This was my first time to Hawai'i, and we had Mauritius earlier in the voyage (wow, two months ago actually), so I had a good idea of what I was going to be into. But I have to say, Hawai'i was so much more beautiful that Mauritius was. The first two days we were docked in Honolulu, and then we had to reboard the ship to make the transit to Hilo, on the island of Hawai'i (the big island) for our next two days. Honolulu was pretty, but it was just an American city basically. Waikiki beach was beauitful, and I was able to get us some rooms at the Hyatt so we had a lot of fun hanging out on the beach the first day. The next day we tried to make it to Pearl Harbor to see the USS Arizona Memorial. We went there and had our tickets, and then 5 minutes before the boat was to leave the closed it for the day due to strong winds :( I was abel to see it from a distance though, and they had a lot interesting things on the shoreline to check out. I think it was pretty cool that only two weeks ago I was able to visit the memorial that ended WWII, and to connect that so quickly with the memorial dedicated to what started the war our involvement in WWII was something unique to do, especially in such a short order.
While Honolulu was great, I thought Hilo and the big island was just so much more beautiful. It takes about 2.5 hours to get from one side of the island to another, so myself, Ross, Ross, Travis, and Kelly decided to rent a car for the two days we were there and just explore the island. Best idea we've had in awhile. We had a 4 door Jeep Wrangler, which we immediately took the soft cover top off of. Nothing beats cruising down the highway with the ocean to your right, and lush hills and mountaintops to your left. My favorite part was when you'd go over a bridge that would be going over a valley, to your right you'd see the waves of the Pacific crashing into cliffsides and huge rocks, and to your left you'd see a valley snake its way into the island with waterfalls pooring into it. Far and away the most beautiful place I've ever seen, and it's in America?? We stopped on our first day to get some local food, which is basically lunch plates, rice served with meats, gravy, and miso soup. It was really good and they give you a lot of food! We stopped at a lookout called Wai'pu. The ocean hits into a giant cliffside, and a black sand beach stretches across the opening of the Wai'pu valley. From here you can also see the mountains that make up Maui, so it was a stunning view. We headed that day to Kona to stay the night. When we got into the city we checked out the Kona Brewery, which is apparently well known on the West Coast. Missed out on the brewery tour we wanted, but we sampled a lot of what they had. We found a resort for an awesome price that night, which was in Kona and stretched out on a peninsula. Our room overlooked a lagoon filled by ocean water, which turned into a lot of fun later in the night.
All in all Hawai'i was a great place to end the trip. It's not cool to think I'm back in America, but Hawai'i definitley has its on culture that is different from the mainland. I guess you can call it island culture, but it's really the culture of the native Hawai'ians, who are still fiercely proud of their heritage and not necessarily happy that they are a part of the US. But this is day one of three days of finals! I finished my 15 pg research paper yesterday which put a huge weight off of my shoulders. Lets just say that its pretty difficult to find sources with the worlds slowest internet and only one online library to work off of.
Our last two days on the ship are packing days and graduation. The last day of finals, we have the Ambassadors Ball. It's a multi course meal served to us, and theres a dance after. It's going to be bittersweet, it'll be incredibly weird leaving this ship and all the friends I've made on this.
I have to go study, but in the next few days I'll probably put up my final blog post about this trip, so stay tuned!