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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hawaii 2009, Part 1: Honolulu and Waikiki

Todd and I traveled to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands in November 2009. The first part of our trip was to go to Honolulu. When I was booking our trip - we booked the Kona Aggressor first - I realized that we had to fly through Honolulu. After some prodding from Todd, we decided to extend our trip by a few days to allow us some time first on the beautiful island of Oahu.

Day One: Travel to Hawaii, a Hula Show and Dinner
We were up at an unholy hour on Thursday, November 19. Our flight was taking off from BWI at 7:00am, which meant that we needed to be up at 3:30am. We're often up that early for running, but at least we have endorphins to get us through those days!

The flights went without a problem, even though there were some issues with flight delays caused by problems in Atlanta. Our flights weren't affected. We flew through Chicago O'Hare without a problem. We landed in Honolulu at about 3:15pm Hawaii time. I was so excited because I'd put in an order with Lei to have someone meet us at the airport to give us leis. I hadn't told Todd, so when we were getting off the plane, I pointed out the lovely Hawaiian lady holding up the sign with our names on it. He was surprised and the leis were lovely.

From our balcony at the Marriott Waikiki

We picked up our rental car and headed to the hotel. Our hotel while we were on Oahu was the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort. We've been hemming and hawing about using Todd's accumulated Marriott points, and finally decided to use some of them for this trip, to both get the room and upgrade to a water view room. Our room was very nice, but in the end we didn't stay in it very long. Even that first day, as tired as we were (having been traveling for about 16 hours), we took showers and headed out.

Sunset at Kapoilani Beach Park:

The first stop was the Kuhio Torchlighting Ceremony and Hula Show. We had some trouble locating it at first, and ended up watching the sunset at Kapiolani Beach Park. We walked the wrong direction, and I finally decided that we should head towards dinner, and when we did, we passed the Kuhio show, and stopped to watch. This was a nice way to start off our trip!

Watching the Kuhio Hula Show:

The Kuhio show is free, and they do it most nights in Waikiki. There are two hula dancers, and the blowing of the conch shell. There was a small group of Hawaiian musicians that talked about Hawaiian musical traditions, the hula, etc, and played some songs. At one point, they asked folks who were on their honeymoon to come up and dance to the Hawaiian wedding song, but we were feeling shy and bowed out (was this our honeymoon? Todd sold it to me as such, but probably not, since we got married in the Cayman Islands and all).
After the Hula show, we headed down to the Outrigger Hotel, where we were having dinner at the Hula Grill. The Hula Grill was good, we had fish and Longboards and MaiTais. We had initially planned to go to Duke's, but it was closed for a private party or something. Hula Grill was a floor above in the same hotel, and Duke's & Hula Grill are owned by the same company. It was a nice way to start our vacation.

Night on Waikiki:

Once we'd finished up dinner, it was about 9pm, and we were pretty tired. We were still on Eastern time and it was 2am Eastern. We headed back to the hotel and fell fast asleep.

Day Two: Running, Driving and Hiking around Oahu

Friday the 20th was our only full day on Oahu. We had to make the most of it, and I worked hard to try and make that happen. Since we were still stuck on Eastern time, Todd had some issues sleeping and both of us were wide awake by 5:00am. I had mapped out a running route, so by 6:30am we were out on the road, doing our long run for the week. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip! Honolulu appears to be very athletic and there were tons of other runners and walkers out. From our hotel, we headed left down Waikiki beach towards Diamond Head. The first part of the run took us through Kapiolani Beach Park, where a number of homeless people were camped out in tents. This was the point where we smelled marijuana very strongly. We got some laughs out of that, and then our route wound us through the neighborhood right below Diamond Head, and around the base of the crater. It was pretty much all uphill during the first part of Diamond Head Road, but the sun was rising over the ocean, and the ocean was down a cliff where surfers were on the waves. At one point, we passed a lighthouse. It was awesome.

Sunrise from our hotel balcony before our run:

The back side of Diamond Head Road was less spectacular, but it was downhill, and then we were back to Waikiki. Our hotel was on the Diamond Head end of the beach, so the rest of our run was to go all the way to the opposite end of Waikiki, around Fort Derussy Park (where a different guy walked right in front of us smoking a joint - remember, this is still before 9:00am). We ended at the McDonald's on Waikiki for a quick McMuffin fix, and headed back to the hotel for showers. It was a great way to start the day.

Driving around Oahu:

We spent the day driving around the island, and we got in the car and took the H-3 up into the mountains. We visited the Pali Overlook, which is the site of the Battle of Nu'uanu, where Kamehameha I pushed 400 Oahu warriors over the cliffs to their deaths. Now, it's a great place to view the ocean and land below, but it was really, really windy that day (a common theme for the rest of the day on Oahu, as you will soon hear). It was sunny, but windy.

