Hawaii – Gotta Love it – 50th – to first in the heart!

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Are you visiting Hawaii soon? Or have you been there once or multiple times? No matter what parts you see, you’ll likely say, “Hawaii – Gotta Love it!” There are so many websites and blogs about Hawaii. I’m not planning to write an epic post about what to see and where to go. It’s been done hundreds of times. This post covers my adventures and what I like. I hope others can decide they would like some of the same things! Or not… I do have more pictures here than I typically include. (However, I do mention that it’s my 50th state on the “second time around,” visiting every state.) Here’s a link to my post about visiting all 50!

Hawaii - Gotta Love it
Volcano at night

Of course, this is a night picture of the volcano that erupted in November. Some days you’ll see flames coming out of the caldera. On other days, it looks like this. (That’s the name for the active crater in a volcano.) (By the way, I’m not trying to be condescending – that means talking down to you!!)

Hawaii TOC

Hawaiian visit to touch all 50!

Those who know me likely realize I’m not a “beach guy,” but I love to explore. Accordingly, during my ten days in the state, I visited two islands (Oahu & Hawaii – better known as “The Big Island.”) Most important, my two foremost goals included the Pearl Harbor – USS Arizona Memorial and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I spent two full days (three nights) on Oahu and seven days (six nights) on The Big Island. With this in mind, this website, The Hawaii Vacation Guide, became a great helper to me. Of course, I purchased the “Big Island Wayfinder Itinerary” from them.

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Jordan and Erica proved tremendous in helping travelers with their wandering. Obviously, I purchased the guide, including a video guide and an itinerary for six days on the island. While I didn’t completely use their itinerary, it proved to be more than worth the small price I paid for it! (You may already see my “mantra” for this post! – Hawaii – Gotta…) By the way, did I mention Hawaii is my 50th state to visit on my second time visiting all 50!??!

Tour guides provided a little-known fact; Hawaii consumes more Spam per capita than any other state! In fact, they make jokes about it!

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Honolulu, Hawaii – Gotta Love it for a visit

USS Arizona and Pearl Harbor

I’m sure most of you have seen the top left picture already. It’s the USS Arizona Memorial. After taking direct hits, the battleship sunk. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, many ships were sunk. However, some of them were raised and repaired or used for parts. Most importantly, this ship remains a naval cemetery for 1102 crew members.

The top picture on the right shows the memorial wall of all the sailors who died on that fateful day. Consequently, I almost decided that taking a picture might seem non-respectful. However, I believe this kind of memorial should be shown to the world. I saw visitors (me included) who stood for a moment with hand over heart as a silent tribute to these men.

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The image on the bottom right illustrates the huge guns on the USS Missouri (and other battleships.) Specifically, these guns measured 16 inches in diameter and fired a projectile up to 23 miles! Furthermore, most battleships carried nine of these guns. In addition, the USS Missouri carried 20 five-inch guns, 80 40mm anti-aircraft guns, and 49 20mm anti-aircraft guns.

The bottom left picture, on the deck of the USS Missouri, shows the location of the table used to sign Japan’s terms of surrender. There are other pictures of the signing ceremony and the people involved. The Allies did their best to show respect to the Japanese as their culture greatly emphasizes saving face in any situation. That was difficult, of course, after a bitterly fought war.

Pearl Harbor tour, including areas of Honolulu

I purchased a tour for this trip. All in all, I recommend taking this approach. Although the cost came to about $250, it proved well worth the money. First, we had a great bus driver/tour guide. Of course, he grew up in Honolulu, so he knew the city extremely well. However, he kept his running commentary upbeat and interesting. But, returning to my first point, buying a tour gets you by all the other lines you may have to stand in if you just show up! Although I would have liked to have him stay with us the entire time, he passed us on to the National Park guides and the experts at the USS Arizona and the USS Missouri.

The tour guide at the USS Arizona made only a few comments. He set the contemplative mood of the memorial. Although we only had 20 minutes there, it seemed like enough. Another interesting fact about the memorial: oil leaks from the sunken ship occasionally rise to the surface. Although workers siphoned most of the oil out of all the known places, it still comes up over 80 years later. Over time, it’s become referred to as sailor’s tears.

The USS Missouri floats near the USS Arizona memorial to symbolize the beginning and the end of the Pacific War.

After Pearl Harbor

Following our tours of the sunken ship and the USS Missouri, our tour guide gave us time to explore the museum and the other exhibits around the area. Then, we visited a National Cemetary and the downtown area. He pointed out where some well-known Hawaii natives went to high school! For example, Bruno Mars, the singer. He also mentioned Hawaii 5-0 many times while touring after Pearl Harbor. Another key point is that he and other tour guides mentioned that Jack Lord from the original 5-0 series lived in Hawaii and moved around Honolulu and the state like a “regular person,” greeting people and generally being a good neighbor!

I’ve included a few additional pictures in the next section of areas we saw on this tour. (I saw them twice!) But, I have to say it again “Hawaii – Gotta Love it!” after I’ve gotten beyond the serious part above! Emphatically, Hawaii remains a great place to visit. With its tropical climate, I’m too “midwestern” to want to live here!

