. Johns.  We are on our way to Rocky Harbour in Gros Morne National Park and make an overnight in Twillingate.   Please keep in mind driving times as once you are off the main highway, the other roads are windy and you can only go 80Kms per hour so it takes a while to get anywhere.    We stay at the Anchor Inn hotel in a 2 bedroom suite with kitchen.  It is a great town with lots of small shops for your NFLD souvenirs and some great restaurants.  We decide to do the whale watching tour in the morning but only see a couple of minke whales.  After the tour we head off to the AUK Island winery where all their wines are made with the local berries.  They have over 10 different kinds of wines and they are not too bad.  I would recommend a stop here is you are interested in wines.

We are off to Deer Lake to pick up my sister who is coming for the second week.  With road construction we are a bit late and arrive in Rocky Harbour around 7:00pm.  What can I say; Rocky Harbour is like one of the small towns you see in the movies.  It is on the ocean and in a really pretty area.  We are staying at the Spruce Grove Cottages in a 3 bedroom suite.  The owner Nellie has everything prepared and we move right into the cabin.  I can say that I was a little worried as I was thinking of some cabins that I have stayed in the past but happy to say that it had 3 large rooms with a large bathroom and no carpets!

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Twillingate Lighthouse

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Anchor Inn – Twillingate

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Rocky Harbour Sunset

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Rocky Harbour Spruce Grove Cottages

 

COLLEEN’S NEWFOUNDLAND DREAM

Today Jorgen and I decided to take the Iceberg Quest Ocean Tour to see if we can see the whales a little closer up. We take the 9:30 tour but it is cold and rainy so we think we will just stay inside the cabin.  I always like to take a boat tour when we are in new cities as you see the city from a much different perspective from the water.  We go past the Battery and on the way I see the Signal Hill trail and it is pretty much straight up so it may be something to rethink.

We are soon off the coast and run into a pod of whales feeding.  The captain turns off the engines and the whales come very close to the boat. We now have to leave the cabin and get out on deck so we get wet pretty quickly but it is worth it. It’s great to see the whales up close but with the engines off the boat is riding in the waves so I have one hand on the railing and one hand on my phone but miss all the best pictures as I don’t have an extra hand to take the pictures.

I finally get a few shots off and the whales head off out to sea and we head back to the harbor.  The tour was about 2 hours and worth the $65.00 it cost to do the tour.  If St. Johns is your only stop then I would recommend you take this tour.

This afternoon we are off to Quidi Vidi which is a small town just out of St. Johns to take a tour at the brewery.  The brewery opened up in 1996 and produces beer for NFLD.  We sign up for the beer tasting and head outside to wait for our tour to start.  There is not much in Quidi Vidi but the brewery, a local artisans market and Mallards Cottage which is a very popular restaurant where reservations are a must.  It is Monday so the market and the restaurant are closed so we have a quick look around and head back to the brewery.  The brewery is located in a very scenic spot on an inlet.  We pay our $10.00 for the tasting and head up to the room at the top of the brewery for our tasting.  Our taster was Sue from St. Johns who not only told us about the different beers but a lot of history of St. Johns.  In the end we tasted 7 different beers and spent about $100.00 on beer and beer glasses.  If you like beer you will love this tour.

 

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