My love-affair with Airports and Flights

As I wrap-up posting on the attractions we primarily visited in Oahu, I want to mention about my love for Airports and Flights. The reason being – we had booked short-haul flights to hop across the four islands we visited in Hawaii.

I love reaching early at the airports. In fact, there was a time long back when I used to take early morning flights from Bangalore to Delhi to visit my family, and I used to reach Bangalore airport the previous evening itself. I don’t remember sleeping on any of those nights…I would just watch the departure statuses of flights to some of my favorite destinations and imagine flying there. I know I might not be able to see all those places in this life (there are just too many!), but I so wish to.

There is a different feeling when it comes to being at the airports – just look at all those happy places going to the places I love! Sometimes, I enjoy the shops and have even bought some souvenirs. Some airports have vantage points where you can get a close-up view of the aircraft – that adds to my excitement.Coming back to Hawaii – After spending a couple of days in Oahu, we took a morning flight from its airport to our next Island, Kauai. It was just about a 40-minute-run, but the views were so amazing. Btw, Hawaiian gives you a delicious juice to enjoy – so it’s not exactly a no-frills airline 🙂 hawaiian airlinesin-flight hospitality.jpgThe other airline we took once (from third to the fourth island) was Mokulele. While they don’t serve anything, they run Piston planes, which was so exciting to be on. The co-pilot himself greeted us. Moreover, I was sitting right besides the pilot/co-pilot…with just a small wooden partition between us. See for yourself…mokulele airlinesflight panelWe even got to see the entire Diamond Head rim (remember my post on it?) as our aircraft passed over Honolulu. You can’t even imagine how amazing the Hawaiian landscapes look from above.honolulu airporthawaii from planehawaii from aboveThere are too many breathtaking pictures to put up all here, so I normally post them on my Instagram account over the course of time.

The highly-rated Hanauma Bay State Park

Formed within a volcanic cone, Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular attractions of Honolulu. “Hana” is the Hawaiian word for “Bay” and “Uma” refers to the curves of the indigenous canoes. If you love marine life and coral reef, it is the best place to snorkel on the island of Oahu. Moreover, its beach was voted as the best in the United States in 2016!hanauma bay honoluluWe’ve been to countless beaches across countries and seeing Hanauma Bay from above didn’t really excite us that much to spend on the entry fees for it (read notes), so we just loitered around and gave it a miss. I made sure to capture it from the top, though.natural attractions hawaiibest of hawaiisnorkeling in oahu hawaii.jpgNotes:

  1. Park is open every day except Tuesday from 6am to 6pm. The charge for parking is flat at $1.
  2. There is a fee to enter the bay – $7.50 and free for those under 12 yrs.
  3. The entry fee does not include the snorkel fee, which is $20 for standard snorkel set.
  4. If you are staying at one of the hotels at the Waikiki, you can reserve the shuttle to Hanauma Bay at $2.5 per way and it takes about 45 minutes.
  5. For more info, visit their site here.

Nightlife at the Waikiki – the best one can ask for!

I become a fan of visiting the core attraction of any place at night after we had a great time in Miami a few years back. That’s when such places get the most footprints and seem to come alive!

Being close to the Waikiki Beach allowed us the luxury of visiting it any time of the day. Apart from covering it during the day-time (previous post), we visited it a couple of times during the night as well. It was raining on one of the evenings, so the place didn’t look like what it is known for; but the other night, it surely was!waikiki beachshopping in honoluluThe center of attraction is the Royal Hawaiian Center, a 310,000 square feet shopping area, making it one of the largest shopping malls in entire Hawaii. One can go crazy buying luxury items there and still not get tired of it.

There are many activities one can enjoy there – we got to hear a singer entertaining a decent audience. I must add the Hawaiian dance is a sheer delight to watch, just so unique.royal hawaiian center.jpgpalm trees in hawaiiNot to forget, there is a long stretch of the famous beach you can head to. It is just so amazing the sit by the ocean, or walk on the beach itself. We saw kids dabbling in the water even late in the night. There are a few artworks to enjoy too if you are fond of them.art in honolulu

