Aloha my LOVES!!!! Ahhh, you guys are the BEST! Thank you so much for all of the wonderful feedback yesterday on my video and part 1 of this blog-post! I know I keep saying this but I worked so hard on this video, I wanted it to be perfect and interesting for you guys (& helpful for anyone planning a trip!) – so to know that all of these sleepless nights paid off is an amazing amazing feeling. I loveddd reading all the comments from those of you that have trips planned already or are now planning trips because of my episode, to know that you all are actually engaged with the content is incredible. I felt so cheesy recording my voiceovers but I wanted to be super informative and share things that I wish I knew before my trip!
Enough with my rambling though, let’s get on to Part Two of my Hawaiian vacation where we spent a few days on the gorgeous island of O’ahu. Each Hawaiian island is supposed to be completely different in terms of the landscape, culture, and all around vibe. While O’ahu is by far the most modern and Maui is super lush and relaxed, I found O’ahu’s mishmash of modern & utopian to be fascinating. Within very short drives you can see the city’s high rise buildings, lush rainforests, mountains, cliffs, charming towns and villages, gorgeous sandy beaches and crystal blue water. I’ve said this twice already but in my opinion, O’ahu is the absolute perfect way to close out a Hawaiian vacation because it’s a great transition back to city life. I was still living in Chicago when we went on this trip, if we had come back straight from Maui I think the harsh contrast would freak me out LOL! Alrighty, as usual.. I’ll blab as we go :) Enjoy!
Get my Jumpsuit HERE
Ahh this is when my tan was just perfect. I built up a great base-tan (lol) in the Maldives a couple weeks before and then Maui got me nice and toasted (i love tan-lines!!). Everything after my first day or two in O’ahu though… I turned purple and my heat rash was out of control lmao my skin couldn’t take it anymore.
The Modern Honolulu Hotel took care of us during our stay in O’ahu. I put up a full post dedicated to their gorgeous hotel a few months ago so be sure to check that out as well. I’ll include some photos here but the photo-overkill-shmorgishborg of our room and property is on that post! We had a stunning view of the Ala Wai Harbor from our Lanai and it was so stunning any time of the day!
Get my Maxi Dress HERE
I screamed and raved constantly about the GyPSy app we used for the Road to Hana and we were so excited to find several more virtual tour apps for O’ahu! Our stay in Maui was pretty structured, we came with a lengthy to-do list and were pretty serious about sticking to it. Our stay in O’ahu was much more laid back, we had things that we wanted to do but nothing was a hardcore must.. we just went with the flow, browsed the tour apps and literally just drove around. The first place we checked out was Diamond Head, a volcanic tuff cone that is Hawaii’s most recognized landmark. It’s famous for it’s hiking trail, breathtaking views, and military history. They’re open from 6am to 6pm every day, the parking lot was pretty small so we had to walk a little bit but for pedestrians the entrance fee is only $1, ah the silver lining! The hike up to the summit is a little less than a mile and will take about two hours to go and come back; it isn’t too difficult if you take your time but we definitely suffered on our way up lol.. it was super hot that day and the sun was high in the sky when we went and i was covered head to toe in flannel and sweatpants.. worst!!! The sun is so intense in Hawaii that I started getting a rash early in the trip.. by the end my entire body except for my face (thank goodness!) was covered. All of our doctor friends told us it was probably a heat rash and that i need to stay inside for a few days.. not just cover up but stay inside. Um nope!! I toughed it out, flannel, calamine lotion, & all!
We were going on a little joy-ride down Kalanianaole Highway just taking in the gorgeous ocean views where we came across a little pull off area with a huge rocky ridge over the water. I swear the GyPSy Guide told us about this place (other we would have been super confused while we were there) but browsing the guide now I can’t find any information about this so I took it back to my student days and did a little bit of research. I’m certain we learned about this via the app because there isn’t much information readily available (gasp, even on the web!).. but here’s what I got..
