Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I was going to title this post “The First-Timer’s Guide to Hawaii” but decided it was too confusing. I meant the title as if the author was a first-timer, but decided that a reader might assume that it was a guide for someone making their first trip to Hawaii (which, I guess it really is, but I’m certainly not experienced enough to offer comprehensive advice.) So, whatever, you want to call it, this is my guide, as a person who has just returned from her first trip to Hawaii. Warning: This will be a long post. ;-) I’m going to list (and rate) the things we did in chronological order.
First off, a bigfor renting convertibles. We rented two convertibles for eight of us and we had SO much fun driving around with our “lids” down. We rented from Thrifty Car Rental – their service was good and their weekly rate was almost half of any of the other major car rental agencies. Well worth the moolah!

And while we’re driving, a big to traffic in Honolulu. If it’s remotely near rush hour, expect to crawl. Try to do a better job of planning around traffic than we did!
Bumming Around. Just checking out the beaches, relaxing, and enjoying the waves should be a number one priority. We didn’t get to do enough of this ‘cause there was so much to do. Must. Rest. More. Next. Time.
Turtle Beach. This is a beach on the north shore of Oahu where BIG sea turtles come ashore to sun themselves on the beach. It’s just a free beach on the side of the road, but there are rangers on duty to keep an eye on the turtles. In addition to seeing some turtles on the beach, you might also get a glimpse of one in the sea trying to come in. Very peaceful and beautiful!
Waimea Falls. Also on the north shore, Waimea Falls is a gorgeous botanical park. Even if botanical parks aren’t normally your thing, this place is awesome, because after a mile hike, you get to swim in a 30 ft. water hole that is fed by a waterfall. This was one of my favorites!
Polynesian Cultural Center. I didn’t actually go to the PCC as I was pretty sure it wasn’t my sort of thing. Several of my cousins had been before and they love it and had a great time – one of my cousins even declared it a “spiritual experience.” MyDadLovesMeBest sister went with them, however, and declared it a complete waste of her money. This split of opinions was pretty much what I found out when researching whether or not to go there. You either loved it, or you didn’t. One big debate we had was whether or not to attend a Luau there. Most people recommended a better Luau (at least one that was on the beach) – the PCC is inland a little bit, so their Luau can’t be on a beach. We went to a different Luau – more on that later.
This was our “Island Hopping” day. We split up, with ½ of us going to Kauai and the other half going to Hawaii.
Kauai. I didn’t go to Kauai, but those who did had an awesome time. And, since a friend had told me earlier that her very favorite thing in Hawaii was the helicopter ride over Kauai, our Kauai party took the helicopter tour. They loved every minute and said it was incredible. Fortunately, they took their trip the day before the two helicopter crashes on Kauai. They say your odds of being in a car accident are greater than a helicopter accident, so, you be the judge (again!) (Sorry, no picture from Kauai as I wasn’t there!)
Hawaii. We went to the Big Island for the day to see Volcano National Park. You can’t even get close to the lava flows unless you take a helicopter tour, so we did. I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as beautiful as the helicopter tour on Kauai, but it was still incredible. Being able to fly directly over the volcano vents and look down at the red hot lava was an unforgettable experience. After the helicopter flight we drove out the the National Park. Very educational. We also visited the Mauna Loa macadamia nut plant. It was ho-hum – only do it if you have time to kill.

Swap Meet. We had a great time visiting all the booths and buying a bunch of souvenirs for the friends and family back home. Much better deals on touristy junk than anywhere else.
Waikiki. It was a complete accident that we ended up at Waikiki and I’m so glad we did. My mother got too hot at the swap meet, so we decided that we should find a cool restaurant to hang out in and someone told us there was a Cheesecake Factory in Waikiki. We had pineapple and coconut cheesecakes. Yum-O. We lost a lot of time in traffic getting both to and from Waikiki however, and we weren’t able to stay nearly long enough. We did get a glimpse of the beach though, and it was fabulous. If I had it to do over again, I would have spent a day there and checked out all the great shopping. (Check out Diamond Head in the picture!)
Paradise Cove Luau. This Luau is on the west coast of Oahu, so you get a beautiful view of the sunset. And there are lots of people dressed up in Hawaiian costume. And you could visit different stations to make lei’s, etc. And they had a little show where they lifted the pig out of the pit and hauled him away for you to presumably eat later. BUT. I felt like I was at a church supper. Long tables with plastic tablecloths and plastic chairs. Then, when it was time to eat, you took your plate and went through a pot luck type of line. Very Tacky. For 65 smackeroos, I expected overflowing platters of pineapples and Polynesian fruits and flowers. And oh, it would have been nice to be served. But maybe I’m just getting old and finicky for my money.
Hanauma Bay Snorkeling. This is a state park and costs $5.00 plus snorkel gear rental. We had a fantastic time – even getting both the grandmas out to snorkel and they loved it. Fish viewing inside of the buoys was somewhat limited, but if you’re a good swimmer, you can venture a little outside the buoys and see lots more fish. Great Fun. Highly Recommended.
Pearl Harbor. We certainly felt that any visit to Oahu would be incomplete without a visit to Pearl Harbor. We all loved it and I’d definitely go again, even though I’ve just been there!
Kaimuki Dry Goods Fabric Store. Naturally, the place of my ill-fated meeting with Sawyer should get a thumbs up. Seriously though, if you’re a fabric fondler, it’s worth the visit.
Shrimp Trucks. We stayed on the North Shore which is known for all of its Shrimp Farms. There are little shrimp buses/trucks all over. Just pull on up, order at the window and eat at a picnic table.
So, it was a whirlwind trip, but I definitely give it a big . In spite of the minor difficulties of traveling with 8 women (at one point, I was prepared to dole out estrogen patches!) we all had a great time! Highly Recommended.


KBG said...

It sounds so FUN! And a *little* more tropical than Bulgaria. Maybe someday...

Barefoot_Daydreams said...

Wow. That does sound like it was fun! I would love to go sometime. It all looked so beautiful!