A Hawaiian New Year

“O, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on earth.” 

-Roman Payne

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The beautiful Pacific

Having returned to gloomy British Columbia, it’s strange to think that just two days ago we were wearing shorts and worrying about sunburns. We had a wonderful trip that provided much-needed relief from our first gray winter here in B.C. Granted, I shouldn’t complain too much as winter in Kansas is much colder! Anyways, Hawai’i was an absolute blast that I hope to capture in words here.

After meeting my family from Kansas at the Honolulu Airport, we took the shuttle to the perfectly located Diamond Head Hotel on Waikiki Beach. We had a gorgeous view of the calming waves of the Pacific while almost in the shadow of Diamond Head – the dormant volcano dominating the landscape.

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On top of Diamond Head

After taking a couple days to tour Waikiki (and recover from jet lag) we took the hike up Diamond Head to the pre-WWI lookout bunker that offered a fabulous view of the blue waters below. Following the trek up, we continued our exercise-filled day by walking around the Honolulu Zoo. Here, we found all sorts of exotic and well-cared for animals that could not be in a better-located zoo. We watched a zookeeper feed the elephants while discussing these amazing creatures. One even had the unique habit of wearing a large tire around her ankle! On aspect that greatly intrigued me was the zoo’s ability to be self-sufficient in terms of growing most of their own food year-round due to the climate. That is a practice many zoos use, but find it difficult during this time of year. Yet, sure enough, we saw a zookeeper hacking away at some bamboo to be fed to a lucky animal. From African wild dogs to bongos, gibbons to hippos, strikingly colored birds to slow-moving tortoises, the Honolulu Zoo gave us a delightful afternoon. Plus, the name of this blog rang true as we rubbed our sore feet at the end of the day!

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A trip to the Honolulu Zoo

Another day we visited the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Along with the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, this was the most sobering part of our trip. Watching the calm harbor, it was difficult to imagine the death and destruction that engulfed those waters on the morning of December 7, 1941. The USS Arizona Memorial gave a solemn memorial to those men who still lay within her. Overall, the National Park Service has done an admirable job in honoring those who died on that infamous day. Anyone who leaves unphased was either not paying attention or is heartless, truly.

On Thursday, we attended a farm-to-table Luau at the Waikiki Aquarium. This was one of the best parts of the trip as we were granted a glimpse into Polynesian culture. We had kalua pork, beef short ribs, chicken, poi, and, of course, a Mai Tai and Blue Hawaiian. We also had the opportunity to learn to play the ukulele, weave a palm leaf headband, and watch traditional dances from Hawai’i, New Zealand, Tahiti, Samoa, and Tonga. This was an event I am so thankful we attended and would recommend to anyone going to Hawai’i.

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Looking good for the Luau

Another highlight was snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. Despite the number of people at this beach,  we swam with so many vibrantly colored fish, including the state fish: the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. It was also here where we had our first rainy part of the trip. Hearing the unique sound of raindrops while under the water is something I won’t soon forget.

Another part of the trip was the tour of most of the island that included a trip to the North Shore where we saw a 20-foot wave, (although our tour guides said 45-foot waves are common up there). We went to a Dole pineapple plantation and tried pineapple ice cream; which was the creamiest ice cream I have ever had. On the tour we also did some more snorkeling, saw some impressive million-dollar properties, the mountain pass the Japanese Zeros flew through before attacking Pearl Harbor, and so much more.

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Trying pineapple ice cream at the Dole pineapple plantation

With all these experiences, perhaps the best parts were when we simply sat on the beach or the balcony of our hotel and enjoyed being with one another. I think something I’m starting to realize is that being a traveler does not necessarily mean having to be away from home for months on end. Indeed, it might be better for a traveler to have a “home-base” of sorts to return to after each adventure. For me, I think that very well might be my home state of Kansas. It might be another six months or so until we can move back, so we’ll see what happens.

Until then, we have many more adventures up here in British Columbia and hopefully around the world. Our trip to Hawai’i was a marvelous trip and one I would gladly take again. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy 75-degree weather and a dip in the ocean in January?!

Thank you for reading!

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