Monday, March 8, 2010

Hawaii, I love you

Now that we're here in Okinawa I have some time to tell you more about our trip to get here. In the 4 fabulous days we spent in Oahu I completely fell in love with Hawaii and will go back there in a heart beat!

When we got off the plane it was drizzling a little bit and we were welcomed with a huge, bright rainbow. We stayed at the Hale Koa Hotel, for military people, and it was wonderful. I would totally recommend it. They had everything you needed right there on the premises and you wouldn't even have to leave the hotel at all if you didn't want to. It's right on Waikiki Beach, has bars and restaurants, stores, activities and even Starbucks coffee. My kind of place.

We did of course leave the hotel quite a bit. The first night on the island we walked down Waikiki Beach a bit to Tropics where Steven mixed us up the best Mai Tais we've ever had. We had dinner outside with amazing live music, fire pits and torches, under yellow umbrellas and the palm trees. I felt like I had to pinch myself.

In the morning we hiked Diamond Head. Diamond Head is a volcanic cinder cone, a State Monument and a popular destination. We did the relatively easy 0.75 mile hike to the edge of the crater's rim and from the top the views of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean were breathtaking!

With Boots being in the military we of course had to pay tribute to Pearl Harbor. We went to the Pearl Harbor area where you can visit the USS Arizona Memorial, tour the USS Missouri and USS Bowfin battleships, and Pacific Aviation Museum. We first went to the Pacific Aviation Museum, which honestly, I wouldn't really recommend for people who have been to air museums like the National Air and Space Muesum in D.C., the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport or even the Air Museum at NAS Pensacola. This air museum was really tiny. Next we took a quick boat ride over to the USS Arizona Memorial, which was really well done. The feeling in the air was very somber and it was really moving to see the flag being flow at half mast and all the names on the wall, not to mention actually being able to see the remains of the Arizona under the water.

That evening we went out to downtown Waikiki and let me tell you, this is a retail dream world. The stores, ooooh my gosh. We walked around, window shopped and were entertained (and/or scared) by the very creative street entertainers. It was a beautiful full moon night, I was in flip flops and a sun dress, I was with Boots. Happy.

Then, 6 am comes around and we shoot up in bed as alarms are going off and the announcement tells us a tsunami is heading right for us. Well, it was a surreal moment. I mean, what are the chances. So much for waking up and going snorkeling. We proceeded to try and get more information, they were taking the threat very seriously and so we went down to the hotel store to stock up on water and things like power bars, just in case. We also went for a walk on the beach hours before the cops started yelling "get off the beach."

Well, fortunatly nothing ended up happening with the tsunami, thank God. The worst part was that we lost most of the day. When the warnings were lifted it was about 3 pm we decided to try and make the most of the rest of the day by driving up to North Shore where there is a place where you can go to a waterfall. We drove up, took in the spectacular views and then found out that, like most of Hawaii, the park had been closed for the day. So, we decided to just continue driving around the island.

North Shore IS just as beautiful as I always heard. It was breathtaking. There were a lot of Beach Parks along the road and we stopped as we pleased to take in the seascape. The best part is when we actually got to see a big, wild sea turtle! This isn't a very good picture, but it was so amazing to watch it swimming so peacefully.

The next day we woke up to a rainy day, but that didn't stop us from going on a hike to Manoa Falls. Manoa Falls is a a 1 1/2 mile hike to waterfall coming down a 150 foot cliff into a small pool. Even in the rain the hike was incredible. You get to walk through a bamboo forest, rain forest, and base of the Ko'oaus Mountains. Once we got to the waterfall we saw a side trail and decided to try it out even though we had no idea how difficult it would be and most importantly where it went and how long it was. Alhualama Trail took us up the mountain side, through switch back after switch back, higher and higher through the rain forest, forests of giant bamboo and we got to see some beautiful views, which would have been spectacular if it wasn't for the clouds and rain. (And we got lots of practice with the tripod:)

Fortunately the day did clear up and we were able to go snorkeling after all! This was something I really wanted to do, I mean come on it's Hawaii. We went to a fantastic snorkeling spot, Hanauma Bay. After a required informational/safety video, we were able to rent our equipment and jumped in. It was incredible. It was a little murky due to the tsunami the day before, but we saw tons of coral and tropical fish. It was a great last activity to do on the island!

Ok, so I hope you've enjoyed hearing about our Hawaii trip! I still have to tell you about Tokyo and how every things going here on Okinawa. Soon my friends.


Mary said...

Oh my God. . .such paradise! You have a gift with the camera, for sure. :) I love Manoa Falls and Tropics Bar and all of it!

I got your latest postcard too, btw. I read them aloud and try to think of how you would say the words if you were talking. Love you!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh Hawaii is paradise!! Looks like y'all made the most of your time there. Thank goodness there was no real tsunami! Looking at all of your photos takes me back to our honeymoon in Maui :)