This is the second half of the blog that I wrote about my last adventure in Hawaii. If you would like to read about Leonard’s Bakery, Ala Moana Shopping Center, Dole Plantation and the Byodo-In Temple, follow this link.
Day Three – Tuesday, June 21st
What a day of adventure! We woke up really early and headed to Diamond Head to take on the trail. I would definitely recommend if you plan on doing the hike, you get there SUPER early. We were there before 8am and the parking lot was already full. They told us to come back in thirty minutes but we spotted someone pulling out so we looped around and got back in. You will have to pay no matter if you plan to park in their parking lot or if you walk up–but it is a very minimal cost. I want to say that it was perhaps $1.00 per hiker if you walk up and $5 if you drive up in your car. Another recommendation that I have for you is to bring water with you! I’m someone who exercises frequently and I appreciated my water to keep me hydrated on the sweaty walk. Most of the walk isn’t challenging. The part I would say that is the most difficult is the set of about 100 stairs. I was with people who are all in shape and we all agreed that the two sets of stairs on the trail were no joke. The nice thing about the trail is you can really go at your own pace–people can walk around you if you want to take it slower too. It took us about an hour but that includes stopping and taking photos at the different view points along the trail. The top is exquisite.
While the trail website says that it is for all ages, I would refrain from bringing those who are elderly with you. We came across a few on our way up and down the path and they were miserable. The ground is very uneven in areas and happens to be very easy to have a misstep (which could roll an ankle). Just be cautious.
After the first hike, we sat in the car and nibbled on some Quest Protein Bars and then jolted off to Mānoa Falls for hike number two. This hike was only difficult because of how slippery it was! Fairly easy hike but just dangerous because it is VERY easy to lose your footing. Actually, there were four of us and every single one of us slipped at some point. That hike took about an hour as well. The falls are so peaceful. The only charge here was to park and I think that was somewhere around $5 too. This hike is mostly shaded but it is still a good idea to bring water along with you to quench your thirst since you’re moving around a lot. A cool fact about Mānoa Falls is that scenes from LOST and Jurassic World were filmed in this location. Once you step into the path it is easy to see why since the trees seem larger than life.
After the falls, we headed to Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa. I ordered the Hawaiian which was a combination of banana, coconut and pineapple. My recommendation is to also get it with ice cream because it is a heavenly combination of flavor and texture.
From Matsumoto we traveled about five minutes down the road to Haleiwa Joe’s–my Dad’s favorite restaurant. I know what you’re thinking… “Why would you go eat after you had dessert?!” There’s nothing wrong with starting a great meal off with a delicious treat (haha)! A funny story about Haleiwa Joe’s is last time we were there, I had not eaten in hours since we were exploring the island. My parents and their friend ordered a mushroom appetizer and I had never been a fan of mushrooms before because I thought they looked pretty gross. At that point, I was so hungry, I ate a mushroom and fell in love. No other mushrooms that I have tasted have ever come close to the very first mushroom that I ate at Haleiwa Joe’s. Needless to say, I was very excited to order the heavenly mushrooms again. They did not disappoint! My Dad ordered a huge piece of meat–which is a specialty of Haleiwa Joe’s. The restaurant recommends that you arrive no later than 5pm if you want to order this cut of meat because they frequently run out each night.
One of my favorite spots last time we visited Hawaii was Ali’i Beach (the main image of this post). When we went back in 2007, there were so many sea turtles taking a rest on the beach and hovering near the shoreline. We wanted to share this experience with my sister-in-law and my friend. However, when we went to the beautiful beach, the turtles were not around. Since “Turtle Beach” is not too far from this location, we headed in that direction. Unfortunately, the turtles were not hanging out there that evening either.
Day Four – Wednesday, June 22nd
We had to go back to Eggs ‘n Things since it was so delicious a few days prior. After breakfast, we drove to the USS Arizona Memorial. It is recommended that you get there very early in the morning because your place in the ticket line determines what time you will be able to enter the theatre and then board a boat to view the memorial. We visited the memorial while boat trips to the memorial itself were actually still suspended due to an accident last May. The individuals that were working at the memorial told my family that the Arizona Memorial was due to open back up to the public the following week. Luckily, I have had the honor of paying my respect to those lost on two separate occasions. The memorial they have built is incredible and I wish my friend and sister-in-law were able to experience it, but just being in the presence of the memorial and the area itself provides the same appreciation for the men who gave their lives in order to have the peace that currently surrounds the area. You can look out and see the majestic mountains, the tranquil blue skies and the calm water. Put that into perspective.
We had a small chunk of time where we were finally able to enjoy the Pacific Ocean and the pool at the hotel before needing to get ready for dinner. While we had been disappointed that we did not see turtles the day before, while we were in the ocean, a sea turtle popped his head up no more than 15′ from us. I screamed out, “Turtle!!!” That grabbed the attention of so many people nearby who were able to catch a quick glimpse of the animal. We tried to get my sister-in-law’s attention since she was sunning in the sand but it all happened so quick that I think she missed the turtle. My brother’s first reaction was to try to dart out of the water because he did not want to get bit. My first instinct was that the turtle was trying to avoid the people in the water and just swim and do his own thing. I waited to see if his little noggin would pop up out of the water again but he did not. Not sure where he disappeared to but what a magical experience to have been in the water so close to the turtle!
