– Oahu, Hawaii –
Jetlag is hard. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had jet lag much worse than we are having here in Hawaii (Australia comes to mind), but it’s still very strange to hear your alarm go off in the morning and have absolutely no concept of where you are or what time it should be. I think I jumped so hard I practically knocked Mark out of bed. He wasn’t as startled, except perhaps by being body slammed.
Our alarm went off at 5am, which if you’re keeping up, is 10am at home. Our hotel is right on the Ala Wai Canal, which stretches through a portion of Wakiki, and has a sidewalk all along it without breaks for traffic for about 1.5 miles. That’s pretty convenient, so that’s where we went to run.
Sunrise here is right before 6am, so it was still dark-ish before we got started, but the trail is very well-lit, so we didn’t have any issues with the light. We did run past a startling number of homeless people sleeping on the benches along the waterway. If you’ve never read about it, Hawaii actually has a famously large homeless population due to the cost of living here on the islands. They didn’t bother us, of course, but it makes you both uncomfortable and sad all at once to see so many people sleeping outside. At least the weather is nice.
I say that, but it did rain a bit while we were on our run. We didn’t get too wet, and the rain brings with it a welcome cool down. The temperature here at sea level varies very little. It is typically around 86 during the day, and 74 at night. That means that even at dawn, it’s pretty warm and humid. Our run also took us past that high-rise apartment fire that happened in Honolulu a few days ago, if you’ve heard about it on the news. It’s really strange to run past an apartment building and see huge scorch marks marring the side.
In any event, with our run finished, we headed back into our hotel to make our breakfast. Like I mentioned yesterday, the White Sands Hotel doesn’t provide breakfast for its guests, so yesterday we bought a few things at the grocery store. We had tiny apple juices, plain greek yogurt flavored with a teaspoon of strawberry guava jam, and English muffins with a bit more jam. We have some bananas, too, but we weren’t hungry enough to eat them this morning.
Once we were fed (though still not showered), we changed into our swimsuits and made our way down to the water. It was still only about 6:30 in the morning, so the streets were reasonably quiet, though a bit more populous than we expected. The water was full of surfers.
We’ve heard a lot of theft here in Hawaii, and what a problem it is, so we didn’t take any cameras or phones down to the beach with us. We couldn’t get into the water together if we did. Someone would have to stay on shore and babysit the camera. This of course means we don’t have any photos of it, but trust me when I tell you that it was quite nice. The sun was still hiding behind the clouds and massive hotels, and while the water was cold, it was pleasant enough after our run.
I’d like to take this brief mention of sunshine to talk about the serious lack of hats here in Hawaii. I’ve never seen so many people out in the sun without a hat. Are they crazy? Do they want to sunburn their faces? I know I’ve seen a lot of sunburned tourists, that’s for sure. Mark and I wore our long-sleeved rashguards (basically sun shirts) down to the beach, even at 6:30 in the morning. I think everyone else thinks we are overdressed.
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped for a coffee and a tea. Hawaii is famous for its home-grown Kona coffee, and Mark got a cup of that brewed at one of the more touristy coffee shops, and I had a very small iced mint green tea. Considering it was almost $10 for all of that, I can say with confidence that we won’t do that again (at least on this island). I’ll stick with my $1 McDonald’s teas, thank you. Mark doesn’t even mind their coffee.
Once we got back to our hotel, we took showers and picked up our room a bit before we walked down to the lobby area to use the internet for a few minutes. I guess I didn’t mention this before, but there’s no internet in the rooms. You have to sit down in the lobby to get a wifi connection. That is almost the worst thing about this hotel. The actual worst thing, if you’re curious, is how ridiculously tiny the parking lot is. We have to shimmy the car into its spot with a 9-point turn, then wiggle and squirm our way out the doors to get out the car, all the while keeping our hands between our door and the car next to us. Parking here is a bit of a joke, especially since it costs $25 a day.
After all of that, we were finally off. Our first stop took us down to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, which is where all of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites are. We never intended to take a trip out to the USS Arizona, which is the sunken ship that’s in the harbor here, but we did look around the land-based attractions a little. Honestly, it’s a little strange for me. I didn’t care for how touristy it all felt, when it’s based around an event that led to so many deaths. I don’t really know how to explain it any better.
Outside of weird feelings, though, the area is totally packed with people, and getting to anything or seeing anything is sort of painful. Half of the stuff costs extra money to see, which is annoying when you are in a national park, and it was hot. We also couldn’y carry our camera bag inside, because you aren’t allowed to conceal anything inside the monument. They also charge you to check bags if you’re carrying them when you arrive. Mark and I chose to trek back to the car and put it away.
The parking lot there, while huge, was also packed, and we lucked into a spot when we first arrived. We got there just as the lot was filling up. When we walked back to the car to drop off the bags, people were mad when we walked away again. Then, later, when we actually did leave, I was a little worried that the vying to take our spot were going to run us over in their haste to take it. It was not the greatest experience.
