I recently crossed one more destination off my travel wish list: Hawaii. Yes, I had never been to that magical island state until about a week and a half ago. Read all that went down on this delightful girls trip to Oahu in my most recent Travel Log.
DAY ONE: Thursday, April 21
We landed safely. After a plane full of what seemed to be 20 screaming babies, I needed to get off of the aircraft. Stat! I got a text from Sierra telling me to meet her and the rest of the gals at Baggage Claim B. A short walk later, I saw them standing there delighted with their leis on. Wait! Where’s my lei greeting? I paid $16 and somebody was gonna greet me with some flowers on a string come hell or high water. I tracked the lei guy down, and after scanning his list found me. “Oh, there you are. Sorry, I didn’t make it to the gate. Welcome to Hawaii.” Not exactly the aloha spirit-filled greeting I envisioned in my head. But, hey, we’re in Hawaii by golly and we’re gonna have the best time ever. Onward to the Budget rental car. We opted for the Ford Escape, by the way. Lots of legroom for all five of us.
We had to kill time since check-in at the Airbnb wasn’t until 4 p.m. We were staying in Hauula, which was about 45 minutes to and hour away from Honolulu and 30 minutes on the other side from the famous North Shore of Oahu. So we ventured to Mike’s Huli Chicken, which Yvette had seen on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” The food truck was busy that afternoon with the locals getting their lunches. I ordered the Huli Stir Fry and it was sa-mackin! Oh, and the peas in the macaroni salad was a pleasant surprise. A curious egret danced around our table, meanwhile some wild cocks squawked in the distance. It was wild. Literally and figuratively. After lunch, we kept driving up toward Hauula and stopped at a liquor store to stock up for the weekend. And then a shopping center for groceries and miscellaneous sundries.
When we arrived at the Airbnb, we were relieved that it was just like the pictures online. It’s a quaint, cozy three-bedroom, one-bathroom cottage with a small yard and nice front deck. We rested a bit and got settled in. A couple hours later, we took a short walk down to the beach and saw the ocean in all its majestic beauty. The beach was secluded and was only tainted by our footprints. The locals whose homes met the sand just enjoyed the view and went on with their lives. I was in awe. And the water was warm. We toasted to our first day in paradise and went back to our home for the next five days to chill. It was great. Later, we took a short drive to Papa Ole’s for dinner. The Teri Chicken was delicious and the girls’ shrimp and Loco Moko plates were also enjoyable, by their accounts. The rest of the evening we spent mourning the loss of Prince and had a nice nightcap on the cozy sectional.
Read more about my amazing Hawaii vacay after the jump!
DAY TWO: Friday, April 22
We awoke at about 6 a.m. local time, 9 a.m. Pacific, and cooked a breakfast feast of Italian sausage, eggs and Kings Hawaiian rolls. We wanted to do the Hauula Loop Trail hike, which Sierra thought was a half-mile walk to the trailhead from our Airbnb. Let’s just say mistakes were made. A few moments later a kindly Hawaiian couple (the woman had recognized Crystal and me from earlier at Longs Drugstore) asked us if we were looking for the trailhead (yes, we were) and if we needed a ride (yes, we did). So we hopped in the back of the truck and laughed hysterically at the impossibility of the walk to the trailhead, as the road wrapped around several bends. People in Hawaii are the nicest, by the way! A couple minutes later, we arrived at the Loop Trail. And off we journeyed into the wilderness. It was a two and a half mile trek filled with majestic views and pristine flora. There were a few birds chirping and at one point, you could see the ocean peeking out of the gargantuan pine trees. It was an intense hike, only further complicated by muddy stretches of terrain and sharp rocks. There was many a close call, slipping and sliding, and tripping over downed tree stumps and pebbles. But thanks be to God, we made it out, for the most part, unscathed.
It was only until the next morning that may calves were screaming. However, before that happened, we went back to the Airbnb for a teriyaki chicken smorgasbord of leftovers from the night before. Then we headed out to Waimea Valley’s Botanical Gardens. So much green, it was unreal. It felt like I was getting a warm hug from Mother Nature herself, as the flora enveloped us. The trees were triumphant and the native plants were in full bloom. We even saw some native bird species, including Hawaiian moorhens, Shauna Thrush, Junglefowl, Spotted Turtle Doves, Red-Crested Cardinals and more. There was a waterfall that may or may not have given us some flesh-eating disease should we take that plunge, and we no doubt decided to pass on it. Plus, the beach was a short block away. This was the North Shore for reals, ’cause the waves looked killer. Literally, you could lose your life in those waters. My favorite part of the beach excursion came when the lifeguards, before going off duty, got on the loud speaker and said something to the effect of, “If you’re a child or are not a strong swimmer, please stay on the sand. The rip tides are extremely strong and can sweep you away. So, please, stay out of the water. If you don’t, I pray that the fire department finds you out in the water.” We just laid in the sand and drank in the sun rays. On the way back to the house, we stopped for a quick bite at a food truck stop off the main road and swooned over the sunset, which was straight out of a postcard.
