Well, it’s been awhile since I visited the old blog, eh?
In the last few weeks I went on vacation, had our AZA inspection at the Zoo and sent my boyfriend up to the Arctic for the summer…quite the busy time, I’d say.
The highlight of this action, of course, was the vacation! John and I traveled to Hawaii the first week of June. We decided it was high time to have an adventure. When you only have ten vacation days and most of them are used for weddings, it’s hard to get some non-nuptial related travel time in. So, a few months ago I decided to heck with it! I’m only young once, we’re going to Hawaii!
My friend Alex has lived in Honolulu for the last 3.5 years and she is moving back to the Mainland in August, so it was sort of now or never. Off we flew and, boy, am I glad we did!
Hawaii is simply the most magical place. It really is paradise. There are bright, beautiful flowers everywhere (my favorite are the Frangipani/Plumeria trees, the Mimosas and the Hibiscus), exotic trees and salty ocean smells. Green mountains, covered in lush, tangled jungles rise up across every landscape. Hawaii’s little slice of Pacific Ocean is just beyond blue. It is incredible. And the weather! Could not be any more perfect. Alex told me that in 3.5 years she has only heard thunder and seen lightening twice. The forecast is for sun and rainbows, always.
(Sunset at the aptly named “Sunset Beach” on the North Shore)
We are so lucky to have had the chance to experience Oahu and we definitely got a much needed taste of adventure!
One of the best parts about traveling from the Midwest to the Hawaiian Islands is the jet lag. Seriously! You wake up every day at 5:30 or 6:00 am raring to go! So, the first day we got up, ate a traditional Hawaiian breakfast of pork sausage and rice, and set out! Alex, John and I rented kayaks for the day. We took them to Kailua beach and kayaked to two “Mokes” or islands rising out of the Pacific. Kailua Beach is a dream beach in every way. Kayaking was a fun challenge and once we arrived on a “Moke” we played on the rocks, explored and enjoyed a picnic lunch. Later, we swam at Kailua, before getting our sandy, sunburned selves home. In the evening, we had a picnic in a park next to the ocean where we could watch the sunset. We tried poke which is a popular form of raw tuna and Haupia pie. Haupia is the Hawaiian word for coconut! The Hawaiian language is simply beautiful, but hard for me to master. I practiced saying humuhumunukunukuapua'a for days! (That’s a fish, by the way.)
On our second day of the trip John and I decided to put our scuba certifications to good use. We went diving off of the coast of Honolulu! I hadn’t been diving in the ocean since studying abroad in Australia eight years ago, so when our Dive Master told us we were going down 100 feet to see shipwrecks I was a bit nervous. I told him, “John and I are only certified to go down 60 feet.” and he replied, “Those are more like recommendations…” Great. But seriously, once I was ten feet beneath those rocky waves, I totally relaxed and it was incredible. The only difference between 10 feet and 100 feet it seemed to me was that you had to pop your ears a lot more! The water was so clear, it wasn’t very scary. Between both of our dives we saw 5 sea turtles, 6 sharks and a few eels plus countless gorgeous fish and coral formations. That evening we went out for sushi with Alex and Tim. Did you know that there are A LOT of Japanese people in Hawaii? True story. So there is plenty of amazing Japanese food to try too!
(A sea turtle on our dive trip. We saw one of those guys every day!)
On Monday of the trip, Alex, John and I went hiking. We hiked a trail overlooking Hanauma Bay which was–like pretty much all of Hawaii–so perfect. The views were just spectacular. The hike was steep, so we got a good workout in too. We were trying to find a “Rock Bridge,” which we never found, but we enjoyed exploring the cliff side while looking for it. After our hike we had lunch at a typical, Hawaiian “plate lunch” restaurant. I ordered teriyaki chicken, rice and macaroni salad and the portions were HUGE–also, apparently a Hawaiian trait. Later, Alex took us to a most gorgeous location with a nasty, terrible name. Cockroach Cove. Who thought of that? So dumb. I found out that this lovely swimming hole, complete with rocks to jump off of and a perfect, sandy shore is also called Halona Beach, so that is what I intend to call it from now on. That night we went on a little sailing cruise from Waikiki. It was so relaxing and the perfect way to spend the evening. Afterward, we stopped by Chinatown for delicious noodle bowls!
(View from Hanauma Bay hike)
(About to board the sailboat in Waikiki)
On the fourth day, Alex had to work so John and I set out solo. In the morning, we visited Pearl Harbor. I am a bit of a WWII history nerd, so this was on my “tourist to do” list for sure. As expected, Pearl Harbor is a solemn place (it is a tomb, after all), but a place to learn and remember as well. I thought about my Grandpa and all of the other men and women who served in that war. We also toured the Bowfin submarine, which was very interesting. I think being stationed on a submarine–especially one built in the 1940s–is possibly the worst fate, um, ever. All of those smelly men crammed into that confined space? No, thank you. After our Pearl Harbor visit we drove to the North Shore. I LOVED the North Shore. I’m not really a city person, so leaving the bustle of Honolulu behind to see the countryside and little, surfer towns was amazing. John and I took a horseback ride on the beach then spent the evening snorkeling with sea turtles, watching the sunset and eating more Haupia pie. Perfection.
Our final day of vacation was a low key mix of our favorite activities. We went on a hike to a WWII Pillbox and enjoyed a spectacular view of Kailua Beach and the Mokes. We picked up some fresh Hawaiian food (ahi wrap for me!) for lunch and took it to Kailua Beach where we spent the afternoon swimming, sunning and snorkeling. Finally, we said Aloha to Hawaii by watching the sunset at Waikiki and then enjoying a fancy, Hawaiian dinner and mochi ice cream.
(The whole group on our last evening at Waikiki.)
The entire trip was the perfect blend of adventure, relaxation and exploration. I know that there are lots of fabulous resorts in Hawaii, but I am so grateful that we got to experience this island with Alex and Tim. They taught us all about the local culture, food, language and legends and were the most perfect, generous hosts.
Check out Tim’s business, Menehune Hale, for a little Hawaiian folklore fun.
A hui hou means “until the next time we meet.” I sincerely hope I get to visit Hawaii again.
Until then, I have lots of pictures, a box of macadamia nut chocolates and plenty of precious memories.
Beautiful Oahu, a hui hou.