There are a few different names for this shrine below. I’ve read Guardian of the sea and The Shrine to Drowned FIshermen. I guess both can apply as they serve the same purpose. Fishing along Oahu’s rocky and rugged southeastern coast can be very dangerous and many fishermen have drowned due to this. in the 30s, The Japanese Fishing Club made it a community service project to put up warning signs along the coast. One of these men was swept up by a wave and drowned while putting up a warning sign. The Japanese Fishing Club put up a statue of a Buddhist guardian, a Jizo, to protect the fishermen. This statue was constantly being vandalized and was replaced a few years later with a lava boulder with a Jizo carved into it. In 2007, a small group of devout Vietnamese Buddhists visted the monument and one automatically recognized the grounds as a sacred place not knowing the story of the Jizo. They placed a statue of a female goddess, Quan Am Nam Hai, The Guardian of the Sea, by the boulder. After that too was vandalized, another statue of her was brought from Vietnam. Today the shrine is protected and cared for by a group of Vietnamese Buddhists, they keep it clean and visit regularly to pray and leave offerings. We saw lots of food, fruit, and flowers surrounding the shrine. It seems as though that the small statue of Quan Am Nam Hai has yet again been vandalized if you see the little grey nub to the right (facing the ocean), it looks like the statue was broken off of it’s base.
Waseem walked past the shrine site and continued over the rocky overpass. I stayed back because I’m the clumsiest person ever and did not trust myself. To be completely honest, my heart was beating out of my chest the entire time Waseem was there.. the fall-off is so rocky and steep there really is no room for clumsiness or error!
Our next stop was the Punchbowl crater, another extinct volcanic tuff cone like Diamond Head. It is the location of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where over 33,000 service men and women from four wars are buried. I know it seems weird to visit a cemetery but it’s a quick drive and the perfectly manicured grounds are really beautiful and unique. There is also a very strange sense of serenity I felt while driving through, and although I don’t have ties to anyone buried there I got super emotional seeing a few people visiting their lost loved ones – definitely weeped, I’m a sap :)
The view outside of the punchbowl looking out. That tip you see in the center that extends all the way to left is Diamond Head, it’s hard to make out since my photo is fisheyed and distorted but if you see a normal photo from this location you’ll see what I see!
Below is the Pali Lookout where we got to see stunning views of the windward coast of O’ahu. The drive here was super fun, I love driving up mountains, through mountain tunnels and through dense trees! :) My husband has an irrational fear of birds (or maybe they just make him uncomfortable) but there were roosters all over the parking lot LOL it was hilarious. The Pali Lookout was the site of the Battle of Nu’uanu, one of the bloodiest and most significant battles in Hawaiian history where the King, Kamehameha led his opponents up the cliff and drove them off the cliff to their death… King Leonidas who?
On our last day we woke up early to check out Hanauma Bay, one of the world’s most famous snorkeling destinations. We tried going the day before but they were at capacity – they control their crowd by the size of the parking lot.. if the parking lot is full, the bay is full and closed for the day so we made it point to show up at 7am when they opened. Parking was super easy and there wasn’t a crowd at all. Because we were first time visitors we were required to watch an informational video on Hanauma Bay’s history, it’s wildlife and what we can do to protect it. The bay suffered decades of abuse and tourist over-saturation so it because a protected conservation in the 60s and then a restoration plan was laid out in the early 90s. I’m so glad that we went early because again, it wasn’t crowded at all. By the time we were getting ready to leave which was still in the AM, it was beginning to get a lot busier and we saw huge groups making their way down the hill… deuces!
The park is closed every Tuesday to give the coral and fish a little break!
While we were cruising around the island following our GyPSy guide tour we decided to take a pitstop at the Dole Plantation. James Dole was known as the pineapple king and developed the pineapple industry in Hawaii, yes the Dole that we all grew up on! What started as just a fruit stand on Dole’s Pineapple fields in 1950, it’s now a living museum and still a working plantation with all kinds of crops, not just pineapples! We took a tour of the agricultural lands on their train, the Pineapple Express and really enjoyed their cafe and gift-shop. They are also home of the largest maze in the world but we didn’t have time to check it out!
The pineapple ice cream float was amazeballs!!
Our last stop before heading to the airport was the famous North Shore, the surfing mecca of the world – all of the big competitions are held there!
Our GyPSy guide app was telling us that we were sure to see some turtles on the beach, it also told us that there will most likely be conservation volunteers watching them and will lay red rope around them; It’s illegal to touch or harass the turtles so you’re not supposed to go inside the rope which gives them i believe a 6ft radius. It was so cool to see them up close, they were huge!
Thanks again guys for all of the amazing feedback and of course for tuning in and watching :)