My bestfriend Beth and I were off the same week of November. With no planning, we decided to go to Honolulu.
Friday November 11th, Beth and I were working different trips. it was our last day of work til our week off. We went back and forth with ideas of going to California, Florida, and Mexico (anywhere cheap with a beach and warm weather). A friend from training class, Jaylin, invited us on her layover in Maui, which sounded awesome! My focus was then directed to Hawaii. I began to research flights, airbnbs, hostels, and how expensive it would be for us to go. Maui looked amazing, and if I had the money, I would have went there. The other islands were less expensive than Maui and that was a deal breaker for us.
Honolulu was cheap and easy to get to, so I texted Beth and asked if she wanted to go, and she said she was down. We both were home after 10pm on Friday night and woke up at 5am Saturday morning. Bags packed, we headed to the airport with nothing planned. The only thing I booked was an airbnb in Waikiki for three nights. It was only 60 dollars a night which meant 30 dollars split. we had no idea how to get from the airport to Waikiki, and didn’t research anything to see or do. We just assumed Hawaii would be awesome (planned or unplanned).
We flew Boston to Minneapolis, then Minneapolis to Honolulu. The trip was about 10 hours long, and without Beth, it would have been awful. It’s nice to travel with your bestfriend. Little things like buying snacks together for the plane ride, making sure we watched the same movie at the same time so we could laugh at the same parts, taking nyquil at a specific time in order to make it through most of the flight sleeping, and being able to fall asleep on each other instead of a complete stranger – better to do with someone than alone. We had a great time on the flights, and were lucky enough to be seated next to eachother (which didn’t happen on the way home).
Dressed for winter, we landed in Honolulu and had no idea what our next move was. Our airbnb host Jay mentioned the “speedy shuttle” and “waikiki shuttle” for us to take. We pulled out the uber app in curiosity and it was 50 dollars for a 20 minute ride! That was a confirmed no, so we walked down to the last baggage claim door to find the shuttles. It was 15 dollars per person, and found out quickly that 15 was the cheapest price to and from the airport unless you had someone who could pick/drop you off.
The shuttle driver talked the entire time about the history of O’ahu and all the things to see and do (and what to avoid). It was interesting to learn O’ahu (particularly Waikiki) is predominantly populated with Japanese tourists. It makes sense, just never heard anyone talk about how much Japan influenced the area. The Japanese even have their own buses in Waikiki, and if your not Japanese, you aren’t allowed on the bus. These buses are easy to point out because they all have a whale tail on the back of them. Waikiki also has alot of Japanese stores. Beth was excited because she lived in Japan as a child and a little as an adult. She was able to buy her favorite rice balls which included seaweed, rice, and spam. I opted out on her offer to try it.
The shuttle dropped us off at the Ramada in Waikiki where we then walked around the block to our Airbnb. Remember I said it was only 60 dollars a night to stay at this place? Well, we were basically couchsurfing in Jay and Maira’s living room. They were cool, Jay is from Florida and Maira’s from Brazil. They moved to Hawaii because Jay loves to surf. I enjoyed that reasoning. They were very personable, and their apartment was in a prime location. It was around the block from the main strip and a 5 minute walk to the beach. The best thing about their place was that they had a dog named Sky. She was probably one of the best dogs I ever met, and I miss her!
Day 1 (Saturday) in Waikiki, we were exhausted and felt dirty from our 10 hour flight. After settling in the apartment around 4pm, we showered, got ready, and had dinner at a hibachi place on the strip. We shared our table with an older couple who were visiting for a wedding. They lived in California and had kids our age, so it was kind of like we were their kids for the night. I found out the husband grew up in North Jersey and moved out to California for work. I asked him if he missed anything from the north east and he said little things like fireflies, the first sight of snow, the fall leave piles, and the change in seasons. He kind of stole my heart when he said fireflies. The wife told us to research letterboxes, which are supposedly secret boxes hidden around the world by people. When you travel, you look up the letterbox in the area you’re in and do a little treasure hunt of your own. When you find the box, there is a stamp that you stamp onto your letter to show you were there. The idea is to collect as many stamps as possible. Neat idea.. maybe one day I’ll make it a hobby. The couple also suggested for us to walk to Diamond Head in the morning and to have the mud pie at Duke’s, they could not stress enough that we had to try the mud pie at Duke’s. After dinner, we called it a night and went home to crash with plans to explore in the morning.
