Monday, November 5, 2012

Aloha Hawai

his is a rather long blow by blow of my recent trip to Hawaii. This is the first trip I’ve really ever taken with someone else. It was a blast, and Hawaii is such a great place. I ate great food, swam with sea turtles (twice), had a little too much to drink, saw a friend I haven’t seen in years, saw a whale, and saw some of the best scenery in the world. It was amazing.
FYI, there are several small images behind the cut. I will be posting several high resolution images to my Flickr account in the near future. The photos I add to Flickr can be seen in a slide show at the bottom of this page..
Day 1: Wednesday
We were supposed to arrive by 11:00 AM, but United pushed both of our flights back, so we spent most of our time at the airport. We finally arrived in Hawaii at 4:00 PM. We were picked up by from the gate by our driver, who was standing there with one of those cards with my name on it. (I wasn’t expecting that, and thought it was pretty cool.) After giving us both leis, he took us to our hotel.
Since it was so late, we went for happy hour at a nearby restaurant called Rumfire (which was one of several places recommend by my friend Rhoda). Rumfire offered Happy Hour food and drink specials, a view of the ocean, and the spectacular sunset.
Day 2: Thursday
We went to breakfast at a great little restaurant called Cream Pot, which was another of Rhoda’s recommendations.After breakfast we went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay.I had picked up a cheap underwater camera right before leaving, to take pictures during our snorkeling trips. The fish are used to a lot of visitors, so they mostly let us get really close to them.

After swimming around for a while, this guy came up to us and asked if we wanted to see a shark. We agreed to go take a look, and were shocked to find a 4 foot reef shark hanging out beneath the coral reef. We tried taking pictures, but I was too afraid to use the flash, so none of them came out. After that we decided to go back to shore and eat some of the snacks we had brought with us. When we got back to the beach, we noticed that something was wrong. Our bag of food had been rummaged through by something. Turns out there was a mongoose in the area, and he had tried to steal our beef jerky. I took a quick picture of him with the underwater camera, and took our jerky back from him.
Day 3: Friday
On Friday my friend Rhoda came to the hotel to pick us up. We took her to work, and she let us use her car for the day. (Which is just the coolest thing ever. I owe her so big when she comes back to Tucson!) First we went to Dole Plantation. We wanted to try our luck at the world’s largest hedge maze, but it was closed because of the early mornings rains (which had happened every morning of our trip). We licked our wounds over a bowl of freshly made pineapple ice cream, and continued our trek up north.

We never made it to the shrimp trucks on the north shore, because we spent so much time at Laniakea Beach. Eventually we had to head back into the city to return Rhoda her car. We were late getting back because of some heavy traffic and a missed turn, but Rhoda was very accommodating. When we finally got to downtown Honolulu, she invited us out clubbing. Sadly we were pretty tired from our time at the beaches and just wanted to go rest for the next day.
Day 4: Saturday
We had made plans to check out the Great Hawaii Lunch Wagon Festival at Kakaako Beach Park on Saturday. We had a ton of different food from almost every truck. We would get a few plates, and then go sit under a tree overlooking the ocean. Seemed like a pretty nice place to eat some pretty good food. 
After eating our fill, we decided to jump in the water and work up another appetite. We found this rocky outcrop that jutted into the water. Upon closer inspection it was covered in crabs. They would run and hide if you got too close, but I was able to snap a picture with a little help from the underwater camera.
After playing around, we went back for some more food truck goodness. We ate more, watched the sun set, and played around in the water a bit before heading back to the hotel. On the way back we stopped at Kua’aina Sandwiches. I had eaten at their California and Tokyo branches in the past, and wanted to try the Hawaiian side. (They only exist in Japan and Hawaii now, since the store in California closed.) It wasn’t as good as I remembered, but it was kind of neat to have eaten at all three locations.
When we got back to Waikiki, we wandered around some more, and stumbled upon this small teahouse (Cha-No-Ma Teahouse). It was really good. We had tea, dumplings, and these charcoal snacks the owner invented. (They are actually really good. I even liked the macadamia nut treats, and I usually don’t like macadamia nuts.) It was still nice to sit back, relax, and drink tea for a bit. 
Day 5: Sunday
I had found this snorkeling deal on Groupon for half off, and our reservation was for Sunday morning. The trip took us out to a place in the open water called Turtle Canyon. While the boat’s crew were disappointing, the trip itself was quite worth the discounted price.
Aside from underwater fishes and flying fish, we also saw some sea turtles being cleaned, and a whale! I managed to get a picture of the whale’s tail the one time it came above water too! It was a pretty exciting bonus which helped make up for the poor service of the ship’s crew.
After this snorkeling trip we went wandering around Waikiki again, and saw something we didn’t expect… penguins. Apparently the Hilton Village in Waikiki has an avian zoo setup, where many species of birds can walk around freely. It was kind of nice, and very unexpected.
Eventually we walked all the way to Honolulu, and to the floating Pagoda restaurant. This was really disappointing actually, and expensive to boot. Aside from not having a very big selection, the restaurant tilted every time too many people went to the buffet. But I got a good deal on the price from Groupon, so we ate up and walked back to Waikiki and caught another Happy Hour at the Yardhouse (yet another of Rhoda’s recommendations). This place was great. Rhoda described them as having big food and big drinks, and she was not lying. They have the best Happy Hour I’ve ever seen. Apparently there are a few throughout the US. I highly recommend checking them out if you live near one.
Day 6: Monday
Sadly, Monday was our last day. We had to check out by noon, but the hotel was gracious enough to let us leave our stuff there, and even provided us with a complimentary room to use later that evening. I’ve never heard of a hotel letting guests who have checked out have use of a free room, but the Ohana Waikiki Malia let us use a room to shower after playing at the beach! But before we could hit the beach, we needed to eat. We hit up the Wailana Coffee House, for some delicious breakfast foods. (Coconut syrup is my new favorite!) Then it was off to the beach.

We played around for a bit, I even went pier diving a few times. (Sadly, when Anna tried, someone from the nearby hotel came and told her she couldn’t do that.) After playing in the water for a while, we went back to the Yardhouse for another one of their Happy Hours (which really should be called Happy Days).
After that, it was back to the hotel, to shower off in the complimentary room, and another VIP trip to the airport. (I wasn’t expecting either of the arranged transportation services, but they were definitely nice surprises!) All in all it was a really fun trip! We both loved Hawaii, and I would go again tomorrow if I could afford it.

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