28 July 2014

Oahu Adventures on a Budget

 (If you are offended by photos of people wearing swimsuits, I recommend skipping this post.)

I'm not sure why, but somehow, I thought that this would be a more laid-back vacation. I did comparatively little research ahead of time--I didn't have my usual filled-to-the-max itinerary that has been a signature aspect of every vacation I've been on since I was a preteen. We even didn't cancel our Netflix account before we left, thinking that we'd hang out in the room and watch movies sometimes.

Silly me.

We don't have laid-back vacations.

Diamond Head Crater Oahu

Waikiki Beach Oahu

Dole Plantation Oahu

Manoa Falls Oahu

Manoa Falls Oahu

 During our 5 days in Oahu, we did:

Diamond Head Crater
Boogie Boarding at Waikiki Beach
Pearl Harbor
Dole Pineapple Plantation
Manoa Falls Trail
Ala Moana Shopping Center (food and wandering around)
Ala Moana Beach
Stand-Up Paddleboarding at Waikiki Beach
Kahala Mall (food and wandering around)
Koko Marina Theater (Angel had to see the Rock in Hercules)
The Koko Crater Railway Trail
Sandy Beach
Halona Blowhole
Halona Cove
Hanauma Bay

SUP Paddleboarding Oahu

SUP Paddleboarding Oahu

Koko Crater Oahu

Koko Crater Railway Trail

Koko Crater Railway Trail
Sandy Beach Oahu

During the same 5 days, we learned:

-When food is expensive, we don't place a high value on it. We bought oatmeal, eggs, and snacks from a grocery store and ate out as minimally as possible. We did, however, treat ourselves to a few smoothies from Jamba Juice.

-I am not actually a very good swimmer. I can swim just fine in a pool...but put me in a ocean at a depth over my head and add real waves...and I kind of suck at swimming. I was wishing I had a life jacket. Also...I've never actually swam in an ocean before, so waves are new to me. (Yes, I did grow up a couple steps from the Indian Ocean but our beach was too polluted for swimming and wading).

-Stand-up paddleboarding is dangerous. We both ended up with bloodied feet after being knocked off the board by waves and landing on rocks that were near the surface. Also--full disclosure, I never even stood up on the paddleboard. I am definitely a sit-down paddleboarder. In spite of the blood, I absolutely loved it!

- A hike classified as "easy" in Oahu is not the same as a hike classified as "easy" at Mammoth Cave National Park. I don't know about you, but when I heard "easy hike"--I think of a wheelchair and stroller accessible, paved winding trail through the woods...because that's basically what an easy hike at Mammoth Cave National Park is. By those standards, the "easy" Manoa Falls trail is a muddy death-trap. It was awesome. Possibly the most fun trail I've ever walked, and the waterfall was amazing. But I saw parents with toddlers--and very nicely dressed senior citizens attempting this trail--I imagine they were also mislead by those who call it "easy". Easy, it is not, awesome, it is.

-Climbing the Koko Crater Railway trail at 2 in the afternoon is crazy. I didn't actually make it all the way to the top. I made it a little more than halfway before deciding that it would be wiser not to allow myself to faint on the side of a mountain. Angel finished the hike--he's tough.

-What mystified me was that many of the public bus stops have no shelter or shade. The only bus system I'm very experienced with is that of my hometown in Malaysia--a similar tropical climate with sun rays of death. Shelters over bus stops are a lifesaver (or, at the very least, they make a 30 minute wait way more comfortable!)--I was very surprised that they aren't the norm in this American town.

-Angel really seems to like places where it's semi-socially acceptable for him to not wear a shirt. He also got pretty sunburned on his back, while I escaped all sunburn except some slight rosiness on the back of my lower calves...the lesson here is that wearing clothes is healthy for you!

-It IS entirely possible to go to Hawaii without spending one's life savings. Stopping over en route to China so that our flights were next to free...renting a tiny guesthouse through Airbnb instead of a hotel room...walking and riding the bus everywhere instead of renting a in the room instead of going out for every meal...and choosing the freedom of making up our own adventures instead of joining tours allowed us to have a trip that fit both our love for adventure and our wallets. No, we didn't do any cruises or shark encounters or luaus or trips to other islands--we skipped anything with a significant ticket price...but as you can probably tell, we had more than enough to keep us busy from morning till night! (Hiking is free!!)
Suzanne said...

Wow! You managed to squeeze in a whole lot! Brilliant : )

You are such a savy buget traveller.


Cramer Coffee and Jesus said...

yay! thanks for keeping us posted! love the pic of you on the water. looks like a blast!

Angi said...

Ah I'm glad you guys had fun!!! Diamondhead, Hanauma Bay and Ala Moana shopping were my favorites, I think. Happy trails to China!!!

Maria said...

Great post, love the pictures and it looks like you guys had a lot of fun! We just came back from a vacation in Kauai. I agree with you first tip about food. We enjoyed lots of tropical food and a small local fish store that ended up being the best food on the island, much better than the expensive restaurants. There is also so much hiking, obviously going to the beach and wonderful outdoors activities that you don't need to spend that much to enjoy the beauty of nature there.

Maria @

Anonymous said...

Ooooooo hiking I must do this soon. A possible date day with the hubby coming right up :) great pictures and activities.

Moonofsilver said...

looks like you had a TON of fun!!!! odd about the bus shelters. we have them here in Virginia.

prayers for your safe travels to China!

