Oahu was our final destination during our 26 day Epic Adventure. One final burst of warmth before heading home to the cold midwestern winter. It was a short 3 day stopover, but we made the most of it. We visited Pearl Harbor, saw rainbow eucalyptus trees, went to the north shore to see turtles and enjoy the huge waves, ate delicious food at farmers’ markets (and beyond), hiked up the Koko Crater Trail, and visited to Byodo-In Temple.
Standing on the monument above the USS Arizona will always be one of the most sobering experiences I have ever had. Taking pause to think about what happened at Pearl Harbor and consider the people who were still on the ship below brought tears to my eyes. While visiting the monument we learned that many of the crew who survived the attack choose to be returned to the ship when they die – and that the ship readily accepts them. That thought sends chills down my spine.
After our time on the monument we explored the museum and learned more about the happenings of those days. So fascinating and saddening to stop and take in the details at the location where everything took place.
We first learned of the rainbow eucalyptus from Bill’s aunt. She had visited Hawaii and was showing us photos from her trip when she came upon photos of the rainbow eucalyptus at the Dole Plantation – I was instantly in love! I did not have much interest in visiting the plantation, but did a quick search and found the Wahiawa Botanical Garden had them as well. I immediately added it to our itinerary.
Turtles & Waves
While planning this trip, I was fortunate enough to have a student worker who lived on Oahu. I asked her which were the best places to go and she highly recommended the north shore. Specifically Laniakea Beach (aka Turtle Beach) to see turtles and Waimea Bay Beach Park for big waves. We were not disappointed on either front.
There were two turtles laying on the beach when we arrived at Laniakea and the waves were gigantic at Waimea Bay. Despite the continuous warnings from the lifeguard, we saw several people body boarding – talk about fearless!
After visiting the beaches we had planned to do a short hike to Waimea Falls. When we arrived, however, we were greeted with the entrance fee sign and decided we did not wish to pay to get in. We decided, instead, to explore the farmers’ market that was set up just outside the entrance gate – and were glad we did! After walking around and taking in all of the options, we opted to share bao buns, a crepe, and two ice cream sandwiches for dinner and dessert. Absolutely delicious!
Through my research, I had also found reviews for a booth at another farmers’ market that served french toast on Saturday Mornings. We decided to check it out and were pleased with our meals. Bill still talks about that french toast.
Koko Crater Trail
Enjoying the idea of doing something less popular than Diamond Head, and getting the chance to see Diamond Head instead of being on it, we took the recommendation from our friend to hike up Koko Head. When we arrived, however, we were shocked to see that the hike entailed 1,048 stairs up the side of a volcanic crater. We were not exactly dressed for that (we were expecting a more leisurely hike), but we persevered nonetheless.
It was hard work to get to the top, but when we arrived we were greeted by stunning views of the island and the noise of two whales slapping their tails off in the distance – our first ever whale sighting!
Having heard so much about the Byodo-In from others who had visited Oahu, we decided to visit and see it for ourselves. As is typical for the sights we visit, the temple was in the process of being painted while we were there. It was a beautiful, peaceful place, and Bill enjoyed hitting the Sacred Bell – but having already visited Wat Pho in Bangkok it was hard not to compare the two.
Hot dogs are not a food I typically flock to, but Hula Dogs are so much more than hot dogs! The sausage, accompanied by tropical flavored condiments, encased inside a roll that has been skewered by a special heated machine to put a hole just short of its full length – yum! Something you will find nowhere else.
Honolulu International Airport
Alas, after enjoying island life for a few days, it came time to fly home. If I remember correctly, the Honolulu Airport was the first open air airport I had ever been in. We have since visited the Big Island and Maui – so it has become common place – but being in open air airports still fascinates me.
Maybe it is my affinity for the outdoors and the warmth that fills me with so much excitement when I am in them. Whatever it is, I just love that feeling! (Although I prefer arriving, not departing.)