DAY THREE: Saturday, April 23
It had rained throughout the night. It was soothing, but not so much when it continued the next morning. We wanted to picnic on the beach, but it looked like we were gonna have to keep the party inside. After watching portions of one of the greatest cinematic feats known as “Purple Rain” (long live Prince!), we decided to get our lives together. We hopped in the rental and drove toward Waikiki, and along the way we saw a rainbow. Yes, an authentic Hawaiian rainbow! It was exhilarating.
We arrived at Kona Brewing Co. hangry and plenty thirsty, but that wouldn’t be for long. I wanted to get a true feel for all that the brewery had to offer, so I opted for a flight of four beers, which included the famous coffee beer, the Lemongrass Luau, the Wailua Wheat at some seasonal beer with hints of passionfruit — all super tasty! Paired with a bacon cheeseburger, my tummy was happy. The waitress suggested we lounge at Waimenalo Beach Park, one of her favorite beaches, so we took a short drive and found it, fairly isolated and purely beautiful. Off in the distance you could see a lighthouse perched on a cliff. So picturesque! The waters were much calmer than the North Shore, so I actually dipped in the water. No swimming, just a waist-high walk into the water. If we were going to make it to Haleiwa Joe’s for dinner, we were going to have to cut the beach portion short.
It was all business when we got back to the Airbnb: shower, get dressed, makeup, out the door and toward Haiku for the restaurant. Haleiwa Joe’s had all the charm of being in Hawaii without the pretentiousness of a resort. The menu was outstanding. Although they were out of their famous prime rib, I opted for the Teriyaki Top Sirloin. Perfection! It came marinated in a scrumdiddlyumptious teriyaki glaze, with a papaya-ginger salad and garlic mashed potatoes on the side. No lie, it was probably one of the best steaks of my life. I’m still dreaming about it.
DAY FOUR: Sunday, April 24
We started our day by cooking a simple breakfast and watching the Warriors game against the Rockets. We lazed about for a bit (I’m telling you, Airbnb is the way to go! It felt like our home away from home.) and in the afternoon got ready for the big finale to our vacation — the Sunset Booze Cruise around Waikiki. I was not anticipating that 50 people would be on this catamaran out in the open ocean, which was super dicey, to start. But once we got out in the water, it got a lot better. The setting sun, vibrant blue water and backdrop of Diamondhead created some great photo opps, and the music was prime for choreography captured on Snapchat. That punch drink was tropical bliss in a glass, by the way.
I was hoping that we’d see a pod of dolphins or a sea turtle or other form of sea life, but to no avail. What was a fun, weird sight was the mysterious gentleman on the boat wearing an eye patch. We concocted a fun backstory that he was really a Russian spy. I mean, if the shoe fits … The cruise was a wonderful little jaunt, but after a while I was ready for the warmth of dry land. Once we got off the catamaran, we met up with Jhoanna and Morgan for a mini high school reunion at Mai Tai Bar (there’s one near my house in Long Beach), which was a little touch and go for a bit because I left my ID in my other purse back at the Airbnb, some 45 minutes away in Hauula. They finally let me in, and we caught up over apps and beverages. All in all, an awesome day.
DAY FIVE: Monday, April 25
It got real that Monday morning. It was the day that we had to go back to life … back to reality. Not much to write home about here, but we had to drop the rental off and head to the airport. Funny story … We got sidetracked by going to the wrong Budget rental car, which ended up taking us to a military base, and got stopped by a cop for speeding within a span of what felt like 10 minutes. Thank God the officer let us off with a warning. Whew! We made it to the airport without further incident and had one last hurrah at the Gordon Biersch ($17 for a Dark and Stormy, y’all! Kinda ridic, but it was pretty good) and bought some of those delicious Hawaiian Cookie Co. pineapple-shaped chocolate chip cookies. It was tough saying goodbye to my favorite girls Yvette, Sierra, Crystal and Mama Suits, but I’m glad we have memories from this vacation that will last a lifetime. Mahalo!
Some photos courtesy of Yvette, Sierra, Crystal and Mama Suits.
To see previous places I’ve jetted off to via my Travel Log, click here.