HAWAI’I: Oahu / Waimea Valley, Part 1

TRAVEL DAY

When your husband asks you to join him on a work trip to Hawai’i you don’t think twice about it, you just say yes!

The trek from Maryland to Oahu is no joke. If we were to fly direct it would take over ten hours of flying time. That did not appeal to me, so we booked through San Francisco with a layover long enough to stretch our legs and have lunch

Prior to arriving at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, you will be given a declaration form on the plane (Bring a pen). On the form you will need to list any restricted item that you may be carrying. Restricted items include live lobsters, clams, bacteria, sand, etc .

If you did remember to bring your own sand to Hawaii, you will have to go through an agricultural inspection upon arrival where they’ll probably wonder what’s wrong with you.

After rescuing our checked bags, we walked to the rental car counter to pick up our car, where we immediately played one of our favorite travel games, “Musical Cars”. In this game you keep switching cars until you find the one that does not smell like cigarettes. Our first choice did not past the smell test. But Mike didn’t want to play this game today and simply asked the attendant for the newest car on the lot while I waited sheepishly beside the rejected vehicle.

When he came back with the keys, we piled all of our luggage and ourselves into car #2, exhaled a huge sigh of relief, put the keys in the ignition, and realized the keys did not belong to this car. ​

Swap to car #3

With three times certainly the charm in this case we made it out of the garage and on the highway toward Waikiki

Managing to arrive at our hotel without any further fuss, I checked us in at the front desk, while Mike unloaded the bags and arranged parking with the attendant. He joined me at reception and asked me if I had his (Rather expensive) work blazer with me

​I did not. ​

So while I got us unpacked and settled into the room, he drove the twenty minutes back to Avis to retrieve his jacket, likely muttering unprintable things at the cloudy Hawaiian sky. Thankfully, upon calling Avis, a kind, non-judgemental attendant was able to rescue his jacket from car #2 before some other bleary eyed couple drove off with it.

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After a quick dinner at Tiki’s Grill & Bar where I was so exhausted I actually agreed to one of those awful tourist photos at dinner. My favorite part of the hellacious photo is the face of the little boy photobombing us in the background.
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Sorry for the blur, it looked clear to my exhausted travel weary eyes at the time

DAY 1/’EKAHI: ​NORTH SHORE

We checked out of our hotel.

It’s a long story, but let’s just say, I may have saved an inebriated 20 something from either jumping from the 34th floor at 3:00 in the morning as she was threatening to do (At the top of her ample lungs) or falling from the 34th floor. Which was more likely, given what I assessed pretty quickly from my balcony below her, to be her highly intoxicated state. I alternated between sternly yelling at her, and calmly trying to sooth her in my best mom voice, while waiting for security that never arrived. Eventually, her nemesis on the other side of her locked balcony door pulled her back into safety and everyone went back to bed.

However, needless to say, we were done with hotel #1.

Mike chose the Marriott Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa due to its abundance of amenities. Since we couldn’t check into the Marriott until after 3:00, we loaded all of our bags (Yet again) into our rental car, and then set out on foot to find breakfast. This was no easy feat. Strangely, there are not a lot of appealing choices on the Waikiki strip for breakfast unless you like fast food, or an Asian breakfast which seem to heavily involve tofu.

We were dangerously close to melting down due to jet lag and the lack of sleep, but somehow we managed to stumble upon Eggs ‘n Things just in the nick of time.

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A Honolulu favorite of tourist and locals alike since 1974, they had some of the yummiest pancakes we’ve had in a long time.

CROSS TIP: As you stand in line on the steps waiting your turn, make sure you grab a menu and decide what you want before you get to the hostess stand. They have an unusual procedure that requires you to place your order at the hostess stand, then you pay at the door, and then you are seated.​

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A view onto Waikiki Beach from our table at Eggs ‘n Things

Because it was Sunday, Mike had a free day before the start of his work conference, so we decided to take a tour of the island. I have been to the Hawaiian islands on four other occasions but had never been to Oahu, so I was looking forward to exploring it. Mike wanted to drive up to the North Shore so, well fed, caffeinated, and with our camera ready, we set off.

It was surprisingly hot with very little breeze, something I did not expect as the Islands have been breezy every other time I have visited. We traveled east on Kalanianaole highway from Waikiki past the grand and imposing view of Diamond Head. Whipping past Hanauma Bay (We will visit there later in the week) and the azure lagoons that dot the south and east side of the island. Our first stop was at Sandy Beach Park where we took some photos of the ideal Hawaiian bay.

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We continued our trek along the coast via rt 83 aka Kamehameha hwy, taking in the pristine natural wonders of the island, stopping for photos along the way. We had decided that, due to time constraints, we were not able to spend time at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which we passed on our excursion, but it is Oahu’s number one attraction and if you have a day to spend I would highly recommend it.

