My 48 Hour Vacation To Hawaii
This year for my birthday I decided to take some time off to celebrate… I mean really celebrate. My last two birthdays were special in two very different ways. In 2016 I was giving birth to my daughter on my birthday. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey devastated the city of Houston with heavy rain and flooding. I was very fortunate to have not lost anything during which was why I decided to dedicate both my own and my daughter’s birthday to the victims of the storm by volunteering and driving around the city delivering baby food, diapers, clothes and other items to those in need. I really couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend my birthday at the time.
So this year was definitely different. With no major natural disaster or life event occurring to reroute birthday festivities, what started with a trip to Vegas to see one of my favorite singers (Anita Baker) at her farewell tour ended with me telling my husband, “I think I want to go somewhere else.” 😎 Without even flinching he just says, ok “where do you want to go?
I’m gonna be honest with you, when ever I take days at a time off I try to go to the furthest corners of the earth I can possibly go to. I thought hmm maybe Japan, Nope that’s a 13 to 14 hour flight and I have to go to work in a few days. Maybe Greece for a day or two? Nope, still too far and not enough time to get there, enjoy, and be back in Houston within the 4 days I had left to spare.
Then the idea of Cuba or Hawaii came up. I was leaning towards Cuba (the idea of going somewhere Americans couldn’t for so long was just too intriguing) and had started to make the plans to fly there but wasn’t sure how to travel visa situation would work out on such short notice. So reluctantly I chose Hawaii. YEP I said reluctantly. My reluctance comes from not jumping on the band wagon when it comes to being excited about popular tourist spots. I’ve heard waaaaaay too many people rant and rave about Hawaii and how beautiful it is, how perfect the weather is…blah blah blah. I kinda felt like, people are hyping this place so much that I have absolutely NO desire to go there….like ever!
So obviously since the post is called Hawaii On A Whim you can see which location I ended up choosing, but the question is, does Hawaii live up to all the hype???
YES YES and YES!!!!!!
Its all true! The weather, the scenery, the people, the culture, the beaches, the food……ITS ALL AMAZING!
First, let me give you a little lay of the land. Hawaii consists of 8 major islands and several atolls and smaller islands. My plane landed on the beautiful island of Oahu which is the most popular and most populated island, as well as home to the capital, Honolulu. Popular things to do on the island include going to Waikiki and Pearl Harbor….I had other plans.
As soon as I got off the plane I noticed that the weather was PERFECT! It was the end of August, no humidity, 85 degrees and sunny with little perfect light rains that would roll through ever so often to give your skin that wet dewy look that’s great for pictures LOL. As soon as I stepped off the plane I could clearly see why this place was called paradise by so many people.
I stayed at the Equus Hotel Honolulu. It’s a horse themed boutique hotel just a few minutes walk away from two very beautiful beaches - the Kahanamoku Beach which gets pretty busy, and the Ala Manoa beach that seems to be the beach the locals prefer because it’s not as busy as the other. I chose this hotel because we were able to get it for under 100 bucks a night and it was right in the middle of the city, beaches and shopping. It’s an older property, but the staff is super friendly and I don’t mind giving up staying a a trendy hotel when the point is to spend as much time outside as possible….Which is exactly what I did.
After literally landing in Hawaii two hours earlier, my first stop was to Manoa Valley where you can take a quick 30 minute hike up a trail to see Manoa Falls. I literally jumped in an Uber took a 17 minute ride from the city and did this hike in flip flops. Although I don’t recommend hiking in flip flops, it wasn’t really hard…you just have to be careful because its very steep and there are some serious drops…like deadly hundred foot drops. Oh, and its muddy because its always raining…but hey I’m alive ;-)
The next day I woke up at 6 am in the morning to take a 2 hour bus ride to the North Shore (Northern part of the island ) so I could Swim With Sharks. My event coordinator suggested that I take the bus so that I would be able to see a lot of the island, talk to the locals and get to my location without paying an arm and a leg for an Uber or cab. A day pass to ride the bus is around 5 bucks and you can go all over the island all day long. I met some really nice people on the bus and surprisingly it was the homeless people (Hawaii has a very large homeless population) who were the nicest and gave the best tips on things to go and see on the island.
After a two hour bus ride, my bus driver accidentally dropped me off at the wrong stop about 5 miles from where I was supposed to be. I thought I could walk to the harbor where my boat was taking off but ended up having to hitchhike (Which I HIGHLY DO NOT RECOMMEND) to the harbor where my boat was to take me swimming with the sharks. Here are a few pics I took while walking to the boat bay.
Once I got to the port there was a 20 minute VERY CHOPPY ride into deeper waters where the cage would be dropped. Even though I took my Dramamine I still ended up getting sea sick because the waves were so high and I had exhausted myself trying to walk to the drop off point, I felt like complete crap! But the crew was so friendly and encouraging, they just told me relax and when ever your ready to go in, we will help you get into the cage. As sick as I was, I wasn’t going to come this far and not get in the water…so I did! And I’m glad I did it too….Swimming with sharks in Hawaii is a beautiful experience and I learned so much about sharks. In fact did you know more people die from being hit by coconuts than by sharks?!?!
After swimming with the sharks there was still enough time in the day to get another activity in so I decided to check out the Polynesian Culture Center which was just a 15 minute bus ride from the Shark Swim. I have to admit, I was a little confused on what exactly to expect from this attraction. I was told I would learn about the different Polynesian cultures that inhabited the island, but the way people talked about it, I thought it was going to be an amusement park with rides or something since this was the most expensive activity that I paid for on the trip. I bought a VIP $149. With this package I was guided through six different replica villages of the different tribes on the island; Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga cultures (I know that’s just 4) . There are ceremonial dances, lessons about the people, ceremonial activities mimicking what the islanders did on a day to day basis such as making baskets, food, climbing trees etc. At the end of the night there is a buffet and a live Luau to wrap up the evening. I thought the price was a little steep for what I experienced, but I felt a lot better once I found out that all the participants for the shows are local college students and not only do they LOVE teaching people about their culture, they also receive scholarships from the Polynesian Culture Center to help pay for their school. So this was money well spent in that case.
The next day was my final day on the island as my flight was due to take off 1 in the afternoon, so I decided to wake up early again and make the most of my time on this immaculate island. As I was walking to the beach I saw a colorful parachute in the sky and thought, THATS IT! I wanna go parasailing! This was just the perfect activity to fit in right before my flight, and besides the hotel said they would hold my bags and let me come back to shower before I left if I needed access to a room after check out. So, I was set. I walked across the street to the boat dock and paid $80 to Hawaii Parasailing so I could jump on another boat and fly like a bird in the sky.
The view of the ocean and the island from above ground is just breath taking. We had a really small group of about 6 people. Two went up at a time and you had a choice of flying 300, 800 or 1000 feet in the air. I signed up for the 800 but ended up parasailing at 1000 ft. I had no idea parasailing was so awesome! you literally just sit at the end of the boat, they strap you into the parachute and you slowly glide up into the air. If you haven’t…YOU MUST!
After a quick walk on the beach, I was back at the hotel ready to take my shower, grab my bags and head back to Houston. And that is how I spent my 48 hour vacation in Hawaii…..I’ll Be Back!