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Touring Waikiki Beach and Honolulu –

The top left picture is Waikiki Beach at sunset. Of course, I think it looks good, especially considering I took it with my Samsung phone! Yes, the beach is that crowded all the time! (It’s a good thing I’m not a “beach person.”) The top right picture is Hawaii’s Royal Palace, built by the royal family when Hawaii remained a kingdom. The last queen, Lili’uokalani, a descendent of King Kamehameha, gave up the throne when business interests on the island pressured her to agree to annexation by the US. (I’m not going to get into the politics of that.)

The second row contains images from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. It’s located in an extinct volcano crater called “Punchbowl Crater.” So, it’s often called Punchbowl Cemetery. The left image contains grave markers and Plumeria trees. The cemetery honors those who died in the services of their country. Interestingly, the statue is named Lady Columbia, and often called Lady Liberty, as is the Statue of Liberty in the New York harbor. Also, this statue appears in the opening scenes of Hawaii 5-0. I believe the Royal Palace appears as well.

By the way, we are coming up on the last rows of the pictures above! (Just letting you know!)

The third row of pictures shows the Hawaiian beach beyond Waikiki. Of course, views like this continue for miles as much of Oahu is surrounded by these beaches. Maybe I should have rented a car and driven around the island! (By the way, did you know that Oahu is an island?!?!) Interestingly, Hawaii is the only state with no straight borders anyway within it!)

The last row shows banyan trees and the trolley service that takes visitors around Honolulu. Undoubtedly, the banyan trees are cool! Another tour guide told us that the largest tree covered about an acre of land with the way they spread out roots and grow new trees from the roots. Undeniably, a large “tree clump!”

By the way, did I mention that Hawaii is my 50th state to visit on my second visit to all 50?

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Big Island – Or Hawaii – Gotta love it! (The Island and the state!)

Circle Tour of the Big Island – Hawaii – Gotta Love it

Top row on Circle Tour of Hawaii – Gotta Love it!

Day 1 on The Big Island included a tour around the island. Indeed, I mean “around the island,” as our tour guide “had” us for 12 hours driving around the Hawaii Belt Road. While they tell you, “we’ll pick you up at your hotel,” I stayed in a great Airbnb, so I had to drive for 20 minutes to my pickup spot. Since the tour limited participants to 12 on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, we rode comfortably. First, we drove south out of Kona to near the island’s south end.

The top picture on the left shows a tree (sorry, I forgot the name) that grows well in lava rock and provides the root structure and power to break up lava into rich soil. Significantly, some trees grow right in the nutrient-rich lava rock, but the landowners must drill into the rock to plant them! But the right picture shows another tree, and I don’t remember the name of that one either! Both are on a coffee plantation near Kona. Interestingly, some consider Kona coffee the best in the world! However, several flavors naturally occur depending on the elevation and seasonal weather.

Since Hawaii came about due to volcanic action, The Big Island has mountains that reach over 13,000 feet above sea level. And this is on an island about the size of Rhode Island!

The middle row of the Circle Tour

Around the southeastern part of the Island, you’ll find the black sand beach. But you’ll also find giant tortoises! Please don’t disturb them! However, they aren’t dangerous. But they are large! On the right side, you’ll see pictures of the black sand. Interestingly, that was all lava rock at one time. Trees, vegetation, wave action, etc., grind it into fine sand! However, you will find green sand as well. However, it’s difficult to reach the location. If you have an all-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance, great! Otherwise, people in the area will take you there for a “small fee!”

The bottom row of Circle Tour of Hawaii – Gotta love it too!

The bottom left shows a closeup of lava rock at the end of the small inlet by the black sand beach. Imagine what nature did to break that into the sand. On the bottom right, you’ll find a beach view of the northern side of the ocean. Daylight fades away as we move on from there. The tour guide remarked about the clear day and no rain. On the east side, on average, Hilo receives about 120 inches of rain annually.

While there are taller waterfalls in Hawaii, the one in the bottom picture seemed the most beautiful of the ones I saw!

The Big Island’s Southern-most point

The top left picture shows a ranch homestead near the southernmost point of the Big Island. Of course, I know it looks like the western US(!). On the top right, you’ll see a few cows. I’ll bet you didn’t think Hawaii had cattle!

But the bottom picture shows the southernmost point on the Big Island, which is the southernmost point in Hawaii and the southernmost point in the United States! This point lies at 18.9136 degrees of latitude. That’s about 1300 miles north of the equator. I have also visited the southernmost point in the “Lower 48”. And I hope to visit the northernmost point in the Lower 48 this summer. (That’s in Minnesota!)

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Just a few quick thoughts. At any rate, I spent some time one day wandering around near the beach in Kona. After visiting places along this road of bars, hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. I had dinner at the place shown in the first picture.

Also, the pasta dinner contained lobster, scallops, and shrimp! Finally, the server told me he personally caught all the seafood right out in the bay before coming to work!

Did I mention that Hawaii is my 50th state to visit on my second time visiting all 50 states?

