Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Aloha Oahu - Part 1

Awhile back, I was talking to a friend about how we always ask each other about places we've traveled to, looking for suggestions of places to go and restaurants to try.  We said we should start a collective blog amongst all of our friends so we can chronicle places we've been and be able to reference the blog for suggestions.  It's been three years since this conversation and it hasn't happened so I'm going to chronicle some our trips through this blog for your reading pleasure.  Hopefully, this entry will come in handy for you someday!

So, first up -- Hawaii.

We've been to Oahu twice in the past two years.  The first time we went, we went with two of our friends and my brother and his family.  The second time, we went on our own. This post will be in two parts - to do and to eat!

So before I begin with any pictures, one thing we did on both trips was snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, but I don't have any pictures of it. I think both times, I left all of my valuables in the trunk of the car since we knew we'd all be in the water with no one watching our things.  Even though Hanauma Bay is touristy and crowded, it's super easy to get to if you stay in Honolulu and it's good for beginner and more advanced snorkelers.  The first time we went, Chris and our friend Jer snorkeled out pretty far and came back to tell me they found something super cool and I should go out and take a look. I asked, "Was it a sea turtle?" Chris just smiled so I assumed that's what they found since the intro video they show you said there might be some in the reef.  So I followed him around, swimming out way deeper than I was comfortable with for close to 45 minutes looking for what I thought was a sea turtle. We didn't find it and when we got to shore, Chris told me I spent the past 45 minutes looking for a shark! A shark! No thank you mister. I'm glad we didn't find it.

Here are other things we did:

A: Halona Blowhole - Excuse my crazy hair. It was windy. When you watch the video below, you'll understand why I look like Medusa. This is on the southeast side of the island. Back in 2007, we went with a group of friends on a cruise and saw La Bufadora, one of the largest blowholes in North America. We were underwhelmed. Maybe it was just having a bad day, but Halona was much better.

B: The Aloha Stadium Swap Meet - We were supposed to go on our first trip so we decided we should go at least once.  It cost a couple bucks to get in and we walked around the stadium listening to Hawaiian music, people selling souvenirs and gifts and trying Ling Hing powdered everything. We walked out empty handed and super sweaty.  People were walking away with bags of stuff, but we hate collecting clutter and nothing caught our fancy. If you want a puka shell necklace circa 1999, though, you'll get the best deal at the swap meet.

C: Diamond Head - It's not a difficult hike and just over a mile or so to the top.   When you start the hike, it's a paved cement walkway which made the hike that much easier.  The hardest part was the super steep flight of never-ending stairs near the top.  But overall, an easy hike and a beautiful view of the crater and the city below. At the top, there's a guy sitting there with a certificate of completion, but if you want one, bring a few bucks up with you. I was getting ready to fill it out just for fun to take back home when the guy told me it costs $2.  Since neither of us brought money, I had to give it back. Boo.

D: Ko'Olina - It's quite a drive out to Ko'Olina, but it's a beautiful resort area with lots of nice hotels, including Disney's new resort, Aulani.  There are four man made lagoons, nice grassy areas and showers to rinse off.  The showers made Ko'Olina one of my favorite beaches because I hate feeling sticky. The day that we went, we went out to Lagoon 4.  Chris and I like to swim out to the middle where the water is colder and we know it's being circulated. The water closer to the shore where all the kiddos play is pretty warm (catch my drift?).  Later that night when we were back in our room watching tv, the news reported that a man had drowned out in Lagoon 4 earlier that day!  :( Always swim with a buddy! By the way, there is a Target near the freeway when you go to Ko'Olina.  They had lots of Hawaiian souvenirs and gifts, just like Walmart, and a special Aloha shop near the front.

E: Paradise Cove - On our first trip, we decided that we'd go to a cheesy, touristy luau.  Paradise Cove is right by Ko'Olina. The luau was good, the entertainment was fine, but the company and the view made the night.  Next time, we'll probably go to the Polynesian Cultural Center luau.

F: Northshore - What separates tourists from locals isn't how you speak or what you wear at the beach, it really comes down to how dark your tan is.  Locals have a deep dark tan that requires a lifestyle under the sun. Tourists can't fake it. Our white thighs give us away far too easily.  The day that we went to Northshore, the waves were so crazy, the lifeguards advised everyone to stay out of the water and only experienced locals who had fins or were surfing should stay in the water.  We sat back on the beach and watched these incredible waves and the locals surfing them while Chris and Jer decided to take a chance and get into the water. They didn't go too far, but Pris and I told them that we didn't want to tell everyone our husbands were washed out to sea when we got back home.

G: Laniakea - This little unassuming area off Kamehameha Highway is a little treasure!  I was so excited to get up close to these sunbathing sea turtles! There are volunteers who work there to answer your questions and to make sure that you don't touch or harass the sea turtles. Did you know you can be fined if you touch a sea turtle in the wild?

H: Kahala Resort - At this tucked away resort, you can swim with the dolphins. Since I was pregnant, I didn't want to shell out the $200 it costs to spend some time in the water with these guys, but luckily you can watch other people who did! Check out the video below.

I: Keep your eyes peeled for rainbows...or better yet, double rainbows!  What does it mean?!

Last, but not least, one of our favorite beaches is Lanikai. Our friends Jer and Pris introduced us to this beach. The clear water, the sea turtles bobbing next to you as you swim, the soft fine sand. What's not to love? We rented some kayaks and kayaked from Kailua to Lanikai. We stopped at a little island in the middle of the water to look at the local birds before resting at Lanikai.  The sea turtles were literally bobbing up and down right next to our kayaks.

So much fun reminiscing about Hawaii! In Part 2, I'll show you what we ate. :) Till then!

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