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Hanging loose in Hawaii


Aloha!

Once upon a time, there was a massive seat sale to Hawaii. We're talking 20,000 aeroplan points and $91 return from Newfoundland to Honolulu taxes and fees included. Even 'broke-Natasha-who-just-bought-a-house-and-is-getting-married-in-two-weeks-after-a-three-month-engagement' could not turn that down.

It was T-minus-21 days to the wedding, and I landed in Oahu with two of my sisters-in-laws-to-be.


Hawaii has never actually been at the top of my travel bucket list. In my mind it wasn't as exotic or exciting as other destinations because its a part of America. I was wrong. Hawaii exceeded all of my expectations. In my humble opinion, I think that its too cool for the US and that they should be their own country.

We stayed in an Airbnb near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu (read: tourist central). We decided not to completely adjust to the time difference for such a short trip. It was a foreign feeling to be a "morning person" for a week. But that meant we could hit the beach at sunrise, before it was crawling with tourists.


You can't travel to Honolulu without visiting Pearl Harbor. I've always been intrigued by the second world war, and was really looking forward to seeing the USS Arizona. However, when we arrived there was a big conference in town and all of the tickets were sold out. Rotten luck, really. Book your tickets in advance if possible. (Link here)


One of the things that caught me off guard about the Pearl Harbor site is the fact that you're not allowed to bring a purse! I mean, I expect to be required to check-in backpacks and large bags, but they will not even let you carry in a clutch! This is all fine and dandy for guys with cargo shorts, but I was wearing a dress with no pockets... so I had to carry my passport and wallet around in my hat!

Playa say what?!?!



We went to the museums and explored inside the USS Bowfin submarine. I knew that naval submarines had tight quarters, but I didn't realize that there were bunks literally on top of torpedoes.


When in Hawaii, eat the Hawaiian pizza. Drop by the "Lovin' Oven" and hang out with the friendly hippie that works there. You can even BYOB free of charge. (Link here)


My favourite adventure was cruising around on scooters through Kahala, which is known as the "Beverly Hills" of Oahu. Scooters are always a good idea.


Fun fact: Hawaii is one of four states that has completely outlawed billboards. You will not see a single billboard on any of the islands.



The "Shaka" hand gesture represents the "Aloha spirit" that stands for friendship, compassion, and solidarity among the various ethnic cultures that reside in Hawaii.

The symbol is often interpreted as "hang loose" and embodies the island and surfing culture.

The origin of the gesture is credited to Hamana Kalili of Laie, who lost the three middle fingers of his right hand while working at the Kahuku Sugar Mill. His wave of thumb and pinkie is said to have evolved into the shaka.


I picked one of these hibiscus flowers to put in my hair (because I'm touristy like that) and then shortly realized that it was crawling with bugs.


Far away from the hustle and bustle that is Waikiki, on the windward coast of Oahu, lies Kualoa Ranch. It's wild beauty has attracted Hollywood for decades to film various blockbusters such as:

- Jurassic Park
- Godzilla
- Fifty First Dates
- Mighty Joe Young
- Pearl Harbour (obviously)
- Parts of the Hunger Games



During World War II, the United States Military operated an airstrip at Kualoa. The military used many of the large monkeypod trees to provide natural camouflaged hangers for small planes.



This view from Kualoa Ranch is "Chinaman's Hat" (for obvious reasons)


We also stopped in the Japanese Byodo-In Temple in Ahuimanu. It was built in 1968 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants. This is the closest I have ever been to Asia!



I would definitely recommend taking a pit-stop at the Macadamia nut farm. Two words: FREE SAMPLES.


We also went the Dole Pineapple plantation, but it is basically "world's largest pineapple store". Read: Tourist Trap. If you are pressed for time I would skip this stop.

My favorite thing about the plantation was actually the trees! Rainbow eucalyptus. I never even imaged such trees existed in real life. They look like something out of a children's book.


You can't go to Hawaii without taking in a luau. We went to the Polynesian Cultural Center, a theme park of sorts that represents the main Polynesian islands. The business is set up so that Polynesian students work here to pay for their university tuition. There is plenty of music and dancing.


We even saw a man climb a coconut tree!


I noticed that are no temples in the model villages, but there are missionary churches. It didn't click in until the end of the day that there was a reason why the girls don't wear coconut bras and no alcohol was served at the Luau: this whole operation is run by the Mormons.


The luau was HUGE, but it wasn't exactly what I had imagined. I envisioned myself dancing around a big fire at a beach, lol. There were literally hundreds of people sitting at long tables and we watched people dance on a stage. When it came time to take the pig out of the ground, everyone was so crowded around you couldn't actually see anything. Anyways, I am on the fence about whether I should cross #98 off my bucket list (Dance in a Hawaiian Luau)


Oh, and we finally got lei'd.


I'm not a big "beaches and palm trees" vacation type of girl, but another highlight of the trip was snorkeling with the fish in Hanauma Bay. I wish that I had an underwater camera!


If you find yourself in Honolulu, make sure grab something to eat at the "Barefoot Beach Cafe". You'll find it on the far side of Waikiki beach towards Diamond Head. (link here)


You can sit outside and eat supper whilst listening to live music, and watching the sun set over the Pacific.


We were only in Hawaii for 5 full days, so we decided against island hopping. But I've officially added Maui to my bucket list now (number 131), I want to go back and explore the 'big island'. 


Alas, I had a wedding to pull together. So, we boarded the plane with suitcases packed with Target treasures and mint dark chocolate M&M's. (This photo literally makes my mouth water)


Mahalo, thank you for stopping by!