Tag Archive | #holidayinhawaii

Mystery on Maui

Holiday in Hawaii #6

Garden Photography Challenge February: Monochrome

The gardens of Maui are lush. Every possible shade of green complements the brightly coloured tropical flowers. It’s joyful to behold.

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In her February Garden Challenge, Jude asks for monochrome images, so they accentuate shape rather than colour. Tall coconut palms are spiky and angular.

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The canopy and roots of the banyan tree spread to fill vast spaces.

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This single thorny stem reaches out over the cliff top on Maui’s southern coast.

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Can anyone identify this mystery plant?

Garden Photography Challenge

Watching Whales

Holiday in Hawaii #5

After migrating more than 4800 kilometres from the Gulf of Alaska at the end of each year,  thousands of humpback whales bask in the warm waters of the Hawaiian Islands. Every morning, from our eighth floor balcony, we saw whales passing by. With coffee in one hand and binoculars in the other we scanned the ocean looking for blows. Sometimes the binoculars weren’t even necessary.

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These tantalising glimpses of whales left us wanting more, so we joined an early morning whale watching tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation. The rising sun gilded the West Maui mountains as the catamaran Ocean Spirit glided effortlessly out of Lahaina’s sheltered boat harbour into Auau Channel.

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Once in open water, we gathered along the railing, searching for signs that whales were about – the first blow was greeted with excited cries.

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Expert commentary from our guide told us where to look and how long to wait before the whales were likely to surface again. Even though our group was large, there wasn’t a sound as we waited in anticipation. A pod of whales, at least three and sometimes up to five, rewarded our patience with their playful tail slapping and head rises.

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We didn’t just see whales. When an underwater microphone was lowered into the depths, we heard their haunting whale song.

What were they calling to each other? Probably courtship songs, but I’d like to think the whales were as fascinated by us as we were by them.

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Justin Beaver and Marsha Lee came whale watching with us.

A Walk Along Front Street

Holiday in Hawaii #3

The little town of Lahaina on Maui’s west coast might be visited by two million tourists every year but it doesn’t have a touristy feel. The stores along Front Street, named one of the Top Ten Greatest Streets by the American Planning Association, have retained their quaint facades dating back to the 1820s. Instead of souvenir shops, the street is lined with galleries full of beautiful artworks and crafts by local artists, photographers and jewelers. There are also several historic sites which confirm Lahaina’s designation as a Registered National Historic Landmark.

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A walk through Lahaina’s historic area begins at the Pioneer Inn, built in 1901 in plantation style. The inn sits on the waterfront overlooking the harbour; where the whaling fleet once docked, there are now fishing boats and tourist cruisers.

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Over the road is a huge Banyan tree – the largest in Hawaii, planted in 1823. With its clumps of aerial roots and enormous spreading canopy the tree takes up a whole block and, at any time of the day, it provides shady respite from the sun. Craft markets selling everything from paintings to perfumes often take place under its leafy branches.

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In front of the the Banyan tree is the Old Lahaina Courthouse, built in 1859. The building has served many purposes in the past, including customs house, post office and government offices. Today the Visitor Centre and Arts Society Gallery are downstairs while above is the Lahaina Heritage Museum. The exhibit “Always Lahaina” gives a fascinating introduction to the history of Maui and its people.

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Lahaina was the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1820 to 1848 and next door to the Courthouse are the reconstructed ruins of the fort. Originally built in 1832 to protect the town and royal homes, the fort was demolished in 1850 and the coral stones re-used to build a prison. This replica was built on the location of one corner of the fort in 1960 as part of a film set. Three cannon, salvaged from a Russian warship in 1816, belonged to a longer line of artillery protecting the beachfront.

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There are more small museums on Front Street. Upstairs in the Wharf Cinema Centre is the Plantation Museum. The small room is filled with photographs, artifacts and personal recollections about the sugar cane and pineapple plantations which once dominated the landscape of West Maui.

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Further along Front Street are the Baldwin House, built in as a home for missionary families in 1834, and Wo Hing Museum, dedicated to the Chinese population of Lahaina. In the garden is the Cookhouse Theatre. Where members of the Wo Hing Society once prepared meals in the community kitchen, old black and white films now play. Made by Thomas Edison between 1898 and 1906, the films depict Hawaiian life at the turn of the century.

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Finish your exploration of Front Street with a visit to Ono Gelato – indulgent helpings of chocolate, macadamia and coconut ice cream  are best enjoyed on the deck at the back of the cafe, overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean. It’s the touristy thing to do.

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Winter Blooms on Maui

Holiday in Hawaii#1

It might be winter in Hawaii between November and April, but the beautiful flowers blooming in Maui’s gardens seem not to notice. With an average daytime temperature of 25 degrees Celsius and good winter rainfalls, the brilliantly coloured tropical plants flourish.

Some hibiscus flowers are almost as large as dinner plates,

but bougainvillea hide their tiny white blossoms amidst the new growth of colourful leaf bracts.

Garden beds overflow with delicate exotic flowers,

and you’ll need to look up to see the blooms on the frangipanis and African tulip trees.

Some tropical plants bear delicious fruit in the winter months.

While other parts of the northern hemisphere shiver through more typical wintery conditions, on Maui the plants think it’s always summer!

Visit the earth laughs in flowers to see more winter gardens in Jude’s Garden Photography Challenge