I have never had ambitions to become a travel blogger. First and foremost, I am too lazy for that. Second, there is already so much information on pretty much every place on Earth out there, that I almost see no point in increasing the redundancy. But I decided to put this post together mainly for my own memories – and if anyone takes anything useful from it, I will be happy and a bit flattered.
For many years I was that type of traveler who would spend all the time on the beach during the beach vacation. I did not care much for sightseeing and all those guided tours were nothing but a distraction for me from the main thing – beach. However as I’m
becoming older, expanding my horizons, my attitude has changed quite much and now I cannot imagine wasting 7-10 days just hanging by the water with a drink and a book. Oh maybe it’s the lack of concentration and the need for changing the scenery every so often. Who knows.
Another thing is that it took me some time to find a balance between the spontaneous vacation and the one planned to a last minute. I’ve come back from vacations disappointed that I didn’t see much and I’ve come back exhausted from non-stop marathon between the museums and palaces with a short stop on a market square.
Our Hawaiian vacation was perfect due to many reasons, one of them being us having found the perfect equilibrium between planning and spontaneity. We decided on few things we definitely wanted to do/see and the rest we took as it came. Below is the list of our activities – our own must-see-must-do list for Hawaii. You are welcome.:)
North Shore and town of Haleiwa. Just about an hour drive from Waikiki beach there is a wonderful small town Haleiwa, which is known for the world class surfing conditions. The town is small and cosy and a bit unkept, but it’s the beauty of it. The landscapes are gorgeous too. We stopped at several beaches to take pictures and to look at courageous and fearless surfers. Right by Haleiwa there is a Dole pineapple plantation with pineapple maze – by the way, pineapples in Hawaii are to die for.
Hanauma Bay. Oh My God. If you like snorkeling and Great Barrier Reef is too long of a flight, look no further, this is your destination. Located just 20 mins drive from Waikiki, this stunning area is a perfect place for seeing the underwater world. You don’t have to swim far to be able to meet fishes of all sizes and colors. Plenty of sea urchins. Sometimes turtles. And even octopi. About a million tourists visit Hanauma yearly so the fishes are not scared at all and will swim right by you. Sometimes they won’t respect your personal space – and this is when I got my belly scratched by the reef as I was trying to escape a school of fishes. The place is pristine and serene and you name it. We went twice during our stay and were equally excited both times. The bay is also the home for the Hawaiian mascot fish – it’s called Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. I dare you to repeat that.
Luau. This is traditional Hawaiian party with food, live music and show. There will be dozens of tour agents trying to sell you the tickets in the street, so you have plenty to choose from. We went to Diamond Head Beach Luau and it was a lot of fun. It’s taking place right at the beachfront, with the view of Diamond Head mountain and Pacific Ocean. You get to visit Waikiki Aquarium. They greet you with flower or sea-shell lei (depending on how much you paid). In my mind, VIP tickets are not really worth it. You can get flower lei for 15 dollars on the street any time you want, and if you come early enough, you will still have really good seats. Before the dinner there were a lot of activities where the guests were engaged – lei making, ukulele and hula (dance) lessons, the food was traditional Hawaiian food, which was nice to try, and the show was good -an overview of Polynesian cultures, which included tribal dances and fire show.
Honolulu Zoo. Go if you like giraffes. I am a huge fan and there are three.
Hawaii National Volcano Park. This one is a must. You will have to fly to Big Island for that one, but it is totally worth it. I have never ever ever in my life seen an acting volcano or burned my hand with the steam coming from under the ground. I have never seen volcano crater nor magma flow from 1974 or 1982 for that matter. Big Island is not what you have in mind when you say Hawaii because it does not look like a tropical paradise, it’s rather quiet, spooky quiet if I may. Before 2008 you could drive really close to the volcano, but then there was too much activity registered and they closed that loop. The closest you can approach is about 1-2 miles, but trust me, it’s impressive. After that we drove down through the magma desert to Holei Sea Arch and that made me contemplate on how dependent we are on technology and progress. Just 35 miles with no cellular reception, no gas station or water stand, no other cars in sight – and you realize that like hell the humans are the king of nature. We are needy spoiled brats.
If you still have time left on Big Island, visit Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens. We spent about an hour there enjoying the tropical flowers and plants while walking down the pathway to the ocean.
Ko Olina and Kaena Point Park.
Ko Olina is mainly a resort owned by Mariott, but anyone can go and enjoy the swim in the blue lagoon. Actually there are 4 of them so you can choose. Then drive another 30 minutes to get to the most western point of Oahu. You can either go hike in Kaena Point Park (we didn’t) or you can stay in Yokohama beach and get mesmerized by the waves crushing the rocks. We spent more than an hour there and took gigabytes of pictures.
Pearl Harbor. I’m not a big fan of military history, but it was educating. My first time in a submarine too.
Diamond Head Crater Hike. This one we attempted three times. First time it was too busy, so we went to Hanauma instead. Second time we realized that if it says Hike, it probably means you will have to walk and flip flops are not the best thing to wear. Third time we came prepared. It was our last full day in Hawaii and it was a perfect ending to a perfect vacation. The hike is not too challenging, even though there are couple of quite steep stairs. Ok, they are vertical almost. But when you get there, you will be rewarded with the postcard view over Waikiki and Honolulu. Postcard perfect, I am telling you.
Waikiki. If you come to Oahu, you are most likely staying in Waikiki. It’s a world famous beach with golden sand, turquoise waters, perfect waves for those who just start surfing, high rise hotels, great restaurants and boutiques. Just stroll. Hand on the beach. Swim. Surf. Repeat.
These are just few things to do in Oahu. Often times we would just drive along the coast and would stop any time we saw a beautiful view (which was probably every 10 minutes). I’m sure there is much more that we didn’t do/see yet, but we already know we will be back.