We worked non-stop from Wednesday the 13th until late in the evening on Saturday the 16th doing little things like getting married and getting ready for our reception, so leaving on Sunday for Hawai'i was even sweeter than I'd anticipated. We paid for our 5-day, 4-night trip to O'ahu long before we paid for the wedding and reception, so come hell or high water we were going. Neither of us had ever been to Hawai'i before, nor had we traveled together just the two of us, a fact that escaped our notice until we were on the plane. I guess that's a good thing, that we weren't stressed out about traveling together for the first time.
It was later in the evening when we finally arrived in Hawai'i, so we didn't do a whole lot other than get dinner and orient ourselves to the area. Our hotel, the Waikiki Circle Hotel, was one of the older, more established hotels and located directly across the street from Waikiki beach. And I mean directly across the street. The hotel has an open-air lobby, so when the elevator doors open up, the view is of the beach.
On Monday morning we went to a breakfast buffet in the Pacific Beach Hotel, at a restaruant called the Oceanarium. It was pretty cool, with a two-story saltwater pool stocked with all sorts of marine life, including a stingray that had a wing-span bigger than me (no lie!). However, even with a 25% discount, it was still $15 each. Ouch. The rest of the morning was spent browsing in the International Marketplace. Lunch was pretty darn good (take it with a grain of salt, this is coming from a Parrot Head) at Jimmy Buffett's Beachcomber restaurant (http://www.margaritaville.com/). We'd gotten a tip that the Volcano Nachos were pretty darn good and they were. Since we were there during Happy Hour, we also ordered a plate of mini-cheeseburgers. Talk about over-ordering! Our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs, but it was worth it. And RockCrawlinChef was such a good sport about me dragging him along since he's so NOT a Parrot Head (so far, it's his only fault - but a forgivable one).
We finished up our first full day in Hawai'i sitting on the beach watching the sun set. It's a past-time I could get used to. While sitting on the beach I had the brilliant idea to buy our breakfast from the ABC store, along with a couple of cheap beach mats, and have our remaining breakfasts on the beach for a ton less than a breakfast buffet. So on our way back up to our room for the night, we bought a single serving of cereal and milk each for the morning. Probably my best idea of the trip; we had breakfast on the beach for the remainder of the trip.
Tuesday was spent at the Polynesian Cultural Center (http://polynesianculturalcenter.com/), where we learned a lot. I didn't know that the PCC is 75-80% staffed and run by students from BYU-Hawai'i. In addition to educating tourists about the Polynesian Culture, it also gives students practical experience and helps fund scholarships for the students. Each student who works there works 19 hours a week. The students who work in the villages must have either come from that Polynesian island or have a certain percentage of island blood. Our tour guide was from Tahiti and was hilarious; he kept us laughing throughout the day. Many of the students from the islands will return to their home island. The presenters for Somoa, for example, are both next in line to be their tribes' leaders, so once they've finished at BYU-Hawai'i, they'll return to Somoa to take their leadership spot among their villages.
After spending the day in the hot sun with our delightful tour guide, we attended a luau complete with roasted pig. Although the fruit drink was served in a real pineapple, it was alcohol-free (remember, the PCC is run by the Mormons) and absolutely delicious. At $10 a pop, though, I'm glad we chose to share one. We may not have spent the day at the beach soaking up the sun, but we certainly got our share while out at the PCC. I ended up "crispified" as Ashee-buttwould say. RCC fared a bit better in the sun department. Go figure. Guess my Mexican blood took a siesta that day.
We ended the night watching the "Horizons" show. Each island presented a story told in their traditional dance. It was amazing. The firedancers were impressive and a lot of fun. RCC mused that it's a shame that people in the U.S. don't have the sense of culture and history that other countries do. Part of it is that the U.S. is so young and the other part is that we're such a melting pot; we've lost touch with the heritage(s) that were brought to the U.S.
We were dog-ass tired by the time we got back to the hotel and fell into bed. I'm pretty sure that RCC didn't move at all, which surprised me. We had plans to take a Hummer Movie tour on Wednesday and I figured he'd be tossing and turning like a kid on Christmas Eve.
Hmmm...the Hummer tour. What a blast! The tour (only four of us and the guide) started off on the old Pali Highway (I thought the guide was saying "Poly" as in "Polynesian" - my bad) through the jungle. It's mind-boggling to be on the shores of Waikiki one minute and in the jungle twenty minutes later. The Pali Highway is definitely the way to travel - barely any traffic and lush vegetation all around. We took a short picture break, then piled back into the Hummer to head to the Macadamia Nut Plantation. The meadow at the Plantation has appeared in multiple movies like "Tears of the Sun," "50 First Dates," and "You, Me and Dupree." We stood in the spot where Drew Barrymoore built her waffle house. We couldn't go into the cafe because it was just a facade and was long gone by the time we got to the meadow. From the meadow, we could see the pier where a lot of the filming for "50 First Dates" was done and where a lot of the filming for "Lost" is done.
I can't even name all of the movies that were filmed at Kualoa Ranch (http://www.kualoa.com/), but a few of the more famous ones: "Jurassic Park I", "50 First Dates", "Godzilla", "Wind Talkers", and "Pearl Harbor". The ranch has also appeared in TV shows; "Magnum PI", "ER" (posed as Africa when Dr. Carter left), and, of course, "Lost". Kualoa ranch is the primary filming site for "Lost", so a great deal of the tour was devoted to Lost fans. Since we don't watch it, the Lost trivia didn't hold our interest for long. I found it more disturbing that Hurley's golf course has taken over the hill that the little dinosaurs (the Galli-what-its) flocked over in "Jurassic Park", but "Lost" makes the owners of the ranch a lot of money.
For our last day, we rented a Jeep to drive around the island, which worked out perfectly since we had to check out of our room and our flight out wasn't until 10:30 pm. We had the whole day to go exploring! We just got in the Jeep and drove, stopping when and where we wanted to. Really, the only things we had planned when we started out were a stop at the Dole Plantation and Malaekahana State park (on the recommendation of one of my adjunct instructors, who taught in Hawai'i for twenty years). We got to see the vibrant blue waters along the coast; watch surfers at Sunset Beach; eat the "island's best shave ice"; hike to the Waimea waterfall; meet the nicest people in the world at the Macadamia Nut Plantation; walk on beach at Malaekahana; and take a peek at the Dole Plantation. It was the perfect ending for our Honeymoon. And it wore us out enough that the six-plus hour flight to Phoenix wasn't so bad.