The world-famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu

If beaches are your thing (as are mine), you would love being at the Waikiki Beach. Also called just Waikiki, it lies on the south shore of the island of Oahu in Hawaii and is a world-famous attraction. We had seen a glimpse of the beach from a long distance when we hiked up the Diamond Head crater. However, our accommodation was just about 4 kilometers from the beach!beachfront honolulubest beach in hawaiiWe decided to give the beach a visit when we had some time left in the day. I spent a long time walking across it in the night as well (and will cover separately, for its beauty was just unparalleled then). What gives this 2-mile-long beach high rating is that its white sand and calm turquoise blue ocean water is fringed by towering high-rises and boutique resorts. You name a luxury brand, and it would be there! No wonder, the area was a playground for the Hawaiian royalty in the 1800s.shops at waikiki beachwaikiki beach market.jpgMy only regret is that the day we visited the beach was pretty dull, so the pictures can’t do justice to the stunning beauty of the area. You never know when it would rain in Hawaii!nature photography.jpgParking is definitely an issue there. But if you are staying in one of the numerous hotels/resorts around, you can just walk over. I chose to go further up the Kalakaua Avenue and park in the large parking area just opposite Starbucks. The benefit was that is it free and the beach is also pretty close, but the most happening area is about a kilometer away.

Canadian Tulip Festival – Commissioner’s Park

Having seen a bunch of Tulips at Lansdowne Park, our excitement had already started to build-up. The main location, however, was Commissioner’s Park (next to Down’s Lake Pavilion). Had we know about it beforehand, we would have started our experience from here. Nevertheless, we still had a bit of time left on our first day, so we headed to the Commissioner’s Park (just 2.5 kilometers away from Lansdowne Park).

You can go with the official parking there (the charge is $15 per day). However, there are numerous streets around where you can park for an hour for free (the weekends are free anyway). Do you really think people come back within an hour? There were many who parked for even half-a-day. With a world-famous festival going on around, guess nobody really bothers!dow's lake pavilionvarieties of tulips.jpgThis was the location that caught our fancy, and we visited it thrice over the 3 days we spent on the trip. There were long batches of tulips of almost every color and variety.too many tulipstulipsbest tulip festivalbest nature photographnature photograhyThe tulips were marked with their names, some were fancy too – like The Princess. The kids and adults alike were having the time of their lives. We were no different!tulip festival ottawa.jpgThere was information too on the history of the festival and how Britain still contributes every year with a generous gift of Tulips.canada tulip festival.jpg

Canadian Tulip Festival – Lansdowne Park, Ottawa

We are just back from one of the best Tulip Festivals in the World – in Ottawa, Canada. It took place from May 11-21 and showcased 1,000,000+ tulips in bloom across 4 locations. To add to the extravaganza, there were arts and cultural performances as well, along with activities to do and attractions to explore!

After doing research online and via the official website for the festival, we thought of spending the couple of hours we had the day we reached there in Lansdowne Park. It is a market area, so was bustling with activity at that time of the hour. We parked on the road (paid parking of $3/hour) and made our way to the grounds where the tulips were.

The first sight of tulips was quite exciting for me as we had not seen so many of them since long. There was a garden of yellows in the view!where to see tulips in canadatulip festival ottawaThe park is right alongside the Rideau Canal (202 kilometers long), another major attraction there. We started heading further up in the park with just a road separating us and the canal. There were people jogging and running by the canal, and we spotted kayakers too the next day.lansdowne park ottawanature walkOur presumption was we would see hordes of tulips as far as we could see them, but that was not the case here. There were tulips, but only at certain places in patches. Anyway, the walk was quite a good one to keep was occupied. In fact, there was spring beauty all around, which just made our day!the beauty of springbest nature photographWe had paid for the parking for only an hour, as there have been instances in the past when we paid for more than an hour just to come back within the hour. So, in about 40 minutes, we started walking back after seeing a bunch of other-colored tulips.ottawa parkThe market area is quite a good one to spend some time socializing. If you have to admire the canal or kayak through it, there is a much better place, one that also had the kind of display of tulips we were expecting to see. I will cover that in a dedicated post.

An early morning hike to the summit of Diamond Head

Imagine waking up at 4 am, getting ready and then driving half-hour only to be in the queue of vehicles for gates to open at 6 am, and then hiking to the edge of a 300,000-year old crater – all before Sunrise! Yeah, we did that on the second day of our stay in Oahu.

We wanted to have a different experience of Sunrise than the one from the previous day (Sandy Beach Park), and Diamond Head State Monument is a perfect place for that – it is famous for its breathtaking views overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu.

