Wednesday, July 18, 2012

5 Day Hawaiian Adventure

 In January of this year, we went to Hawaii over my husband's birthday. My husband's best friend is in the Navy and was stationed at Pearl Harbor, so of course we had to go visit him.

We flew in to Honolulu via LAX from Bush Intercontinental late on a Thursday evening. This is us when we got off the plane and out into the Hawaiian air:

Pure excitement! (Excuse the blurry cell phone picture)
After being picked up from the airport, we were starved. So we went to the hotel, (we stayed on base with our friend, so I don't have and recommendations on this front), set our bags down and headed to dinner at Dixie Grill. Yup--we left Texas and flew all the way to Hawaii to eat at a restaurant who's slogan is "Put some South in your mouth!" I had the Blackened Mahi Sandwich with fries and a Screaming Mai Tai to drink.

It's their famous 34 oz. Mai Tai. It was delicious also!
After a long day of travel and a big, yummy meal we tried to stay awake long enough to go to a couple bars and drive around to do some nighttime sightseeing, but it didn't last very long, so we went back to the hotel and fell asleep almost immediately.

Friday morning, we headed to Cream Pot at the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel for brunch. The restaurant itself doesn't have a website, but it's earned 4 of 5 stars on Urban Spoon. I had a savory crepe, omelete with rice pilaf and orange juice. It was FANTASTIC. And of course, you can't beat this view:

After lunch, we drove around visiting the sights on the south end of Oahu. Our main adventure was Pearl Harbor. We didn't know this when we got there, but if you want to see the USS Arizona Memorial, you have to purchase an additional ticket and they have a limited amount each day, so make sure you get there early! We did get to walk around the museum which showcased America and Japan in the 40's, then takes you on a play by play walk through the infamous day. It was very sedate, reflective, and moving. Definitely a must.

That evening we went to Waikiki Beach to soak up a bit of sun, watch the paddle boarders and to watch the sunset.

Afterward, we went to Little Village Noodle House in Chinatown. I can't remember what I ate, but it was probably chicken fried rice or something equally not exciting. We ended the night on a beach on base listening to music, looking at constellations with Google Sky Map and wading out on the enormous sand bar. (We found out the next day that where the sand bar ends is one of the largest breeding grounds for Black Tip Reef Sharks in the world! I do NOT recommend wading ANYWHERE in the dark, especially in an area you're not familiar with.)

Saturday was absolute favorite part of the trip. We went on an Hawaii shark encounter. Yes. Sharks + Encounter = us in a cage underwater surrounded by sharks. Real live sharks. EEEEEEEEEEE! Now, the cage was not 100% submerged and there were plexi-glass window, so you weren't totally exposed. You ride out a few miles on a boat and go to an area that used to be full of crabbers. The sharks in the area have been conditioned by the sound of the diesel boat engines on crabbing boats; they know they'll snacks from the leftovers the crabbers throw back. The folks that run the encounters bought the same motor and when the sharks hear it, they come a-runnin '. Or a-swimmin'...

After we made it back to shore...

...we grabbed some lunch at Maui Mike's--arguably the best roasted chicken on the island. After that, we went to the beach. The breakers were awesome and there were sea turtles everywhere, just floating in the waves. Be careful, though! They hurt if the knock into you while you're swimming.

The little head out in the water is my husband. The dark patches in the water are turtles!

We finished the day with dinner at Haleiwa Eats, a charming little Thai place in Haleiwa.

Sunday was our last day there. It also happened to be the day of the NFL Pro Bowl. And we happened to have tickets! Being the HUGE football fan that I am, I was pumped to say the least. The Pro Bowl has become known as a "fluff" game, because it generally falls a week before the Super Bowl, and no one wants to risk getting hurt before the big game or before the next season. Despite that, it's still a landmark NFL game with some great players and I'm glad I was able to experience it. Plus, the mascots are hilarious!

We left early Monday morning and made it home at about midnight Texas time (Darn you, time zones!). All in all it was an incredible yet exhausting experience. I think the next time I go to Hawaii, I would love to have a much slower-paced time and spend some more time on a beach. Or beaches. Hmmmm. Maybe a dedicated beach discovery vacation!

Have you been to Honolulu? What did you do that was the same or different? Which other islands/beaches do you suggest for next time?

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