Day 2 (Sunday), up and about by 9AM, we began walking towards Diamond Head. It was a long walk, probably around 45 minutes. The walk was enjoyable, we were able to explore the area. We walked by Japanese shops, high end retail shops, the beach, restaurants, a beautiful residential area, and an outdoor flea market. Then we finally made it to the entrance of Diamond Head, and were told it was a 1 dollar entry fee. Beth and I are dumb millennials who then asked if they took cards because we were cashless. They didn’t, and still let us enter, but we felt like ignorant a-holes for not being more prepared. Anyways, the hike was fun, and the view was beautiful the entire way up. There are two ways to make it to the viewpoint, the easy way is a zigzag walk way path, and the more difficult way is just a spiral stairway with an additional steep staircase. We took the stairs because we walked long enough and were becoming impatient. It was a well worth journey to the top. It reminded me a lot of Colombia and Brazil, how the clouds sat right on top of the mountains with the houses right below them. Mostly green and blue surrounding the city of Waikiki. I expected the cone of Diamond Head to be cooler, but it really wasn’t anything to be in awe about. I think you would have to be at an aerial view to catch the wow factor of the monument.
After the hike, we decided to hit the beach. The public one was too crowded with families which we agreed to stay away from. I suggested to Beth to walk through one of the hotels, and try to hang by a secluded beach. I’ve done it before in Aruba and Dominican Republic, so I didn’t think Hawaii would be any different. Beth was a little nervous thinking we would get kicked out, and I was a little nervous too but thought we should still attempt it. We walked through the alley of the Sheraton and found ourselves on a mini beach with a Catamaran chilling by the side. No one looked at us funny, so we put our stuff down and jumped into the water. It was much more relaxing than where all the tourists were. I met a woman in the water who was from Australia, she said she’s been visiting the same area for years. I told her I was worried I would swim by manta rays, and she laughed at me and said that there weren’t any manta rays near the shore. I’m not a fish person, the ocean alone freaks me out!
After swimming, we walked back to the airbnb and napped, then woke up late and probably didn’t leave the apartment until 10pm to find food.
We walked along the shoreline and found a beach bar called RumFire. It was a cool spot but completely dead given that it was a Sunday. There were mostly military guys in there plus a few older couples. Beth and I felt like bate since we were the only two girls sitting at the bar alone. One guy from a table of five came up and introduced himself, he asked us to come over to their table to meet the other guys. Right after he walked away, two surfer guys walked up and introduced themselves. They were from the “Big Island”. They were cool and invited us out later that night so Beth got their number, and they went on their merry way. After they left, the military guys came back up and invited us on the beach. We thought “why not” and went out on the beach with them. They were all respectful which was refreshing after being around north eastern morons for so long.
Confession – one of my favorite things to do is to hang out on the beach late at night. When I lived down the shore in New Jersey, I would go to the beach alone at like 2am after the bars closed….. looking back, probably wasn’t the smartest move! But I always found the ocean to be so mysterious at night. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there with the sounds of the waves crashing down. The best part about that night was that one of the military guys, Jimmy, who loves to take photos, photographed Beth and I. It was funny how much he enjoyed it. I loved it, now I’ll always remember that night thanks to his photos. Thanks Jim! Splendid!
Day 3 (Monday), woke up around 9am and headed towards the opposite side of the strip to a lagoon Jay (our host) suggested. We walked along the harbor and then saw the beach. I was in awe. Calm beautiful cerulean colored water surrounded by tall palm trees with the echo of the Pacific in the background.
