I was excited to stop over in Hawaii because I had never been there and it actually ended up being a lot cheaper when it came to flights. How could Hawaii possibly compare to the French Polynesian Islands? We thought it was absolutely wonderful. Yes, there was A LOT more hustle and bustle but after 6 days on a secluded island we welcomed the movement and opportunities that Waikiki Beach had to offer. We stayed at the Ritz with these amazing views of the beach and sunset that we could see from our room and from the infinity pool on the sixth floor. The customer service at the Ritz from the moment we pulled up until the moment we left was top notch. Our favorite thing to do was to sit in the open air lounge in the evening and listen to the piano entertainment.
I’m a big fan of National Parks so of course we got up super early to head over to Pearl Harbor National Monument. The line was long even at 6:30am. Once the gate opened at 7am the line moved fast and we were able to score tickets for a 1:20pm ferry ride to USS Arizona. So instead of waiting around we headed over to Manoa Falls Trail which is just a few miles from Waikiki Beach.
This short little hike in the rainforest was such a great little getaway. The trail is extremely wet and muddy which we were expecting. It was misting and raining through most of the trail even though it was sunny at Waikiki Beach. It’s not a long trail at around a mile. It’s worth the hike to see the vegetation and scenery. It reminded me of something out of the movie Avatar. It’s actual claim to fame is the waterfalls. It’s the waterfall used in the original Jurassic Park as the helicopter initially comes for a landing on the island with Dr. Grant. We are both big John Williams fans so we thought it would be something worth checking out so we could watch the waterfalls as we played the Jurassic Park music on our phone. Geeky but totally fun.
We head back to the National Monument to take our tour of USS Arizona and the battleship museum. It was really neat being inside of the battleship and it gives a great appreciation for all of the armed service folks that were/are crammed in there for weeks and months at a time. A task that I don’t think I could handle. One thing that really caught me off guard was the oil still leaking from the sunken ship. It was 80 years ago and there’s still oil leaking out of the ship, it kept the reality of the incident a littler fresher in my mind. What we also just learned is they have found the last sunken battleship some 85 miles from this sight in early 2020. We spent the rest of our afternoon there.
We made the trek from our hotel up to Diamond Head monument the next day as did every other tourist in the area. This was much busier than the National Monument. We went early morning before it was too hot but even then it was a line of lemmings walking up the trail to the top. There’s a few little tunnels that aren’t super fun when folks stop to catch their breath. They made me a little tense to be in such a tight space. The views from the top were spectacular and it was a nice little round trip hike. It is worth making the trek for the $1 you have to pay to hike.
We had heard a few other things we needed to do while there. We We were told we had to try a WONUT, that’s a waffle donut. Think doughnut dough put in a waffle machine. It was a pretty unique dessert and I recommend you try one while in Hawaii. We also ate dinner on the 25th floor out in the open, a rare treat for New Englanders anytime of the year. We also took our first surf lesson ever here in Hawaii. We had a lesson for just the two of us with our instructor Jen. from Hook-up Surfing. https://hookupsurfing.com/ She was absolutely amazing and worked with us for over 2 hours that day. We chatted and she made us feel so comfortable and safe. We felt like old friends by the time the lesson was done. There are many surf companies out there but these folks are just top notch. Having sea turtles surround us during our lesson was an added perk. I also found out that’s a great sign that there are not sharks/predators nearby. PHEW! I was able to get up on the surfboard a few times. My husband was able to do it once. He was more there to try something new because he knew I really wanted to give it a try. If you get motion sickness, this is not the activity for you.
The final thing we did was have dinner on the beach during sunset on New Year’s Eve. The last picture in the gallery. It’s always wonderful being somewhere warm for New Year’s Eve so you can be outside to celebrate. What was really special to end our trip on New Year’s Eve was the thunderous cheering from everyone when the last sunset of the year happened over the beach. It was such a time of coming together. We were able to spot a few fireworks on our way to the airport. Hawaii is known for their NYE fireworks celebrations and all the folks setting them off in their backyard. We loved Hawaii and it’s charm and are excited to return to explore even more of the islands. Afterall, there are a few National Parks out there to see.