We’ve been home from Hawaii for almost two weeks and mentally I’m still mourning our departure. We spent six days on the islands of Hawaii, four on Oahu and two on Maui. Oh Hawaii, you changed me in ways I never expected. I truly believe that a little piece of my heart (and foot) is resting on the bottom of the Pacific ocean near the white sands of Waikiki beach.
Brian and I jumped on a vacation package deal that serendipitously arrived in my inbox the same day our tax return was deposited into our bank account. We crunched some numbers, cleared our work calendars, settled childcare, and booked our dream getaway back in March. We haven’t taken a vacation as just the two of us together since our honeymoon almost six years ago. We go on dates occasionally, but we do so much as a family unit that we don’t really have time to coordinate an evening away.
For months I scoured the internet, stalked the TripAdvisor.com travel forums, and subscribed to Groupon deals for Hawaii. Luckily, all of my research paid off. Finally, our departure date was arriving. Since my parents, Papaw and the Little Misses, were going to watch the kids we had to trek it over to their house in Tennessee before flying out of Atlanta. We drove 13 hours overnight after working all day on Friday. That was a hard drive, but totally worth it. We arrived around 9am on Saturday and then took off towards Atlanta, about 2.5 hours away.
We killed some time in the A-T-L, taking in some of the local grub at The Varsity.
We kissed the kids goodbye and waved the Explorer on back to Tennessee as we settled into our hotel room for the night. We were totally beat from the long night on the road and crashed early. The alarm for our 8am flight came WAYYY faster than I had wanted, but we were so excited for our trip it more than made up for the lack of sleep. We got checked in and made our first leg of our flight to DFW, which we like to call home of the $10 ham sandwich. We literally had to run from one terminal to the next… in flip flops, so our options were pretty limited. We were the last people to board the plane, but we made it and that’s all that matters!
The flight from DFW to Honolulu was seven hours. Now, I’m pretty much a pro plane sleeper. I am usually out like a light in the first three minutes of being in the air. Honestly, I can’t think of a better use of my time. I can’t text. I can’t facebook. I can’t tweet. I can’t instagram. Ugh. Though I do love a good nap.
I hardly fly anymore, actually I hardly do anything anymore, without children. So to be able to completely be not responsible for anyone but myself was L-I-B-E-R-A-T-I-N-G. Capital L.
I probably slept five and a half of the seven hours. The rest of the time I read four magazines and the first half of Kelly Oxford’s hilarious book. Who knew I was so productive? Brian and I squared off for a few rounds of Bejeweled Blitz on the iPads and he completely destroyed me (READ: I let him win.) And the F-I-N-A-L-L-Y, finally, we lowered closer and closer to the clearest, bluest, most serene waters I have ever seen. Hawaii looks like it rose from the oceans like it was a gift from the sea gods to it’s lover in the heavens above. We left Atlanta at 8am eastern time and arrived in Honolulu at 3pm Hawaii time. Our bodies weirdly adjusted to the time.
With plenty of daylight left in the day we set the GPS on my phone to begin our journey. We started with Pearl Harbor. It was closer to 4pm and didn’t have tickets for the exhibit, but there was plenty to see around the grounds.
After Pearl Harbor we headed over to Chinatown. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information about the Honolulu Chinatown, so we missed the memo that it’s pretty much dead around there on Sundays. On the upside, free parking on Sundays!
We split an order of beef egg foo young from the Little Village Noodle House. We weren’t that hungry, but it was really good. We have a thing about authentic chinese food from Chinatowns on our travels. After we filled our bellies we walked over to the Iolani Palace since it was just a few blocks away.
The palace grounds were weirdly empty. The palace was closed and they weren’t giving tours that day. But we looked around the grounds and fantasized about relocating our family to the island someday. With about an hour left of daylight we headed up towards Tantalus Drive to take in some of the most beautiful views of the islands from above the city skyline.
We met some locals at one of the lookouts who were super friendly. We chatted with them for a bit, they offered us a beer, but we declined. As the sun was setting we happened upon the Moleka Valley Trail. We didn’t go far because we didn’t want to run out of daylight. The trail took you immediately through a bamboo forrest. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
We headed back down Tantalus and on to our hotel at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki. I drove during our trip and maneuvered the traffic with ease. We were most surprised about the area our hotel was in. We were right on the strip of Waikiki entertainment and shopping with stores like Tory Burch, Tiffany’s, Louis Vitton, Prada just a few blocks away. Heaven, I know! We got settled into our hotel and then headed again for to check out the area.
