north america, Travel

HAWAII

December 2009

Christmas in Hawaii is another deal altogether. All of the Christmas spirit is there, but paired with the chill vibe of the island. (Mele Kalikimaka!) Also, gorgeous weather. Hawaii was one of my favorite vacations of all time because we had a bit of everything. Sun, surf, mountains and culture. 

 
We arrived in O’ahu and checked into our resort, Ko Olina. I would highly recommend the resort because it has a private beach, shows, family-friendly events, a nice bar & restaurant — all the things a resort has. We also used the barbecue pits & had our fun on the beach at sunset.
Our first foray into Hawaii was to . Of course, my (s)mother couldn’t miss a chance to kiss me on camera–so here we are. We took some family pictures too! It was nice–though not as warm & sunny as other days. It is winter, after all.
Aren’t we a sweet family? I’m pretty sure we just stumbled upon a popular place to get famous shaved ice, because I sure as hell didn’t know what Yelp was back then. Look at my sister & me eating our ice! Such children. No idea what flavor I got–probably bubblegum. So yeah, M. Matsumoto Grocery Store is a semi-famous place!
After just driving around the island for awhile looking at churches & lush greenery, we returned to our resort for a view of the sunset from the private beach. I will never get tired of the sunset.
Had a cheeky drink or two (pretty sure it wasn’t alcoholic–I was only 16 at the time)
Then, we went to town! I think. Well, we went shopping at the street stalls. I remember buying some “peace” bracelets made from string or something & getting a bunch more for my friends. I was very much into getting souvenirs or keepsakes for my friends from every trip I took back then. However, I quickly learned that I would be bankrupt if I did that every time I travelled. Oops.
Then, we saw some history. I can’t quite remember which museum this was–but it was a tribute to Pearl Harbor/WWII. We read some heartbreaking letters written to & from soldiers stationed in Hawaii. Highly recommend if you’re into human interest/history.
Then, we went on a night cruise through the war ships. Our boat was decorated in christmas wreaths & things & they played Mele Kalikimaka overhead–probably a bit too cheery for what we were going to see.
And here’s the Pearl Harbor memorial at night.
The next day we drove all over the coast of O’ahu to really take in the scenery. This is where we got a feel for the land, sun and surf.
Upon returning to our hotel, we stumbled upon (probably planned it, actually) a good old fashioned Luau! How nice. Complete with the fully cooked pig with apple & all (not that we ate any of that).
After all of our chilling & eating & cruising, it was time for some physical activity. Hawaiians seem to be super active, healthy, happy-go-lucky people (yes, I’m stereotyping, but are these bad stereotypes??). After kayaking in New Zealand & Mexico, I think I was hooked. We went off into the ocean with nothing but a paddle and I was fine! Normally, I’m terrified of the ocean and boats that are extremely close to the water, but kayaking is some sort of exception. I also kind of love kayaking alone more than any water activities.
Yet another sunset. Seriously never gets old.
My sister & father did some shark diving. I’m terrified of sharks so I didn’t even get on the boat, but I know that they loved it. They did it through North Shore Shark Adventures and had no complaints (they survived, didn’t they?) I took some pictures safely from the dock, then proceeded to panic the whole time they were gone. My mother laughed at me, but she stayed with me because she can’t swim anyway.
We’ve reached my parent’s favorite place (they still talk about it today), Hanauma Bay. This time, we got on a boat and went about half a mile offshore (maybe less, I dunno) to snorkel with the fish & turtles & dolphins!
There’s the pod of dolphins! In the wild! How cool. Seriously, moment of a lifetime.
Then, we put on dresses we bought from the street stalls & took our first (and only) family photo in Hawaii.
I dunno how we thought of this, but my mum, sister and I bought matching silk 26-way dresses (you know, those dresses you can wear like a bunch of ways?) and did a photoshoot at our resort. It was kind of random, but pretty cute. We got some good family pics from it all. We did more on the beach–funny ones too!
After a truly fantastic time in Oahu, we had our drinks & said goodbye. We went to Hilo for our last few days and had a nice view from our hotel. I was floored by this mini-island outside our balcony. An island within an island!! Isn’t that great? It felt like our own private place. I told my parents we had to go there someday.
Then, we went to go see some caves at Kaumana Cave Park. I didn’t get too impressed, but that’s because we have caves all over Texas & India as well. Not really a new phenomenon for me, but it you can check out Yelp reviews if you want to see more.
We headed to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park for some active volcano action! Okay, I’m lame, but it was cool. You have to be pretty patient because you watch from far away & it only just smokes & splutters a bit.
Then, we explored that tiny island (Coconut Island! How cute) we could see from our hotel. There were a bunch of people jumping off the bridge that leads to the island and into the cool, blue water. It was really just a bunch of teens and I wanted to do it, but my parents didn’t let me. Also I was probably still too chicken.
On our last day, I chose to forget about my contacts and just wear glasses. Clearly. We went on a bit of a hike/walk to see Akaka Falls near Hilo. I remember feeling sad during our hike because I knew that it was the end—but the waterfall didn’t disappoint (the hike wasn’t too strenuous either). In the end, perfect end to our trip. We talked, we laughed, we walked up and down a bunch of steps in the forest.
And we flew out from Hilo after seeing Air Force One! Looks like Obama was paying a visit to his home state, eh?

Overall, Hawaii was a dream. A dream I have trouble remembering apparently, because I knew almost none of the names of the forests & waterfalls. I remember the actual activities though. The weather was excellent, I definitely recommend going in the winter if you want to escape the cold. Mum reminded me that this trip was for my 16th birthday (though about 4 months later). It’s true–I had wanted to go to Hawaii for years. I was very into Hawaiian-themed things for awhile. However, I was pretty fickle with my interests growing up (and maybe even now), so that was a passing phase.

Though I’m no longer obsessed with Hawaii, I definitely still love the beach & the ocean & I’m sure that Hawaii kind of left that mark on me. 

Love,
Young Lion

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