Passing the famous Kualoa Ranch we were in awe of the beauty of this four thousand acre nature reserve. The reserve has been owned for seven generations by the kama’aina family. A plethora of famous movie and television shows have been filmed here, including Jurassic World and Jurassic ParkPearl Harbor and Godzilla Fans of the TV shows Hawaii Five-OLost and Magnum P.I. may also recognize the Ranch. If we had had more time we would have stopped to spend the day ziplining, horseback riding, or sailing around their ancient eight-hundred year old fish pond.

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For lunch, Mike was on a mission. In his many travels to the island he had heard about a great place to eat shrimp. I like shrimp, especially locally raised, fresh out of the pond shrimp. So a quick search had us heading for Romy’s Shrimp Shack (No active website)​ for lunch. Upon arriving and parking in their ample lot, we got in line behind locals and tourists. The line wasn’t terribly long, and the area was covered, but it was hot with little relief from the elusive Hawaiian breeze. No one was grumbling but it did appear that the line was moving excruciatingly slow.

An extremely long hour and twenty-five minutes later (We were committed!!) we settled down at a bright red picnic table to eat our boiled garlic shrimp. We settled on these since any other fare from their menu would have taken an additional half an hour to prepare. So be warned if you are thinking of stopping for a quick lunch here, you are better off tracking down their food truck. The shrimp were fresh, but being a Marylander I couldn’t help but long for a shaker full of Old Bay to spice them up.

Somewhat satiated, and back in the air conditioned car, we were just about at the most northern part of the island and starting our return to Waikiki. As we entered the area world renowned for its big wave surfing, The North Shore, we dodged surfers of every possible age ferrying their boards towards the water.

We drove past the tumultuous waters of Waimea Bay, the iconic Bonzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach) and through the picturesque town of Haleiwa. A quick search on the internet told us that the preeminent surf contest, The Vans Triple Crown was taking place during this time, as well as, The HIC Pro. It did not appear as if there was a competition happening at the present time however so we dejectedly continued on our way.

SIDE NOTE: Peak months for big wave surfing (Waves higher than twenty feet) are October through February. During this time you will find some of the most famous surfers in the world camped out in houses along “Surf Row.” These beachside homes are owned or rented by the large corporate surf companies. Names synonymous with surfing like, Oakley, Billabong, Vans, Volcom. For a fun behind the scenes article take a look here: “North Shore’s Surf Row: Where the pro surfers live

WAIMEA VALLEY

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We still had time before check in at the hotel so on our way back toward Waikiki we decided to take a detour to Waimea Valley. Known for its deep spiritual and cultural ties to the Native Hawaiians, the land is sacred and carefully tended. It was especially important for us to visit because my husband’s ancestors are native Hawaiians.

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Waimea Valley was the home of the Kahuna Nui or High Priests, who lived there in relative peace for seven hundred years prior to the arrival of Europeans. In this lush valley they built homes, and places of worship. They tended to crops of taro, sweet potatoes, kalo and bananas, and held gatherings. There are many sites in this valley that are still used by Hawaiians for cultural purposes to this day.

We wanted to see the wailele or waterfall, so after paying a $16.00 entrance fee (No AAA discounts) we decided to hike the smooth paved path. If you would prefer not to walk the 1-1/2 mile round trip trail you can hop aboard a tram for an additional $10 RT. But we wanted to see as much of the valley as possible.

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SIDE NOTE: In 2003 Waimea Valley was given back into the conservation of Native Hawaiians. The main goal of Hi’ipaka LLC, who holds the title to the valley, is to “Preserve and perpetuate the human, cultural and natural resources of Waimea for generations through education and stewardship”.

The gentle incline of the path led us through lush botanical gardens, with native vegetation on boths sides. Our leisurely stroll (It was too hot to do otherwise) had us meandering along side of Hibiscus, ferns, bamboo and all manner of fruit and nut trees.

Arriving at the 45 foot waterfall we were surprised to see a snack bar and grill, as well as, restrooms and a changing area. There was also a shaded seating area, where families and hikers of all ages were spread out and relaxing in the tranquil setting. Some of the more inspired ones decided on a swim in the cool, clear pool at the base of the waterfall.

CROSS TIP: There is a manned lifeguard stand at the base of the pool. You are required to wear a life vest while swimming, which will be provided for you by the lifeguards at no additional cost.

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SIDE NOTE: This beautiful waterfall actually has two names depending on the amount of water flowing from it. If you are visiting after a heavy rain the name will be Waihī  which means “purging water,” if it has been a little dryer it is called Waihe’e or “Softly trickling water.”

We lingered long enough to enjoy the full measure of our surroundings but it had been a long day and we knew we had to press on.

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Taking the quickest route across the center of the island, Rt 99, we passed the famous Dole Plantation (I will visit Dole on a tour later in the week.) and journeyed on, swinging past the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones state monument and merging with H2 and on into the city of Honolulu where we were able to check into our comfortable room in the Marriott where the view from our room was not too shabby here either.

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PART 2 ►


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