I stayed up all night Saturday booking and packing for my trip. I’ve traveled to many places but Hawaii proved a challenge just because of the logistics of deciding which islands to go to and evaluation the cost benefit analysis of car rentals and accommodations. I finished everything around 12:30am and was tempted to pull an all-nighter to catch my early morning flight but decided against it. I went to bed and set my alarm for 3:00am. I was worried I would oversleep or be such a deep state of sleep to hear the alarm.
As 3:00am comes around and I woke up, had coffee and caught a ride to the airport. My flight was at 6:55am and I arrived at the airport at a reasonable 4:30am. I checked- in and proceeded through security without any problems. At the gate, there were not that many people waiting for the flight. I could have had an entire row t myself if I wanted. I’ve never been on such an empty flight before. Maybe it’s because its Labor day?
It was a 3 hour flight from Toronto to Dallas. Upon my arrival I saw that my departure gate would be D22. In Dallas I had 4 hour layover which I spend surfing the free internet, shopping and having lunch. As 12:30pm rolls around, I notice there were few people at the gate. Then my instincts tells me something is wrong. I checked the flight departure screen again and discovered that my gate has been changed to A24 instead. Realizing this error and with only 25 minutes left on the clock, I ran towards the trains that link the terminals. I had 5 stops to get to my terminal area. With each stop, I try to remain calm while mentally saying “hurry up, hurry up”. When I finally arrived at the stop, I found that my gate was at the other end of the stop. As I ran with my luggage, I heard my name paged on the intercom. Definitely not a good sign. I ran faster and yell “That‘s me!” The lady at the counter told me that the flight was about to leave and quickly scanned my ticket. She looks at my backpack and gives a disapproving look.
“That’s a big backpack” she says.
I informed her that it met the regulations for carry-on luggage. She lets me know that because it’s a packed flight I may have trouble finding an overhead bin with room.
As I boarded the plane, everyone stared at me because I’m the last one to board. I have also have a big backpack. I walked to the back of the plane where my seat is, only to be told that the overhead bins are full. I walked up 15 rows ahead and found some space in the overhead bins. With some heave-ho-ing, and punching, my backpack fitted perfectly. As I walked back to my seat, the gentlemen sitting beside me says “Damn girl, that deserves a high-five” and gives me a high five before I settle into my seat.
That was a close call. I almost missed my flight to Honolulu. Not sure what I would have done.
While we’re waiting for the plane to take off, I noticed Hawaiian music already playing in the airplane sound system. Wow they really know how to create a great atmosphere. Tired and stressed, I chose a seat by the window. The seat beside me was empty, which meant more room to sleep or stretch out.
Hawaii is 6 hours earlier than the time back home. When I arrived in Honolulu, it was 4:00pm in the afternoon. The humidity is heavy. One of the first things I noticed about the airport is the beautiful gardens and open-air style. A note to the smokers, even though it’s open-air, it’s a non-smoking facility. So don’t light up until you leave the airport, or head to the ground level.
Throughout the airport you’ll see stands of Hawaii booklets and brochures with useful information for last minute additions to your trip. I recommend grabbing each one, because they cover different topics and each has different quality of maps.
I hopped on the city bus and headed to Waikiki beach where I checked in, snapped some sunset photos and headed to bed.
Prices of common items
Marlboro pack of 20 cigarettes are $10.25
1.5 Liter bottle of water is $0.99
A long sarong is $9.99
Postcards are $0.25 each or 5 for $1.00
Snorkels without the dry tube are $9.99
It was Labor day and I was unsure what attractions were opened and closed. The plan was to go to the Pearl Harbor Memorial and get there early to get tickets as there are a limited amount each day. I woke up 6am and was ready to get on the bus. With most bus systems, if you want to travel the opposite direction on a bus route, you just cross the street to hop on the bus at the other bus stop. That’s not the case in Hawaii.
This complicated my plans and turned a 1 hr journey into a bit longer looking for the bus stop. I arrived at 9:20am and got tickets for the 9:45am show.
The movie explains the design of the memorial, which is a white open air building which floats above the actual sunken ship.
After the movie, everyone in the movie theatre embarks onto a navy ship that fits about 150 people to take them to the memorial for about a 15 minute stay. The same ship transports visitors back and forth.
After visiting the U.S.S Arizona memorial, I found it only fitting to visit the U.S.S. Missouri as well. This battleship was the ship where the Japan signed the surrender terms in Tokyo Bay. To get to the ship, a shuttle transport guests from the memorial to Ford Island where there are currently used army bases.
