For the thanksgiving weekend we went on a trip to Hawaiian Islands. This came to me as a total surprise when I had least expected. The day before long weekend (27th Nov) I told a couple of my friends that I had no plans. I even promised I would catch up with a friend for dinner or lunch on one of the days. Later that evening my husband told he has something to tell me if I get up very early the next day. I grumbled and he pestered me to wake up early. My husband is a morning person. He wakes up pretty early and expects me to do so to give him company in the morning. I thought it is normal that he asked me to get up early like he usually does. I just told I would.
As early as 7’o clock, my husband wakes me from sleep and says we have a flight to catch at 11 a.m. to Los Angeles, to visit his cousin. I washed my face still in confusion and in sleep. I smelt aroma of fresh filter coffee and slurped two sips to stimulate my brain. My husband was running all over the house, arranging documents, putting clothes for laundry and packing. In a couple of hours I got ready, still confused and remained silent.
Our friend PP came to drop us to SJO airport. He knew about our trip but kept mum even when we met the previous evening at our home and went out for snacks. We reached Los Angeles. At the American Airlines terminal, my hubby asked me to look at 46B, the board read, flight to Honolulu. I was completely thrilled and started laughing uncontrollably. We boarded a 6 hour flight to Honolulu, Oahu.
We landed at around 8:30 p.m. HST, went to car Rental and rented a car. We then drove to our hotel on Kuhio Avenue. While my husband was driving, I was navigating him with the help of GPS. Most of the street names start with letter K and are hard to pronounce like for example Punahou Kalakaua Kamahameha etc.. Sometimes I would simply spell the word. And by the time I had learnt to spell the names, we were leaving Oahu.
We arrived at our hotel Ambassador and checked in. Our hotel was in the prime area of downtown Waikiki. We went for a walk in search of food at 10:30 in the night. The city was still awake. Many shops and restaurants were still open, or as the hotel receptionist said, the closing hours was extended mainly for the long weekend. Waikiki city is very commercialized with super posh shops like Prada, Dior, GUCCI, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Hugo Boss, Tiffany & Co. along with shopping malls like Royal Hawaiian Center, Hilton Hawaiian village etc.. While they all stood proudly and royally, we went to grab a bite of pizza at Round Table Pizza on Kaiulani Avenue. It was hard finding a parking even at that time. With lot of one way lanes we went round and round and finally parked on Ala Wai Blvd and walked to Kaiulani Avenue. Round Table Pizza was dark inside and almost empty with a couple of tables occupied. We took a table in the balcony and silently watched people passing by us crossing street. For the first time in the entire day we sat relaxed taking a deep breath. I slightly pinched myself to make sure I was not dreaming. We ordered a Gourmet Veggie which was very salty and garlicky.
We had set the alarm clock to 6 a.m. but neither of us woke up until 6:30. We wanted to do the Diamond head Crater Hike to see the sun rise and finish the hike before it could get sunny. Even though we missed the sun rise, we woke up and got ready to hike. The weather was simply beautiful, not too cold and not very hot either, felt just like Bangalore. It was a 10 minute drive from our hotel to the park.
Le’ahi in Hawaiian means crater. If translated as “brow of the ‘ahi fish”, the crater as seen from Waikiki. This was on the information board at the entrance. I believe this crater was formed long ago due to volcanic activity. The entrance is in the middle of the crater. The hike from entrance to the view point is 1.6 mile and moderate. It gets very steep in the end though. The view point is on the rim of the crater. The view from here is worth all the sweat. Some of the photos taken at this view point is below. By the time we came back, there were lot of tourists at the entrance and hardly any parking space left. It’s ideally better to finish off early in the day.
Above photo: The crater clearly seen from the rim of the crater itself.
Above photo: Beautiful view of Diamond Head Light House
Above photo: Waikiki city and the beach from the view point
Above photo: Greenish Blue ocean and coconut trees
After the hike we came to our hotel and got ready to go out for breakfast. We went to Denny’s on Kuhio Avenue. For breakfast we had oat meal, English muffin, fruit bowl, whole wheat pan cakes from ‘Build your own grand slam’. As we had breakfast we decided to drive to North Shore taking H1 and Kamehameha(named after a Hawaiian chief) Highway.
