Hula’ing in Hawaii

I recently had the opportunity to go to Hawaii for two weeks with my family. The trip was made up of one week in Waikiki and one week on a cruise boat visiting most of the islands. Below are a few of my favourite memories from the trip. I’ll post my travel diaries over the coming weeks too.

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Relaxing in Waikiki. Our hotel was right on the water and it was great to wake up first thing in the morning and see all of the surfers out and about. Sipping a Hawaiian coffee while having a beach stroll was how I spent most of my mornings as I was the only early riser in the group. Waikiki beach gets pretty busy so it was nice to not have to compete for space this early.

The food is so fresh and diverse in Hawaii, even on the smaller islands. There is a strong Japanese influence, so we ate a lot of sashimi which just melted in our mouths and I also ventured to a farmer’s market where one store had 33 varieties of banana. Pineapple is served with almost everything and it makes the Australian varieties taste like cardboard in comparison. The food stalls on the side of the road with traditional meal plates, consisting of meat and rice, and sometimes vegetables was delicious. We had smoked chicken from a stall in the middle of the Road to Hana, three hours from any larger towns. The thought of it still makes my mouth water.

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When most people think of Hawaii they think of hula, lei’s and cocktails. I can certify that I did get lei’d numerous times and the cocktails are amazing. It’s a local saying that ‘a Pina Colada a day keeps the doctor away’. OK, maybe that’s just my saying, but hey it worked and I still reminisce about sitting under the Banyan tree, drinking Pina Coladas and watching the bikini/board-short-clad world go by.

The snorkelling. I’ll post specific details later, but it felt like if you popped on a snorkel and went for a swim you were bound to see something! We did snorkel tours and our own snorkelling. Whilst the coral isn’t anywhere near as colourful as Australia’s, the fish were plentiful, vivid and tropical. I even was lucky enough to spot an octopus, eel and too many large turtles to count.

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Volcano National Park. Even though I’ve seen plenty of volcanoes after living in New Zealand , I found Volcano National Park spectacular – when you walk through the huge crater you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. We did a great 6km hike (despite me being severely hung over after one too many Pina Coladas) which involved a climb through lava caves, a hike into the crater and then a trip to a local waterfall.

IMG_2822Hula dances and ukulele performances. The Hawaiian people are always friendly and willing to help. Sure they take their time, but it’s island time and if you don’t plan on slowing down in Hawaii you are probably in the wrong place.

Learning to surf. You can’t go to Hawaii and not try to get on a surfboard. I’ve never seen so many surfers in one place as there are in Waikiki. The local surfer boys make it look so easy, especially when surfing alongside the tourists who seem to have a beacon pointing at them. Watching them fall off their boards was as entertaining as watching the naturals. I must admit I was part of the beacon group, but with a bit of practice every day and my brother’s feeble attempts at coaching; ‘you just gotta stand up!’ I did slowly improve and was only involved in one surfing altercation which my brother attended to for me (cue two macho men splashing each other in the water – hilarious!)

Most importantly are the family memories. As you get older, the opportunities to spend time with your family are less and less. This trip was perfectly timed as my brother moved to Canada the following month and I’m about to head off on another overseas jaunt so it gave us all some new memories to cherish. Impressively, there was only one drama between my brother and I over the two weeks, involving car sickness and the Road to Hana but that’s a story for another time. I guess we must be getting more mature in our old age… or everyone’s assumption that we were on our honeymoon gave us our own honeymoon period… after we had been suitably grossed out of course.

There are many more things I could list – Hawaii is a great place in that there is something for everyone to do, and I loved going somewhere that one day we could be in the middle of Honolulu and the next on a boat in the middle of nowhere free diving amongst 1000’s of fish or even climbing volcanoes. I would love to be back sitting under the Banyan tree drinking a Pina Colada silently observing…

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