The weather was beautiful and we decided to just have a beach day. One of the guys from the night before (from the Big Island) texted Beth and invited us to a beach in Kailua which was 30 minutes away. We already talked about how we wanted to go to Kailua, and if these guys were going to drive us then we were down. We met them at 1pm and their friend Star picked us up in a Jeep Wrangler (great way to see Hawaii).
We drove through the misty mountains of Kailua, and parked at a beach where everyone was doing some type of activity. The beach was windy, which made it perfect for wind surfing. We sat down in the grass, and listened to Jesse, Will (the Hawaiian guys) and Star talk about setting up a line.
We had no idea what they were talking about, and didn’t ask. We figured we would find out soon enough. Jesse looked like an older west coast guy, but me and Beth were shocked when he took off his shirt. The dude was RIPPED. We were trying to figure out what his life was so we could do it too. It turned out Jessie, Will, and Star were into slack lining. I’ve seen it in college and never understood it but now I’m a huge fan. Basically, they hook up a rope from one tree to another. Their distance that day was 200 ft. Then they make it a goal to walk the entire rope without falling off. It was really impressive. They set up a baby line for Beth and I, and I was completely discouraged getting onto the rope. I have the worst balance in the world! But a girl who was there said to me “sounds like you made up your mind that you’re not going to be good at it, huh?” and I realized she was giving me a hint that it’s all mental. Beth was good from the start, but I got better as the day went on. I would love to do it more often, I can see the benefits of it for sure. It helps clear your head and also gives you awareness on how your body really works when it comes to balance. It strengthens muscles that are hard to trigger during normal work outs too.
Back to our day, I was talking to Star and found out she’s from Fishtown, which is in Philadelphia. Small world! She said she was in the wrong crowd back in Philly and decided to move to Hawaii and be a massage therapist. Her friend (I forget his name) came over to slack line too. He ended up being from Levittown which is an hour from Philadelphia near my college. Again, small world! They were all really nice and we had a great day just hanging out by the water attempting to walk the rope.
After slack lining, we walked up a mountain side where houses were, and checked out the super moon. It won’t be back until 2034. It was big but not that impressive. In Greece, I swear the moon is ten times bigger sitting on the Mediterranean. I miss Greece! Star then drove us back to Waikiki, and we went back to our Airbnb and told Jay about our day. He was impressed that we were hanging out with slack liners. We were exhausted and passed out for the night. We realized that Hawaii is more for day time activities and not night time. So we weren’t upset when we passed out at 8pm.
The next morning (Day 4), we left our airbnb to head to Kailua and stay in new airbnb. Our first mission before we left was to rent a car, so we went to the rental car company and rented a jeep for around 200 dollars. They said there was a $0 dollar fee if we wanted to drop it off at the airport on our last day, we thought that was lame so we said no. We then said goodbye to Jay, packed our belongings in the jeep, and head up to the North Shore to watch the Vans Triple Crown surf competition. It was our first time going to a surf competition and bought shirts to remember it by. We hung out there for a few hours then decided to head back to Kailua to check into our new airbnb.
Kailua has more mountains and the weather is more misty and windy than Waikiki. I wanted to go to this side in hopes to convince Beth to do the Haiku Stairs with me. We got to our airbnb around 3pm. It was a small room but it had everything we needed (80 dollars a night). After settling in, we ran out the door to do the Pillbox hike. This hike was great! It’s quick, semi challenging, and a great view. This was my favorite part of the trip.
After Pillbox, we went to the airbnb, showered and ended up going back to Waikiki to Lulu’s, and got a drink with Jessie from the big island. After dropping Jessie off, we drove back to Kailua, got lost, and finally went to bed around 3am.
Day 5, can’t believe we stayed soo long! Especially when it was a last minute decision. This was our last entire day before heading home so we had a couple of things we still wanted to see. It’s pretty funny because we ended up spending most our day in the car.
The only thing Beth wanted to do was to see a waterfall and chose Maunawili Falls. We woke up early and headed to the trail. As we got out of our car, we saw that there was a family about to do the hike. There were about 20 people in this family, ages from 5 to 40, in all different sizes. We heard the hike was easy, so we didn’t think much of it at the time.
