– A Week Spent in Paradise –
I am beyond thrilled to be headed back to Hawaii in two short weeks, and I can’t help but reminisce about the first time Devin and I went there in April 2008.
After catching a series of bad flights we had United Vouchers to blow, and figured Hawaii was as good as a place as any, so we booked a hotel and jumped on the plane. We stayed at the Ilikai Hotel which overlooks the boat harbor and lagoon, but is a bit of a walk to the beach. It’s a nice hotel, nothing to write home about, but I did love the kitchenette so we could do breakfast and quick snacks to save money.
The first few days we just hung around Waikiki soaking up the sun and the beach and exploring a few things around the neighborhood:
- International Marketplace- This marketplace consisted of stalls set up selling crafts, jewelry, food and my favorite pick-a-pearl. About every five stands would appear a pick-a-pearl, where you select an oyster from a bucket and they shuck it for you to reveal a beautiful pearl inside if you are lucky. They all offered coupons, and my best pick was a giant black pearl for $7 – apparently they make the money off setting it in a ring or necklace and not the pearl itself. I had grand visions of taking my pearls, 4 of them, home and creating a beautiful piece of jewelry, and 8 years later, they are still sitting in a bag- whoops! Apparently this marketplace is now closed and will reopen later this year as a mall like structure.
- Roy’s Hawaii- We had to try Roy’s where it originally started, although this isn’t the original restaurant we were impressed with the fresh seafood and the awesome spicy edamame.
- Diamond Head Crater- This is a relatively easy hike, less than 2 miles round trip, with a steep paved incline until you get to the 175 stairs to the top, that’s when the struggle really kicks in. Devin and I decided to walk there from our hotel, which was mistake #1, by the time we reached the visitor’s center we had already walked 4 miles and were struggling to catch our breath as the cars zoomed by us. Mistake #2 was when one of us lost the camera. Luckily we had run out of space on the memory card and purchased a new one, so I have a few pictures of our vacation. The payoff of the hike is so worth doing it, the panoramic views of Waikiki can’t be beat!
- Paradise Cove Luau- It’s not a Hawaiian vacation until you go to a Luau so we booked tickets through our concierge which included transportation from the hotel on a big shuttle bus. Upon arrival we were lei’d and given a Mai-Tai and left to explore the various arts and crafts around the grounds, which are breathtaking by the way. As part of a ritualistic ceremony everyone gathers around as the pig is dug up and paraded around before being carved up for dinner. During the dinner there is a performance on stage that is quite entertaining. Overall it’s a fun experience, and something that you have to do at least once in Hawaii, I’d skip it the second time though, but that’s just me.
We also wanted to explore other parts of Oahu not just Waikiki, so we rented a car and drove up to the North Shore.
- Waimea Falls- A beautiful botanical garden with a short paved hike up to a small waterfall. The plants and flowers inside the garden were beautiful complete with a peacock, but the waterfall wasn’t nearly as huge as we wished it would be. For $16 per adult, I’d skip it and head to the beach instead.
- Laniakea Beach- This beach on the North Shore is known for the sea turtles that just bask in the sun daily. We were lucky enough to actually see a turtle, but leave it to the US to have it roped off with a person standing there watching you. (very different from our experience in Cabo where we held eggs that the turtle was laying right in front of us). This is a gorgeous beach, so even if you don’t get to see a turtle it is worth checking out.
- Shark’s Cove- This is a very popular snorkeling spot with calm waters* and a lot of fish. The rocky cove blocks the crashing waves, but I somehow managed to stand up on the rocks to pose for a photo while Devin was frantically waving his arms at me, and I just kept smiling unaware that he was motioning for me to get down. A giant wave crashed sweeping me off my feet and dragged me along the bottom of the coral covered ocean floor. By the time I could finally get up I was breathless, nearly drowned, and had bloody cut up legs and arms. So watch yourself, even in a “calm” reef the ocean is powerful and dangerous!
- Pipeline- The beach is famous for the huge waves and the crazy surfers that ride them, and it lives up to the hype. A local surf competition was going on while we were there, so we just sat and watched in awe for a while. They made riding 10 foot waves look so easy that I was ready to pick up a board and give it a try. But I was too chicken to even get in the water, I mean I’m all for adventure but after nearly drowning while snorkeling decided to sit on the sand while Devin jumped in to experience the waves for himself.
- Turtle Bay Resort- We stopped to grab appetizers and drinks here and the resort is beautiful, worth staying a night at, but I do warn it is pricey.
- Matsumoto Shaved Ice- People boast this as one of the best shaved ice places in Oahu. It’s the only one we tried so without a comparison I can’t give my verdict, but it’s not a hawaiian vacation without shaved ice so make this pit stop.
- Shrimp Trucks- While driving down the east side of the island we passed shrimp truck after shrimp truck. We were full but knew we’d regret it later if we didn’t stop at one so split a plate, and oh my gosh, amazing! It was seriously some of the tastiest, freshest shrimp I’ve ever had. Make sure to save some room and indulge on the shrimp plates from the trucks!
It was seriously such a good vacation and a week went by so fast. There is plenty to do to keep busy in Oahu and if you’re really lucky you can even go to one of the other islands for a few days on a quick plane or boat ride.
I can’t wait to go back in two weeks and I will not loose my camera this time!
That’s my story,