Friday, January 01, 2010

Aloha from Hawaii

It was spectacular!

Instead of traveling 6 hours east of California we thought of going west. Thanks to some little facebook status update by our friend which actually inspired an impromptu trip. It was well worth it! We continued with a parade of activities: surfing, snorkeling, outrigger canoe paddling, cataraman sails, hula shows, sunset on the beach, and more.

Here are some tips and anecdotes from the trip:
I would strongly recommend getting a hotel close to the world's most famous beach - Waikiki. It will give you a chance to enjoy Waikiki from sunrise to sunset and beyond.

Get a tan or take a break. A stroll along the beach as the sun crests the rim of the Diamond Head is the perfect prelude to a long day. As part of the 'relaxation therapy' we took a chaise lounge chair under an umbrella on the beach. The sight of the tranquil ocean in front and coconut trees swaying with the gentle breeze in the background completed the mental picture of a beach.

Grabbed a boogie board and tried to catch a few rolling waves onto shore. Back on the chair! That was the routine for almost half a day :)


You will find plenty of places to rent the equipment behind the lei-draped statue of Duke Kahanamoku on Waikiki beach.

Surfing the wave of Waikiki beach was an adventure in itself. We should have perhaps spent more time learning the basics.

We had a great time riding the moped along the coast past the lighthouse into the most prestigious neighbourhood of Kahala. This is the place of multi-million dollar homes and beachfront properties,home to many business moguls and celebrities. Other places we could recommend going on a moped would be Manoa Falls, Kailua town and Diamond Head.

Diamond Head - This volcano has been extinct for 150,000 years. The most famous volcanic crater in the world is Mt. Leahi, located along the southeast coast of Oahu, at the end of Waikiki. The hike takes about 30 minutes to the top and it is certainly worth the breathtaking, unparalleled view of the coastline.

(The crater became a Middle East P.O.W camp for the TV show Lost)

Diamond Head

Waikiki Beach

Some more trivia heard from local sources:
  • On an average apparently people from North America spend $176 every day whereas Japanese spend around $280 per day.
  • The Hawaiian word for fresh water is wai, and the word for wealth is wai wai.
  • 90 % of the population of Hawaii lives on Oahu

Definitely counted as one of the best beaches in the world Kailua is something you'll remember forever. The waters of Kailua beach are often dotted by brightly colored kayaks.

Strung from beautiful Hawaiian flowers, lei play an important role in island life. The most popular lei is made from plumeria. This garland is a symbol of aloha, welcome and love. Generally, it is presented to someone special to honor an achievement, commemorate a special event of simply to express affection. Also, one should always present and receive a lei with a kiss and embrace.

Home of the largest maze and the Pineapple experience is a must see destination. It makes a perfect rest stop on the way or returning from the scenic North Shore. Did you know that each pineapple plant has roughly only three fruit harvests? The first takes 18 months, the second at 32 months and the last one at 45 months.

With these new found respect for the fruit we feasted on plenty of pineapples. Also, it was a a welcome surprise to see (which shattered my perception of) how a pineapple plant looks.

The Pineapple Express takes you through the plantations for a fully narrated tour detailing the history of the pineapple, linked so closely to Hawaii.

You can spend an entire day in the great North Shore. Sunset, Waimea, Banzai Pipeline, Turtle bay, Dole Plantation and the town of Haleiwa are all closeby.

The North Shore of Oahu has waves reaching upto 20 feet high. This is where 'The Eddie' surfing tournament is held. The most recent tournament was in December 2009, when waves in the bay reached 30 to 50 feet high.

The art and recording studio of Ron Artis and his family in Haleiwa is another tourist spot. If your timing is right, you will walk into an impromptu musical performance by Ron, his wife Victoria and at least a half dozen of his 12 children.

Hanauma Bay - This natural crescent beach is tucked inside the walls of an extinct volcano. It is one of the best places to go snorkeling with a diverse population of marine life and a large, rich coral reef.

Hanauma Bay

Stand up paddling (in calm waters, done on a surfboard) is another activity we enjoyed. It is a great way to get into the water. You put your paddle on the board and walk it into shallow water. With the leash fastened to the leg (so you don't lose the board when you fall) you get onto the board on hands and knees. You stand up to shoulder width stance (atleast try to), grabbing the paddle as you rise. Splash! Right back in the water! Well, it was definitely harder than it seemed. It's all about balance and it took some practice until we were back on our feet. Once you hit your groove gliding across the ocean's glassy surface is a treat with exquisite views of the shoreline.

The Polynesian Cultural Center embraces the Go Native! theme of different cultures.

The ending show Ha: The Breath of Life is a visually stunning spectacle of over a hundred performers from across the Pacific, drums, dance, all new music and special effects, a fire spewing volcano and an awesome fire knife performance.

Here you can experience the cultures of Tonga, Tahiti, Fiji, Hawaii Aotearoa and Samoa.
I learned some Tongan spear throwing, tested my skills of the drums and some Tahitian dance.

The other interesting thing were the ABC stores. These are apparently around literally every single block in Waikiki. The theme they mention ABC stands for is Aloha Brings Customers however the word around the block is that it stands for All Blocks Covered.

When talking to locals, in response to I am from California I got the constant reaction ohh that's not too far. In fact, we consider as one of our other island.

If you are planning to explore the island by yourself I would definitely recommened the Go Oahu Card.

“What’s best in me, and what’s best in my message, is consistent with the tradition of Hawaii.” ~ Barack Obama

The Hawaii tourism has put up a website dedicated to the President's recent trips.

A Hui Hou!(Until we Meet Again)

Sunset - 1

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