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Mt. Mauna Kea & Observatory

Also, after the Circle Tour, I took another tour to the Observatory on top of Mauna Kea. Because we climbed to 13,800+ feet above sea level, we saw snow and cold. But the temperature reached 38 degrees F! However, strong wind, and I believe they said the wind chill was in the teens.

Presently, inside observatory tours are closed to the public. However, the tour buses go up for the view from the top. Also, we went up to view the sunset in the picture on the left top row. Because the picture on the left in the second row depicts a shrine to a Hawaiian god, visitors aren’t allowed to climb there without permission. But, at nearly 14,000 feet, we really didn’t want to do that climb!

Of course, more lava fields. Although Mauna Kea hasn’t erupted in 4,500 years, it’s still considered an active volcano, as conditions inside the mountain can still cause an eruption.

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Hawaii – Gotta Love it

The top two pictures and the left of the second row show the volcano. However, the second row left shows the same view as the top right. On the other hand, this one shows a night view! But I noticed a post from another blogger who visited about ten days after I did that showed fire in the crater!

The second row on the right and the two on the third row show petroglyphs in the park. Significantly, scientists believe these are 500 to 550 years old. (However, it’s a 1.4-mile roundtrip hike from the road. While it’s relatively flat, the terrain is very uneven, so watch your step and try not to move too quickly.)

The fourth row shows lava formations and a fissure in the earth that may run 100s of feet deep or 25!

Here’s a link to a post by a blogger I met at a conference. Park Ranger John. Or, if you want to see a video of the sunset from the top of Mauna Kea, click or tap on this link.

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Big Island Northwestern corner

King Kamehameha

The top left photo shows the earliest statue of King Kamehameha. Previously, to the mid-1790s, Hawaii’s ruling fell to local rulers, typically several on each island. By the mid-1790s, King Kamehameha conquered first the island of Hawaii and then the other islands. Then he became king of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Following his death in 1819, his descendants ruled Hawaii until 1895.

Another key point, Kamehameha stood over 7 feet tall and weighed over 300 pounds. According to legend, his mother had a vision at his birth that his rulership would expand to all of the Hawaiian Islands during his lifetime.

According to history, the islands received the very first humans in about 500 AD. As the story goes, they came initially from Tahiti and then Tongo, followed by Samoans to populate and take over the island. Currently, there are only about 5,000 full-blooded Hawaiians. Also, they are large people. In Hawaii, “big is beautiful!” But Pacific Islanders (Samoans, Tihitians, etc.) are all typically large people.) Again, Hawaii – Gotta Love it!


While the Big Island (I bet you didn’t know this) raises a lot of beef cattle, they decided to bring in some “cowboys” to help. So, in the 1820s, Kamehameha brought in vaqueros, whom they called Espanoles, from Spanish California. Since they only spoke Spanish, the Hawaiians didn’t understand them. Then, they had to learn each other’s language. Also, the Hawaiians don’t have an “S” in their alphabet, so they called the Paniolos!

The second picture in the top row depicts a “typical” Paniolo. The third picture shows a giant boot as a tribute to the Paniolos. These two are in the city of Waimea, which is a “cowboy town.”. There are even a few stop signs that say “Whoa” instead of “Stop!” (I couldn’t find a stop sign that says “Whoa!”)


The bottom row shows my Airbnb place, with the first a front view. On the left side are two Airbnb units. The second picture shows the “partial ocean view” advertised!” As can be seen, the picture includes the screen of the lanai. Of course, that’s the only way I could show it!

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Click or tap on the map for Interactive Vie

I don’t believe this needs much explanation. You’ll find an interactive map when you click or tap on the image. Before looking too closely, click or tap the plus sign in the lower right to zoom in. Also, feel free to click on the map and add a destination or attraction if you wish. You will see information about that place if you click on an icon.

If you have any questions, please contact me. (Like: “Why do you say Hawaii – Gotta Love it!” so often!)

Hawaiian Climate on The Big Island

The Big Island is one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet. The island consisted of four of the five major climate zones as defined by the Koppen classification system and 8 of the 13 sub-zones! The eight sub-zones include 1. Humid Tropical – continuously wet, 2. Humid Tropical – Monsoon and Dry, 3. Dry – Arid, 4. Dry – Semi-Arid, Dry – 5. Both Arid and Semi-Arid by season, 6. Temperature Climate – Summer Dry, 7. Temperature Climate – Continuously Wet, 8. Polar Climate – Polar Tundra.

On the east side, Hilo averages about 120 inches of rain a year. Meanwhile, Kona, on the west side, averages about 10 inches of rain in a year! A few locations within the tropical rainforests receive up to 400 inches of rain in a year!

As I have noted, Hawaii – Gotta Love It!

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Classic Rock Recollection

“Blue Hawaii” by Elvis Presley

Night and you
And blue Hawaii
The night is heavenly
And you are heaven to me

Lovely you
And blue Hawaii
With all this loveliness
There should be love

Written by: Leo Robin & Ralph Rainger

#hawaiigottaloveit #Drivebytouristbigisland #bigislandcowboys #bigislandbeach