Monday, March 2, 2015

Aloha Oahu: Waikiki & Luau

+JMJ+

Aloha, everyone! We've been back on the mainland for over a week already, which means I've finally readjusted to the time difference, had some time to sort through 500+ photographs, and am once again in the throes of an epic Boston winter. What better time to jot down my memories of 80-degree warmth, bright blue (warm! not frozen!) waters, and all the special Hawaiian adventures I went on with my love - right?

For the sake of posterity, I'd like to recap the details of our week in Hawaii day by day with a little series I'd like to call "Aloha Oahu." After all, we experienced so much throughout our 6 days & nights that I honestly don't know any other way for my brain to process it all (!) save for one day at a time.

We left Boston and its negative 7 degrees early on Saturday, the 14th (St. Valentine's Day) and arrived in Hawaii in the evening (local time). Initially we thought we could see and do a bit more that first night, but thanks to some lovely delays both in Boston and San Francisco we had about 4 hours less time than originally planned. Instead, we simply checked into our Waikiki hotel and immediately headed out for a stroll down Honolulu's Kalakaua Avenue in search of a much-needed dinner. That was all we had the time or energy for, which brings me to Sunday - which I consider day one of our Hawaiian adventures and the first installment of "Aloha Oahu."


Sunday morning we were way too tired to attend the 6am mass (11am Boston time), so we quickly decided the best way to approach the day was in a manner that allowed us to simply relax, solidify plans for all our adventures, and slowly soak it all in (because who wants to burn themselves out the first day of a vacation?). We slept in a bit, enjoyed our hotel's complimentary breakfast (fresh pineapple juice! so much fruit! Asian-inspired breakfast rolls! yummm), spent an hour at the concierge desk booking all of our excursions for the week, and walked the half-mile to St. Augustine by the Sea in time for the 10am mass.

The only thing we booked for Sunday was a luau, which meant we had most of the day to explore locally at our own relaxed pace. After church we went down Kalakaua Avenue for lunch and enjoyed a mountain of delicious shaved ice (something Hawaii is well-known for).


As you can see, this was no ordinary shaved ice. It was topped with frozen yogurt, fresh fruit, and three different types of mochi. This "super island" was nearly too much after a light lunch for my muscular (read: almost always hungry) husband and my 24-weeks pregnant self, which is really saying something!

Japanese tour bus that made me smile with its cartoon characters and rooftop dolphin tail design
Moana Hotel opened in 1901, making it Hawaii's first hotel. It's nicknamed the "First Lady of Waikiki."
Next, we changed into our swimsuits and completed the 2 or 3-minute walk from our hotel to the infamous Waikiki Beach - where we played in the water and soaked in the blessed sunshine for a couple of hours.


Diamond Head Crater to the east

Soon it was time for my very first Hawaiian luau! We chose Chief's Luau because (unlike the other popular luaus on the island, which go through heavier traffic from Honolulu and happen on the western beaches) it took place between some of the eastern mountains and looked down on the water. It's actually hosted at Hawaii's Sea Life Park, which meant we caught some glimpses of the animals at a place we wouldn't be exploring further during our stay. Chief's is also known for including more Polynesian varieties of dancing than other luaus, which we thought was fun.



THE Chief at Chief's Luau

Dinner!

The view was gorgeous, the food was pretty good (especially the taro bread, which thankfully I got to eat on multiple occasions throughout the week), and the performances were entertaining and educational. We were given shell necklaces, taught the proper way for women to wear flowers in their hair (depending on their marital status), learned a hula dance, and overall just enjoyed a fun start to our trip.

Sunday was our first full day in Hawaii and we'd already eaten shaved ice, been to the beach, and attended a luau. What more could you ask for in an introduction to paradise? :) 

"The Hula is the heartbeat of the Hawaiian People."
-David Kalakaua (the last reigning king of Hawaii)

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Want to read more about our time on Oahu? Next up: all about Manoa Falls, Pali Lookout, Kailua Beach, & Diamond Head!

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