Maui Ocean Center

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Maui Ocean Center is one of the largest tropical reef aquariums in the world. Their mission is to ‘foster understanding, wonder, and respect for Hawai‘i’s Marine Life.’ We visited as part of our ‘Best of Maui’ tour while our cruise ship was in port.

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We had lunch in the cafe as part of our admission. The food was pretty good for a restaurant in an aquarium and our table looked out on the ocean.

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All of the animals that live there are found in the oceans around Hawaii. There are several exhibits outdoors, including a touch pool and the sea turtles, which you can see from above and below the water.

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In the buildings there are extensive coral reef exhibits. The Ocean Center is growing artificial coral in the hopes of restoring coral populations in the wild.  Hawaii’s reefs are declining due to global warming and pollution (sunscreen that is not reef safe is illegal now in Hawaii.)

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There is also an Open Ocean tank with sharks and rays. We walked through the clear tunnel from one end to the other and a ray parked right over our heads.

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It is against local laws to exhibit live cetaceans, so the Ocean Center has a Humpback Whale sphere instead. This is a 3D film featuring humpback whales project onto a planetarium ceiling. We relaxed in the reclining seats, listening to the soothing narration and felt like we were swimming underwater with the humpbacks.

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Maui Posts:

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Location: 192 Maalaea Rd, Wailuku, HI 96793

Designation: Aquarium

Date of my visit: 4/15/2019

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ʻWailua River State Park: ʻŌpaekaʻa Falls

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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After our tubing expedition with Kauai Backcountry Adventures, we began our tour of Kauai’s North shore. Our first stop was the ʻŌpaekaʻa Falls overlook. This waterfall is visible from the highway…no need to hike.

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ʻŌpaekaʻa is Hawaiian for ‘rolling shrimp.’ The falls are 151 feet high and flow year round into the Wailua River in Wailua River State Park. We could see birds flying near the cascading water.

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Kauai Posts:

  • Wailua Falls
  • Lihue Plantation Hanama‘ulu Ditch
  • ʻŌpaekaʻa Falls
  • Wailua River State Park Coming Soon
  • Mount Waiʻaleʻale Coming Soon
  • Fuji Beach Coming Soon
  • Moloa’a Beach Coming Soon
  • Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge Coming Soon
  • Kīlauea Lighthouse Coming Soon
  • Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge Coming Soon
  • Wai’oli Hui’ia Church Coming Soon
  • NININI POINT LIGHTHOUSE Coming Soon
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Red Dirt Falls Coming Soon
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Waimea Canyon Lookout Coming Soon
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Waipo’o Falls Coming Soon
  • Kōkeʻe State Park: Kalalau Lookout Coming Soon
  • Kōkeʻe State Park: Pu’u O Kila Lookout Coming Soon
  • Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park Coming Soon
  • Hanapepe Swinging Bridge Coming Soon
  • Spouting Horn Coming Soon
  • Koloa Heritage Trail: Spouting Horn Coming Soon
  • Koloa Heritage Trail: Keoneloa Bay Coming Soon
  • Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park Coming Soon

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Location: Kuamoo Road, Wailua, Kauai, Hawaii

Designation: State Park

Date of my visit: April 18, 2019

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St. Benedict’s Painted Church: NRHP

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Saint Benedict’s, also known as The Painted Church, is an active Catholic Church in Honaunau on the big island of Hawaii. It was built between 1899-1902 by Father John Velghe. Velghe was a Belgian missionary who sought to convert the native Hawaiians to Catholicism.

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Velghe painted frescoes along the interior ceiling and walls of the church for instructional purposes since most of the locals at the time couldn’t read. The murals on the side walls depict various scenes from the Bible.

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The murals behind and above the altar create the illusion of a European cathedral with vaulted ceilings, though the church is a simple wooden structure.

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Our ‘Best of Kona’ excursion with Norwegian Cruise Lines stopped here first. We were invited to go inside where a volunteer told us about the Painted Church and its history. Then we exited to make way for the next group of visitors.

