Hawaii for Spring Break
This spring break, my friend Jenny and I traveled to Oahu, Hawaii! It was a fantastic vacation and much needed after a seemingly endless amount of tests the previous week. Our plans were extremely last minute (five days before) which for me goes against everything in my nature. We flew non-confirmed, but with non-confirmed seats comes more adventure with traveling! If you ever want tips on non-confirmed flying, comment on this post or send us a message!!
Sleep deprivation would be an understatement to describe our Sunday started off. At 3am on Sunday morning I was up, and by 4 both of our half dead bodies were lifting themselves out of the car and into the airport terminal. Since the flight we were going to take to Seattle was overbooked, we flew to Portland (the only available flight was also the earliest one) to make a connection. It was my first time in Portland and I can say, it did not disappoint! The airport was fantastic and the wifi was faster than the wifi back home by a mile. Ten out of ten would recommend.
We got to Seattle and went downtown to kill some time before our flight that night. It was a stereotypical Seattle day, cold and rainy! We walked around Pike Place Market, tirelessly searching (and failing to find) the iconic gum wall, and eating excessive amounts of foods that were handed our way. If not for our Hawaiian apparel, which was completely inadequate for the cold, we could have stayed downtown for hours longer. After losing feeling in our sandaled feet, we opted to head back to the airport.
By the time we landed in Hawaii, we had been up a full twenty-four hours. I have never been able to understand the kids that stay at the library until the sun rises to study for a test and our traveling just confirmed those opinions of mine. I was barely able to walk in a straight line by the time we got in and thinking of studying for a test with that little of sleep makes me want to keel over. BUT, we got there and our Airbnb was in the heart of Waikiki (so says the Airbnb description). It was three blocks from the beach (about a 5-minute walk) and perfect for everything that we needed it for.
On day one, poor Jenny was shocked by the vacation mentality of the Mierau family. My family does not know a “lazy vacation”. Our “lazy vacations” consist of us waking up with the sun and going to bed at ten every night. So if you thought that our all-nighter was going to deter me, then you were wrong! I was ambitious, telling myself that I was going to get up at six, and go run to Diamond’s head where I would go on a two-mile hike and then wake Jenny up when I got back. I should have realized the futility of that idea but positive mind, positive life, right? After sleeping through my six am alarm, I was up at seven to force Jenny to go grocery shopping before we hit the beach.
Waikiki Beach was the perfect spot to people watch and Jenny and I spent our entire day doing just that! We got to the beach early to claim our spot and watch the waves of tour buses drop off eager tourists at the beach. If you are looking for a quiet beach to relax on, Waikiki is NOT for you! It’s not rowdy per say, just extremely busy. Our day was spent napping, reading, and chatting on the beach. After a while I began to get hangry, we stopped at Duke’s for some delicious hamburgers (I still don’t know if they were so good because I was starving or if the food was just delicious). After gorging myself on burgers and fries, I immediately found a warm spot on the beach, fell over and passed out for two hours. The tan lines I still sport attest to how deep of a sleeper I am.
When it got closer to sunset we walked further down the beach, got some smoothies and found a pier watch the sunset on. I will admit, I have never been at a loss for words when talking about sunsets and food (and really about anything else, I talk a lot) but sitting on a beach in Hawaii while sipping a smoothie is pretty much me in my happy place and I was for once at a loss for words.
Just when I thought our night could not get any better we found a farmer’s market on the way back and I ate even more food! We got some tapioca in coconut milk topped with an assortment of tropical fruit. Just thinking about it makes me drool a little. It was a great way to start a great trip!
On the second day, I didn’t attempt to kid myself with the idea of early morning physical activity. Instead, I woke up and ate breakfast at a restaurant next to the beach. I would say that the views from the “premium locations” on Waikiki Beach are not as spectacular as they make them out to be and I would highly recommend just getting takeout from one of the stalls at the farmer’s market or a nearby mom and pop restaurant and take it to the beach! We learned that even if Cheeseburger in Paradise says they have a breakfast special, the food really is not that special.
I would like to say that I did something adventurous and daring after getting food but that would be a lie. I fell over on the beach again and took a nap. Jenny people watched for the both of us and when I woke up, we made our way down the beach towards the catamaran tour that we had booked. While we were in Hawaii, we bought a Go Oahu card. If you’re interested in seeing more of the tourist destination, I would strongly consider it! You can choose the number of days that you are there and pay a rate for unlimited visitation of forty attractions. We did not end up making it to all of the sites that I would have liked to see, but just one more excuse to come back right? We didn’t make it to Pearl Harbor, something I was really bummed out about because I love history and my great-great-uncle was killed on the USS Arizona. Although we did not get to see some pretty awe-inspiring places, we did get to take a catamaran tour along the shores of Honolulu and past Diamond’s Head. While we were on board, we saw some dolphins and some humpback whales that were breaching. It was a very nice boat ride and allowed us to see Oahu from a new perspective.
A friend of Jenny’s aunt recommended a restaurant, MonkeyPod, that she said was her and her husband’s favorite. When we got there, it was no surprise why. The restaurant was beautiful (and a little expensive so if you’re like us, go at happy hour) and had a live musician that was amazing! We both ordered pizzas before walking across the street to the beach. Hidden away (to deter commoners) is a small pedestrian path that you can take if you are not staying at the Disney resort or the Four Seasons that share the beach. The beach is called Ko Olina and is everything that you can expect a Hawaiian beach to be. Ko Olina is a small cove surrounded by white sand beaches. Lawn chairs adorn the beach and the sand is framed by meticulously groomed grass and shrubs. Palm trees and hibiscus flowers are interspaced along the edges of the cove. Looking at the view, I thought to myself “what could be better than this?” Turns out if you add Dole whip (pineapple soft serve), it gets even better! So I ate my Dole whip, and then Jenny’s, while listening to some reggae. The sunset was spectacular and the night was perfect! It was yet another perfect ending to another perfect day.
