Hawaii in a nutshell

Where to begin? Matt and I had a plethora of adventures during our 3 weeks in Hawaii. See my reviews if you want to know where we ate/stayed. I will try not to overwhelm ya’all and will condense into the best of for our 3 islands in 3 weeks tour.
Well, we spent our first day in Waikiki on Oahu, which was touristy and money money and sort of consumption oriented. First night: Waikiki at the Polynesian Hostel. Definitely a backpacker’s hostel but not a lot of common area to mingle. They lead fun tours and pub crawls for cheap. Free breakfast included wonderbread, jam and coffee. We spent our first day walking to Diamond Head Crater (a crowded tourist place–don’t get a tour bus or taxi! It doesn’t take long to walk there from Waikiki). The hike was fun, the view was great. I didn’t feel like I was in a crater until we flew out of honolulu and I was where we actually were. The aerial view made it more impressive. The zoo nearby houses the brother of Tawan, an orangatan in Seattle. We didn’t go into the zoo with our day, we just wandered around and absorbed the consumption of shopping etc in this city where the majority is Japanese tourists.

The next day we flew to the Big Island where we were on the Hilo (eastern) side…which I preferred over Kona any day. Hilo was just like a little town, small buildings, good ice cream…but not a city. I didn’t think Kona was a city either, but more of a resort/condo town also based on spending money on silly things. I didn’t feel relaxed there. We didn’t spend much time in the towns, as we had a rental car and our new tent, black diamond beta-light. (The poles for the tent are our hiking poles…it’s super fun) We hiked on a 50 yr old lava flow for, oh, 11 miles one day. It was hard but worth it-we ended up at this beachside oasis, white sands, coconut palms and endangered nesting sea turtles. We didn’t get to see them, but their “egg sites” were marked off and there were two research people camped out there waiting for them. Matt’s putting pictures of the honeymoon on flickr. We didn’t get to see the lava enter the ocean, our timing was off both days we were near it…it’s best seen at night and we decided sleeping in a bed after 22 miles in 2 days was the better choice than adding more mileage and camping another night to see it. We hiked through a crater among many stinky steam vents…which was cool but a little creepy. We camped one night at Kalani, the Kripalu of Hawaii. We took a meditation class, ate gourmet vegetarian food (the head cook there used to to cook at Omega…there is hope for me yet! I’d love to spend some time at a yoga center cooking good food and swimming in the ocean). One exciting thing I learned while at Kalani, in addition to yoga and the like, once a week there’s an aerial class. So apparently I could have my circus too!

We went up to Mauna Kea for the ranger tour of the observatories. It’s the highest mountain if you don’t count it from sea level but instead base to peak (33,474ft). I got elevation sickness and felt like I was going into labor, not that I’d know, but my insides were not happy. I didn’t pass out, but we did lose 3 people that had to be put on oxygen and taken back down the mountain. Sunset was amazing and Matt was enjoying his elevation high so he went and hiked to the real summit (13,796 ft) while I hung out with a pregnant British woman who left the city to live in an old farmhouse and feed chickens. Another day we hiked to a green sand (olivine) beach…the hike was crazy, 3 miles of sand dunes and off road ditches, ocean on one side, more sand dunes on the other side….and it was hot….but once we got to this place, surrounded by shear cliffs and a beautiful beach, it was worth it. The waves were big and there were no rocks to smash into (Matt got beat up at a black sand beach playing in the waves a few days earlier)…so we body surfed and were lucky enough to have a local with room in his wooden flatbed truck. This man had no problem with the huge ditches, rocks or steep inclines. I was happy to not hike back since the swimming was tiring enough.

We spent a week and a half on Kauai, which was also beautiful and unique in it’s own way. Only 20% of the island is accessible by vehicle, so we splurged and sat through a time share presentation to get half off a helicopter ride. We saw a bunch of waterfalls from movies I don’t remember (Jurassic Park, Fantasy Island). It was SO beautiful to see the island from above. I was really hesitant to do it but I cried during the ride from the beauty (I felt safe and it was a smooth ride the whole way). It was worth it.

