I love Hawaii Part 2
By Zachary Moses
This is part 2, to read Part 1 Click Here!
Day 4 (continued): Sunset Cruise
After checking in to the Hilton Waikaloa resort this afternoon, I rode the tram all the way to my hotel at the far end of the property. It took about 20 minutes. I realized the train didn’t actually save any time, so I then jogged all the way back with just enough time to meet the group for this evening’s sunset cruise… of course I realized I forgot my name badge and now ran back as fast as I could to get it from my hotel room. By the time I actually boarded the bus I was soaked from head to toe. The rest of the convention visitors had arrived today and more than 100 of us set out to board separate boats for drinks and appetizers.
I drove the boat. Like seriously drove it. I don’t think the other people realized that I was doing this. Not only was I driving, but I was driving while drinking scotch! It was only driving for like 5 minutes, but can you imagine if I’d been pulled over?
I was surprised that no one else took up the offer to drive the catamaran. The best part of the evening came when I was introduced to Tom, who said he could arrange a snorkel excursion with the giant manta rays!!
Day 5: Strawberry Guavas and Fire Dancers.
This morning I had easily the most expensive latte that I have ever purchased. It was made with pure Hawaiian Kona Coffee. For how much I paid for it, it should have been made with molten gold and a touch of cinnamon.
Again our groups could choose a fun activity for the day, so I opted for a hike to some waterfalls. We headed to the north side of the island and climbed into the back of what looked like a WWII troop transporter.
The driver opened a gate onto private property and we began a rapid ascent up in to the hills overlooking the Kohala coast. The hiking was gorgeous, but my favorite part was the forest of mostly strawberry guava trees, an invasive (and delicious) species in this area. I spent the whole hike eating strawberry guavas non-stop, despite several warnings from our guides about fruit and fiber.
We hiked to glorious waterfalls, creeks, and a taro pond. We all took a swim at one of the deeper waterfall pools, but everyone was too sheepish to go naked. When we returned to the vehicle, we drove down the mountain side, and parked where the trees on the cliff opened up to reveal an amazing cliff view. You can see where all the Hawaiian hillsides have succumbed to the relentless pressure of the ocean, and crumbled to oblivion.
Tonight back at the lodge we had an amazing welcome reception for the official opening of the NTA conference. We had a huge Luau with hot fire dancers, hula, great food, dancing, live music, and Mai Tai’s! When I got back to my room, I found presents on my bed. The Aloha spirit was warm and wonderful this evening.
Day 6: Renting a Car and off on Another Adventure
After breakfast this morning, I picked up a rental car and ducked out of the conference sessions. My goals in coming to Hawaii were two-fold: to develop new adventure tours, and to attend the courses most relevant to HE Travel at the NTA conference.
Today was for more adventure, with the first stop being a drive back to the Kohala region for a unique kayaking trip. About 100 years ago, Japanese construction workers were brought into the island to build an aqueduct that could move water from the rainy side of the island to the dry side. This allowed for increased production of sugar cane fields. As the sugar industry has left the region, the aqueduct is now used for recreation, and we were able to kayak our way through ditches and tunnels and over wooden aqueduct bridges. It was a pretty amazing way to see a lot of inland Hawaii. When the trip ended, we picked more guavas, as well as passionfruit, and collected macadamia nuts.
Our next stop was Kona for a night snorkel with the giant manta rays. I took a local suggestion to take the inland route or “saddle road” to Kona. It was an absolutely Spectacular drive through the mountains! When we came around a bend, we found ourselves perched high atop an old volcano, with stunning views down to the ocean. We drove east into the rain and vog (fog mixed with volcano smog), where a vibrant rainbow preceded us for miles!
We ate a fantastic Thai meal in Kona town, and eventually made our way to the dock to catch our boat, where I suddenly realized that I forgot to bring towels. Oops. We wore short wetsuits for the snorkel experience, and I was shivering by the time they called us back to the boat. But I didn’t want to leave the water. I was enthralled by the silent underwater ballet. We were instructed to not reach out and touch the majestic, gentle animals, but you can see in this video that they were more than willing to swim within inches of our bodies. I made the long drive back to my hotel with a smile that carried into the next day.
Day 7: Actual Conference Time
Well, one can’t avoid work forever. Today was some actual presentation time. I had been asked to speak on a panel as a representative of the millennial generation. The focus of the discussion was “who are millennials and why do they matter?” …Long story short, all generations eventually die, so obviously you have to start marketing to younger generations or you’ll have no customers.
But this is not, perhaps, as easy as it sounds. As the different generation groups are analyzed, it is interesting to note the core values and needs of each, and how these impact their choices for travel.
Tonight was had a huge farewell party at the Fairmont Orchid hotel. The food was beautifully presented and tasty, the breeze was warm, the beach was lit by flickering torches, and the chairman of the NTA arrived via canoe. We danced and drank and sang the night away. I can’t wait to return to the Big Island. “Hawai’i no ka oi!” (Hawai’i is the best!).
Day 8: off to Kauai
After a leisurely start and another pricey latte, I headed to the airport for the next stop: Kaua’i, the Garden Island. Stay tuned for the final installment of this Hawaiian adventure, and learn why Kaua’i is one of the most beautiful places on earth.[to be continued…Read Part 3 HERE]