6am we were standing under a green umbrella waiting for a bus to take us to our catamaran. When the driver got there, we boarded the bus only to find out that I had grossly misinterpreted the voucher. Turns out Island Adventure + Snorkeling with Turtles did not mean it would be on a boat, even if the picture on the website showed a child snorkeling with a boat in the background. Instead, the bus took us around the island, stopping at more iconic (tourist) locations and giving us time to get off and look around (buy souvenirs). The tour was nice and allowed us to see places on the island that we would not have seen otherwise, but it was a bit bitter sweet since we did have the car and could have seen what we wanted to on our own time! I would recommend renting a car just because it allows for more freedom in what you can see and do! Tours can be awesome, but you are not on your schedule. Our bus driver was very friendly and gave us places away from the common tourist locations. If you’re ever in Oahu, consider going to Kailua Beach or Waimanalo Beach Park. We were not able to make it but they both looked beautiful and away from the mobs of tourist that you find in Honolulu!
We stopped on the Northshore shrimp stands and ate some delicious shrimp cocktails. It was a bit cold so while Jenny decided to go snorkeling, I read a book on the beach. She left an hour later having swam with the turtles and I left an hour later, having ditched the book to take a nap. (I promise that I do other things besides sleep and eat). We got back on the bus and made it to the place that I was probably more excited to see than I should be. The Dole Plantation! I can say now that if pineapples are not your thing, do not do it. Also, if tourist traps are also not your thing, maybe you should skip it too. I was glad we got the opportunity to go but I would not have chosen to go on my own! But I got an extra-large pineapple juice and walked through a pineapple shaped maze so I was content. From the Dole Plantation, we drove back to Waikiki.
After a day of driving around, we were lazy and tired so we grabbed Rainbow’s (a drive in restaurant) and took it to go. I would like to say we sat on a cliff and watched the sunset, but we did not. Au contraire, we returned to our Airbnb and watched Moana on my laptop. Sometimes you just need a nice cozy bed.
I forced Jenny up early AGAIN on Thursday to take a jungle expedition at Kualoa Ranch. This was where a variety of movies were filmed including Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jumanji, Kong: Skull Island, and more. The tour was a wonderful combination of Hawaiian culture and sets from iconic scenes. We saw locations from Jumanji, Skull Island, 50 First Dates, and Jurassic World. We even got to drive through the Indominus Rex exhibit! The only thing that could have made it better was if Chris Pratt showed up on his motorcycle (now that would be a sight). We took the truck up the mountain where we stopped to hike out to a scenic overlook. If this trip has taught me anything, it’s that Jenny and I are not the most prepared. Neither of us were anticipating a hike so our flip flops, slick from the downpour, were forced to carry us up to the top of the hill. We made it up without injury and got to experience the beautiful view of Kualoa Ranch!
When our tour finished, we were planning on going to one of the beaches that our tour guide pointed out to us the day before but it was pouring on that side of the island! So we stopped at the Byodo-in Temple and took a look around! It was well worth it to check out and admire everything there was to see!
We went back to Waikiki and hung out at the beach. After the sun set, we stopped back at the farmer’s market and bought excessive amounts of pastries and fried rice. The next morning, we got breakfast, gifts for everyone back home, and dropped the car back off before boarding our flight and heading home! It was a fantastic vacation and I am already eagerly awaiting the day when I can go back to Hawaii!
I’ve been lucky enough to go to Hawaii multiple times in my life! I first went to Hawaii in middle school and since then, I’ve been back to Maui and Kauai twice. Obviously Hawaii is beautiful regardless of where you are going but I’ve found that my favorite island that I have been so far has been Kauai. Kauai is everything that you think of when you hear “Hawaii”. The Na Pali coast, Waimea Canyon, beautiful north shore (and its fantastic hike), and the sunny Poipu area make it in my opinion the most picturesque island. Kauai isn’t nearly as busy as Maui or Oahu so if you are looking for nightlife or shopping, it is certainly not the place for you. But if you are looking for incredible hikes, beautiful waterfalls, and fantastic beaches, it’s perfect!
Now I might gush about Kauai, but Maui and Oahu both offer incredible sights and attractions as well. Maui is the perfect place if you want to combine shopping with hanging on the beach and snorkeling. On our vacations, there is a 99% chance you can find me in the water (the other 1% chance is that I’m reading on the beach) so I love Maui because of it’s awesome snorkeling. But if Kauai had Maui’s snorkeling, I would never leave. Maui is a little more commercialized than Kauai and is not as lush and “Hawaii-like”. While you can (and should) do the Road to Hana, the island overall does not leave you with the overwhelming feeling that you have been dropped off in the middle of Jurassic Park like you do on Kauai.
Oahu has a little more parallel with Kauai in that the overall island seems more lush, but it is a bit difficult to determine due to the amount of people on the island. While Maui was relatively commercialized, Oahu (Honolulu particularly) seems like you are walking down the streets of California. It is a bit strange when you exit the break of high-rises to see a beautiful beach directly in front of you. While I personally would do Maui and Kauai again before Oahu, I do think it is something to see! Oahu has the shopping and nightlife that is missing from the other island! Hawaii is beautiful and a visit to any island will be a fantastic time!