Barry and I decided it was time to spend another day apart so he opted to go and scuba diving again, whilst I took a helicopter ride with my Dad and brother-in-law Glyn flown by the amazing Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. What better way to see the entire island of Oahu?
As I booked the trip, I arranged for a pick up from my hotel, which meant Dad and Glyn had to walk all the way down to me – payback! It didn’t take long to get to the airport and once there we were given the usual OTT safety talks that they do in the US to stop people suing them for any injuries/loss of limbs/death etc. We were each given a little yellow life jacket pack to wear around our waists and a number for the seat we would be sat in. We then made our way out to board. We had to line up in order of our seat numbers and then one by one we made our way over to the helicopter, where we were strapped in and given a set of headphones so we could hear the pilot over the whirring of the blades. There were two other ladies that were in the helicopter with us, which meant that the three of us had the back row of the helicopter. I had a window seat, which was great but also meant that I was in charge of the emergency exit should anything happen to us. God help the rest of the passengers, as I hadn’t really paid attention in the safety briefing thinking that we would get to pick our own seats!
Once everyone was strapped in, the helicopter was ready to take off. I hadn’t been in one since our wedding day 4 years earlier, so I’d forgotten what it feels like. You get a really strange sensation of weightlessness as it takes off and then it’s more or less like being in a normal aeroplane, except when the wind takes you, the turbulence is a lot worse as the plane feels like it is dropping through the air and your stomach flips. Thankfully this only happened a couple of times when we went through the valleys.
We flew over the harbour and then continued on down to over Waikiki beach. I was lucky that I was sat on the left side and we were flying over the right side of the island. Poor Glyn was stuck on the right side of the helicopter so all he could really see was the ocean! As we got to the end of the beach, we reached Diamond Head, an extinct volcano, which we were planning to climb the very next day. It could be seen from the beach and our hotel and it did look massive. Looking at it from up above though, the trail looked really narrow – I started to get concerned!
It all looked really green from up high and was covered with valley’s where lava flow and water erosion over thousands of years had carved out peaks and troughs. We then flew over some islands including Rabbit Island. I have no idea where they get these names from – apparently it looks like a rabbit, but I couldn’t make it out! We continued on over some more sea, where you could see lots of sand banks beneath the water. Some were high enough that you could walk out to local islands. We could also make out sea turtles from up in the air. They were just big brown blobs but it was amazing that you could see them from so high up and showed how clear the sea was.
Next we went right over the park. Where the valleys were really deep and it was filled with giant trees and bushes. Our pilot let us know that a film crew had been there about 2 weeks ago filming Jurassic Park 4. They’d built a piece of the set in the valley and we could see it from the helicopter. I have no idea what it was and no one was allowed to know, but I’ll be looking out for it when the film is released! As we got further into the valley, the wind picked up and we started to get some light rain on us. This is when the helicopter took a little drop. My stomach flipped a little, but no one else seemed to bat an eyelid. We then circled round a huge waterfall. I think it was about 150 metres high. It looked massive from where we were in the air, so I can’t imagine what it must look like if you were standing in front of it.
We then reached the North Shore where we had been the previous day for shark diving. When we’d been on the boat, we could see a wind farm in the distance back behind the shore. Now I could see this from the air. I could see the bay where the turtles and had been. I tried to look for some, but the water wasn’t as clear here.
Our last sights were the airfield where all the army planes were lined up. You could even see the craters in the ground from where the bombs had hit. The government had decided to preserve these as part of their history. And lastly we saw Pearl Harbour, where you could see the USS Arizona Memorial and the battleship laying just below the surface underneath it.
As we came in to land it was smooth. It always amazes me how a helicopter just goes into land vertically. They don’t need to gradually touch down at an angle like a plane. It must take some skill from the pilot to land like that!
I’ll let Barry tell you about him scuba diving.
The Island Divers Hawaii van picked me up at 7. Way too early to be waking up on holiday if you ask me! We arrived at the dive centre and setup our gear. My guide, Maxine, help me with a few things and after a McDonald’s breakfast, we all headed off on a smaller boat than I had been used to. The sea was rough and through it about all over the place. It made the Shark boat seem smooth! On the way to the first dive point, our boat was followed by a group of dolphins jumping in and out of the water. My first sight of wild dolphins.
The water was warm at about 25 degrees Celsius. It was the first time that I never wore a wetsuit and I was hitting another “never done before”, as the first dive was to a few sunken wrecks.
We made our way to the seabed and straight away were greeted by two massive rays swimming alongside each other. And about 5 minutes after that, a lone turtle. The visibility was really good and the temperature was just right.
We made it to the first wreck. It was a small barge. Too small to actually go inside but it was cool to look at and swim around.
Next stop was a large barge. This seemed really big but we never got to swim in it. I was more than happy to just admire it.
The second dive was a bit more interesting. Where as the first dive was quite slow paced, the second entry in to the water was completely different. It was like we were the SAS and going on a mission. One after the after we stepped off the boat. I’d say about 15 of us left the boat in single file in about a minute!
Once at the bottom, we let the current take us. There were a few fish and turtles hiding in wreckage. It was all going well when Maxine, our guide, was attacked by a Moray Eel. An actual real life eel attack! These things can be lethal and should be given a wide birth at all times. However, this one came out of no where and started to eat her hand. Despite the pressure she quickly put on it, the blood poured out filling the water. Sure I was a little concerned for her, but I was more concerned about local sharks who can smell blood in the water for miles!
We made our way to the surface when the boat picked us up and she received medical attention. You could see bone. It wasn’t a nice sight but she lived to tell the tale. The dive was cut a little short but I’d witnessed my first scuba attack so it was worth it. Is that too twisted?
I returned to my hotel room and fell asleep for a few hours whilst I waited for Stef to return. Scuba diving certainly does take it out of you!
I’ll let Stef continue the rest of the day!
That night we went down to the beachfront to watch some Hawaiian dancing to live music. Our hotel was at the opposite end of the beach to where the show was. I decided that instead of walking down the street to get there, we should walk along the beachfront esplanade. I had no idea how long it would take but I figured it should be quicker given that it was just one straight route and not the twists and turns that the street way took. I underestimated it and Barry was cursing me cos he didn’t want to get his feet sandy or wet – he was wearing flip-flops!! Such a girl! In the end he was glad I made him go that way as we got to see some turtles in the sea. They were much closer and the sea was much clearer than when we’d seen them the previous day, plus we got some great photos.
We arrived at the show about 15 minutes late, but it didn’t matter. It was all open so you could just walk over and sit on the grass.
Once the show finished we all headed off to the Rock Island Café. It was kitted out like an old 50’s diner, covered with memorabilia. As usual, the food was yummy but the portions were massive and you came out of there feeling double the weight you went in at! Good job we were going hiking the following day!