the sun, the sea, and everything in between

Exactly a week ago, I would be just waking up to the gorgeous Hawaii weather. The trip is already starting to feel like a while ago, so I shall make a record of this trip before my memory fades. I feel like this is going to end up being an extremely long post, but we will see…

20150529_090528This trip fit perfectly into my summer class schedule, as I finished two midterms that week so I had completely nothing school-related to worry about while on vacation. Thursday afternoon I rushed home after my last class of the week to grab my suitcase and head to the airport. And Tuesday morning, I arrived back in Vancouver at 7am and managed to go to my first class of the week just on time at 9am. Gotta say, I was pretty impressed with myself.

Now onto the trip itself-
I went to Honolulu with Sharon for four days, and in the four days there, we did a total of three hikes. Basically, a hike a day except for the last day because we did not want to venture far from our hotel in case we got lost and missed our flight.

Hike #1: Diamond Head
This hike was the most crowded because Diamond Head is very much a tourist location. The hike itself was really easy, with the most difficult part being the flight of stairs at the really end. It was more of a walk up a zigzag trail onto the top. My favourite part is definitely the little square flat land you can go on (apparently illegally, so I felt kinda badass even though everyone does it, hahaha) without any fences or anything because the view is absolutely breathtaking.
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Hike #2: Koko Crater Railway Trail
We were originally supposed to do Manoa Falls on this day as well, but we got lost for four hours trying to find this trail. Yeah we pretty much almost gave up, but I’m so glad we didn’t because this is definitely a hike I will not forget. It’s funny because when we got close to the trail, we saw two mountains (or hill or whatever they are called…heh), one on the left and one on the right. At first I commented to Sharon, “thank goodness it’s the one of the left [the considerably shorter one], because I definitely could not climb the one on the right [the really tall and steep one].” Only to be told by two security guards by the road that the one we want is the one on the right. The Koko Crater Railway Trail is literally one flight of stairs straight up to the peak. The stairs are a lot more steep than they seem, with the steepest part being the last third of the hike. There were around 1050 steps with an elevation of over 1200 ft, if that gives you a sense of how steep it is (it doesn’t really to me because I’m no good at visualizing measurements of that sort, but hey, maybe it does to you). There was no shade or real resting area, and we went at the hottest time of the day, so I swear if I did not bring any water with me, I would have fainted (and then Sharon would have to find some way to carry my down the steps…oops). This is legit not a hike for everyone. By the time we reached the summit, we were both quiet for like 30 minutes from being completely exhausted. The view was absolutely incredible, though- worth every step up. I would definitely recommend this hike if you are up for something a little more (or maybe a lot more, if your fitness level is close to mine) challenging.
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Hike #3: Manoa Falls
We left the oh-so-sunny Waikiki, only to arrive at Manoa Falls in the pouring rain (but we got to see a FULL rainbow, thanks to the rain). We were hesitant to finish the entire trail because the rain just kept getting stronger and stronger and we weren’t sure how far away the waterfall was. Similar to Diamond Head, it wasn’t a very intense hike, but I loved it because of the variation of scenery and trail. It was a very nature-y trail, with garden like views, a bamboo forest, and a stream on the right hand side. The trail consisted of dirt paths, a mini bridge, some wooden and stone stairs, and some rocks you had to carefully climb.  Thankfully it wasn’t a very long hike to the waterfall so we managed to complete it in the pouring rain. And because of the rain, the waterfall was a lot more spectacular than usual.
20150531_182129Of course we couldn’t go to Hawaii without going to the beach.

The first day we went parasailing by the beach. It felt so good hovering over the pacific ocean, with the breeze lightly brushing against my skin. There’s a mix of serenity and excitement being up so high. The guy controlling the parasail definitely dipped us into the ocean more than others on purpose. The other passengers just had maybe half their legs dipped into the ocean before coming back on the boat, while Sharon and I were dipped into the ocean all the way to the top of our ribcage (thank goodness they didn’t dip us any further in because then my phone would have maybe died. Despite telling ourselves we would not buy the SD card of photos they took of us, we gave in and bought it anyways.
DSC_7358We went to Hanauma Bay to snorkel in the morning of the third day. I was hoping to rent an underwater camera there because my online research told me there would be cameras available for rent, but I did not see any. That kind of sucked, but all is good because Hanauma Bay is so, so nice. It was my first time snorkeling and I now am absolutely in love with it. Too bad there isn’t anywhere that nice to snorkle in Vancouver or Taiwan. Being able to swim so close to fishies (and breathe underwater!!) is definitely an experience. I never knew rainbow fish existed outside of the Rainbow Fish children book series (heh, don’t laugh at me).
20150531_112746We spend most nights wandering around the Waikiki Strip doing some shopping, looking through souvenir shops, and of course, pigging out (garlic shrimp, mmmmmm…). I love how different the atmosphere is during the day and at night. During the day, there is definitely a very beach-y feel, with people in their bathing suits, palm trees lining the streets, and the sun glaring down at us. During the night, the torches that line the street light up, street performers are out, and the roads are bustling with people even late into the night.

Aside from all the beautiful scenery, my two most profound impressions of Hawaii (or I guess Honolulu to be exact) are these:
1) Did not really want to put something negative as one of my impressions, but I feel like this just has to be said- the transit system sucks. We waited for an hour for the bus on countless occasions, and by the end of each wait I could feel my patience slowly running out like an hourglass. I’m not sure if it is our lack of research into the transit system or if the transit system simply sucks, but if possible, I strongly strongly strongly recommend renting a car. It will save SO much time. And you will be able to go to so many more places (Manoa Falls tooks us almost two hours to reach including bus waiting time, while it only would have taken us a short 20 minutes to drive there if we had a car).
2) The people there are sooo friendly. Friendly to a point that sometimes you are not sure if they are being creepy or being friendly. It was evident from Day 1, when people would just say “Aloha” to us or comment on something to us on the street. Service at restaurants and shops were extra friendly as well. Definitely not used to it because in Vancouver, people usually do not interact with strangers if they don’t need to and just mind their own business. When you ask people for directions when lost, they actually sincerely try to help you. The hospitality of the island is definitely something I miss.

This trip led to so many ‘firsts’ for me- first time travelling via plane with a friend, first time in Hawaii (or any relatively exoticy/vacationy place), first time parasailing, first time snorkeling… THIS is what life is all about- trying new things, gaining new experiences, and opening up your horizons. I cannot wait for my next adventure, wherever that may be.
Time to switch my focus back to school and get through these last three weeks before heading home to Taiwan!

xo sandra when she wanders

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