With that out of the way, we were finally free to do what we really like to do, which is drive around. We did stop first at Iolani Palace, to get a picture of King Kamehameha, which is a statue outside one of the state’s government buildings. If you’ve ever seen (the modern) Hawaii Five-O, you’ll know exactly what statue I’m talking about.
While looking for an early lunch, we discovered that Honolulu has a Whole Foods, so we stopped in there for a bite to eat. It poured rain while we ate outside under our table’s giant umbrella. The rain here is really interesting, because the sun will still be shining while an absolute torrent of rain falls. It’s a little strange. At home, we’d consider it tornado weather. Any time the sun is peeking through your storm clouds, you’re in for a bad time. Not here, though. It just means that the rainstorms are tiny and will pass quickly.
Refueled with our delightful Whole Foods meal, we took the road along the southern edge of Oahu, starting with a drive up to Diamond Head Crater, which is a giant volcano crater that sort of defines the the view of Honolulu. It’s in the background of many a photo of the city. You can hike to the top, and it’s only a little under a mile, but it is stairs all the way (straight) up. When we arrived, we were told the parking lot was full, as was the waiting line, so we had to leave. We hadn’t intended to hike it at that particular time of day, but we did want to check it out to decide whether or not we wanted to hike it tomorrow morning. The answer is no, by the way. It would be way too much hassle. We’ll just take our pleasant little run instead.
From there, we continued along the coast on the Kalanianaole Highway around the tip of the island, taking pretty photos of the coast along the way. Once you make it around to that side of the island, you start seeing terrain that looks quite a bit more like the mountainous rain forest you expect Hawaii to be. Also, the water is so blue that it will just take your breath away. The camera couldn’t even capture how gorgeous it was. Mark commented that he didn’t think he’d ever seen that particular color in nature ever before.
The coast is pepped with rocky volcanic outcrops, and one of them, the Halona Blowhole, was on our list of things to see. The blowhole is just a hole in the volcanic rock where water shoots up into the sky when the surf hits it from beneath just right. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see anything too spectacular. I have read that it is better in the morning, when the water is a little rougher, but I don’t know enough about it to be sure. It was fun to see the mist shooting out, though, even if we never saw much else in the way of spewing water.
After Waimanolo Beach, the road pulls away from the water, and we took it on into Kaneohe, which is where we will finish our big loop around the northern part of the island tomorrow. Just past Kaneohe, there’s a place called the Byodo-In Temple, which is a replica of a very famous buddhist temple in Japan. It used to be a buddhist temple itself, but is now considered nondenominational and a bit touristy, from what I can tell.
Regardless, the place is gorgeous. It’s set at the base of a foggy, jungle covered mountain, and hide back among the trees. The temple is brightly colored against the green backdrop, and the pond in front, filled with koi, really adds something to the scene. It’s a pretty spectacular place, and for only $3 per person, it was well worth the trip.
After the temple, we turned back around to head back towards Honolulu, lest we do too much of the road and leave nothing to do tomorrow. We took a road we hadn’t been down yet, which was nice enough but nothing spectacular. When we returned to Kaneohe, we took a road that led us through the mountains to get back to Honolulu. The mountains are covered in a vibrant green jungle. I can’t say that’s I’ve ever seen vines dangling over the highway before. We took Highway 61, which has a state park along the side.
The park is called Nu’uana Pali State Wayside, and takes a little jog off of the highway and up into the trees to look down the mountain at the city below. It was lovely, but also quite windy. It’s easy to see how Hawaii can be much colder with any sort of elevation.
We were back at our hotel to plan the rest of our evening by 5pm, though it took us a little longer than we expected to get here. Traffic was just terrible. It looks like rush hour is between 3:30 and 5:30pm here, which is about an hour before ours back home. We still aren’t quite sure why. Do people here work different hours?
After a brief rest at the hotel, we drove back across town to the Green Papaya Cafe, which serves vegetarian Vietnamese food. Mark and I had summer rolls and pho, and were quite stuffed when we finished. We needed a little exercise to make us feel better.
With that in mind, we drove over to the Hilton Hawiian Village area to look around and walk a bit around the beach. The sand over there looks like someone goes over it with a tractor every night. I bet they probably do. All of the hotels are practically skyscrapers, and the shops around it are expensive and (as Mark says) fancy.
That could only hold our interest for so long, so we were back at our hotel again by 7:30 to write this blog post for you. Bed time is 9:00pm, so we can comfortably get up at 5am every morning. It’s almost that time now. Keeping you guys up to date is depriving me of my beauty sleep.
Tomorrow morning we will get up and go for another run and another swim, then head out to the northern part of the island. There’s a particular valley we are planning to see, and a couple other stops along the way.
– Trip Total : 182 miles –