Last night I returned from a 5-day vacation to Hawaii. I went to visit my friend Stephanie who moved to Oahu a little over a year ago to help with a church plant. The only other time I've been to Hawaii is when my family took a vacation to Honolulu when I was 11. This trip was much different since I went as an adult on my own to visit a friend living there. It was so wonderful to get the "behind the scenes tour" from a local. I have to tell you that this blog entry and pictures are not going to do the trip justice, but I'm going to try to relay the amazing weekend we had.
Stephanie lives in the beach town of Kailua. After she picked me up from the airport on Friday morning, we toured Kailua on bikes then I hit the beach while she finished some work. Unfortunately, I didn't come on the sunniest weekend and it rained nearly ever day I was there, at least in Kailua. But we toured the whole island and we always found sun outside on the southeastern part of the island so my Hawaii vacation was still a sunny one for the most part.
biking down the streets of Kailua
the beach just 2 blocks from Stephanie's place
Friday night, we drove into Honolulu for tropical drinks by Waikiki Beach then walked the touristy area full of fun shops and loads of tourists. We fought traffic back to Kailua to rest up for our weekend of adventures.
drinks in Honolulu by Waikiki Beach
sunset over the ocean
Saturday morning, we stopped by a local coffee shop for iced macadamia mochas then drove all the way up to the north shore, stopping at gorgeous beaches and lookouts all along the way. Stephanie's amazing dog Bailey came with us which made the day that much more fun. We stopped at a delicious shrimp shack for fresh prawns caught in the ocean a few hundred yards away. Talk about fresh seafood! We picked up some fresh fruit (mango, papaya, coconut) at a little stand on the side of the road which reminded me a lot of markets you see in international countries. We stopped at Waimea Beach where we swam in the ocean and laid on the beach for about an hour until the rain found us and forced us to continue driving north. Our ultimate destination was Hale'iwa where we ate more fresh seafood and bought local coffee. We ended a great day by sitting at Hale'iwa Beach watching the sunset with some huge sea turtles. This one was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was so gorgeous it almost didn't look real.
Chinaman's Hat off the Windward Coast
Romy's Shrimp Shack
fresh coconut water
afternoon at Waimea Beach
watching the sunset with the sea turtles
reminded me of one of my favorite books: Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
Bailey enjoyed a day around the island with us
The next morning we woke up to pouring rain (seriously Hawaii?!). We headed to her church, Trade Wind Community, and enjoyed a great service with about 30 people and lots of kids. It was great to meet some of the people who have such an influence on Stephanie's life in Hawaii and are all committed to building a church and creating a faith community in Oahu. The rain let up during church but it was still cloudy so we headed towards the west point of the island to the end of the road. We stopped along the way to hike Diamond Head which is a must do and had a great view. We treated ourselves to refreshing shave ice (snow cones) then continued to Kahe Point to do a little snorkeling. Stephanie has several sets of her own snorkeling gear (she's legit), so we put on our flippers and masks and swam out in the ocean. There was so much beautiful ocean life. Snorkeling was one of my favorite activities. It was amazing to see such colorful fish and coral. We layed on the beach for a bit to dry off then kept driving to the end of the road (literally) at Ka'ena Park where we watched another gorgeous sunset.
views from the top of Diamond Head
amazingly blue water
refreshing save ice
sunset at The End of the Road
Monday morning, Stephanie headed to work and I was planning to lay around the beaches of Kailua (considered some of the prettiest beaches in the world) but alas, it was cloudy and rainy. So I shopped around town in the morning, then hopped on a bus and kept going until I found the sun. After an hour and a half of touring the island via local transportation, I made it to the sunny beaches of Waikiki. This is tourist central and quite crowded, but I didn't care as long as I was able to soak up the sun! While laying on the beach talking to my dad on the phone, I discovered that I was in the exact location where we had stayed on our family vacation in 1996. Stephanie met up with me after work and we enjoyed mai tais at Rum Fire at the Sheridan. Her friend Bryan met up with us and we all went to Sansei for amazing sushi. In Hawaii they have something called poke which is filleted raw fish that is so fresh and delicious. It is amazing and I think I would eat that every day if I lived there.
a sunny afternoon at Waikiki Beach
This morning before I left, Stephanie, Bailey and I hiked the Lanikai "Pillbox". It was perfectly sunny and beautiful (of course it would be on the day I leave) and there were amazing view of the Mokulua Islands at the top. We stopped by Whole Foods so I could get some poke to take on the plane and then Stephanie dropped me off at the airport. I reluctantly got out of the car, grabbed my bags and stood in the sun for 30 more seconds. I really did not want to leave. This was one of the best, most enjoyable vacations I've ever had. The minute I got to Hawaii I felt like I didn't have a care in the world. It seriously is a place where all of your worries melt away. Stephanie and I are kindred spirits and I couldn't have asked for a better Hawaiian adventure buddy. I vowed to visit again if she is still there this time next year (or possibly next weekend if I find a cheap flight). Aloha and a hui hou (until we meet again)!
at the top of the Pillbox Hike
Aloha, Hawaii... I'll be back soon.