Subject: Re: Hawaii

Hawaii is a wonderful place for independent activities & vacations, with something for almost every taste & interest.

On the Big Island, renting a sea kayak near City of Refuge (small rental shops will help you tie it to the top of your rental car) to fiddle around near the King Kamehameha monument will make a wonderful day's outing. You can snorkle from your kayak & I'd rate it a good solid 7 on a scale of 10 (remembering that Great Barrier Reef is my fave 10+ dive location). Go early in the morning or the later in the day to avoid a couple of the day-trip boats that will dump 50 snorkelers in the water, tho!

Also on the Big Island, horseback riding & hiking down into the Waipieo Valley is a great, vigorous day's work. The valley is lovely, isolated & well worth the effort.

The Botantical Garden on the rainy side of the Big Island just north of Hilo is a fine spot for a leisurely nature walk, especially for rainforest lovers & avid gardeners. It can be wet, rainforest as it is, & often a volunteer sits at the top of the path down to the ocean with bug spray for you. The mozzies are pretty active. And big.

On Kauai, hiking in the Waimea Canyon is challenging & worth the spectacular views, while the north shore near Princeville offers awesome cliffs & rainforest walks. The views on this side of the island are familiar to us all, having been used as location shots for lots of movies.

Much more popular than these other activities is the sunrise ride down the volcano on Maui. Outfitters will haul you & a bunch of pushbikes up the the top of the volcano where you'll be bowled over by the glorious sunrise, then you hop a bike & coast all the way down the volcano. It's very cold, so if this appeals, be prepared with polar fleece & a windcheater!

Also very popular on Maui is a drive toward Hana (you're not supposed to take rental cars on this road, so naturally everyone does) & a stop to walk up to the Seven Sacred Pools, a series of waterfalls cascading thru the sub-tropical forest over basalt cliffs. Bathing in the pools is one of those things people think they really must do, but the water's cold & too much human immersion is certainly adding to pollution of this lovely stream.

On Molokai, where the Hawaiian cowboys reigned as kings for many years, horseback riding is a great experience. The island is small & has suffered economically with the closing of the pineapple plantations, but for the right visitor it's a magical place. There are some old fish lagoons on the leeward side where ancient Hawaiian royalty farmed fish & some nice walks with views of the ponds & ocean beyond the ponds.

Because Hawaii is so close for those of us on the left coast, & therefore very familiar, it's easy to forget how much those lovely islands offer the independent traveler. And I haven't even gotten to the diving & snorkeling, let alone surfing & boogie-boarding! I always figure when I'm old & creaky I'll have time to explore this gentle paradise in more depth. It seems more challenging destinations call me at present.

Gail In Eugene but never for long