The final stop of the Epic Journey was finally at hand, Honolulu. After a short flight from Kona and 20 minutes in a cab, the travellers was transported into the heart of Waikiki, a totally different type of island paradise, a much less quiet and calm version. The amount of people and traffic was a bit of a shock after the relaxed atmosphere of Kona.
For dinner, it was decided that some Japanese food (other than sushi) was in order. This meant standing in line for a bit over half an hour to enter Marukame Udon, an extremely popular restaurant serving up udon noodles and tempura delicacies at low prices. The food was tasty and there was plenty of it. The place was full of Japanese tourists, as were pretty much all other places in Waikiki as well, which was taken as a sign of the authenticity of the food.
The first morning in Honolulu started off with a hike up to the rim of Diamond Head for a scenic view of Waikiki and surrounding areas. In total, it was almost 12 km of walking, which was actually a welcome change to all the sitting in cars and airplanes over the previous weeks. Then some relaxation and cooling off at the pool.
Later in the afternoon, all dressed up in proper Hawaiian attire complete with floral pattern shirts and flower hair ornaments, a bus was boarded heading for Germaine’s Luau, a version of the traditional Hawaiian feast arranged on a private beach north of Honolulu. The evening was filled with good food including local specialties such as kalua pork and poi, Polynesian dancing, and some kitch entertainment. All in all a fun way to spend some time away from the bustle of Waikiki.
The following morning started early, as it was time for some adventures. Half of the troop headed out to swim with wild dolphins and ended up also swimming with an extremely endangered Hawaiian monk seal and a 100-year old sea turtle, while the other half went for a hike, kayak, and snorkel trip on the windward side of Oahu. Hattivatti participated in the latter, which offered incredible views of the jungle, where movies such as Jurassic Park have been filmed, and sea kayaking out to Chinaman’s Hat island, where sea birds nest and different types of small sealife could be seen in the shallow waters.
After spending hours outdoors, a quick dip in the pool was needed for freshening up. Then off to Honolulu Beerworks, a small local brewery with a recently opened brew pub. Friendly service, nice little taster glasses and great mac ‘n’ cheese. Overall worth the taxi ride out of Waikiki as well as the 5 km walk back, which was highlighted by insanely large ice cream portions at Häagen Dazs.
Again an early alarm awaited the next morning, as an excursion out to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve had been planned. The bus ride went well but there was quite a crowd already at the entrance before 9 am. After watching the obligatory info video about the reef and how to behave there, it was finally time to hit the water. Unfortunately, the views were not as spectacular as expected. The tide was starting to go down and the bay was filled with people who obviously did not understand the concept of “do not step or stand on the coral”, leading to shallow and murky waters in most areas. Some fish, lots of sea urchins and even an eel were spotted, so not a complete waste of time.
Back in Honolulu it was time for lunch. The popular beachside restaurant Duke’s, named after the Hawaiian Olympic champion and inventor of modern day surfing Duke Kahanamoku, was chosen for drinks and some appetizers, meaning a pile of hot wings and a generous portion of nachos with all the works. Then some pooltime before heading out to dinner at Yardhouse, proud server of tasty comfort food and 150 beers on tap. Blackened swordfish tacos and southern-style fried chicken, yummy! The day was topped off with a quick visit to Il Buco, a cute little Italian bistro and wine bar oddly tucked away by the pool at the hotel.
Finally the last day of the vacation arrived, bringing with it Fourth of July celebrations. The morning started with a run around Kapiolani Park, already filled with family barbeque parties at nine in the morning, and continued with relaxing on Waikiki Beach. The beach was packed with people, so the relaxing was mainly floating around in the sea. After a couple hours, stomachs began to rumble enough for some lunch, which ended up being hot dogs at Rock Island Cafe, a very interestingly decorated fifties-style diner. Then back to the hotel for packing alongside a couple beers and local specialty chocolates, Donkey Balls.
The evening started with dinner at Sand Bar and Grill, offering up a tasty bowl of ahi poke and possibly the best burger of the trip. Then off towards the beach to find a spot for viewing the fireworks show that would be the highlight of the day’s celebrations. Fifteen minutes of stunning colored patterns in the sky was also a nice way to end the last night on the road. The following morning (or actually middle of the night, as the alarms would ring at 3:30 am) would see everyone packed and heading for the airport for the long journey back to the other side of the planet.
Epicness of the sea and beaches of Oahu on The Scale of Epicness: