Our Hawaiian story is filled with great memories, and one exceptionally bad memory. To echo our newly minted vows, it was our first test as a married couple traveling in sickness and in health.
There is nowhere like Hawaii. It has everything–beaches, mountains, city nightlife, culture, incredible and varied foods. Neal and I chose it easily as the destination for our honeymoon. But we couldn’t afford it right after the wedding, as we had just spent almost five grand on it and we were drained. (Check out post on our wedding in Sedona, here!) A year and a half later, I was in law school and Neal was working his 9-5. Full of stress and student loans, we decided it was time to go!
Getting & Staying There
The flight from Boston to Hawaii was comically long. It felt like it would go on forever. We stopped in LA after 6hrs, thank god, and then had another 6hrs to Oahu. The moment you get close to the islands, though–and you see them from the plane–you know it will all be worth it.
Getting off the plane, there were leis waiting for us in the airport. We walked through the long hallway that leads out to your first breath of island air. We let it wash over us for a few minutes before we headed to our AirB&B. It was a condo in a high-rise in Waikiki and was perfect. They left us great smelling soap, Hawaiian tea, and it was adorable:
The only thing I would change is that it was in the city part of Waikiki, not on the beach. I would go with something closer to the action and out of the city next time!
Our very first plan for the day was to get a couples massage and dinner. What could go wrong?
The couples massage and the dinner, that’s what. It was actually Neal’s first massage. He didn’t know what to expect, but I did. You expect calm music, soft lotion, aromas and oils. After a great massage, you’re relaxed and loose, feeling good. What you don’t expect is your masseuse to jump up on the table and walk all over you without asking if you have any past injuries! Or if you wanted that type of massage! And when you’re shy and young, you stupidly don’t fight it. What do we know about the proper way to give a massage? I’ve only had one massage like this since, and I immediately asked for a different type. They’re not my thing. Turns out, it wasn’t Neal’s thing either.
We went to dinner feeling half broken. We stopped at a nearby hamburger place. No one was there – maybe that should have been our first clue? We thought nothing of it and sat down. The food was okay. Nothing special. Or so we thought. By the time we got back to our B&B, Neal could barely walk. He spent the next 2 days in bed, weak, throwing up and everything else. I thought at first he was just being a baby about a little food poisoning, but I was sorely mistaken. No one would choose the bed over that beautiful island!
I walked around a bit by myself, but I felt terrible leaving him. So we spent the first two days of our honeymoon with Neal sick as a dog and me reading by his bedside.
Finally, Neal was feeling better. It was time to unleash ourselves on the island. We felt like we had a lot of lost time to make up, so we did not waste a second more. Here are some of the things we enjoyed most!
Watching Sunrises and Sunsets
In Hawaii, there is endless beauty, but the sunrises and sunsets are especially incredible. You don’t have to go anywhere special to see it–just head to the beach! On Oahu, you can watch the sun peek over Diamond Head’s imposing peak, or watch it sink into the ocean with a cocktail in your hand. In the morning, we would run to the beach or eat an early breakfast and watch the sun come up. At night, we would sit with our toes in the sand as the sun sank deeper and deeper into the horizon.
Hitting the Trails
Oahu has dozens of incredible hikes. We did two–one everyone told us to do and one we found when we randomly got off the island’s public transportation.
First things first: Diamond Head State Monument. On this hike, you walk along the edge of an extinct volcano’s crater:
It’s a two-hour hike that ends on a really steep note. We wish we brought water! The area still has an active military base and there are old WW2-era pill boxes along the rim of the volcano:
As we continued up, we walked through a tunnel that led to a winding staircase. At the top, we saw Honolulu in the distance and, of course, the ocean, where a surfing competition was taking place. It was so cool to watch them come in on the waves and idyllic for our first real Hawaiian day.
The hike was relatively easy and well worth it.
