Day 7 of Hawaii

Our last day in Hawaii was bitter sweet. It was a great vacation. We started the day with our last açaí bowl and coffee. Sam went out to the beach while I wrote before we checked out of our AirBNB. We got in the car and made our way west out of Haleiwa. We stopped by a farmers market at the local sugar mill. It is also filled with a few boutiques, but we didn’t buy anything. We took the road as far west as we could to a rocky beach. I am not sure what the beach was called, but we felt like we were officially in rural Hawaii. We reached the edge and turned back.

We headed northeast trying to finish our circumnavigation of Island’s perimeter. We went in the direction of the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge, but did not stop by and see what it had to offer. At some point I started to feel terrible. It felt like the flu, but Sam diagnosed it as the sunburn from the previous day. I really started to feel like  I was sick.

We stopped by a scenic point called Laie Point State Wayside. After a few photos we decided to find some lunch at Sweet Home Waimanalo. A colleague of Sam’s had recommended it. Maybe, because I was sick, but I was not that impressed. Sam had cooked poke which was not at all appetizing to me. Also, half way into the meal I discovered Guy Fieri had been there as well. Ugh.

We stopped by the Kualoa Regional Park for photos and the then went in search for sand. We headed for a beach, but we didn’t go in it. There was a warning to watch out for jellyfish, so we decided to head back to Sandy Beach. When we got there we officially had completed the Oahu perimeter!

The waves in Sandy Beach were just too crazy for swimming, so we went to Waikiki to watch sunset at Queen beach. Sam went swimming and I relaxed on the shore with my book. I still felt bad, but there is nothing better than a sunset over the pacific.

When it got dark we headed for our last meal in Hawaii. We wanted to go to a place called Lucky Belly, but they did not have any room. We ended up in a place called Livestock Tavern. I think the restaurant was good, but I was not really hungry and I was still sick. I appreciate their burger was on a Kaiser bun and not a goddamned brioche bun. I hate brioche.

And a few hours later we were on a long flight back to Philadelphia.


Are we really at Day 6 in Hawaii?

Friday lead us into our last night in Hawaii. Our flight is at 10 PM PM Saturday. We made some toast with local bananas and honey on them for breakfast and then ventured out to look for a caffeine fix. We found ourselves at The Beet Box Café for smoothies and coffee. It’s a great little hippy dippy grocery coffee shop.

After that, we drove north as far as we could. There is a qualifying surf contest going on now, so there are a lot of people out.   However, there was not much of a competition, as the waves were pretty calm. We stopped by Sunset Beach and swam for about an hour.   The waves were rough for landlubbers like myself, so after the first time I was knocked into the bottom of the shore I crawled to my towel.

On our way back to Haleiwa we stopped at a famous north shore shrimp truck called Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck.   Tourists were galore. We split a plate of shrimp scampi. Here is my review. Was it good? Yes it was. Was it any better than the shrimp truck I had at Sandy Beach on Sunday? I don’t really think it was.

We headed back to our apartment for a few beers and to hang out on our beach. Sam went swimming, and swears he saw a turtle fin. He says it swam right past his goggles.   I hung on the beach reading.

After that we headed to the docks. I booked us a sunset cruise on a catamaran through groupon. We headed out to sea for about 90 minutes. There were about 10 other people on the cruise.   Sam and I both developed a little nausea, but it was really nice to see the sun set over the mountains.   Also, the captain caught a fish, butchered it, and served us sashimi right there! It was delicious. We were able to sit on a net that was strung across the water.   It was a great trip.

We decided to treat ourselves to a slice of pie at the famous Ted’s Bakery. Sam had the chocolate pie and I had the strawberry pie.   They were good, not great. The bakeries of Philadelphia have really spoiled us. I think there is such a dearth of great food in Hawaii, anyone who is doing something different and above average is considered amazing.

We had dinner from a food truck that served Thai. I thought it was amazing.   Sam had vegan pad thai and I had the spicy basil shrimp friend rice. It was really good, and we were eating under the stars on picnic tables. It was a hip vibe and it was the best food I had all day. Exhaustion put us to bed soon after.

Day 5 in Hawaii – Heading North!

Yesterday was Sam’s final day at his conference. He was done by 10:30, so we checked out of our hotel and started our trek north. Before leaving Honolulu I wanted to stop at Bailey’s Antiques and Aloha Shirts to see if it would be possible to find a Hawaiian short that I liked. This store has thousands of Hawaiian shirts. Some are used, some are new, but it is beyond expansive. There are thousands of shirts! I found a long sleeved one that I loved, so you may be seeing me in it soon.