 

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By the front steps is a statue honoring Saint Damien. Fr. Damien de Veuster was also a Belgian Catholic Missionary who ministered to the lepers on Molokai. He ultimately succumbed to the disease himself, passing away the year construction on St. Benedict’s began.

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The church and cemetery overlook beautiful Kealakekua Bay. We snapped a few more photos before boarding the tour bus to continue our journey.

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Kona Posts:

  • St. Benedicts
  • Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park (Coming Soon)
  • Royal Kona Coffee (Coming Soon)
  • Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park (Coming Soon)
  • Huliheʻe Palace (Coming Soon)
  • Mokuaikaua Church (Coming Soon)

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Location: 84-5140 Painted Church Rd, Captain Cook, HI 96704

Designation: NRHP

Date designated or established: May 31, 1979

Date of my visit: 4/17/2019

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Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park: Chain of Craters

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Chain of Craters Road is a 19-mile road through the East Rift and coastal area of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawaii.

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Our tour stopped at the Lua Manu crater on this drive. It is the first crater on the Chain of Craters Road and was formed when, about 200 years ago, the lava beneath it drained leaving an empty chamber. The surface collapsed into the chamber, forming a 125 foot deep pit.

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We walked around on the surrounding lava fields, marveling at the plants growing right up out of the rocks and taking photos by interesting formations.

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Hilo Posts:

  • Volcano House
  • Steam Vents
  •  Kīlauea Iki
  • Chain of Craters Road
  • Big Island Candies (Coming Soon)
  • Rainbow Falls (Coming Soon)
  • Richardson’s Black Sand Beach (Coming Soon)
  • Mokuola (Coming Soon)

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Location: 1 Crater Rim Drive, Volcano, HI 96718

Designation: National Park

Date established/designated: August 1, 1916

Date of my visit: April 16, 2019

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Maui Tropical Plantation

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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After visiting Iao Valley, our Best of Maui excursion headed over to the Maui Tropical Plantation. This plantation is  on the site of a former sugar cane plantation. Sugar cane, once dominant in Hawaii, is no longer produced there as it can be harvested less expensively in other countries.

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Plantation Mike, who grew up in one of the sugar company’s houses, met our group and talked to us about what it was like to live there back in the day. Working the sugar cane crop for a living was a difficult life.

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Maui Tropical Plantation has incorporated some of the old mill-works into the landscaping.

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Today the plantation produces a variety of Hawaiian fruits. We boarded the Tropical Express, a 45-minute tram tour through some of the fields. Our guide explained the origins of many of the crops.

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About midway, we got out to walk around some of the plants and watch a coconut husking demonstration.

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When we returned to the visitor center, we received a sampling of some of their delicious produce.

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Maui Posts:

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Location: 1670 Honoapiilani Hwy, Wailuku, HI 96793

Designation: Farm

Date of my visit: 4/15/2019

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Lihue Plantation Hanama‘ulu Ditch

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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When researching our Hawaii trip, the mountain tubing eco-tour with Kauai Backcountry Adventures came highly recommended. The outfitter has leased the lands of the old Lihue Sugar Plantation in order to run tubing expeditions through the irrigation ditches that once carried water from the mountains to the cane fields.

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Lihue Plantation was one of the oldest (founded in 1849) and best financed sugar plantations in Hawaii. One pound of sugar requires 500 gallons of water to be produced, so the plantation workers dug the irrigation ditches out by hand, tunneling through rock and mountainsides.

The Hanama‘ulu Ditch, the one used by Kauai Backcountry, was built in 1870. It served as the conduit from Mount Wai’ale’ale (the second wettest spot on the planet), carrying water four miles down the mountains to the fields. The plantation ceased operations in 2000. Today, the ditch system continues to provide water for cattle ranchers.

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Steve Case, the founder of America Online, bought the plantation lands in 2001. Kauai Backcountry Adventures has exclusive access to the the irrigation ditches through an agreement with Case, so the only way to see this remote section of Kauai is with them.