We spent 3 days on the north shore hiking the Na Pali coast, which are the fastest eroding cliffs in the world. Somehow there’s a hiking trail along and up and down the cliffs. Parts of it were washed out and very sketchy. The views were great, the possible fall was not. Luckily there were mountain goats to distract me. The crazy Spanish brought them to the island once upon a time by boat for food; goats escape, become feral and are now actually a big problem on the cliffs. Since the cliffs erode via water & wind….and goats eat up all the yummy things that hold the dirt together…and goats like to run along the steep slopes…you get the picture. So the hike was HARD (harder than flat lava) the elevation kept changing (up 800 feet, down 800 feet) and it was 11 miles basically until there was somewhere nice to stop. Kalalau Beach was the end of our hike and it was a little paradise of it’s own. White sand beaches, fresh streams to drink from, a tame waterfall to shower in, and plenty of trees for shade. We learned there used to be a hippie commune deeper in the valley like 30 years ago and they planted all sorts of fruit trees. There were a few people we met on the beach who have been there for a while. One guy had lived there for 6 years and he had a boat with him (he would take lazy hikers back for a fee) Pretty sweet job. It was a hard hike back; we didn’t really plan to spend a lot of time at the beach since there was only so much time to see everything on the island :) But we set up our hammock and watched the waves crash and spinner dolphins do their tricks in the water. I loved the waterfall shower. Ice cold fresh water!We spent our last week in southern Kauai in Poipu, which is a resort area. It was nice after all those nights camping to have a home base, even if we weren’t 45 and golfers. My parents gifted us a week at a timeshare and we had a one room apartment with a kitchen and a balcony that overlooked the ocean. Dinner on the balcony, watching the sun set…it was pretty sweet. There was a beach across the street that was the best snorkeling on the island (our opinion) We saw sea turtles, monk seals, eels, angel fish, parrot fish…it was crazy! We tried surfing and Matt lost his wedding ring, but actually caught a few waves; I got tossed around on the rocks and gave up. I’m going to take a lesson next time…I don’t think I understand the physics just yet.

We went to a taro root festival in Hanalei and ate poi, which is a gray phlegmy mush (ground taro root) and I liked it! It tasted like pudding. I did have some bad poi at a diner a week earlier, but I was glad that I tried it again. It’s supposedly very good for you (prevents cavities, high in vitamins & minerals, reduce “gastrointestinal disturbances,” fights cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, etc etc). Kava people were at the festival as well giving out free samples of kava, which is kava root kneaded into water to create a gray murky drink that tastes like bitter dirt. Why do people drink this? To “chillax” is what the man told me. After one cup your mouth and tounge turn numb and life slows down. There is no loss of control or consciousness. I have been told by cup three your whole body gets a little numb, but I didn’t have that many. It is a nice feeling, a slight relaxation without any negative side effects.
We did get a luau experience at the Marriott. We did a lot of research and found this one to be the only outside luau at sunset with the best combination of entertainment and historical accuracy. (the most culturally accurate luau was held in a basement of a building and has a very serious theme to it, not the eat and drink all you can most luaus embody). The firedancer was great. They did different kinds of hula and the MC was great, explaining the significance of everything. Matt and I even got to go up on stage and dance to the Hawaiian wedding song with other newlyweds.Our last day was on Oahu, we went to Dole plantation, which was a huge waste of time. It’s basically a giant gift shop and if you want a tour, you have to pay. No samples, either, just a food court with a really long line. Completely different from our free tour at Bacardi Rum in Puerto Rico where they gave us two free drinks at the bar and each of us got a pint of rum to go! We headed to the North Shore to check out the surfers and those legendary big waves, but we were about a week too early. There was a surf competition going on, but if the waves are small, the surfers just wait and watches the ocean. The good thing about the calm water for us was snorkeling on the North Shore. I had a 4 foot endangered green sea turtle swim about a foot below me. It looked like it was flying gracefully instead of swimming and had algae growing on it’s shell. Soo cool. We had the world’s best shave ice at Matsumoto (best combination: over ice cream and adzuki beans with flavors of: banana, root beer and tangerine) We saw a Japanese pop star get filmed walking in and ordering her shave ice–she looked like she was 12 years old but was probably 20. We did get to visit Mauna Loa macadamia nut plantation (and stuff our faces with macadamia nuts). We ate at farmer’s markets whenever we could and the produce was delicious. I think I’m going to plan my chef of the day theme at school around a Hawaiian theme. You can’t go wrong with poi, coconuts and mangos.


I am now a married woman, but that doesn’t mean I have to grow up and be all boring, right? The wedding and everything leading up to it completely rocked. If you were there, thanks for being part of it. If you didn’t, tough noogies. Feel free to read Matt’s blog regarding the details or perhaps contact me personally. There is too much to regale the masses with tales of reunions, new meetings, and lots of dancing and laughing on a lovely crisp fall afternoon.