Anyways, we were a head of them, but one of their members some how got ahead of us. He was some kid, maybe in his 20s, and for whatever reason, he decided to leave his family and venture on his own. The annoying part was that he would wait for us, then go further, then wait again, and again. We didn’t care until he started playing rap music, and Beth was like “HELL NO”. Who puts on rap music when you’re hiking through beautiful nature in Hawaii. He ruined it for us, and we just wanted him to leave our presence.
We veered off the trail to distance ourselves from him. Then a couple caught up to us and wanted to follow us, and we were like “uhhhh, no”. We didn’t want to lead any groups. Ugh, worst adventure ever! But yeah, we kept walking, and the mud got muddier, and the trail got smaller, and the welts on Beth’s back got bigger from the mosquitos biting her. We thought this was suppose to be an easy quick trip. I then decided I didn’t want to spend my last day lost in the woods, and begged Beth to turn back. She was nice and agreed.
We walked back to find the family from earlier. They all had mud all over them as if they fell a few times. One poor girl’s shoe was stuck in the mud. I would have loved to have been there to watch that whole scene unravel. They also decided to turn around with a few other people. If I ever try that trail again, it will be with someone who has already done it.
After our failed waterfall attempt, we checked out Kaneohe Bay, hung out at Lanikai beach (too windy), then drove 45 minutes to Ewa Beach. The area Ewa is more residential. We parked at Ewa Beach Park, and laid on the beach. It was much better than the beaches in Kailua. Kailua beats it by its view but Ewa wasn’t windy at all and much warmer. Each beach is different depending on where it is located on the island. A few hours passed, we left the beach and headed back to our airbnb to figure out our plans for our last night. We decided to try out Duke’s mud pie! We drove to Waikiki, and checked out Duke’s. It was a cool spot and I’m surprised we didn’t see it sooner. We ordered the mint chocolate chip mud pie and it was amazing! P.S- Our waitress was from Philadelphia – small world for the third time. Some guy told us to go to a club above Dave and Busters. We didn’t know what it would be like but we said what the heck with it and went. It was actually awesome. It was a rooftop bar on top of D&B. The people were a little ratchet and all seemed like college kids, but it was the best place we’ve been too since arriving. We ended up meeting two military guys there that were visiting for training. We hung out with them for a little bit then called it a night.
CHAOOOOOOOS – Heading Home
If you haven’t realized, Beth and I can sometimes be ridiculous with our planning. Day 6th, our flight was at 5pm. We had to return our car at 10am and also check out of the airbnb by then. We left Kailua at 9am, stopped at the gas station to vacuum all the sand out of the jeep and to fill the tank. We then texted Jay and Maira (our first airbnb hosts) and asked if we could leave our stuff at their place until our flight. They said yeah but we had to go to Maira’s work to grab her house key. We got the key and headed to the car rental place, we could not find the entrance for the life of us. We were soooo stressed because we rushed that entire hour. We finally got the car to the rental place, and they didn’t charge us for anything extra (thank God). We then took our bags to Jay and Maira’s, and hung out at the beach for a few hours. I checked the loads for our Honolulu to Minneapolis flight, and wasn’t sure if we were going to make it. I started telling Beth we would have to stay another night and didn’t know if we even wanted to try and go to the airport. We went back and forth, and decided to give it a go. We arrived to the airport and made it on the flight. I had sand on my feet, a towel and sunscreen in my hand, and my luggage. Passengers laughed at me as I walked on to the plane, and I don’t blame them. I was a mess! Beth and I weren’t sitting together, so we begged a few passengers to switch seats with us and they thankfully said yes. Everything worked out! It was sooo chaotic that entire last day, but it was also hilarious and a great way to end our trip.
There’s so much more to see and do in O’ahu, I plan on going back soon. Everyone is so friendly too, and very welcoming so it makes you want to go back! I’m hoping to make another trip in January, we will see 🙂