So at the end of March, J.D. and I took off for a short honeymoon after our wedding. We’ve had several friends get married in the past couple of years without taking time for a little vacation, and we decided that it was important for us to get away, even if just for a little while. And with all the travel he does for work, we were able to get a good deal on airfare. (Score!)
Where did we end up? Well, ten hours and two layovers later, we landed in Hawai’i. In the middle of the night. Our original plan had us landing in the middle of the afternoon, so we could explore with a little daylight left, but with flight delays we arrived in Kona closer to 10 pm.
The real adventure started the next day.
Our first morning in Hawai’I, we got up early and went back to the airport to catch an island hopper from the Big Island over to O’ahu. (I have to say…the fried rice in the airport restaurant was the best fried rice I have ever had. And made a pretty good breakfast…). When we landed in Honolulu, we rented a convertible. J.D. thought he was so cool.
And we spent the day driving the coastal road around the island to see what we could see.
Note that it was kind of overcast, not the bright and sunny tropical island we were anticipating. Don’t let that fool you. I still managed to get sunburned, even under the clouds. Because that really is a thing–for reals. Always wear sunscreen, friends. You’ll never regret wearing sunscreen, but you’ll always regret not wearing it.
We stopped for lunch at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Not only do they have great food with what our waiter termed “Polynesian portions,” but they also have some neat exhibits where you can learn more about the different Pacific Island cultures (they have representations of Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, and more). We took a ukulele lesson in one of the gift shops, and toured through the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, which was J.D.’s favorite part.
A little further along the road, we stopped to watch a surfer wipe out on the North Shore. He gave it a great shot, but eventually went under. His board washed ashore first, and the guys at the lifeguard station went and picked it up for him while he swam parallel to the shore before swimming to land.
In the evening, we returned to Honolulu—a busy, bustling city, but with an island vibe all its own. It was so interesting to see the difference between the big city on the south side of the island and the easy going rural parts outside the city.
Our second (and last) day on O’ahu was our touristy destinations day. We got up early for a second day in a row to go to the Pearl Harbor historic sites, hoping to get there before the tour buses arrived and things got busy. Even though we got to the park at 7:00 am, the line to enter was still down the sidewalk and around the corner.
Once we got in, though, there was plenty to see. We took the option of renting the audio tour headsets so that we could get the full story of the American-Japanese relationship in the lead-up to World War II. There are boats that ferry tourists back and forth from the USS Arizona Memorial all day long, and your ticket has your assigned ferry time printed on it. The ferry ride is short, but the experience at the memorial itself is sombering and worth all the effort. The wreckage of the ship still bleeds oil—standing on the memorial, you can see the oil floating on the surface of the water below you.
And the wreckage itself sits in water shallow enough that one of the gun turrets sits just above the water line. On the back wall, the names of the fallen are inscribed for the ages to remember. It’s difficult to think of it, but visiting the USS Arizona memorial is essentially visiting a cemetery—so many sailors were lost that day and were never recovered from the wreckage of their ship. A girl we rode the ferry with offered to take our photo, but it seemed wrong to smile for the picture.
After lunch, where I discovered the wonders of Hawaiian Mac Salad and the Hawaiian plate lunch (Google it. It sounds weird, but it changed my life. Seriously.), we dropped by the Dole Pineapple Plantation for dessert. It was rainy and overcast, and it seemed like everyone else on the island had the same idea to stop for pineapple goodness. We toyed with the idea of taking the train around the property, but the wait in line was at least two hours. Instead, we satisfied ourselves with examining the gift shop items and a twenty-minute wait for Dole whip. Best not-ice cream I’ve ever had.
And just like that, our O’ahu adventure was done. The next morning, we flew back to the Big Island for more adventures on a different island. But we’ve already decided that we are ready to go back and hit up more fun that we missed the first time. Hopefully, we’ll make it back there sooner rather than later.