The remainder of our trip was spent in the Honolulu/Waikiki area spending time with family and doing typical Hawaii tourist stuff. We got a great deal on a sweet room at the Embassy Suites and after so many days sleeping in a van or tent it truly felt luxurious. One of the first things we did was take LONG hot showers. Afterward, the tub was filled with sand.
It was funny pulling up to the hotel to have our VW campervan valet parked. The valets were oohing and ahhing over our van and asking us all kinds of questions. Ha! One guy asked us about our time in Hawaii. We told him we had been camping in our van all around Maui and Oahu. He replied, “oh, so you have been camping in this van the entire time? Man, that’s the true Hawaiian way…the nature…the water…cool man, cool…” He trailed off and became so excited talking about camping in Hawaii that he soon was at a loss of words. And when his words failed him he gave us shaka, waving his hands animatedly back and forth accompanied by a huge grin. We still think about that guy with a smile. Camping + Hawaii = Shaka.
We snorkeled in Hanauma Bay. The bay itself was beautiful and calm but we thought the snorkeling to be a lot better along the North Shore — lots more variety in sea life, a LOT less people, and free.
We met up with Sly’s brother and family several times for dinner at Shiro’s Saiman, drinks at the Moana Surfrider, and breakfast and coffee at a wonderful farmer’s market. One afternoon we tried to boogie board in Waikiki and instead ended up leading Coco around with our boogie board leash and eating frozen yogurt. It was Coco’s first time eating Red Mango and she ate it so fast that she got brain freeze and started to cry. Her dad kept telling her to spit out the ice cream but Coco refused because she liked it so much. 🙂
Our travel style is typically pretty low-key. We love being outdoors, camping, cooking our own meals etc., however, we do like to go all out when it’s our last night in town. After weeks of cold showers and spam and ramen a fancy dinner we appreciate a fancy dinner, air conditioned room, and crisp linens that much more. Plus it always gives us something to look forward to at the end of an amazing trip.
We had reservations at Alan Wong’s signature restaurant for our final meal in Oahu. We called a cab to pick us up and instead a limo arrived and whisked us off to the somewhat hidden restaurant. Both Sly and I ordered the seven course meal — so good, but so much food. The dessert course alone consisted of five individual mini desserts. I could have eaten just the dessert course and left full. We powered through each course and when we thought we couldn’t eat another bite…we ate more. If you’re in Oahu and enjoy food like this, I would definitely recommend a visit.
Before returning to our hotel, we popped into an ABC store and picked up some local beers. We sat on the balcony together, watched the glittering city lights, took corny prom photos, threw back a few bottles and remembered all we had seen and done in Hawaii. As much as we love trying new and fancy places to eat, this was definitely more our speed.
Prior to visiting Hawaii I always resisted visiting because I thought it would be overly touristy/gimmicky/resorty. There were definitely pockets of those things but in my mind it didn’t detract from the overwhelming natural beauty. I mentally kicked myself for not visiting sooner — especially since it was such a short trip from SF. Seven years ago, younger and maybe a bit more naive, I thought we had all the time in the world for many more trips back to the islands. We always told ourselves that we’d be back. We lived so close, of COURSE we would be back! Then we moved to the opposite coast and I kicked myself for never returning. Several of our friends were married in Hawaii after we moved to the East Coast but bad timing, long flights, and cost of tickets meant that we weren’t able to attend.
When it came to vacation, there were all the OTHER places in the world we still wanted to see — places that weren’t as far or where tickets weren’t as costly. I started to think this would be our only trip to Hawaii — our one shot — and I was okay with that too. It had been an amazing trip and we both knew we were lucky as hell to have ever gone in the first place and thankful that we experienced it together. Never in a million years would I have guessed that we would return seven years later traveling from another country…
But that is another story for another time…
I originally intended to roll right into our most recent trip to Hawaii, but after dragging these old memories out for weeks I might have to put that on hold before I drive myself and anyone left reading this blog absolutely nuts. We now return to our regularly scheduled Korea posts…