We stopped in the International Marketplace and grabbed a few souveniers for friends and family back home as well as my first Dole Whip of the trip. I’m OBSESSED with Dole Whips.
Sooo good. We continued on our way, surprised by how much energy we had despite the time difference from home. We held hands walking through the streets and we kept repeating to ourselves, “I can’t believe that we are really here.” It didn’t seem real. We attempted to grab a table on the patio at Dukes, but it was an hour wait just to get a buzzer. So we settled for a spot in the sand on the beach watching the moon reflect off the waves breaking.
The breeze off of the ocean was soothing and the sound of the tide calmed my anxious heart. It was a nice reminder that through storm that we have been through this year are worth it because we weathered them together and now we were finally taking a much needed break in paradise.
On our way home we stopped for some brews and spam masubis at the ABC store to enjoy in the hotel room. We passed by a group of locals playing music together. I could have sat there all night listening to them. It was the kind of group that you know there was so much life in, so many stories behind each musician. I saw my future in an older woman playing the ukulele seated on the other side of me. I felt so connected and affirmed in that moment.
We had been warned that the time change might mess up our sleep schedule, and boy, were they correct. Our alarms were all set for 6am and I was dressed at 4:30. We decided to grab some breakfast before our hike up Diamond Head. We headed over to Zippy’s, a 24 hour diner for a Hawaiian-style breakfast of… spam!
I haven’t had spam since I was probably eight years old. We both ordered the same thing, spam, portuguese sausage, egg with cheese, and rice with a Lilikoi juice drink. I dream about that juice . (Seriously, I just bought 24 cans of it off amazon and had to pay more for shipping than what my order actually cost. Worth it.) Leonards Bakery was just down the street so we stopped in for some malasadas to enjoy at the top of the mountain.
We tried to go back for more later in the week during the day but there was always a line out the door. 🙁 So if you’re wanting to go to Leonard’s I suggest trying in the pre-dawn hours.
We got a little lost on our way to Diamond Head, but we found it before long. We arrived right when all of the tour buses were coming in as well. As we got closer to the summit it was kind of hilarious to watch the queue of people on the trail. Like an army of ants marching one by one. We took our time heading up the mountain, which was nice. The sun peaking over the water cast an amazing glow just over the skyline.
We came down rather quickly and headed back to our hotel before 8am even rolled around. The waters were a bit rough that day so we had to reschedule a snorkeling adventure we had planned for that day.
It actually turned out to be a blessing because that freed us up for the morning and afternoon to head over to the north shore. There was so much to see and do.
We headed up towards the North Shore and accidently ran across the Dole Plantation. Though we didn’t intend to visit, it was a nice stop to break up the drive and an excellent excuse to grab another Dole Whip.
We first stopped at Waimea Bay and marked off one of our must-do items, cliff jumping. Yes, we jumped from the “big rock.” It was one of the scariest but also most fun things I’ve ever done. I only regret not doing it more than once. You climb up the side of a big volcanic rock that’s about 10-12″ above the water. I looked down and one side I could see a sea turtle swimming! Gosh, I love this earth. The water was really rough, and I freaked out a minute before giving in and jumping. I did think for a moment that I might be facing my own death.
Brian did it too.
It was getting closer to lunch time so we packed up and headed towards Giovanni’s shrimp truck after getting the directions from some locals. We decided we needed to celebrate not perishing.
After we ate we headed over to Laei Point.
Then we headed over to Laniakea Beach on our way back to the hotel. The beach is famous for being a sea turtle hangout spot. When we parked and walked over there wasn’t much happening on the beach. It was kind of a disappointment, then suddenly a big black rock careened onto the beach like it had been thrown from the waters.
Turns out, it wasn’t a rock.
He was magnificent. We watched him for a bit as he pulled himself onto the shore.
After that we ran back to our hotel and changed quickly for our evening reservations at a luau.
The luau was fun, but a little hokey. I definitely think that it’s something that you need to do once as a tourist. We drove ourselves so we missed the group dynamic and camaraderie that it seemed others had formed. It was also cold that evening and we were getting pretty tired. We left as the show was ending to beat traffic and to try to tuck in early that night because we had something BIG planned for just a few hours later…
More to come.