25 June 2016
After one heck of a journey, I was greeted at the Honolulu airport by my dear friend, Malissa. She lei’d me and then presented me with a cold Diet Coke and amazing cream puffs. Welcome back to America!
We dropped my bag off at home and headed to the Sand Bar. We left from Kaneohe Bay, the marine corps base. We had access because Mal’s friend Jenna works for the army. The sand bar is great because the water is warm, calm, and shallow. Most of the afternoon we watched the waves break in the distance one direction, and the clouds gather and rain fall in the other direction.
Mal told me that it rains every day in Hawaii, but never for very long. “How would we be the Rainbow State without any rain?”
While Seychelles was gorgeous, Hawaii has a much more tolerable temperature and far less humidity. Both places are green with beautiful, clear water, but if I had to live in one, I’d choose Hawaii.
26 June – My birthday!
We started the day at the Mermaid Caves of Ko Olina.
Remember: If you jump into the caves, you have to be able to get out. Be sure to go early in the morning so that the tide isn’t too high inside the caves. These become blow holes at high tide. Not all caves are safe to enter.
After the caves, we had a birthday breakfast at My Cafe where we devoured the Trio of Pancakes as a team and I porked out on a chorizo omelette. That evening, we went to the Big Kahuna Lu’au. Mal had found discount tickets on Groupon to help counter the sticker shock. The food was great, 5 drink stamps were included (alcoholic or non, each worth their own number of stamps), the pre-show activities were fun, and rumor has it that our driver was a great story teller, but I fell asleep, cause, you know, jetlag…
We started the day with Pearl Harbor. Entrance is free, but there are limited tickets, so you either need to go early (like before it opens because there is already a long line), or you need to reserve tickets in advance. The exhibits were great, very informative, and full of war history and stories. It was disappointing, however, that the dock above the USS Arizona was being renovated, so we couldn’t take a look at the ship from directly above.
I learned more about the attack on Pearl Harbor that day than I ever had in school.
The rest of our day was full on. Our next stop was Waimea Valley near the North Shore where we walked through the botanical garden to see the waterfall. The trees and plants in the garden were fascinating. The water was a bit murky, though.
We were a bit too late to catch the shrimp trucks on the North Shore, but we did enjoy shaved ice (get the ice cream underneath), spotting rainbow eucalyptus trees, and window shopping in Haleiwa.
Last, we stopped at Turtle Beach just to check the big guys out:
But, you know, be careful…
Fitting for Shark Week.
We started the day with brunch at Yogurstory where I ate moco loco, which is essentially shredded pork and fried eggs on rice. Despite feeling too large to move, Mal and I caked on the sunblock and went to Lanikai to do the Pill Box hike. The pill boxes are all over the island and left over from the war.
Now, much like many hikes in O’ahu, the entire hike is in direct sunlight. Apply, re-apply, and repeat when it comes to protecting your skin. And wear a hat. Mal also introduced me to the Hydro Flask. It’s a thermos, but better! My water stayed cold ALL day.
This is a beautiful hike and not too difficult, but it’s very important to have good, grippy shoes on. I found it easier to walk on the rocks wherever possible because the dry, loose gravel made for slippery conditions.
At the end of the hike, we had a very comfortable swim at the beach, enjoyed an apple banana, went to an ice cream shop owned by a fellow NIU Huskie, and stopped for Poke at Foodland on the way home for dinner.
East Side Drive Day. I heard that Waikiki and Hawaii in general has pretty good public transit, but I sincerely doubt we would have seen as much as we did without a car of our own. I definitely recommend renting a car while staying in O’ahu.
Our tour started with a couple lookout points near Diamond Head and Koko Head.
We took a brief pause here to indulge ourselves at Cinnamon’s. I ate Guava Pancakes (Holy Heaven) and a crab cake sandwich.
Next, our drive took us by the Makapuu Lighthouse and Chinaman’s Hat. Here are some pictures from along the way:
Laie Point – This was one of my favorite spots of the day because I liked the legend that went along with the stone arches and little islands in the sea. Look it up!
Since we didn’t make it to Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck the other day, we stopped at the original one, not the North Shore one, for dinner.
Lastly, we enjoyed a swim at Sunset Beach, which was entirely lovely with the exception of the man in a cowboy hat sneaking into all our pictures.
Mal and I left early in the morning to go snorkling at Hanauma Bay, which we had driven near the previous day. This was my first snorkling experience and I loved, loved, loved it!
Sadly, Mal had to go back to work that evening, so I was on my own the rest of the day. I got myself a smoothie and then enjoyed some time in Waikiki watching the surfers. After awhile, I wandered down the main street and found a lovely farmer’s market going through a mall of sorts, and a street market. When I exited, I stumbled upon the Royal Hawaiian Center where there was live music and hula dancing. It was a great way to spend the afternoon and early evening.
The next morning, Jenna and I went on the Diamond Head hike. Jenna described it perfectly when she said this hike wasn’t her favorite because there are so many tourists hiking it that you feel like you’re waiting in line at an amusement park. It is VERY crowded and feels very rushed. Be prepared for LOTS of stairs leading to your reward of a great view over Waikiki.
After that, I went to the beach for a bit of floating. After going to several incredible beaches with Mal, I felt like the Waikiki beach was cloudy and not nearly as clean. After my swim, Jenna and I walked over to the Banan truck for some whipped banana. It isn’t ice cream, but that’s the easiest way to describe it. It’s delicious and healthy! After that, I went to Rainbow’s for a plate dinner and then took a long walk towards the Hawaiian Village hotel for their weekly fireworks.
I spent my last full day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. For an additional fee, they’ll pick you up at the nearest hotel, which is great since it is far away and I didn’t rent a car. I really enjoyed wandering around the different “islands”, listening to the music, watching the dancing, and learning about Polynesian games and traditions such as their tribal tattoos, how they make clothes and baskets, and seeing how fast they can climb a coconut trees. The people were beautiful and had an incredible sense of humor.
I’m torn about weather or not I would recommend getting a guide. At the beginning I felt like I was lost or missing something going on my own. I didn’t have a map or a schedule, though. Once I got my hands on a schedule, I was much better off. The evening ended with a great big buffet and an impressive show.
I told my parents I fell in love with the Samoans and my mother became absolutely obsessed with the idea of having big, beautiful, Samoan grandchildren.
I finished off my trip with a breakfast at Sweet E’s with the girls.
Thanks, Jenna and Mal, for hosting me and giving me my first taste of the Hawaiian Islands! We ate all the pig and saw all the things. I can’t wait to go back and tackle more hikes, as well as the other islands!
Next stop: HOME.