Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Trip to Hawaii (part 1)

Recently me and my girlfriend Agnieszka went to Hawaii! Since this was an interesting trip and indeed one of the best ones in my life, so I decided it is worth describing here. Most of this post is just general description of what we did. Some things that attracted my attention the most, I describe in more detail. But first and foremost it is just a bunch of awesome photos from that place. I also hope that if some people would be planning the trip in the future they can get inspired here, as well as learn from our mistakes and avoid them!

Choice of destination

Hawaii is a common name for large set of volcanic islands:
The three most commonly visited ones are:
  • O'ahu (The Gathering Place) - the most popular one highest population (1 mln people) and 3rd w.r.t. total area. Especially south of the island is crowded with tourist. The most popular airport - the one near Honolulu - is here.
  • Hawaii (The Big Island) - as the name suggest this island has largest total area. It continuously grows due to volcanic eruptions. It has richer flora and fauna than the rest of islands and it's easy to find beautiful and empty beaches, so that one can enjoy Hawaii undisturbed by other people.
  • Maui (The Valley Isle) - the second largest island, with similar population size to Hawaii. This island looks like a proliferating bacteria. The left one has more cities and really nice, sandy beaches. The right one is more wild and has spectacular landscapes and a volcano in the middle. 
When planning a trip to Hawaii the most important thing to remember is 
We did visit two island during a week we spent there and that was already too much time wasted on travelling. Our choice was O'ahu (because we found the cheapest tickets from US mainland to O'ahu) and Maui (because friends recommended it). The reminder of this post is a chronological description of our trip.

Day 0 - arrival

We arrived around 10PM local time, it was already dark, and we still needed to travel about 25 miles to the hotel in Waikiki. The first thing that happened to us was meeting a local old lady. I didn't really know what to expect. I thought that local people will be either very kind and happy people detached from a mainland problem, or very grumpy ones that are fed up with the omnipresence of the tourists. Fortunately, she turned out to be a very nice person. She was waiting for a bus home, after finishing work at the comm tower the airport. She was relaxed, talkative and helpful to us, explained how the bus system here (called TheBus) works, including how to beat the system and get everywhere faster but stopping at secret communication node, that is not on the schedule. The bus took about 1h (~ 30 stops) to get to Waikiki, which was a bit long, but we saved some money on Taxi ($5 compared with $30) and we saw a bit of Honolulu. Upon arriving in hotel we were suprised to find out that there is no door in the hotel. The lobby had a large opening in front wall which could not be closed. Probably due to the fact that it is never cold here. We got back to the hotel, unpacked, checked out the view from balcony (that failed - it was already dark) and went straight to sleep (time zone difference helped in US it was already 3AM).

Day 1 - bikes and why you should avoid them

First thing the was checking out the view from the balcony. It was spectacular (on the left). 

After exiting the room we eat breakfast (at Hi Steak Waikiki - highly recommend - the steak was tender and with garlic butter). The we borrowed bikes. The idea was to travel around right side of the island (about 50 miles). Well I used to be able to bike such a distance. What I forgot about was that:
  • I got fat since that time
  • In Hawaii you sweat even if you lie on the ground, not to mention what happens when you bike
  • Island coast line is rough (which means lots of up an down)
  • It's hard to build roads on the island so there's few of them and the traffic is high.
What happened was - we traveled 10 miles with lots of breaks and we were exhausted, but we managed to reach first stop point - Hanauma bay. We were greeted by a encouraging sign:
After such a warm welcome and being all covered in sweat we decided that the bike trip around the island is not the best idea, so we stopped at Jumbo Juice to get some drink and went back home (another 10 miles). The bikes were terrible. Ass hurt bad. To alleviate we went to do some swimming in the ocean. We were not too amused. Beach was crowded and it was already getting a bit cold by the time we got there. After that we walked along Waikiki boulevard and we stopped at a place with intriguing name "Eggs n' things". We eat what appeared to be a local Hawaiian dish - locomoco - which was rice + mushrooms + sausage and beef steak mixed together in a bowl. It was very tasty. On the way back to hotel we also got a hair flower for Agnieszka. That was end of day one. This one was the most boring one and we speeded up the pace of discovering Hawaii in the following days. As a bonus here are some photos from the biking trip:

Day 2 - around O'ahu

The first thing we did that day was to rent a car. There's no way we can get even close to visiting major parts of this island without it. Our goal was to travel around entire island (around 250 miles). We started our trip with a visit in Hawaiian Aquarium hoping to see some exotic sea life. We were osmewhat disappointed - some of it was really cool but nothing stunning. Here are some photos:

After that we decided to go to Hanauma bay (the one that was closed the day before). There was quite a lot of people (but not overcrowded) and we had to pay $7.50 for entry. It was indeed an interesting place for snorkeling, we saw lot of interesting fishes and some sponges and sea urchins being part of the coral reef.

After about 3h of snorkeling (my head hurt from looking around to spot interesting fishes) we went to Lenkai beach, which was supposed to be the most beautiful beach on O'ahu. We were moderately impressed:

But we travelled a bit further around the shore and found even nicer beach:

We continued our journey along north shoreline and listened to some radio along the way. It was interesting to see what they advertise. It is different than the mainland:

  • intelligent house with lot of security features
  • install solar panels with X, we will match prices of the competition
  • support local business on Hawaii
Speaking of the last one we managed to do this twice, by buying some pickled mango from the local farm...

... and fresh icecold coconut from a fruitstand near the road (drinking it felt really Hawaiian):

We also met some intriguing wildlife when trying to get to a Sacred Falls State Park that we later learned was closed after the death of 9 hikers:

We also visited the Polynesian culture center, but it was already too late to join any even so we just walked around:

Knowing that we still have a lot to visit we grabbed a quick dinner at McDonald, which also looked interesting:

At that point it started getting dark. We saw some brutally run over animals on the road (watch out!). We also stopped at some beach after it got dark to take some photos. It was magical!

At this point we decided that it's already 7PM and we still want to visit Pearl Harbor, so we did not get all the way to the West shoreline and headed South. We drove through Honolulu and we were surprised to see that they have 5 lane (each side) high ways here. We attempted to enter Pearl Harbor from 3 different ways. One of them was guarded by sentry (we turned our car around just in front of it (afraid that we'll get shot). One of the was again military only, with huge ships in the background (again we turned around afraid we'll get shot):

The third one was visitor entrance by a bridge (with restriction that only military can use left lane of the road) - here we also managed to turn around without getting shot :) Summing up we only saw Pearl Harbor from far, but it was still pretty awesome, you could see a lot of lights there and we some the shadows of giant military ships!

OK enough for today, in part II I will describe or trip to Maui. I personally liked Maui much more because it was much less crowded and there was more wildlife. We also meet over 1 meter long turtle !