(If you are offended by photos of people wearing swimsuits, I recommend skipping this post.)
We don't have laid-back vacations.
Diamond Head Crater
Boogie Boarding at Waikiki Beach
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
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 car...cooking 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!!)