It has come to my attention that I am a few days shy of taking a whole month to blog about my trip. With that realization, I am doing to try, no will, get through days 11-15 by the end of the weekend. These were some incredible days and I cannot wait to tell you about them.
Sunday, November 6th
Hanauma Bay, a gorgeous protected bay on the southeastern coast of Oahu formed from a volcanic crater in the earth and rising sea levels, was on my list of things to do before even landing in Honolulu. We had put off going a few times, not enough time, or we had other things to do that day, silly excuses for not making the trip out there. Well today was the day, but rather than having the black Mustang to do it, we had no mode of transportation but ourselves and whatever the government allotted us.
I can’t remember how we started the morning, probably sex, breakfast and booze, but around 1 or 2pm we started to make our way out to the bus station. We walked down to the end of Waikiki to catch a direct route rather than having to transfer. The walk was lovely, sun shining, hot people in bikinis wandering around with leis around their necks and huge waffle cones of Cold Stone.
We paused briefly for me to snap a quick photo of Duke, Hawaii’s famous Olympic swimmer, surfer and rescuer extraordinaire. He has an incredible story and is definitely worth Googling. It is a Hawaiian tradition to put leis on his arms. The line to take photos with him was endless. I attempted to snap a quick shot of him alone, but this lady jumped in out of the mob. Forgive me, random woman, for putting you on the internet.
The bus ride was fun. There was a group of about 5 college kids heading in our direction as well, gossiping about other students and drinking fresh juices, definitely freshman, but really getting into the Hawaiian vibe.
The bay was spectacular. A definite nature preserve (so many have been perverted with overflow of tourists and poor maintenance) with an orientation on the nature of the animals, coral and how to keep it all protected and happy. We made it only and hour and a half before closing, so we rushed down into the crater, rented some snorkel gear and jumped into the warm, gentle currents.
Hanauma immediately became my favorite spot on the island. The beach had a bit more people than I would have liked (if I had my way it would be empty), but the waters were crystal clear, warm and the most beautiful shade of turquoise. Fish were everywhere. And not shy at all. Kyle and I were both splashing around, trying to fix our masks and flippers, the fish were mere inches away as if to say, “hey, welcome, let’s swim.” And we did just that.
Kyle lead the way out to the deeper areas of the bay where the currents got a bit stronger, the fish a bit bigger and the water way deeper. You could still see the bottom, but it was at least 10-12 feet deep if not more. The goggles tend to play tricks on you. This is where we spotted the first sea turtle of the evening. And then the second, who swam right beside me. I couldn’t help myself; I reached out to gently stroke his shell as he casually swam by.
At this point we’d be out for a while. Saw all kinds of crazy fish, beautiful corals, incredible life all around us. The snorkel gear had to be returned at a certain time. We decided rather than risk the late fee, we’d head back to check the time. Versus backtracking the way we came, we chose the fastest distance between two points and cut a clear line to shore. The coral started getting closer and closer to the surface, leaving little more than a foot for us to swim. I sped up (when I swim too slow I tend to sink a little). At some point I lost Kyle.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
It was a little frightful being that close to the sharp coral, fearing a bold eel might come out and take nip at your belly. Eventually I hit sand and was able to stand. The water was about shin deep. Kyle made it back to shore a little ways down from me.
We ended up having quite a bit more time. With the northern corals left unexplored, we headed in that direction. The coral was tighter and the people, thicker, but we did see a beautiful parrot fish and two more sea turtles. So much for being endangered. I’m glad to see they are at least thriving here. Such amazing creatures.
“Wasting away again in Margaritaville!” It is impossible to visit a place and not hit a single tacky tourist trap. We chose ours wisely and went to the Jimmy Buffet restaurant on Waikiki. So worth it. The whole place was open air, really chill music, incredible island drinks and just a fun, fresh vibe.
The food was also really good!! We had checked out Yelp reviews before going. They only had a 3.2 or something. Almost changed our minds. Good thing we didn’t! Yes, the place is tacky. It is meant to be tacky! People gave it a low rating because it was touristy and lame. What those people forget to realize is that that is the whole point. But the food was spectacular. We split some fire, spicy shrimp appetizer which was to die for, flavor packed and delicious. I had fish tacos, again and so good, while Kyle enjoyed some mahi mahi.
It was such a fun, easy going meal. The service was incredible too!
Monday, November 7th
We took it easy Monday. There were a few things we wanted to do before my flight out that Thursday night and they all required bookings. I had called a few horseback riding places over the weekend trying to find something for Monday, but none of them returned my calls. Kyle kept trying to get us set up for a dive, but found most things to be booked (this is why I usually crazy plan ahead).
As everything up to that point worked itself out beautifully, so did horseback riding and diving. We managed to get a morning beach ride (most places on the island only do jungle rides) at Kahuku Kai Horses for Tuesday. I found this place on Yelp. It didn’t come up in any of my Google searches, but was highest rated. Kyle was then able to book the dive for us Tuesday afternoon. Perfect. It would leave us Wednesday to snuggle, do laundry and pack.
This all occurred before lunch time. Very hungry after our valiant efforts to get reservations and having not had a single bite of sushi despite being in Hawaii, we looked up some places with high ratings and headed in their direction down Waikiki. The first ended up being an outdoor truck of sorts. Kyle got nervous about the refrigeration, so we picked the second best, Doraku Sushi, a beautiful sit-down in some two-story outdoor mall right on the beach.
The sushi was delicious. At this point I was trying to get back to eating an entirely whole foods, plant-based diet with no animal products. I’d call it vegan, but real vegan’s get pissed when they see someone wearing leather calling themselves a vegan. I’ve decided just to steer clear of the term. Kyle got some super intense volcano roll and I stuck to my veggie rolls and seaweed salad. Delicious and super fresh.
Strolling out of the mall, half in a food coma, I spotted horses. A beautiful painting of brightly colored horses in Island Art Galleries. The artist was Zhou Ling, painting ‘Riding the Rainbow.’ Her work was gorgeous. Bright colors and unique textures that brought the art to life. Gorgeous, but expensive. The painting was quite large and asking price was $25,000. Little above my pay grade. Then I took notice of Barry Power’s work entitled ‘Galaxy Beach.’ It was a beautifully colored galaxy of fairy dust on a black granite looking backdrop. Gorgeous and more in my price range, $1,200. Most galleries have a lot of junk. Paintings that really aren’t worth their salt. These two artists were incredible.
I don’t really remember what happened for the rest of the day. Not do to alcohol consumption, though I’m sure that didn’t help, but I think we just wandered around Waikiki, grabbed dinner somewhere and drank some more.