Hau’ula Loop Trail
The second hike we did was Hau’ula Loop Trail and the Maakua Ridge Trail. We found it by getting on the bus, jumping off at a random stop and then making our way to Hau’ula Homestead Road. At first, we had issues finding the trailhead since it is not visible from the main road and there were no signs except the one warning to beware of thieves. The sign didn’t frighten us off though and neither did the beat up houses, packs of dogs, or gun-carrying hunters coming back from the forest. (It’s easy to think of Hawaii as nothing but the beach but there is so much more to it and the people who live there.) Despite the signs and sights, we didn’t have any problem at all. We were rewarded with an awesome hike that had almost no one on the trail.
Speaking of the trail, it’s a cool mix of forest and ridges. It’s not too difficult and there are a lot of places to rest and enjoy the great outdoors. Here’s a sampling of the terrain along the trail:
Here’s the view from the top:
We were very lucky it didn’t rain. We were alone most of the time on this trail and had a blast.
Neal and I are NOT beach people. We are forest people. But when in Rome, right? There are so many beaches and coves around Hawaii and snorkeling is a must-do! You can rent equipment right on the beach. We had our first snorkeling adventure at Hanauma Bay. It is a GORGEOUS bay and really fun to say.
We walked into the water with our gear on. From the surface, you can’t tell there’s anything in the water. Once you dip your head, though, you see a TON of fish. It freaked me out at first, honestly. Why can’t I see them from the surface?? Are they going to bite me?? We also had to get used to breathing through the snorkel and not running into each other as we floated on the top of the water. All in all, it was such an awesome experience!
While underwater, I scraped my knee on some coral. It bled a lot, but I survived. All of the fish were so cool and somehow I didn’t get a sunburn. As you can see from the photos, we could use a little sun! Oh well, maybe next time.
Visiting the Dole Pineapple Plantation
A popular stop in Oahu is the Dole Pineapple Plantation. To be honest, we didn’t know anything about pineapple beyond what you can learn by eating it and didn’t think there was much more to know. Going to the plantation ended up being a pretty cool up close and personal way to learn about pineapples. There are several varieties that all grow in different ways!
We took the opportunity here to drink some fresh pineapple juice out of a pineapple cup. You can also get a memento picture in a pineapple:
We also took a break to check out the koi fish here. There are a lot and they make a really disgusting sound when they bounce off each other! I mean, really disgusting. Like still haunts my dreams disgusting. But it’s cool, they’re bright orange! They can do whatever they want!
Seeing all the different types of trees!
One thing you’ll notice around Hawaii is that there a lot of really interesting looking trees. The Banyan trees are my all time favorite. They are so cool!
But these painted trees are awesome too!
Learning some Hawaiian
While we were in Hawaii, we thought we should learn a few words in Hawaiian. It’s a beautiful language that’s heavily focused on vowels. We were there at Christmas time and learned Mele Kalikimaka means Merry Christmas.
We also had a tour guide at one point who told us the Hawaiian words for different objects/places as we toured around. It was great fun!
Eating amazing food (mostly)
We weren’t optimistic about food after the food poisoning incident. I am happy to report that we moved past it to end up eating at some really amazing places.
One of our first stops was to get an acai bowl. Hawaii was the first time I ever had an acai bowl and once I had one, I had one every day. They are absolutely delicious and filling. I’ve eaten many on the mainland since, but they just aren’t as good. If you get sick of acai bowls (but you won’t!), you can grab breakfast at one of the many beach-front hotels. The food, the view, and the service were great at every place we ate at.
Various Asian foods also thrive on Oahu. The Japanese food in particular is great. We love udon, and our favorite udon place on the island was Marukame. They make it in front of you and you take it to a table to eat. They had a veggie option, it was affordable, and the flavors were to die for.
A word on Hawaiian beer: As you may know, we like beer. So of course we tried a few Hawaiian beers while we were there. Sadly, I wasn’t blown away. We drank Kona, which you can get on the mainland these days. It’s good, not great. It’s been a few years though, and there’s been a beer revolution in this country, so who knows, maybe a million microbrews have opened up! We have to go back…
So that was our honeymoon in Hawaii. There were good times, there were bad times. We definitely got a lesson in traveling in sickness and in health!
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