Lunch at Keneke's Plate Lunch:

Once we came down out of the mountains, it was time for lunch, and we had lunch at Keneke's Plate Lunch in Waimanalo. I had really been looking forward to it, and I was not disappointed. We each had Kalua Pig (shredded pork from a pig roasted in an underground oven), Lau Laus (pork steamed in taro leaves), and Todd had Kalbi (beef short ribs), and I had Chicken Katsu (ended up just being fried breaded chicken, not like chicken tenders, but not like tempura - something in between). It was SO GOOD and so much food. If you are on Oahu and want to try some hawaiian food, I highly recommend giving Keneke's a try.

I enjoy a shave ice from Keneke's Plate Lunch:

After, we split a Hawaiian Shave Ice from Keneke's. We could pick three flavors, I think we did pineapple, mango and papaya. This made it very orange.

Waimanalo Beach:

From Keneke's we went right up the street and I hit my first Geocache at Waimanalo Beach. It was, again, very windy. Not a great beach day for sitting and tanning, but it was beautiful. The beach wasn't terribly crowded, and Todd got some good photos.

Makapu'u Lighthouse in the distance (we climbed up there!):

We started heading around the island towards Waikiki, taking photos and Geocaching along the way. There was one cache at the top of the hill near the Makapu'u Lighthouse, and we'd said all along we were going to go up there and try to find it. I'd heard the view was spectacular, and I thought it wouldn't take too much time. So, we started the trek up the hill. And up, and around, and up, and it was windy. And there were sheer cliffs next to the walkway. And we went up some more. And it was hot and then windy and I didn't bring water.

That little parking lot down there is our car. We hiked up quite a way, and this was maybe about 1/2 way up:

A little farther up the trail:

From the top of the hill:

It wasn't that bad, though, just seemed like really far after we got going. The view at the top was indeed beautiful, but the wind had gotten worse and from that height, it was really strong. We estimate 30-40mph gusts. We found one geocache, but the other was farther up the hill, near some WWII lookouts... and no path. I was determined, so we headed up. There were loose rocks and the "path" eventually took us around the edge of the cliff, with a sheer drop to the ocean below. Again, with 30-40mph winds. It was kinda scary. I ended up getting vertigo and we aborted the mission to that particular geocache.

View from our way up to the second geocache:

We headed on down the road, stopping at Sandy Beach, where Monk Seals were sleeping on the sand, and then to Halona Blowhole down the road. It was getting later, so we started heading back to Waikiki with plans to watch the sunset from Waikiki again. As it turned out, traffic was a bear and we had trouble getting to Waikiki because of it, so we ended up stopping and watching the sunset at Ala Moana Beach Park, where there were joggers and swimmers and lots of folks out for exercise. I love that!

One of the Monk Seals on Sandy Beach:

Sunset at Ala Moana Beach Park:

Dinner was at House Without a Key. which was reasonable in price, beautiful and elegant - without being over the top, but also without being like a TGI Friday's. Another recommended restaurant. Then, we stopped at Jimmy Buffett's before heading back to the hotel for the night.

Day Three: Tantalus and Pearl Harbor

Early morning on Tantalus:

We just couldn't get enough driving around the island, so in the morning we were up at sunrise to drive up Tantalus and Round Top to see the views of the city. This was a gorgeous drive up winding green roads, and there was a beautiful overlook partway up that showed views of all of Waikiki, Diamond Head, and even over to the airport and Pearl Harbor. It was stunning.

The Strangled Palm, the name of one of the Geocaches at Tantalus:

There was a geocache there that took me into the woods. We ended up having to spend about 20 minutes in what seemed like jungle, trying to find it. It was humorous.

Searching through the jungle for a Geocache:

The road up Tantalus:

Geocaching on Tantalus:

Above Honolulu on Tantalus:

Next, we drove back down the mountain and headed to the USS Arizona Memorial. We'd had planned to also visit the USS Missouri, but it was in dry dock. Indeed, the whole USS Arizona Memorial Visitor's Center was under construction and a total mess.

USS Arizona Memorial:

Once we'd finished at Pearl Harbor, we pretty much headed to the airport to catch our flight to The Big Island. More on our adventures on the big island, including diving along the Kona Coast, viewing Kilauea Volcano from above, and seeing some spectacular waterfalls, in future posts.

Hawaii (Oahu) 2009


Mary said...

Really, Kim, if you were homeless and sleeping on a Hawaiian beach, what reason would there be NOT to smoke a lot of pot? :P

Looking forward to the next installment.

Kim said...

It seemed like they couldn't actually sleep overnight in the park itself, so they were on the stretch of grass between the sidewalk and the road. Most had tents, some had hammocks tied up between 2 palm trees. I don't remember this from when I first went to Hawaii in 2003. They weren't begging either, for the most part. Seemed like not that bad to me.

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