We drove north along the western shore to a restaurant we read about called MonkeyPod. It had good reviews. It was completely uninteresting. It reminded me of a nice Cosi. It was in this weird little vacation resort called Ko Olina, Oahu. I do not recommend anyone wasting their time going to it.

After lunch we drove north to the Ka’ena Point State Park. It was a wonderful beach. I have never experienced waves like these waves. They were powerful without being violent. I would frequently get pulled into the surf, only to be tossed back on the shore. There was a professional photo shoot happening while we were there, and when Sam asked to buy water form them the caterer said to just take it. Seconds later, the security officer told him to give it back, and we were left with out water.

We made our way to our apartment we found through airbnb. It is in the sleepy little town of Haleiwa. When we arrived, we met our host Betsy, and she orinted us to the place. It’s a 1 minute walk to the beach. She told us about a famers market that was happening in the Waimea Valley. We drove along the coast to check it out. We’d been eating out so much, that we thought it’d be nice to stay in and eat. We bought supplies and had a meal of green papaya salad, taro root bread with mango salsa, and baked hawaiin sweet potatoes. Also there was some wine to make for an end to an enjoyable day.

Day 4 in Hawaii

Yesterday had a lot less hiking in it. My foot was still sore from the bee sting so we played it a little more relaxed. While Sam was at the conference I went to the Bishop Museum. It’s a history museum about Hawaii and more broadly a natural and cultural history museum for many things Polynesian.

It’s a really great museum. Architecturally I found it to be the most impressive building I have encountered in Oahu. I found the third floor the most fascinating. That was the political history of Hawaii. It’s an incredible history. I am no monarchist, but the overthrow of the monarchy by the U.S. government backed sugar planters is reprehensible. Then a Dole (like the stupid banana) became the president of the government.

When Sam was done with the conference for the day we headed to Chinatown the Asian fusion restaurant called The Pig and the Lady. It was, hands down, the best meal I have had in Hawaii. It was modern, hip, interesting, and above all delicious. My tofu Bánh mì was amazing, and the pho (a mini) was better than my Philadelphia favorite, Pho 75. If you are ever in Honolulu, this is something you must do.

After lunch we headed to the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Park for snorkeling and swimming. There are a lot of beautiful fish. I saw a couple of urchin and even, what I would guess was a crab. The water was clear and the reef was teaming with wildlife. On our walk back to the car we saw a 6 or 7 mongoose (mongeese?). They are these weird little beach rats.

We decided to explore the cliffs called the spitting caves. They are not on any maps, but we heard it is a breathtaking view of the ocean. That is an understatement. You can walk to a corner of the cliffs and get a 270-degree view of the Pacific Ocean. It’s amazing. After we left, we stopped by the Koko Kai Mini Beach Park by the China Walls to watch the sunset.

We skipped dinner for a bit of drunken debauchery. We ended up at Wang Chung’s Karaoke Bar around 9 PM for drinks. It is a karaoke bar and a gay bar, so I was shocked at the surprisingly lack of Madonna or Donna Summer in the queue. I converted from Mai Tai to Dark and Stormy for the drink of the night. That storm seems to have left behind some thunder as of this writing. Oy.

When we left the bar we were drunk and starved. Yelp told us about a pizza place, that we could not find so we ended up at a very shitting diner near our hotel. It is called the Wailana Coffee House. Was it terrible? Yes. However, the patty melt was pretty damn good, and Sam was so happy to eating pancakes, fried eggs, and ham at night. Would I recommend to anyone? Absolutely not, did it work out, sure.

Hawaii Day 3

I started the day with a short walk to the Hawaiian Hiking café. It’s a cute little coffee shop in Waikiki that doubles as hiking guide agency. They have a good coffee and the breakfast burrito was excellent, so if you are in Waikiki waiting on someone then I would totally suggest you go there.

When Samer was done with the conference for the day we decided that we were going to eat poke. We end up at a place that is called Fresh Catch. We ordered ahi limu poke, firecracker poke, a salmon poke, and a bowl of seaweed salad. It was all really tasty. While we were sitting at the picnic table I see on the wall that Guy Fieri had been here before. Gross. I hate that beast. However, the son of bitch does know where to eat.