Jenny Fish said...

Ah! That looks like so much fun! I love hiking - yay for making your own adventures!

Meg said...

Haha! My hubs never wears his shirt. Such a fun vacation!! We don't do laid back either! Gotta get it all done!!!

The Lady Okie said...

Woah! You guys did so much! Looks like a ton of fun. Way to be thrifty and still see and do tons of things. Love all the pictures! Aloha! :)

Patty said...

Sounds like a great time had; man kudos for doing so much in a short time!! I guess I never would have thought paddle boarding was so dangerous; I thought the worst of it was the sharks, not the rocks!! Safe travels to China:)

Bethany Carson said...

Sounds like you two had a lot of fun! You certainly make the most of your time!

Amanda - Voyage of the MeeMee said...

"Angel really seems to like places where it's semi-socially acceptable for him to not wear a shirt." Bahahahahahaahahhahahahaha! Oh, Angel!

Inge Jane said...

What a fantastic trip! It sounds like you made a ton of memories and you got really great pictures. It's a beautiful place!

Martha Hokenson said...

It looks like you had an awesome time! I would also be misled by the "easy" sign. Or maybe I'm a wimp. :P

Elizabeth said...

what a bast!

Unknown said...

This looks like such a fun vacation! I always come back from my vacations so tired because we do so much fun stuff. lol

Unknown said...

Sounds like quite an exhausting vacation! But Hawaii offers more than beaches so if I would visit it, I would totally go hiking and surfing and stuff too! I can have a beach holiday at a cheaper destination ;)

Kaysie said...

So stinking jealous... Hawaii was one of our top choices before we were assigned to the AF base here (VA). Your vacation looks awesome!

Charlene Maugeri said...

Looks like a lot of action-packed fun! When we went to the Bahamas we had a similar experience. We stayed in my aunt & uncle's time share (they let us stay as a wedding gift) so that was free and it had a kitchen so we ate in a lot. We only joined one "dinner cruise" and didn't do any of the extra stuff on the cruise.

Kelly Del Valle said...

Looks like an amazing trip! Question: does the Dole Plantation serve Dole Whip? I'm obsessed with the stuff.

Anonymous said...

What a great trip! Looks so beautiful. We also buy grocery store food to keep our food costs down when we can. I am not above eating Poptarts if I can be in an amazing place.

Susannah said...

How fun!!! I'm so glad you guys enjoyed your time in Hawaii!!! :-)

Camila said...

Love the photos! And I have to agree, I rarely have laid-back holidays - especially while travelling! I feel accomplished when I visit a lot and walk like 25k in a day! Also may I say how much I love your hair!

Claire said...

You can also stop over on route to New Zealand if you're ever inclined :) Hawaii, the beaches and scenery is just gorgeous isn't it?
Claire xx

Anonymous said...

My Grandma lives in Hawaii so I grew up spending a few weeks visiting her on Oahu and I love the island. You two checked off some wonderful things!

Jennifer Prod said...

ahh, rachel! all of this looks fantastically fun - i want to jump into that pineapple maze and visit the waterfalls -- have so much fun!

Anonymous said...

You are making me so homesick with this post, I love it! I haven't actually done a lot of hiking in Hawaii. Hopefully next visit I'll hit up the trails you mentioned.

Elegance and Mommyhood said...

Hahahaa, I loved your disclosure at the beginning of the post. You are so hilarious! I am jealous you got to visit this gorgeous place. Nature at its best. Such cool photos. That water-fall surrounded by all the greenery is beautiful. =)

Happy Hump Day!!

AwesomelyOZ said...

That's pretty awesome and smart, you were able to do so much with so little :) Yikes not fond of hiking really, I prefer water activities, so long as they're in low shallow water where my fear of the depth of the water will be at bay, lol. Glad you guys had a great time and wonderful photos Rachel! Happy Hump Day -Iva

The Cynical Sailor said...

You guys managed to tick a lot of things off the list in five days! I took the bust when I was in Honolulu too - a great way to save money and you could get to everywhere on it.

Kari said...

Looks like a GREAT time! What an experience! I definitely agree that it's much harder swimming in the ocean than in the pool. Those waves are no joke. The water looks beautiful!

Unknown said...

Sounds like you had a great time and that's is A LOT that you did in 5 days. I grew up in Hawaii and we go home every year to visit my family. I think we may have been in Hawaii the same time. We also hiked Manoa Falls trail and it's been years since I've been there. I was so happy that I only got 1 mosquito bite (which is a big accomplishment for me).


Paige @ Reasons to Come Home said...

Sounds like y'all took full advantage of your time there. The pictures all look amazing and doing it on a budget makes them even better!

Rach said...

Amazing photos! I love that you got to fly through Hawaii! What a great idea. :)

Lauren {at} Life.Love.Lauren said...

I love Hiking in places like Hawaii because you are right...totally free and does not blow one's life savings! Looks like you guys had an amazing time! I have never been paddleboarding of any kind, but bloody feet make it sound way more dangerous than I thought. Guess we never know what those Hawaiians classify as "easy". ;-)

Charlotte said...

My husband and I almost never have laid back vacation either! We jam-packed our honeymoon, which wasn't a smart move after being tired from planning the wedding, but it was a very fun vacation indeed. Also, I've always wanted to try paddleboarding! I'm a little jealous.