All text and photographs are Copyright (C) 2008, David A. Oshinsky.Our three island tour of Hawaii began with a direct flight into Honolulu, on the most populous island of Oahu (photos). We stayed two nights at the landmark hotel Moana Surfrider, on the beach at Waikiki. During our short stay in the Honolulu area, we first went to historic Pearl Harbor, the site where the U.S. direct involvement in World War II both started (the Japanese surprise attack) and ended (the unconditional Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri). On the way back from Pearl Harbor, we stopped in downtown Honolulu to tour historic Iolani Palace. Our last stop on Oahu was the beach at Waikiki, right behind our hotel. Next, we took a very short flight on a tiny airplane to the island of Maui (photos), where we stayed for five nights at the amazing Fairmont Kea Lani Resort, located on the south shore in Wailea. Judi and I both found Maui to be the most spectacular Hawaiian island that we visited, with an incredible variety of scenery ranging from the comparatively dry south shore, to the massive, stark Haleakala volcano, to the lush, tropical rain forest and (seemingly never ending) road to Hana on the east side of the island. The third leg of our trip began with a slightly longer flight (barely 45 minutes) from Maui to the lush island of Kauai (photos). We stayed on Kauai for four nights at the huge Grand Hyatt resort, on the south shore. It seems that any tropical plant should grow easily on Kauai, with mist and rain clouds rolling in and out, and consistently warm or hot temperatures. In Kauai, we drove to spectacular Waimea canyon and beyond, until the rain clouds rolled in and completely obscured our view from the Kalalau overlook. We did get there in time to get an excellent view of the canyon itself. Another highlight on Kauai was the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail, a hike starting near our hotel. It was very hot and the sun was brutal during our mid-day hike, but the scenery was simply stunning. Most of a day was spent on nearby Poipu beach, probably the most gorgeous beach that we have ever seen. We were having so much fun that we lost track of time, and ended up getting quite sunburned (despite repeated applications of sunscreen). On our final day in Kauai, we visited beautiful Allerton Gardens. No description of a Hawaiian adventure would be complete without mentioning the gorgeous tropical plants and birds that are to be found everywhere on the islands. Hawaii is over 2,000 miles from the nearest large landmass, and as a result the native species of flora and fauna are quite unique. Unfortunately, most of these native species have been overrun by numerous imported species, so much so as to result in quite a few extinct and endangered plants and animals. Having said that, what we did see was quite exotic and beautiful to Northeastern U.S. eyes, with a number of photographs found at these links: plants and birds. Our vacation ended with a brief flight from Kauai back to Honolulu airport, followed by the long flight back to the Northeastern U.S. We'll always have fond memories of this exotic, romantic getaway to a place that is so far away, not only in terms of distance.