I’ve been back in Seattle for 48 hours now and I’m already into the swing of things – waking to the sound of an alarm, putting on a coat before I leave the house, living the life of a working adult… Hawaii was a wonderful little break from reality. Trip highlights:
We checked out the Honolulu Aquarium on our second day there, which was packed with some of the most beautiful fish I’ve ever seen. My love of color was renewed after seeing swimming shades of yellow, purple, and blue in such intense, pure hues. The Moorish Idol was my favorite, with it’s delicate form and bold stripes. I left the aquarium certain that I would never again see fish like that.
I was wrong. We spent the following day snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and I was blessed with the chance to see these very same aquarium-worthy fish in their natural habitat. I flippered through the maze of coral reefs and found dozens of brightly colored, uniquely shaped fish around every corner. I came across a Moorish Idol and tried to yell “Look, look!” through my snorkel tube while frantically pointing so that anyone around me could share in my excitement. The whole experience was totally…dream-like. Incredible. Unbelievable. Indescribable.
I wanted to have at least one authentically Hawaiian meal while we were there and so we tried out “Ono Hawaiian” at the recommendation of one of our cab drivers. We ordered a couple of different combination plates and soon our table was filled with little dishes of all kinds of things I couldn’t pronounce. We munched on chicken wrapped in taro leaves, fresh salmon salsa, shredded pork in some kind of sweet/salty/savory sauce, dried beef (kind of like jerky, but more tender), coconut pudding… My only aversion was to the poi, which is made of mashed taro roots and resembles some sort of purple baby food. Very little flavor and a gritty, gooey texture. But everything else was fantastic and I left feeling very satisfied, with just enough room left in my stomach for a raspberry shaved ice for dessert.
We rented a car on our fourth day there and headed north from Honolulu. Our first stop was the Dole pineapple plantation. I never knew that pineapples grew how they did – they rest on these thin stalks and sort of hover over the leafy plants below. But as cool as seeing the pineapple plants was, the pineapple ice cream was what made the trip worth it. Sweet, tropical, creamy goodness in a waffle cone.
From the plantation, we headed to the north shore and followed the coast up from Hale’iwa to Turtle Bay, then back down the eastern side of the island. I got a glimpse of surfer-town Hawaii on the North Shore and lush, mountainous, rocky Hawaii slightly inland. Next time I’m in Hawaii, I’m renting a jeep and doing a little more exploring in the jungly hills – it seems that there are a lot of adventures to be had in there…
Other goodies? Meeting Elvis, the screaming monkey, at the Honolulu Zoo; being in buildings with roofs but no walls (this was true of restaurants, hotel lobbies, and even airport terminals); getting a brightly colored tropical flower as a garnish with every meal; 79-cent cans of strawberry-guava juice from the corner market; drinking Coronas with juicy lime slices in them at the bar on the beach of Turtle Bay; flinging open the curtains in the morning and being greeted by the sight of palm tree tops and blue ocean waters; wearing a swim suit all day long; sharing stories about traveling, marriage, and work with four other super-fun women; trying to pronounce funny street names like “Kapahula” and “Likelike” (actually pronounced “Licky-Licky” – who would have known?); savoring and soaking in sunshiny warmth…
This was a perfect getaway. I can’t wait to go back with Shane and share the wonders of Hawaii with him. I think I’d avoid Waikiki the next time around (a little crowded and “posh” for my taste), but there are four other islands calling our names. This was the view from the balcony our little hotel room – seems like another world, doesn’t it?