We woke up slightly early so we could hike down to the the Kīlauea Iki Crater lava lake before we left for Mauna Kea but it turned out to be a drizzly, windy, AND foggy morning so that plan was canceled real quick.
We did manage to take a few photos of the endangered nene (pronounced “nay-nay”, YES like the song and YES my friends made a ton of corny jokes ) that was hanging out in front of Volcano House.
After that, we went back to Holoholo In to pack our bags and head to Mauna Kea via the long way AKA a scenic drive along the coast. We wanted to get to Mauna Kea just before sunset so the long way, with the postcard-perfect views and casual driving, was perfect.
One last full day, a huge city, and a ton of places to go to.
I organized my Honolulu city tour around three things: the Bishop Museum, food, and Hawaii Five-0. Although I really wanted to dedicate a day to each of these things – the most popular unofficial Five-0 tour takes you to McGarrett’s house AND gives you the opportunity to possibly meet some of the actors if they’re available (past attendees have met Chi McBride (Lou Grover) and Dennis Chun (Sgt. Duke Lukela)) – I didn’t have that luxury 🙁 Next time!
First stop of the day: Wailana Coffee Shop and their macadamia nut pancakes. Wailana was just down the street from the Ilikai Hotel so it was the perfect spot to have breakfast and start the day. McGarrett was right: they do serve the best pancakes. They’re so soft and fluffy!
Second stop of the day: Liliha Bakery. As I mentioned in great detail in a previous post, I mistakenly thought that the Kuakini St. branch would be closed on a Sunday so I ended up at the much-farther-away Nimitz Branch instead. I (somewhat) didn’t mind because hot damn, Liliha Bakery makes amazing coco puffs. Really. These pastry puffs, with their chocolate cream filling and chantilly cream frosting, are my favorite food from Hawaii, which is saying something since I’m picky with pastries and I loved poke too. I bought a box of six pieces (four coco puffs and two cream puffs, about $4 each), ostensibly to share with my friends, but the puffs were so good that I could have eaten them all by myself.
We took Hawaiian Airlines’ 5:00 am flight to Hilo because it was the only one I could book using my Delta Skymiles. Used to NAIA’s rule of being at the airport two hours before a domestic flight, we were at the airport by 3:00 am. Too bad Honolulu International Airport and the check-in counters only open at 4:00 am so we had to wait outside on the concrete steps.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and Mauna Kea were our non-negotiables for this island. Pro tip: prepare for cold weather. We think Hawai’i is all endless sunshine and humidity but it does get cold, rainy, and windy, especially as you go up the volcanoes. Wear layers and a woolly hat and bring a rain jacket. Also wear comfortable hiking shoes (no to flip-flops and sandals!) as you’ll be scrambling over areas of uneven terrain in the parks.
While most of our labmates and bosses were going home two days after ICRS, some of my friends and I decided to extend our stay in Hawaii for another week to make the most of our trip. We spent two more days in Oahu before flying to the Big Island.
Our major lesson learned: touring the North Shore is more fun and much easier with a car. We considered renting a car for just the one day but weren’t sure if that was possible, and my companions didn’t want to join a tour group because of the added expense. We ended up taking TheBus, which meant that the trip from the Ilikai to Sharks Cove took 3 buses and almost 3 hours, while Waimea Valley back to the Ilikai took 2 hours. This doesn’t include the time we spent walking from Sharks Cove to Waimea Valley, as the #55 bus only comes every 30 to 45 minutes.
The bus route we took from the Ilikai to Sharks Cove consists of three buses:
1. the County Express Bus to Ewa Center, get off at the Alapai Transit Center
2. the #52 Wahiawa-Haleiwa bus, get off at Haleiwa
3. the #55 Honolulu-Ala Moana Center bus, get off at Sharks Cove
One of my main accomplishments during the Hawaii trip was getting to go around Oahu without sacrificing my time at ICRS (except for that one morning, but that doesn’t count because there weren’t any talks that I wanted to attend) and without a car (a bit inconvenient but doable). I’d like to thank TheBus for being reasonably on time, though the Android app could be more user-friendly and bus drivers were hit-or-miss in the friendliness and helpfulness department.
Going up Diamond Head was something we had to do early in the morning as we had to attend the conference and the hiking trail would be too hot later on in the day. The Diamond Head State Monument opens at 6am but because we missed the first #23 Bus because someone overslept, we got there close to 7am. Diamond Head gets over 3,000 visitors a day and we definitely felt that, as there were a LOT of people there even at 7am. If you have a car, it’s best to get there when the gates open.
Diamond Head’s original Hawai’ian name is Le’ahi, which means “brow of the ‘ahi [tuna] fish” (I included a tuna photo for reference). British sailors in the late 1700s called it “Diamond Head” because they thought the sparkles coming off of the volcano were diamonds and that they were going to get rich. Too bad the sparkly rocks were actually calcite crystals that weren’t worth anything (poor guys).
Photo by Robert Lindsell on Flickr
See? Diamond Head definitely looks like the fin of a tuna.
Confession time: I love bringing home souvenirs from my travels. Aside from the physical representation of actually having been there, each one I bring home has a memory behind it. They also need to be something I’m going to keep: no pesky desk trinkets here.
The haul from my recent trip to Oahu and The Big Island:
1. Ref magnets! My family collects magnets and I picked up the habit early on. And hey, magnets are useful! 🙂 I got the Hawaiian map magnet from Walmart (I know, I know, but it was the only one I liked) and the other magnets from their respective places. Waikiki Aquarium was small but nice, Diamond Head was a bit of a hike (I’m really not a hiking person) but the views were fantastic, and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was one of my favorite places in this entire trip.
2. A book! Specifically, Archipelago: the Origin and Discovery of the Hawaiian Islands by Dr. Richard Grigg. I love this book! I love well-written history books and I love well-written science books, so a well-written history AND science book is a magical unicorn for me. It mostly explains the science of how the Hawai’ian Islands were formed and how life arrived and evolved on the islands, but the last section deals with how the Polynesians discovered Hawai’i and how people have impacted the islands. I got this from the gift shop of the Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park on the Big Island. Tip: items bought in the gift shops of Hawai’i parks help support the parks and don’t get charged sales tax 🙂
I was in Hawaii last June because of 1) the International Coral Reef Symposium and because 2) Hawai’i. As I didn’t get any funding from official sources (e.g. the Philippine government, UP, NGOs, etc), I paid for everything out of pocket with a LOT of assistance from my parents, relatives, and friends (they’re even more awesome than I am). It was worth it thought because I learned a lot during the ICRS and Hawaii is love.
First up in the Hawai’i series: the food. The first things that I look for in a new place are the beach (if present), museums, and food. I love Hawai’i because it has all three! <3 I joined a food tour of the Pike Place Market when I was in Seattle in 2013, so I thought of doing it in Oahu and the Big Island as well. Unfortunately, I was on a tight budget and a tighter schedule (wanted to explore the sights in addition to the food) so I DIY-ed it this time.
Breakfast: pancakes from Wailana Coffee House. This was the easiest to get to because we stayed in the Ilikai Hotel and the Wailana is just down the road and across the street. Confession time: I’ve wanted to go here ever since Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) said that it had the “best pancakes on the island”. Yes, I’m a Hawaii Five-0 fan.