The first thing I noticed about the Missouri, also known as the Mighty Mo, was it’s massive size. The ticket included a choice of audio guide, or tour guide.
The tour guide pointed out the symbols painted on the sides of the canons which indicate the war fought and number of canons fired. The other point of interest was the plaque on the floor commemorating the actual spot where the terms of surrender were signed. Compared to when the ship first opened up to the public, lots of restoration has been done to maintain the appearance of the ship as it was. You can walk through the cafeteria, see the command deck. The ship is often used in movies, the most recent one being ‘Battleship’.
After finishing up the Pearl Habor trip, I headed towards downtown Honolulu to see Ionlani palace, and statue of Kamehameha. I had planned to the National Cemetery of the Pacific aka Punchbowl but it was closed.
I also made a failed attempt to visit Costco, but it was closed for Labor day as well. My day ended with another walk along the beach and taking photos of the sunset.
Hawaii Trip – Part 3 – North Shore – Haleiwa, Waimea Beach, Pupukea Beach, Sharks Cove, Three Tables Beach, Turtle Beach
It was the North shore van tour today. For $20 the hostel arranged a driver to take us to visit the north shore beaches and all its splendor. The first stop was in the small town of Haleiwa. Here was bought some snacks, necessities and did a bit of shopping.
The first beach was Waimea beach, which features a large rock popular for jumping. After gathering the courage, I climbed up with a fellow tour buddy. When I looked down into the waters, I got that sick feeling and wanted to climb back down. It took me about 15 minutes before I actually would take the plunge.
I counted to three and jumped, then a few seconds later my head was underwater and I was swimming towards the beach. It felt good to do it, but definitely not doing it again. Prior to going up the rock, I gave a fellow traveler my camera to take video providing detailed instructions on how to use the camera. She recorded exactly the times I wasn’t doing anything and not when I jumped. Arg.
We then got ready to go to the next beach and waited for the driver. About 20 minutes passed and we wondered if something is wrong. When he returned he informed us that the key had somehow fallen off his key chain. We did a quick comb of the beach with no luck. He called for a spare key and it would be an hour before it arrived. Luckily the next beach was only a 10 minute walk away and the gang gathered up their beach gear and headed towards the next beach Pupukea and Sharks cove.
Sharks cove has many rocks and coral and is great for snorkeling. After getting our fill of snorkeling, we headed to the food trucks for a plate of grilled shrimp. By this time it was almost 5pm, and many of the trucks had run out of shrimp or were closing. Well if I couldn’t get shrimp, I figured I could try a lunch plate, which was also on my list of foods to try, but they were sold out as well. I settled on a spicey tuna poke with rice. It’s basically a spicy tuna California roll, but unrolled.
While waiting for the keys, we bought a box of beers and watched the sunset. When the keys arrived, we cheered and headed to turtle beach to see some sea turtles. Well we saw a single sea turtle, that barely moved. It had a number on its shell because it had visited one of the rescue centers. Oh well, a sea turtle is a sea turtle. There was a volunteer standing near the turtle to make sure visitors don’t get too close. Usually they usually have orange rope set up to form the boundaries, but this time there were only markings in the sand.
By the time we got back to Waikiki it was 8:30pm. A long day, full of wonderful sights. Too bad we didn’t make it to the Banzai pipeline or Sunset Beach. I’m curious if there’s a difference with the sunsets.
Hawaii Trip – Part 4 – Windward Coast – Kailua beach, Waimanalo beach, Makapu’u lookout & hike, Nuuanu Pali lookout
We headed to the Nuuanu Pali lookout point where we snapped some nice photos before heading to Kailua beach.
In Kailua, there was a small island that was 150 yards according to the driver and would take 10 minutes. I’m pretty sure it took 20 minutes with the waves. I took a boogy board thinking it would make the journey easier, but instead, the waves kept pushing me back. At the next beach, the waves were great for boogey boarding. It was my first time giving it a try, and I can see why so many people like it. I think I would prefer boogey boarding over surfing any day. Less work, more fun.
We also checked Waimanolo beach which was another beautiful beach with long stretches of white-yellow sand.
We then went to Makapuu lookout area, and went on an adventurous hike down towards the coastline which was mostly volcanic lava, courtesy of a fellow tour member who had experience on the island. The hike was strenuous, but worth it. We ended up on the edges of the island and could see blowholes and small pools and jettys. Little fishes could be seen in the small ponds of water. The edges of the volcanic rock were covered with large chunks of dried up salt from the salt water. It looked almost like snow.