Lanikai, aka the most beautiful beach ever
Hey friends! Maybe it’s the warm weather lately, or the chocolate coconut coffee I drank this morning, but I have been pining away for a trip to somewhere tropical. Two winters ago, I had the amazing experience of visiting Hawaii, and I wanted to share some of my favorite moments of my trip with you!
One of my college roommates senior year, Jenn, had lived on Oahu her whole life and graciously invited my friend Olivia and me to spend New Years 2014 with her family.
The view from Jenn’s yard. Umm what?!
So basically I thought Hawaii was one giant resort where everyone was tan and friendly and stereotypically American. Oh my goodness, I learned so much. Hawaii is like visiting another country! It has its own culture, food, and even its own jargon (“Imma go bocha real quick” and “She’s haole”*). I am so thankful for Jenn to showing me the “real” Hawaii, even though Olivia and I caved one night and went to Waikiki Beach (aka tourist central) and got piña coladas and pulled pork sandwiches.
I hate flying, but I had two layovers from the East Coast to Hawaii which made it more manageable. On the flight from San Francisco to Honolulu, the flight attendants kept saying mahalo (thank you) and even played Hawaiian music when we first got on the plane (a little hokey but enjoyable). I half expected Polynesian women in grass skirts to greet us as we got off the plane and give us all leis. Apparently the “free lei” thing is a myth- but Jenn and Olivia were waiting for me with an authentic Hawaiian lei that smelled ah-mazing! The flowers were gorgeous and I wish they would have stayed fresh forever!
At the airport
The first place we visited was a hiking trail where they filmed Jurassic Park and Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Hawaiians are so active! From surfing to hiking to pretty much any outdoor sport, there’s always something fun to do that promotes a healthy lifestyle (and for a girl like me who hates traditional exercise, this is so appealing). Also, notice we’re wearing shorts and t-shirts. In December. Yes, perfect weather year-round…it’s pretty amazing.
On the hiking trail
Afterwards, we toured downtown Honolulu, which was decorated for Christmas. There’s a statue of King Kamehameha, which Olivia and I had a lot of fun pronouncing!
Isn’t downtown pretty?
Goofing off downtown
We had authentic Chinese dumplings for lunch and ended the day at Ala Moana Beach. Surrounded by a park, a city, and mountains, it seemed pretty much perfect to me, though apparently Hawaiians consider it dirty and not the best.
At Ala Moana
The water was so clear!
One of the sweetest things about the trip was meeting Jenn’s high school friends, who were all so kind and friendly! Her friend Laura took us to Nu’uanu Pali lookout and a secret hiking trail only residents know about. It was a sheer drop-off on one side and a super skinny trail at times, but it was real hiking (like crawling up a hill and on rocks).
The lookout was so windy!
On the hike
My favorite part of the trip was visiting Lanikai Beach, the one featured in the first photo. The view was amazing!
Arriving at Lanikai
Jenn’s Auntie Karen treated us to dinner at a fancy restaurant where the President goes on his vacations. (Auntie and Uncle are used to refer to family friends. At first I thought Jenn’s parents had a ton of brothers and sisters!)
At Alan Wong’s Restaurant
Here are some other highlights from the trip:
Watching the sunset on the beach at the Disney Resort
Visiting Chinaman’s Hat
Enjoying a variety of authentic Asian cuisine
Taking fun pictures at Waimea Bay
This is one of my favorites!
Going whale watching. We didn’t see any whales, but dolphins swam alongside us!
Going snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. I’m super scared of getting stung by jellyfish, so I chickened out pretty early.
Visiting the Japanese Temple at Kaneohe and ringing the gong for the New Year
Going for a seaside hike and getting absolutely DRENCHED halfway through by a sudden rainstorm
Taking surf lessons on the North Shore from one of Jenn’s friends
It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but I’m really hoping to go back in my lifetime! With Scott being in the military, there’s a chance we could be stationed at Pearl Harbor- here’s hoping!
*These phrases mean “I’m going to take a shower really quick.” And “She’s non-Hawaiian/a tourist”. They’re taken from pidgin, a language made of bits of the different cultures that have influenced Hawaii.