Aloha, Oahu: Part I

NOTE: These blog posts are written in three parts, approximately a week since I visited. I still have to figure out the travel-while-blogging balance.

We arrived at Honolulu Airport late Monday night, so we got our car and went straight to our AirBnB, a really nice, two bedroom condo just a block from the ocean near the North Shore. I was glad I wasn’t driving: I don’t do well at night on unfamiliar roads!

The next day, we started with breakfast at the nearby Cafe Haleiwa. I had delicious banana pancakes and coffee, if you’re wondering. Since it was our first day, we decided to drive along the coast to get our bearings and to take in the wonderful scenery Oahu has to offer. We stayed in Waialua, near the best beaches in the state (I think in the country, too!), so finding the main route along the coast wasn’t a problem. We soon learned, however, that getting anywhere fast in Hawaii is hard: the average speed limit is probably 35mph. However, that’s a good thing near beaches, given the amount of surfers and tourists, and on stretches of road that curve alongside the edges between mountains and water.

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Because of our beach ‘tour,’ my feet got to touch the water and sand probably at every single beach along the coast, even though I’ve forgotten 99% of the names of said beaches.

We ended our beach trek in Honolulu: I was cranky, as it was past lunchtime and the number of people and tourists downtown was making me anxious. I was again thankful I wasn’t in the driver’s seat.

I’ll admit it: I didn’t do too much research before our Hawaii trip, so I only had a few things on my ‘to-do’ list: beaches, eat pineapple, visit Dole, Pearl Harbor, and visit more beaches. My ‘made-up to-do’ list included drinking out of a pineapple (I’ve since learned I should start a food truck, since there’s clearly a need for this). I didn’t know that Waikiki is literally in downtown Honolulu: I thought the beach was on the north shore, so imagine my shock when we basically stumbled upon it. The color of the water is gorgeous, the waves were nice, but I much prefer the beaches of the North Shore.

After eating lunch at a cafe along the ‘boardwalk’ of Waikiki, a quick drive up to the guard station at Diamond Head (after seeing the amount of tourists there at midday heat and humidity, we decided to turn around. Good thing too — we wouldn’t have been prepared for the hike to the crater, which I found out later is quite long).

On our way back, we stopped at the Dole Plantation. I don’t remember too much about Dole’s history on the island, other than Mr. Dole arrived, started with I believe 61 acres of fields, and planted pineapple. Since then, the fruit empire has expanded to even coffee and cacao. Dole had their own cannery that moved from the plantation to closer to the Port of Honolulu that was in operation until 1991. I also learned that farm workers have to wear heavy clothing year round in the pineapple fields, due to the prickly nature of the fruit. I love pineapple, so we took a tour of the fields on the company’s ‘Pineapple Express.’ It was worth the $11! We didn’t pay for the plantation’s giant maze, but for kids, I’m sure it’s a fantastic experience!

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Inside the Dole Plantation’s main building were scores of tourists, and multitudes of foods and Dole-related products to purchase: I found it too claustrophobic, so I didn’t explore much. Inside that building is the machines that make Dole whip: pineapple flavored dessert, similar to whipped or ice cream. It was extremely expensive at $5.25 — I don’t think I would spend that much money again on it. It was good, but not that good. Shave ice is better and cheaper.

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The condo where we stayed in Waialua is a half-block from public access to the beach and two from a nice park with a playground, restrooms and shower/feet washing. The beach offered gorgeous views of the north shore! Walking around the neighborhood, I was amazed to see coconut trees and other unknown fruit trees in yards, some with ‘please don’t take fruit’ signs!

At the beach, I watched sea turtles, big and small, surf the waves, battle the current to stay upright, scrounging for food: there were so many along the coastline where we stayed, which was an awesome sight to see.

After a bit of a break, we ate in Hale’iwa, a quick 5 min drive from our place…at a Mexican restaurant. It may sound like an odd choice to eat Mexican food in Hawaii, but as I’m a vegetarian, we decided to play it safe. As it turned out, Cholo’s Homestyle Mexican restaurant did not disappoint: their margaritas were delicious, and so was the food.

A great end to the first day.

 

 

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