I am one of the few people on the face of the earth who is not enamoured with
Hawaii. While most people I talk to dream of a vacation there (and anyone who has been
there describes it as one step up from the way heaven is going to be) it has not been on
my bucket list. However, the cruise ship had two day-stops in the islands and I welcomed
the opportunity to see what the attraction was.
Day One: Our first stop was Honolulu, the largest settlement in a state of eight
major Hawaiian Islands. My first observation was that ‘Hawaii’ is a small island with a
big league traffic problem. Being from the prairies means we don’t truly comprehend the
idea of running out of land, a concept of which island dwellers have a much better
understanding. We had booked a bus tour on board, and I was glad we did; the traffic
gave the city the appearance of a very large parking lot and our bus driver did an
admirable job of manoeuvering us through the tightest of spaces and showing us the
While Dole still has a retail store on the island, pineapple production has switched
to lower cost areas of production and the pineapple produced on this island is barely
enough for local consumption. Like taking coals to Newcastle, Hawaii importing
pineapple is a phrase waiting to be added to our language.
The tour ended with a stop at Hattie’s Shirt Store, which is known for the crazy
patterned shirts that made the island famous. Sales tactics were high pressure to say the
least, and a sales person put a matching shirt and dress away for me because I had
glanced at it. Sandra and I do not need a dress and shirt of the same material, and it is
unlikely we ever will. I did however get a matching shirt for my grandson because he and
I needed shirts with cars and surfboards on them. Too cool.
Hattie’s shirts were priced at five bucks a shirt higher in her store than the other
places we visited but there is something to be said for getting them from the original
It was time to board the next bus to Germaine’s Luau. The first thing I learned on
the bus ride is I am not ready for bus tours; the guide did a great job of telling us he had
just turned 80 and leading the sing-a-long on the way out to the Luau. Remembering my
mom, how she used to return from bus trips, telling us how much fun she had, I felt I was
still at least two decades away from enjoying this activity. I enjoyed the afternoon
commentary on the economy of the island much more than singing folk songs in the
round with the other side of the bus.
We arrived at Germaine’s to meet with about 2,000 of our closest friends and
proceeded to be ushered to a table where we awaited our turn at the buffet. I did manage
to get up close for the remove of the canvas over the pig-roasting pit, and it was a sight to
behold. The meal was excellent and served with military-like precision. In my opinion
the beef was better than the pork—and the coleslaw with pineapple was to die for. Poi is
not going to make the Kletke menu any time soon, once was enough, and I did try it a
second time just to make sure I did not like it that much. I did not.
We did see several couples dressed in matching shirts and dresses and it
confirmed that we did not need to do that either. I am sure they found many occasions to
wear those after their vacation, regardless of where they lived. Some would say it was
rude but I did ask a few of the couples if I could take their picture because of the striking
outfits, and every one obliged.
The bus ride home brought more sing-a-long time and I was equally unimpressed,
though I was still in awe of the number of people Germaine had handled at his Luau, and
the quality of the meal.
Day Two: Lahaina. Sometimes fate throws you a curve, and it works out. The
whale watching tour was sold out on board and we were forced to settle for a cruise that
offered a view of some of the great houses on the island. I signed up and we agreed we
would make the best of it.
Things took an unexpected turn with the appearance of an incredible number of
whales in the bay; our captain asked if anyone minded if he turned the tour into a whale
watching cruise and he was met with resounding cheers. We spent the next three hours
cruising the bay, sampling turkey rolls and Hawaiian beer.
I took about 700 pictures and realized whale photography is not as easy as you
might think. I settled for three or four good shots.
Cruise completed and lots of time left, we spent some time wandering the board
walk which provided an endless assortment of shops selling 40 US dollar t-shirts and 70
US dollar golf shirts interspersed between eateries and bars. It was tourist heaven and
since my t-shirt inventory was strong we had a dining experience and a glass of red beer.
We met Pete and Janette, a couple from the cruise boat, spent some time watching
people and then made our way back to the boat.
The tenders from the cruise ship had some trouble and we had to rely on local
small boats, obviously not in the business of loading and unloading more senior
individuals. In the end, the situation provided some entertainment and no one drowned.
The weather during our two-day visit was enough to convince anyone to come
back. The traffic and prices on the other hand were not as attractive. The world is a big
place and I have more to see before I make another visit to the Hawaiian Islands.