The Last Month: Pacific Islands and Back to Australia
Our last month on the road flew by before we knew it. We were conscious the entire month that this was near the end of our journey. And we kept reminding ourselves of it, just in case one of us forgot.
It was a month to remember, filled with beautiful landscapes and seascapes, beautiful hikes, lots of snorkeling, and a little city exploration.
Here are some highlights of where we went and what we saw:
This photo above looks totally fake, right? I promise, this was real! A true paradise on Tavewa island. We only spent one week here because of a huge increase in airfares during what would have been our second week there. So we ended up deciding to just go to one island for the week, which is unusual because most people do at least a little bit of island hopping. We only island hopped from the main island to Tavewa.
Here's how we got to the island:
Just kidding!!! This is the boat we THOUGHT we were going to go on. It's the one that is in all their advertising. We even got on this boat. Only to be told to continue walking and board the boat that was exactly behind this boat. Which you can't see in this picture. It was NOT painted red, and was not even really painted. Just a silver/gray boat. Kind of a dump. Talk about false advertising.
But the boat got us there safely, which I guess is all that matters...
Tavewa is pretty small. There are only two small resorts on the entire island. This is what our resort looked like from the top of the very tall hill we hiked up behind the property:
The rest of the island was pretty much uninhabited except for a tiny sprinkling of private homes.
Here's what we did:
Lots of snorkeling and beach walking. You could snorkel straight from the beach in lots of places, and the one beach on our island was long, clean, golden, and empty of all people most of the time.
We went on lots of boat rides to snorkeling places around our island.
We met some very nice people on Tavewa, the staff was so friendly and caring and the other guests were open to meeting new people, which is always very nice. Jay and I were pretty much the oldest guests there that week. But we were used to that by now.
Honestly, it was a most beautiful week,
and I wished we could have stayed an extra week to see a different island, but now it was time to head back to Australia and visit Sydney!
We had initially thought that we could fly from Fiji to Hawaii, and that would be how we could get back to the US. We were wrong. There were no flights between the islands, and so we discovered that we had to double back to Sydney in order to get back to the United States.
We were actually very happy it worked out that way, because otherwise we would have ended our journey without seeing this great city. We spent one week in a very comfortable apartment about a half hour from the city by ferry. We took the ferry a lot. Here is the approach to the city via the boat.
While in Sydney, we spent several days throughout the week just relaxing in the apartment. We were even serenaded by magpies who landed on the balcony. That was awesome!
The first day that we ventured out to see the city, we ended up jumping on the ferry going the wrong direction and so we ended up spending the day in Olympic Park, which, while totally unexpected, was really cool. The Sydney Olympics were in 2000, so it was interesting to see how the city has transformed the space for everyday use almost 20 years later.
Here are some of the stadiums and arenas:
Here is the Olympic Cauldron:
This day confirmed to us that the unplanned days can be just as lovely as the ones that we plan in detail.
The next day we did the Manly to Spit walk. We took a ferry to Manly, and then walked along the coastline all the way to Spit. It was a beautiful walk,
and as a bonus, we got a gorgeous sunset ferry ride back to Sydney.
Finally, on the fourth day, we got into the city.
It was amazing to see the famed Opera House in the daylight and close up.
My favorite photo that Jay took of the city:
My favorite photo that I took of the city:
And after a couple more days of further exploration, the week was over. It was time to fly back to the United States of America.
It had been 8 1/2 months since we had been in the US. We had a lot of mixed feelings about it. But mostly we were excited to go to Hawaii.
The biggest thrill I got was when we crossed the International Date Line, and we got to live May 15th two times, once in Australia, and once in Hawaii (thanks for this awesome photo, Jay).
We started out on The Big Island, and had been planning to split our time between the two sides of the island in Kona and Hilo. But this little volcano eruption made us change our plans. We found it ironic that after all these months of travel, the one time we had to change our plans due to uncontrollable circumstances was in our own country. Spending the entire week on the Kona side of the island turned out to be fantastic.
We did some spectacular things. Jay was in heaven being able to find and pick his own mangoes along the trail of a great hike.
I was pretty happy about it too!
Those Hawaiian mangoes were delicious!
We are definitely in love with snorkeling. It is just so amazing to enter the world under the sea. We snorkeled four different times, twice in the same location.
We went on a tour of a coffee plantation, which was pretty interesting.
We drove up north to Hawi, and took a quick hike down the cliff to the ocean and saw some BEAUTIFUL examples of the Hawaiian natural world.
We drove down south and around the island, just below Volcano National Park, and we didn’t see any volcano erupting, but the photo below is pointed in the direction of the volcano.
We did see the black sand beach of Punalu'u,
and some amazing sea turtles.
And then for one of the snorkeling adventures, we hiked to the Captain Cook monument for the best snorkeling in all of the Hawaiian islands. (or so they say) There are so many boats here, as boat or hiking is the only way to reach this area. We were happy when the tour boats left and we hikers had the reef to ourselves. I wish we would have had an underwater camera. The sea life in this area was just breathtaking.
And then we hiked back up the cliff and got this beautiful view.
We had had such a nice time on the Big Island. We were sorry to have our stay come to an end. But now it was time to move on to OAHU!
Oahu island. A really different kind of island, with a very different vibe. We actually preferred the Big Island. But, we had a great time on Oahu. First of all, we were so happy to meet up with a friend from Cleveland, who coincidentally was vacationing there while we were there. (We believe she secretly stalked us to see when we would be in Hawaii so we could see her):
She was our first contact with home since November when we were with my parents, sister and our son.
We went snorkeling at Shark's Cove, but the water was very rough so we stayed in the protected area where all the tide pools were. The water was deep enough that we did see some gorgeous fish. We even saw some we had never seen before, but it wasn’t even close to being as amazing as on the Big Island.
We did a drive around the north shore area and around to a farm where they give you samples of different flavored macadamia nuts. That was delicious. Jay loved the cinnamon flavored nuts!
We went to Pearl Harbor, which was quite sobering:
On our very last day of our trip, went on a nice coastal hike, reminiscent of the Great Ocean Walk of Australia, but only a five mile walk, out and back. It was pretty gorgeous.
Two weeks goes by very quickly, especially when you are having fun. Hawaii had never been on our radar as a top vacation/holiday destination, but since we were in the neighborhood, we were both VERY happy that we came here.
Our last morning, our last beach of our journey!
It had been a wonderful experience. It was very good to be back in the United States again. It was a great way to end our journey. And now, we are at the airport and leaving for home.
We are sad the trip is over, but excited to be heading home to family and friends.
There is no way we could ever top this adventure!!
Or could we?? Stay tuned ........