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Today was an early start as we had to meet the tour bus at 7:30 for the Hidden Gems Tour of Oahu. We were up in time to see the sunrise, but being on the west side of the island with a mountain range in between, it was a little hard to see.  And the cloud cover wasn’t helping much, either.  Once the van was full our driver, Mikos (the short version of his name. He is named for 7 generations of grandfathers, so his given name is very long!) pulled over and had us introduce ourselves. Quite an international group in our tour – Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Brazil, Egypt, Alaska, Slovakia, California, and of course, Arizona and Georgia. It made for very interesting conversation throughout the day, but I have to say the youngest two Californians did not make the best impression. They did provide us with plenty of “entertainment” throughout the day, though. Our driver was very patient and kind…I’m sure he has seen it all! The driver’s wife and 2 year old grandson were also along for the ride. 

We drove around the south end of the island, past Hanauma Bay with our first official stop at Blow Hole and Eternity Beach.  (So named because scenes in the movie From Here to Eternity were filmed here.)  Unfortunately it was low tide, so we weren’t able to see it “blow.”

An ancient altar to a Hawaiian god on the way to Halona Blowhole.

From there we went to Makapu’u and Rabbit Island, Waimanalo Bay, through part of Kailua and on a small portion of the Pali Highway to He’eia Park where we could see Gilligan’s Island.

Gilligan’s Island was filmed on the small island on the left.

When the tide is high, the waves carry fish over the sea wall. Holes in the wall allow the smaller fish to return to the sea when the tide goes out. The medium and large fish are then caught by local fishermen.

A quick stop at the Macadamia Nut Outlet for samples of macadamia nuts and coffee, stretching our legs and picking up some gift items, and we were back underway to Kualoa , Ka’a’awa, Hau’ula, and on into Kahuku for lunch at Funi’s Kahuku Shrimp.

Hala, or pandanus trees.

Mokoli’i Island, otherwise known as Chinaman’s Hat

One of two houses built with coral. It is illegal to use coral as a building product now.

The “back” side of Crouching Lion in Ka’a’awa.

Hukilau Cafe – part of the movie 50 First Dates was filmed here.

Hawaii is seeking alternative forms of energy, including wind energy. We passed 2 areas of windmills today.

After lunch you need dessert, right? And why not a Hawaiian fried banana and fresh fruit? The fried bananas were scrumptious, and the fruit will be dessert after dinner tonight.

Fresh coconuts…juice, anyone?

After filling our bellies, we began the drive south with stops at Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay Beach, and on into Hale’iwa Beach to swim with the Honu – Hawaiian sea turtles.

I purchased a waterproof case for my phone on Sunday just for the turtle swim.  With the weather today, the water was just a bit murky.  Between the murky water and my mask continually fogging up, I really wasn’t sure what I was taking pictures of…but somehow managed to capture a photo of a turtle!

Murky water today due to cloud cover

I managed to get a photo of a honu underwater!

We were lucky to have a turtle come very close to shore (the waves kept washing it up, and he didn’t seem in much of a hurry to leave), so I was able to get some better pictures.  Such an incredible experience!

After all the excitement of seeing the honus, we dried off and boarded the bus.  A stop at the Dole Pineapple Factory for those who were still hungry and wanted a pineapple whip (we both passed but wandered around the gift shop), then it was on to the final bit of our journey, down the west coast and back to Waikiki.  We dropped one couple off in downtown Honolulu just near the Aloha Tower, once the tallest structure in Honolulu. 

Pineapple field

 Hawaiian free range rooster

A short walk back to the hotel from our drop off spot, and in time to catch the final moments of tonight’s sunset. Tomorrow is a “down” day with nothing major planned. A welcome break after the long day today.