After lunch we headed for the Manoa Falls. It’s an easy little hike that ends at a beautfil waterfall. Sam was underwhelmed, but I thought it was very pretty. Even though the hike was easy, we could still feel the ache in our legs from yesterday.

We had planned on looking for the Kaniakapupu ruins, but decided that we wanted to spend some more time on the beach. We cut through the center of the island rather than the coast for the Lanikai beach. At the last minute I see the Kaneohe bay sandbar has five stars on yelp and decide to reroute us. Big mistake. We make it to Kaneohe, but all we really see is a sleepy fishing village. We stopped by a community park where kids were practicing archery to get our bearings, and then we headed south for Lanikai beach. It added about an hour to our trip.

The beach iss beautiful and sandy. The sun was already behind the mountain, but it was still light out. We could see the moon and it was utterly breathtaking to swim in the Pacific while looking at the moon in daylight. We put our towels on the beach and started to walk into the water.

Then I stepped on a bee. A bee! Bees hate water, and this fucker is hanging out on the beach like it is on vacation. Sam stops to make sure the stinger is not still in my foot, but my foot really started to ache. I pressed on and we hung out in the water for a while. The waves were really nice and it was a beautiful area to be in.

When we got back to the car we realized we had overstayed our welcome. The beach closed at 6 and it was 6:10. We jumped in the car, and went looking for some dinner. Sam finds a place called Uahi Island Grill.

On the drive to the restaurant, my foot starts to ache even more, and Sam starts to read me headlines about the massacre of the democrats on the mainland. One pain did not make me forget the other.

We got to the restaurant and ordered beers from the Maui Brewing company. Much better than the Kona stuff I drank earlier in the week. Then I looked up and saw a Guy Fieri had been here marking. What the fucking hell? I stopped feeling the pain in my foot for a minute while I seethed about that asshole.

We ordered kalua pig French fries, garlic chicken, and Thai spiced shrimp. It was delicious. I mean it was really good. The French fries were basically Hawaiian poutine. All of the meals here have been so high in protein. I really need to find some vegetables soon. My body is not used to eating like this.

After dinner we looked at my foot, confirmed it was swollen, and made our may back to Waikiki.

Day 2 in Hawaii

Sam started his conference on our second day so I had the morning to myself. I dropped a blanket on the beach at the hotel and dug into Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell. I am enjoying it a lot.

We decided to go to Ono Hawaiian Foods. It’s Hawaiin food and it is totally off the beaten path. We heard about in on Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Hawaii. We split the sampler platter and ate: kalua pig, pork lau lau, pipikaula, lomi salmon, haupia, and of course poi. My favorite was the kalua pig, it was really tasty.  Poi is not as bad as people say, it just boring.   Pork dipped in hot sauce, dipped in poi is pretty good.

After lunch we headed for the Koko Crater Railway Trail. This is where we went the day before, only to turn around because of the gun range next to it. When we arrived we were expecting not to hear any guns. I had checked the website and the shooting range was supposed to be closed. When we arrived we heard gunfire. It wasn’t like the day before; it was a single shooter, but still nerve racking. We pressed on.

It took us over an hour to walk up the 1050 steps to the top of crater. When we arrived, it was well worth it. It was a really beautiful view and I am so glad that I did it. I was really exhausted on the walk up there. I was a little ashamed with how out of shape I am, but I did it, so whatever. The walk down was easier, but still pretty damn terrifying. There is a bridge with bees all over it that seems like something out of a movie.

When we made it back to the car, we decided to treat ourselves to ice cream in the nearby shopping plaza. I was standing outside drinking my milkshake when I realized I was standing in front of Dog the Bounty Hunter’s office! Ha. Small world. Fuck that racist guy.

It was already 5 o’clock by the time we went looking for a beach. We considered the beach at Hanauma Bay, but decided to turn back toward Waikiki. We were looking for Queens Beach, but found ourselves at the Sans Souci State Recreational Park. It was getting to be dusk so there was no one in the water. I went to change into my swimming suit and guess what? Yours truly forget them in the hotel. I stripped to my underwear and jumped in. The water was beautiful. It was translucent and blue, but it was rocky.

We headed back to the hotel to shower up. We decided to walk through Waikiki to find a drink. It’s a fairly obnoxious consumer mecca, so neither of us found it interesting. We had a drink at the Royal Hawaiian hotel (It seems lovely), and headed back to the room for an early night.  After a beer on the balcony, it was time for bed.