Aloha from beautiful Hawaii!
After a final exploring of Paddy’s market and downtown Sydney, we headed to the airport to board our flight to Honolulu! When we arrived, the sun was shining and we were excited for an amazing few days in paradise. As a result of the 20 hour time difference, we experienced July 22 in Australia and then repeated it again in Hawaii. For Beau, that meant an extra long birthday and we celebrated again at our first Hawaiian dinner in the heart of Waikiki, but not before some time to relax on the beach. Lexi F. and Joli enjoyed exfoliating with the sand and Alexa got into the spirit by donning a Hawaiian lei.
The next day, we visited one of the most important historical sites in the U.S. – Pearl Harbor. We watched a poignant video which provided an overview of the surprise Japanese attack and subsequent war years. Visiting the sunken USS Arizona, the final resting place for hundreds of American soldiers killed during the attack was a moving experience for us all. A Pearl Harbor survivor was also visiting the memorial site with his family and Jason and Taylor spoke to the veteran and heard his remarkable story and how he was lucky to have been on land on December 7, 1941, rather than on the USS Arizona. It was remarkable to hear the first-hand story at the place where the tragedy took place. After lunch, we set off for Diamond Head State Monument. The climb to the top was definitely worth it because we were rewarded with some stunning views of the island of Oahu. Jack and Justin enjoyed posing for pictures with the incredible vistas. On the way back, some of us tried Hawaiian pineapple which many of us declared “the best pineapple ever.”
Yesterday, we crossed the island and headed out of Kaneohe Bay for a day of snorkeling. The bay was incredible and has been the setting for many Hollywood movies such as 50 First Dates and Pirates of the Caribbean. Our first stop was a huge sandbar. Jeremy said it was like being in the middle of a computer desktop background. Chase, Ariel, Pat and Eric were some of us who took part in a friendly Canada vs. USA football game – on the sandbar, right in the middle of the ocean! After lunch on the boat, we had a chance to see sea turtles and snorkel, where Sam and Ben D., among others, saw some amazing sea creatures.
Last night we celebrated with a final Hawaiian treat – an authentic Luau. Many of us got on stage and learned how to hula. We also watched the traditional Hawaiian dancers and took part in a feast. We are enjoying our last day at the hotel beach and pool today before our flight home tonight. While many of us have mixed feeling about saying goodbye and going home, looking back at the past 27 days, it’s incredible to think about all that we have accomplished and experienced together.
We’ve faced our fears head-on on many occasions and went beyond what we believed to be possible. We tackled the mighty Tully River on our rafts, tried “zorbing,” went SCUBA diving at the Great Barrier Reef, surfed in Surfers Paradise and climbed high in the trees to complete the extreme rope course challenge.
We’ve also had quieter moments where we appreciated the beauty of the land and the spirit of the Australian people. We saw many of the animals that make Australia unique and even spotted wild kangaroos hopping in the fields and dingoes on Fraser Island. We hiked the beautiful Atherton Tablelands and swam behind breathtaking waterfalls. We cheered with locals watching footy, learned some ‘Aussie lingo’, got a first-hand introduction to Aboriginal culture and tried some quintessential Australian delicacies, from kangaroo to meat pies and yes, even vegemite.
We’ve travelled up and down the East Coast of Australia, from Sydney, one of the worlds’ most vibrant and beautiful cities to the untouched beauty of Fraser Island to the charming, tiny village of Yungaburra. We now truly understand why there really is nothing like Australia.
In Hawaii, we paid our respects to those lost in World War II. We saw firsthand the beauty Hawaii is famous for, from the top of a volcano to the sandbars of the Pacific. We also had time to relax at the beautiful beaches of Oahu and explore the sights, sounds and tastes of Waikiki.
We’ve also gotten to know each other of what is now our travelling family. Through group activities, singing together on the bus to our favorite songs and sharing in a few “Tim Tam slams” we have all developed bonds with one another that we hope will continue to last into the future.
It’s been an incredible month Down Under and in the Aloha State of Hawaii. We have had a wonderful experience sharing it all together and we know that the memories made over the past month will live on for all us forever.
Mahalo (thank you) and farewell from Honolulu! We are looking forward to seeing you all at home very soon!
The Westcoast Blogger