Our dinner reservations were set for Chief’s Luau for my last night on the island. We booked the luau through our hotel which told us guests have raved about what a great time they had but warned us that there is a comedic aspect. Comedy? Well, that’s no problem. We were excited to have that added element–which in my opinion made the show pretty fun. We really enjoyed ourselves. The show is entertaining and there are things to do when you get to the venue where the luau is held so you are not going to sit around and be bored as you wait to be called for dinner. My family made headpieces out of palms and I took photos and videos as they participated. Many of the employees kept offering to help me make one but I was just having too much fun capturing the experience my family was having making theirs.
We had warned prior to dinner that the food was not that great. My dad agreed with that sentiment but to me, it wasn’t too bad. I grabbed some white rice and added soy sauce to it and kind of did my own thing. I even cut the pineapple chunks smaller and threw those in my mix for a splash of extra flavoring. There was also pineapple cake on the food receiving line that made my heart soar. I love sweets so I was totally stoked with the cake.
The show itself is incredible because the performers are so talented. I loved being able to see a glimpse into the different cultures they shared with us.
Day Five – Thursday, June 23rd
The morning of the fifth day, my sister-in-law and myself had signed up for 8am surf lessons with Big Wave Dave’s before I had to be at the airport. They had a shuttle pick us up at our hotel and take us literally right down the street. If you’re staying on Waikiki Beach, you can literally walk there just as fast. I did myself a disservice the night before and was looking up sharks that are common to the waters surrounding Oahu. Tiger Sharks and Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks. Things only nightmares are made of. So, when our driver picked us up, the first thing I did was ask him about the shark situation because my stomach was in knots. I am terrified of sharks and open water… which is crazy because I live in Florida. However, I have always wanted to see what it is like to surf and experience that feeling. I did not want things that I was scared of to stop me from crossing off an item on my bucket list (surfing in Hawaii). Our driver told us that the waters we would be surfing in are actually pretty safe because the depth is only about shoulder level so in most cases we would be able to stand in the water. That actually made me feel a lot better. I found out the hard way that wasn’t the case in some areas (haha!).
Mariah and I were given a quick “how-to” for getting on the board, paddling and getting up. We headed to the beach to test our skills on some soft top boards. It was really fun to actually be out there surfing with my sister-in-law because I was so excited for her when she was able to stand up and ride the waves. I would recommend to anyone who wants, or is thinking about learning, to surf that you share the experience with your friends or family.
The very first wave that I took was pretty small so by the time I got to my knees the wave was fizzling. I thought it was a really great practice run though because I saw what I was supposed to do in the water from what they had taught us.
My second wave I actually stood up and it felt amazing. As I started slowing down, I just got back down on my board and turned around and headed back out to where the waves were starting to break to catch some more.
For my third wave one of the instructors gave me a doozy. He had me turn my board around and told me to start paddling… and then I felt the wave start rushing my board at a crazy speed. This wave was carrying me so fast! I felt pretty unstable so I was still clinging to my board with one hand. One thing they told us was to make sure you avoid collision with other surfers. These waters were SO populated and I could see there was someone with their board sticking out ahead so I had no choice but to bail on my crazy fast-moving wave. I jumped into the wave–and I feel like I was tossed around like a rag doll under the water. I opened my eyes out of instinct and saw my board above my head so I moved it and cracked the surface. My contacts were still in place–I don’t know how.
I took a few more tumbles and the same thing happened (with opening my eyes). I was so happy the ocean didn’t swallow my lenses and allowed me to experience the views of surfing. The worst part about surfing, to me, is falling off the board. I think I happened to find some pretty nasty waves because I was bruised up all over my elbows and knees as well as having a rash on both of my knees. I wore a rash guard (I used to work in a surf shop in my earlier years so I was pretty in-tune with what I needed haha) to protect my upper body but somehow still wound up with craziness on one of my elbows. I’ve seen people comment online that they think surfing was a lot more difficult to learn in their lesson than they anticipated but to me, it wasn’t difficult at all to stand up on the board (keep in mind I’m discussing in terms of learning for beginners who are learning to stand–not surfing the big waves of the North Shore because honestly those are two totally different things). The hard part was knowing that you were going to be eating some waves at some point and also because your body is unfamiliar to the motion–you’re going to be pretty sore. Your arms/shoulders will also probably get tired from paddling so much but it is worth it for the experience.
I leave my surf lesson with a great deal more respect for the athletes that are brave enough to tackle the gigantic waves. What a tiring and endurance-challenging sport.
As we walked back from the beach we went surfing on to our hotel down the strip, I was beaming with pride. I had just fulfilled something that I have wanted to do for a very long time and I did not let my fears get the best of me. Now, I am a better person for beating my fears. I have a great experience that is certainly going to be a conversation piece for the rest of my life.
I went surfing in Hawaii.
Ali’i Beach Park
66-167 Haleiwa Rd Haleiwa, HI 96712
Big Wave Dave’s
2410 Koa Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
41-202 Kalanianaole Highway, Waimanalo, HI 96795
Diamond Head State Monument
Diamond Head Road, Honolulu, HI 96816
Eggs ‘n Things
343 Saratoga Road, Honolulu, HI 96815
66-011 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, HI 96712
37 Manoa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822
Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Highway #605, Haleiwa, HI 96712
61-489 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
USS Arizona Memorial
1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, HI 96818