In late September, Angela and I traveled along with our good friends Meg and Travis Taylor to visit two of the Hawai’ian Islands: Oahu and Hawai’i. Here’s a description of some of the things we did and saw while there. You can also view two photo collections at my Flickr site, one of Hawai’i as well as one of the plant-life there.
Day One: Getting There
One of these days, I’ll feel like we actually were prepared by the time we left the house. Not so on this trip. Oh, we had bought several books for the trip (one of which we left at home) and we made packing lists. We even researched some of the less-beaten paths we knew we’d be taking while in Hawai’i, such as bringing cold-weather gear for the volcanic peaks. However, we still almost missed our flight due to waiting for the last minute to take care of things that could have been done earlier. Well, at least we didn’t forget anything other than our one book this time.
Our flight schedule had a lay-over in Cincinnati Airport (which is in Kentucky, oddly enough). In this, and the airports in Hawai’i, we would learn to appreciate the free WiFi at Richmond International. Although we couldn’t do some of the en-route travel research we would have liked, we got a bite to eat and discussed some of our plans for the week. The flight from Northern Kentucky to Hawai’i is a long one, especially since over half of it is spent over the open ocean. Further, flying ahead of the sunset makes for one hell of a long day. However, upon coming up to the island of Oahu, we had the chance to fly around the North Shore, Kaena Point, Leeward coast, and Pearl Harbor. That was a nice treat, which also gave us a great look onto some of the world’s most famous beaches as well as Hawai’i’s remarkable terrain.
After getting or luggage and picking up our unremarkable Chrysler Sebring sedan, we made our way over to the rental house where we had a suite reserved for the next three nights. Of course, as a child who grew up in the mountains, the first thing I was interested in was checking out the beach. Fortunately, I didn’t have beg one word to my three companions. We walked to the end of the block and through the public beach access onto a stunning golden sand beach. Travis and I did some body surfing and splashing while Meg and Angela strolled along the shore. Later that evening, we got some dinner at a Thai restaurant and picked up some groceries in the nearby town. A local man welcomed me to the island after noticing my total shock at a $6.50 gallon of milk. Yes folks, milk (and O.J.) is twice the price of gasoline in the state of Hawai’i. It’s not that they don’t have cows, either.
Day Two: North Shore & Around
The next day we decided to head up to the North Shore and try some snorkeling. We drove up the Windward coast to Shark’s Cove and rented four sets of snorkels, masks, and fins. Well, snorkeling gained no new practitioners that day in Meg and Angela. However, Travis and I had a blast at it. We even came back after lunch at a roadside shrimp stand with Travis’ newly acquired underwater 35mm camera. We photographed some fish and actually got to swim around with a sea turtle for a few minutes. Well worth getting in the water. Also at lunch, we visited Matsumoto’s grocery for the best shave ice in the entire world. Yes, David Williams is right, it is worth driving across the island for.
We drove as far West along the shore as the road would take us, just past Dillingham Air Field. We then took the highway down the center of the island, through the endless fields of pineapples. This was Dole country, so we stopped in at the Dole plantation visitors center. Although it was drizzling rain, we decided to take on the plantation maze (the world’s largest). The goal is to find six little stations hidden in the maze and trace a small template onto your timestamped card. Angela and I finished in around 48 and Meg and Travis were right behind us. It was fun enough, but being dry might have made it even better. We made it back to the rental house, dried off, and went out to pick up some burgers at a bar near Hanauma Bay.
Day Three: Honolulu & Diamond Head
The following day brought us down to Honolulu and Waikiki Beach. Both are great, but not really what we were in to. We all agreed to head up to Diamond Head, at which time the sky agreed to open up with rain. We then drove back down to Honolulu in search of rain gear, hiking shoes, and lunch. Lunch was found a Korean fast food place in the mall and some of the outdoor gear needs were met at a local sports store. Of important note: Honolulu has some great stores, but not if you’re looking for outdoor gear. Buy that stuff in Virginia. Anyway, by the time we made it back to Diamond Head, the sun was out and we were in for a great hike up through a volcanic crater turned military installation turned state park. The view of Honolulu and Waikiki is absolutely worth the hike up the hill. On the way back to the rental house, we stopped for a short excursion along the highway: to find the house where Magnum P.I. was filmed. Travis and I are 99% sure that we located the home, based on a map we had. It’s not quite the mansion it was made out to be, and is not in the best of shape, but it’s there all right. No Ferrari anywhere to be found, though. That night we headed back up the Windward coast to a local bar for dinner. I had a beer from the Kona brewery and we all sample local seafood in some form or other, all of which was very tasty.
Day Four: Pearl Harbor
The following morning, we packed up for the flight that evening and headed back down to Honolulu for breakfast at Eggs ‘n Things. The only thing I can compare it to is Pancake Pantry in Hillsboro Village of Nashville. If you get that, you get it. Otherwise, just imagine a really great breakfast you’d be willing to stand in line for an hour or more for. Next, we made our way over to Pearl Harbor to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. We got our tickets and had a little over an hour free, so we also checked out the nearby U.S.S. Bowfin, a World War II era submarine. Once again, the heavens opened up on us, but we made the most of it by purchasing some $1 ponchos at the gift shop. Those got us back over to the line to board the ferry.
After a short NPS film (narrated by Stockard Channing), during which we suddenly became very much aware of all the Japanese tourists in the room, we boarded the ferry to take us to the memorial. It is important to note that the sunken ship hull serves as the final burial place for the hundreds of crewmen that died on board. Also, of the survivors of the attack, some of whom had passed away just earlier this year, many have chosen to have their remains brought back to be interred with their shipmates. To me, that was probably the most moving part of the experience: witnessing sailors who, after so many years, still felt such a strong bond to their shipmates as to want to spend eternity back at the scene of what must surely be the greatest tragedy of their lives.
We returned our car and made it back to the airport in time to sit for a while and wait for our flight to the Big Island.