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Once we were outfitted with hard-hats, lanterns and life vests, we boarded the 4-wheel-drive vehicle for the trek up the mountain. On the way, our tour guides talked about the history of the plantation and provided instructions for the tubing.

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Once there, they helped us into the water. In spots, the current was pretty brisk as the channel narrowed and we were whisked through tunnels. In others, it was a fun lazy-river ride through the jungle. At the end of our ride, we were treated to a picnic by the river.

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Kauai Posts:

  • Wailua Falls
  • Lihue Plantation Hanama‘ulu Ditch
  • ʻŌpaekaʻa Falls
  • Wailua River State Park
  • Mount Waiʻaleʻale
  • Fuji Beach
  • Moloa’a Beach
  • Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
  • Kīlauea Lighthouse
  • Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge
  • Wai’oli Hui’ia Church
  • NININI POINT LIGHTHOUSE
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Red Dirt Falls
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Waimea Canyon Lookout
  • Waimea Canyon State Park: Waipo’o Falls
  • Kōkeʻe State Park: Kalalau Lookout
  • Kōkeʻe State Park: Pu’u O Kila Lookout
  • Russian Fort Elizabeth State Historical Park
  • Hanapepe Swinging Bridge
  • Spouting Horn
  • Koloa Heritage Trail: Spouting Horn
  • Koloa Heritage Trail: Keoneloa Bay
  • Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park

Location: Hanamaulu, Kauai, Hawaii

Designation: Former Sugar Plantation

Date established/designated: circa 1870

Date of my visit: April 18, 2019

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Pearl Harbor National Memorial

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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When I first visited Pearl Harbor in the eighties, it was called the Arizona Memorial. In 2008, President George Bush made it part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument which included sites in California and Alaska as well as Pearl Harbor.

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Now it is a separate unit again. Legislation in March 2019 designated it The Pearl Harbor National Memorial. It is run by the National Park Service in cooperation with the US Navy. Since we were visiting only a month after the law passed, they hadn’t yet changed the sign.

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The Memorial commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese and the United States’ subsequent entry into WWII. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and other areas on Oahu in a two-wave surprise attack. They sank or damaged nearly every vessel in the Harbor, killing over 2400 people.

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Though devastating, the attack did not cripple the US fleet as our aircraft carriers (Japan’s intended target) were out at sea. And most of the damaged vessels were raised, repaired and sent back into action. Only the USS Arizona, Utah and Oklahoma could not be recovered.

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The Arizona still rests where she fell and serves as a burial ground for the thousand crewmen whose bodies could not be recovered. The US Navy has given the survivors the option to be buried there when they pass to be reunited with their brothers-at-arms.

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In 1962, a concrete memorial was erected over the Arizona’s remains so that visitors could pay their respects. The boat ramp to the memorial was damaged last year, closing it to the public. Our Navy-run boat tour took us along Battleship Row near the memorial but did not dock there.

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This closure prevented the survivors from coming to Hawaii to observe the anniversary in December 2018. The park hopes to complete repairs in time for the 2019 anniversary. There are only a few survivors left and they are quite elderly.

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The USS Missouri is positioned so that it faces the Arizona Memorial. Together, they represent the beginning and the end of the United State’s war with Japan. The Missouri was the site of the Japanese Empire’s surrender.

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Do not be discouraged from visiting while the Arizona Memorial is still closed. Visiting Pearl Harbor is a moving experience even without boarding the actual structure over the Arizona. Military personnel are on hand to talk about the events of the day and they, along with the  museum and film presentation, do an excellent job of humanizing the story.

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Oahu Posts:

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Location: 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, HI, 96818

Designation: National Memorial

Date established/designated: March 12, 2019

Date of my visit: April 20, 2019

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This Tree of Life design is incorporated into the Arizona Memorial. It is a symbol of renewal meant to evoke contemplation.