Well . . . guess what! For our tenth wedding anniversary, earlier this month, Oscar and I (finally) went to Hawaii! :D As you'd expect, it was AMAZING and we had a fantastic time!! Below are some of the best pictures from our trip! <3
We left from Cleveland on Saturday, October 8th, at stupid o'clock a.m. (haha) and, six time zones later - I mean, earlier - we arrived in Honolulu at about 2 p.m. the same day. Pretty cool to gain six hours . . . and it also helped me, a night owl, get to bed and get up at a more "reasonable" time. ;) I was able to wake up to the sunrise in Honolulu, because my body thought it was about noonish.
We stayed in a lovely little Airbnb (a 28th-floor condo) on the Ala Wai Canal in downtown Honolulu. It was off season for tourists, but there was still SO much traffic! We found a couple of places we could walk to for breakfast, and I especially loved ordering acai bowls and haupia mochas!! I am in LOOVE with all the kinds of haupia!!! Honolulu restaurant recommendation: Brew + Foam. There are several locations. Excellent food and service! Also, their gluten free waffles ROCK!
Sunday, I got to meet Oscar's aunties, uncle, and some of his cousins. We had a lovely party with scrumptious food. I could really feel the spirit of aloha! <3 Later, we hit up Ala Moana Mall, which is HUGE and yes, okay, I admit I'm a bit of a mall rat. Couldn't not go to the place. Got dinner there and some souvenirs.
Monday, our big excursion was to Ala Moana Beach Park. The weather was gorgeous! I thought the sun would be much harsher, but apparently it's not that fierce there in October, and that day was partly cloudy. I didn't use sunblock, and I failed to get a tan (which Oscar teased me about). ;P Unfortunately, when we got back to our rental car, it wouldn't start. Not sure how the battery died! We had to get towed, and it took several hours to get things all straightened out and get a new car. *sigh* No vacation is perfect! At least Budget gave us a partial refund and didn't charge us for the tow.
Tuesday, we drove up through the center of Oahu and then along the north shore. We didn't get to spend much time there (wish we could've taken a 2-week trip . . .) but Haleiwa town was pretty and we saw posters everywhere for someone with our last name running for office, heh - that was pretty cool! (We don't see our last name anywhere around here, in Ohio. He's no relation, btw.) We did a bit of shopping and continued along the north shore past huge waves and huger houses over to our main event of the day, which took up the rest of it: the Polynesian Cultural Center.
That's a place I would recommend to anyone - great fun, family friendly, the whole deal! Sooo worth the time and money! The show at the end, with fire dancing, was beautiful and AWESOME!! Check out some videos from the PCC on YouTube - especially the haka dance, which I loved, lol!
Wednesday, the 12th, we had an absolute BLAST because we took a helicopter ride over the western half of the island! Between that and the Polynesian Cultural Center, Tuesday and Wednesday had my absolute favorite excursions!! The views were SO incredible, and I would love to post a TON of pictures here - because I took loads of pics and vids from the copter - but I'm cutting it down so this post doesn't get too huge. . . .
Thursday, we got a couple's massage and tried to have a slower day. We visited the mall again (lol) and Waikiki Beach. And you GOTTA hit up the ABC Store for souvenirs! There's one on every street corner, it seems. ;) The best price for chocolate-covered macadamia nuts we found was at Long's, though.
For our anniversary dinner, we went to Chart House, recommended by Oscar's family. It was lovely! We were seated inside but there was no window glass, so it was open to the night air and our table overlooked a marina full of cool boats. I finally got to try a mai tai! (I tried shave ice the day we arrived. It was like a cloud that vanished in your mouth, wow!!)
Friday, Auntie Sue drove us around to a few more places she thought we should see before we left. (She's so nice!) First, she took us to Valley of the Temples, which is the most beautiful burial grounds I've ever seen! It looks like it's in Japan, doesn't it?? (Another place I'm longing to visit! . . . I almost said dying to visit. . . . ;P) Oscar's grandparents (dad's side) and some other relatives are interred there in the temple behind us. It was so gorgeous and peaceful with tons of fat koi in the ponds, mynah birds everywhere that came right up to you - one perched on my finger! And see those tall, feather-shaped evergreen trees in the background? I love those! We learned they're called Cook pines.
After that, we had lunch at Uahi Island Grill in Kailua and tried haupia pie, and I AM OBSESSED; I NEED MORE; I am going to try to make that recipe I linked above! And it wasn't even the chocolate kind (it had a layer of purple Okinawan sweet potato in the middle), but it was PHENOMENAL! Who knew I'd find a dessert I could actually eat?? It's so rare that any restaurant has a dessert both gluten free and dairy free! See why I'm obsessed?! :D GREAT JOB, Uahi; and, everyone else - do better!! ;P
From Kailua we drove to Pali Lookout, where the view was so amazing!! It looks out over the eastern (windward) coast and Ko'olau cliffs. You can see some little islands, including one where the University of Hawaii has its marine biology research center, and a golf course that's apparently the most difficult one in the world because of all the ravines. (Okay, I Googled it and maybe it's the 3rd hardest now, whatever.)
Saturday, the 15th, we packed up and checked out of our Airbnb after breakfast (at Brew + Foam again, busy and festively decorated for Halloween) and then hung out with Oscar's family a little bit more. They treated us to some scrumptious BBQ at one of their favorite local places near Pearl City, and then we had to say goodbye and head off to the airport.
It seems like the trip absolutely flew by, as all amazing vacations do, and I miss Oahu and Honolulu so badly (not the city's crazy traffic, though, lol!) . . . Hopefully someday we will get to visit again! <3 <3
I was super happy to finally meet Oscar's relatives on his dad's side, who were lovely. Almost everyone we encountered was very nice and helpful, and we definitely felt the spirit of aloha, even when things weren't going so well (like when the car broke down). Even the tow truck guy was great, recommending restaurants/excursions and telling us about meeting some of the cast of Hawaii Five-O and getting to be an extra in the show.
We also couldn't have asked for better weather; the forecast had predicted daily showers, but it only rained once, on Tuesday, while we were at the Polynesian Cultural Center. And we happened to be in a covered food court when the downpour started, and some nice ladies working there gave us free ponchos. (. . . Hang on, no, edited to add: It rained, more lightly, as we were leaving Pali Lookout and driving back to Honolulu.)
If you're thinking about visiting Hawaii, DO IT. (I mean, come on, would anyone really tell you not to? Haha. It's Hawaii.) Travel tip: October is the best month to go; many YouTubers told us that. Airfare is cheaper, summer tourist season is over, but the rainy season hasn't started yet. The temperature is perfect, not crazy hot. (We came back to a week of freezing rain in Ohio. ;P) Super glad that our anniversary is in the perfect month for a Hawaiian vacation! <3
And don't forget to try haupia pie. It will change your life. ;)
Sarah Awa lives in Ohio with two hairy guys and writes books about werewolves.