As soon as the gates opened up, we made our way to the parking lot. There is a fee of $5/car or $1/pedestrian. After that, you take the trail, which is not so long, but is steep at quite a few places (especially the 99 steps towards the end) – it takes about 20-25 minutes to cover the distance. hiking diamond headdoamond head crater oahubest views of honoluluBut the thrill of all you’ve gone through reaches another high once you reach the summit. You are looking at the entire rim of a volcanic crater (of extinct volcano Diamond Head)…actually, you are standing on it!diamond head volcano craterpacific ocean hawaiiDepending on which way you look, the summit provides you with majestic views. The city of Honolulu looks quite a spectacle. If you look closely, you can see a section of the world-famous Waikiki beach.honolulu photographyIt was so amazing being out there that I couldn’t control myself from taking a selfie 🙂best selphieThe views looking from the other sides were no less. I especially loved this one…best picture of hawaiiLooking at the Pacific ocean was mesmerizing in its own right. A bonus was this Diamond Head Lighthouse built in 1899 (not open to the public). It spreads light nearly 18 miles out into the ocean and its Fresnel lens burns at 60,000 candlepower.diamond head lighthouse oahulighthouse hawaiiI would rate it as one of the best attractions in entire Hawaii, one you should not miss if you are in Oahu. No wonder, I was not intent on leaving it even after spending more than a couple of hours up there!ocean views honolulu

The Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona

I had written about the Lower Antelope Canyon a few weeks back. I absolutely loved it!

The other one – called the Upper Antelope Canyon – is just a few kilometers away from it. It is the most visited of the two because of two reasons – first, its entrance and the entire length are at the ground level, thus requiring no climbing; second, the beams of sunlight filtering through the top are more common there.upper antelope canyonI suggest reading my earlier post first as I had given a lot of details there comparing it to its upper counterpart.

Even though the upper is preferred by tourists, I would give a better rating to the lower one, owing to its thrill quotient. Regardless, prefer the summer months to visit as the sunlight creates the effect that would keep you spellbound!antelope canyon page azphotograhpy in antelope canyonIf you love photography, these slot canyons will be a delight to capture at every step of the way. Many people go for dedicated photography tours, as those will give you inputs on prominent locations/settings.

We went with the general tours, as written earlier (you can only go with the tour companies, not on your own).

The Volcanic Landscapes of Oahu, Hawaii

We were mesmerized by the beauty in Hawaii – no wonder it is called the Tropical Paradise!

During our road trips across the four islands we visited, we witnessed numerous stunning landscapes. I must say the often changing weather conditions there plays a major role in keeping one asking for more.hawaii road tripJust imagine that all these views were created off of volcanic eruptions over millions of years. Even today, the Big Island (the one we covered last) is still adding more space to it because of active volcanic eruptions.
best weather in oahuThe land all through Hawaii is also amazingly fertile – the famous plantations of Coconuts, Pineapples, Lychee, Bananas, and many others are a testimony to that. We loved having smoothies, shave ice, and fresh juices almost every day!
volcanic landscapes of hawaiiI am a fan of stopping every few minutes, and I have never regretted spending time at the places I’ve admired. Why else would one take a road trip otherwise?
islands in hawaiiThe last one is my favorite, and it was not even an attraction we were chasing – we were on an afternoon drive further up along the highway from Sandy Beach park we covered the very first morning in Hawaii.
what to see in hawaiiMy two cents based on my experiences – don’t just go to famous places. You would be amazed to explore the beauty at offbeat sites. Most of my fabulous clicks are from places you would’ve never heard of, and they are not even mentioned anywhere on the Internet.

One of the Best Beaches in the World – Lanikai

Lanikai beach in Oahu is consistently rated as one of the best in the world owing to its pristine sands, turquoise water, calm waves, and lush tropical plants. It has extremely soft powdery clean white sand and that makes it a must-see there. Btw, the name Lanikai means ‘heavenly sea,’ and the place is aptly called.

We went there right on day 1 because of my love for beaches. I should emphasize that it was so bright with sun pounding down that it was becoming difficult to even keep the eyes open for long (the beach and water are super-clean).lanikai beach oahubest beaches in the worldThe water temperatures there are normally between 24-26 degree Celsius, perfect for any time of the year. What especially makes the beach popular among photographers is the two islands in the background, called Na Mokulua or “mokes.”
parasailing at lanikaiThe only issue there is the parking, as there is limited public parking space. If you are headed there on a weekend, be ready to wait for the parking slot (the violation is strictly enforced). Since we went there on a weekday, we were lucky to spend a relaxing couple of hours.