Hawaii

The Hawaii Diaries: Day 2 & 3 – Pearl Habor & Hanauma Bay Snorkelling

Day 2: 16th October 2012

Up at a ridiculous hour to go to Pearl Harbour (Harbor for some). We soon learn that Hawaiian coffee is bitter and strong and proved quite hard to find a decent one much to our disappointment. In serious need of a good coffee hit we did finally stumble upon Island Vintage Coffee. The coffee here was smooth and creamy and the food was always fresh. I can highly recommend the cafe and their Acai bowls; I think I became their best customer as I was always awake well before the others and knew if I waited there long enough they would turn up – the never did disappoint!

The delicious food at Island Vintage Coffee

Our Pearl Harbour tour was a long one, it was organised with the rest of our booking Flight Centre. We had a great tour guide who knew what he was doing but because of the crowds there was a lot of waiting around in extreme heat and minimal shade. The historical video and the floating memorial were really interesting and the tour also included a bit of sightseeing around Honolulu but because Honolulu traffic is always at peak house it was quite slow. The day was worth it for me, but if you are in Hawaii purely to relax and you’re not really interested in history (no judgement passed – it is your holiday!) then I probably wouldn’t suggest it.

One of the last remaining battleships. This ship was used in the movie Battlship     Remains from the Pearl Harbour attack

That afternoon meant another surf and I was quite fatigued from the day before so struggled to have a strong paddle but caught a couple of waves.

Day 3: 17th October 2012

Up quite early again (Ben was not happy!) for a day of snorkelling.

Our tour driver to Hanauma Bay for snorkelling was a Vietnamese lady who told us her name was Lucy. We then named her Lucy Do after the Australian/ Vietnamese Anh Do as she was out there… I’m not even sure how to describe it in words other than to say she was definitely quite the character who spoke a million miles a minute. The extent of her instructions for snorkelling were to “not breathe through the nose” and to “just think about it”.  We found out later that her tour was a bit on the dodgy side – she didn’t have a permit to enter the bay so parked in a random car park and made us walk up a very steep hill.

Hanauma Bay

When we got to Hanauma Bay it was beautiful (but so dry and hot!). I had never been snorkelling on a reef before and although the coral wasn’t very colourful there were fish everywhere. It was amazing. Ben and I even saw a couple of turtles. The bay is a key tourist destination so there are a lot of people around; I was surprised that there was still so much wildlife.

The family waiting for Lucy to wake up

When we got back to Lucy’s van she was asleep in the back and so of course dad stared at her, at which point she instantly woke up. Lucy had to slap herself in the face numerous times to freshen up – it was quite comical.

Another day, another surf… minimal progress.

Wish you were here xx

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The Hawaii Diaries: Day 1 – Aloha Waikiki, Honolulu

Day 1: 15 October, 2012

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Lei’s and island beads

After a long plane ride I arrive in Honolulu with my mother, father and younger brother. We all were lei’d at the airport, and to my brother’s disappointment, this was the only action he got on the trip – which was actually lucky for me since we were sharing a room! The family was in Hawaii for a two-week holiday to celebrate my parent’s retirement and to have one last family holiday before my brother and I flew the coop (finally).

IMG_2752Ben and I... can you tell we've been flying for a while?!

The drive to Waikiki, Honolulu isn’t long but we can see Honolulu itself is quite run down and has a lower standard of living than Australia. We notice that there seems to be something missing that we are used to – mass advertising! We didn’t see any billboards, sign written cars etc. We asked our taxi driver about this and he mentioned that a law was passed to stop people from advertising in a way that detracts from Hawaii’s beauty. I must admit, it’s nice not having marketing unwilling thrown at you.

Waikiki is a completely different story than the rest of Honolulu; being the tourist mecca it is not run down at all and the main drag is filled with shops, palm trees and places to eat. At night torches are lit and hula girls dance the night away for your entertainment alongside a magnitude of buskers, some with macaws  that just seem so out-of-place being on a busy street rather than in a rainforest.

Source: Theage.com.au

Waikiki Beach
Source: Theage.com.au

The shops are open until late every night as people lay on the beach all day and socialise all night. One block away from the esplanade (away from the beach) the street is lined with run down apartment blocks – it’s hard to believe it is still Waikiki! On the other side of the street is the famous and pristine Waikiki beach – just as beautiful as the postcards.

Pina coladas

Pina coladas

We checked in at the The Moana Surfrider Hotel and had a very relaxing day under the Banyan tree, drinking pina coladas and watching the surf. My brother, Ben and I decided to rent to some long boards. This was the first time I’ve tried surfing since highschool – needless to say it was quite entertaining. I managed to stand up pretty fast, albeit not very well. Still on an adrenaline high we made a pact to surf every day, I was convinced I’d pass as an extra from the movie Blue Crush in no time. There are always at least 100 surfers at Waikiki, so I was a bit intimidated and just took my time and tried to learn some tips off the pros but all I seemed to learn was how to fall off!

Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe

That night being pretty jet-lagged we walked to Hard Rock Cafe – the first time we had eaten there. We weren’t very impressed with the food but the atmosphere and cocktails was a lot of fun.

– Wish you were here xx

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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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