Our first stop was at Dole Plantation on Kamehameha Highway. The shop at the entrance was crowded with visitors. There usually is a tour to plantation which is mainly for children. We didn’t take it. We bought a sweetcorn and mixed fruit bag that had fresh local grown Pineapple, Mango, coconut pieces, Banana and Papaya. The fruits taste amazingly good.
For visitors, on a patch, they have grown different variety of pine apples. Below is one photo captured by my hubby.
After Dole Plantation, there was heavy bumper to bumper traffic on road. A couple of random photos that I captured while waiting to move.
Our next stop was at a beach on North Shore. The currents were powerful. They came raging and roaring, hitting the shore chasing us. We didn’t give up, we ran away from it. A little game. The beach was slippery with algae. There was a warning sign for public not to enter. Anyway we were not prepared with additional clothes. After some photo shoot and play we got back on road. The traffic was again very slow.
After 3-4 miles we realized there was Surfing World Cup Championship being held which explained the heavy traffic. There was no parking and we were getting hungry. We didn’t stop anywhere. There were fresh shrimp, shark, fish and other sea food trucks available. A tourist we met at the beach told us they were really great. We drove for a long time until we found a taco bell. We are not fond of taco bell but for that day that was our feast. There are small road side shops where they sell tender coconut and Hawaiian art. We bought a tender coconut, it was incredibly sweet. Back in India, after we drink the tender coconut water, the vendor cuts the coconut in half to eat the white fleshy part. I love this!! We asked the vendor at Hawaii if she knew to cut it, and she did! The white tender slimy flash was tasty and relishing.
After lunch we drove back towards Waikiki on Kamehameha Highway. Since we still had lots of time before dark, we thought of going to Kailua Bay. We missed the exit to Kailua Bay, a narrow single lane road.
We reached Waikiki around 5 p.m. and decided to spend the evening at Waikiki. The tacos we had for lunch were not very filling and we decided to finish of dinner early by 6 or so. On Beachwalk Avenue there’s an Italian restaurant, Arancino which had veggie options. There was 45 minute wait even at 5:30 in the evening. We gave our name and just went for a stroll.
Due to space constraint in the island there are many high raise buildings. The beachfront hotels The Royal Hawaiian Waikiki, Sheraton, Embassy Suites are grand and magnificent. Across the road in a nearby park by the beach we noticed a crowd and some people in native Hawaiian costumes. We walked fast to the crowd dressed in native Hawaiian and learnt there was going to be a parade on Kalakaua Avenue at 7 p.m.. We still had sufficient time but just hoped we got a call from Arancino soon so we could finish dinner soon. We further explored the neighboring streets. In almost every street there’s one ABC store, to buy souvenirs like fridge magnets, Hawaiian dancing dolls, T-shirts, flowers, garlands and so on. By then in 15 minutes or so we got a call that our table was ready.
Arancino is pretty small but cosy restaurant with great ambiance. I loved their lighting and the Focaccia bread with fresh olive oil. We ordered melanzane alla parmiginia, oven baked eggplant Parmesan for appetizer and spaghetti all’ ortolana, vegetables tossed with garlic and olive oil for entree. The cheese, the bread was pretty heavy. The service was excellent and taste was amazingly great. My hubby said that was the best spaghetti he had ever had.
After dinner, we walked to Kalakaua Avenue and waited for the parade to start. The entire street was jam packed, people sat on the footpath eagerly waiting for the parade. As the parade began, students from local schools marched wearing school uniform beating drums,blowing trumpets, holding the school flag, showing their skills. In between, war veterans, survivors of Pearl Harbor drove waving at us. The street applauded in return. Some photos of the thanksgiving parade here. We thoroughly enjoyed the parade and performances of students and other folks.
After the parade, we went inside a mall and tasted free samples of cookies and coffee. It seems in Hawaii they grow coffee. After spending about 30 minutes loitering in the mall and the street, we returned to our hotel and called it a day. We slept setting the alarm to 4:00 a.m. for the next day adventure.