I HAVE RETURNED

I have made it back safe and sound from Hawaii. Overall, it was a great trip. I tried to make my third time to Honolulu different than my two other trips. I believe I succeeded. If I had to summarize what new things I did it would have to be: going hiking in new places, finding new beaches, and eating new things.

Previously, I had only done the touristy hike up the rim of the Diamond Head crater back in 2008. I was determined to find some other places to experience the natural setting of the island. To that end, I wound up doing two different hikes, both ending in waterfalls. The first was Manoa Falls which was recommended by my guide-book. I suggest going early in the morning because this trail gets extremely popular during the day and it sucks to be constantly dealing with trail traffic. I got there about 10am and I start the hike any later than that. When I arrived at the trail head, there’s a sign outlining the hike. The trail difficult is listed as “novice”. When I read that I was ready to crush this thing. I realize I’m no Bear Grylls but I think I’m in reasonable shape and living in this province, I’ve been on a hike or two. So I was feeling pretty confident about the whole thing. Now while the elevation change was easy, I actually thought the technical aspect of the trail was not for “novices”. The way the trail is laid out in certain spots actually calls for a high degree of skill as you decide how to take the next step. Some portions have rocks laid out so that each step is quite high, so you need to be sure you’re on even footing and know when your foot is going to land. Depending on how much rain the trail has received, the trail can also get very muddy and thus slippery. Going down the trail is probably the most difficult portion of the hike. Because of the high steps, rocky nature of the trail, and presence of mud, it can actually be quite dangerous as you descend back to the trail head. I saw Moms with babies strapped to their front in canvas shoes on the trail. I was afraid I’d break a leg descending a few parts and I can’t imagine having to worry about a baby at the same time. The waterfall at the top of the trail had water flowing over it when I got that day. It looks great but no one will ever get it confused with Niagara Falls.

I much preferred the hike to Aihualama Falls. The trails leading up to this waterfall are way less crowded as people do not seem to know about it as well. I hiked this trail in the middle of the day and I saw maybe four people at most the entire time I was there. The trail system here also features much more variety in vegetation than the Manoa Falls trail. I also like how you need to sign a waiver before attempting these trails, which is done at the visitors office at the Lyon Aboretum. There wasn’t really any danger though as I felt safe the entire time. You can just do the main trail and scoot right up to the waterfall but there are many other smaller trails that offshoot the main one. On my way back down, I did more exploring and it’s well worth it. I found a group of feral chickens in one area. In another, there’s a fantastic outlook the surrounding valley. One fellow visitor said she thought seeing that was worth the whole afternoon.

As for beaches, I tried staying away from Waikiki Beach for the most part. It can get crowded during times and while that might be ok for some people, I was looking for a bit more tranquility. I discovered Queens Beach is just down the road from the touristy part of the area but way less crowded. It also has this cool finger of land that juts way out into the water. When I walked out there I saw a whole bunch of crabs were right at the end. This is a great place to hang out if you want to be back at your hotel in minutes but still want some peace and quiet. Another day, I ventured way farther to a place called Sandy Beach. I was warned that this beach has high waves and dangerous rip currents but was not crowded and very scenic. Indeed, it was very scenic as the high waves and breaks made it a postcard place to hang out for a few hours. There a lot of surfers and bodyboarders out the day I went. I was really amazed at the skill of some these dudes as they were riding massive waves.

No vacation of mine is complete without eating lots of stuff, so I made sure I did a lot of that. After missing out on it previously, I had loco moco several times during my trip. I once had it in burger form and then with pulled pork. I also got into the concept of having a plate lunch. Not sure how this escaped me my previous trips but it’s a cheap and filling meal. A majority of my lunches came from a food truck parked next to my hotel. The “Cooking Fresh For You” truck was amazing. Coming from Vancouver where $15 gets you a tiny plate of food, the Cooking Fresh truck has all items less than $10 and you get a decent sized portion of everything. It was here that I tried Hebi, a type of spearfish, for the first time. It was freshly caught in the waters off the island and it was delicious. As for sweets, I tried malasadas for the first time. I guess you could describe them as Portuguese doughnuts. They can have various fillings in them. I wandered into a farmers’ market one day and they were selling malasadas at one table. You can’t really go wrong with fried dough stuff with things like cinnamon and custard. Finally, I went back to Roy’s in Waikiki. I did this for two reasons. First, the food is fantastic. Anything that lived in water that Roy’s prepares is going to taste awesome. Second, this particular location was where a friend of mine had his wedding reception back in 2008. I had not been back since then. My friend unfortunately got divorced thirteen months later but man, the dinner was so good. When I came back, I looked over to the spot where my friend stood up to thank everyone for coming to Hawaii to see him get married. Oh well. If it’s any consolation, he married someone else just recently.

Lastly, I have to address the weather while I was in Hawaii. As some of you know, I wrote a post where I informed you all that other than the first day I arrived the forecast called for clouds and showers the entire time I was there. This forecast was fairly accurate. It was the typical sunny Hawaiian day that you might imagine when I got there but I had about three hours of sunlight before the sun set. There was not a day where it wasn’t cloudy for at least part of the day. On one particular day, there were showers. In Hawaii, the rain usually lasts only for a few minutes but it actually rained for a good hour one time and then it just stayed cloudy. The sun would peak out for about five minutes but that would be followed by an hour of clouds. As such, I found it quite difficult to get tanned. On the days I went to the beach, it was cloudy for about 95% of the time. The day I went home, I was shocked at how little my skin had tanned. I was imperceptibly darker even though I was outside in shorts and a t-shirt for hours in the daytime for nearly a whole week. If there could be a negative to the trip, the weather would be it. This was of course, the earliest in the year I’ve been to Hawaii though and that might account for it. Last time I went in July and I came back looking brown.

Well, despite the less than ideal weather, I’d go back to Hawaii in an instant. It’s just so nice to be in a tropical environment.

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