4AM wake up call on the 4th of July. The plan was to hike the Lanikai Pillbox but the parking area that I read was the place to park was actually blocked off by the security guard of the country club.
There were signs all over saying no parking so we decided to opt out of the climb up and went straight to Kailua beach to watch the sun rise. After the sun had risen, we got back into the car and stopped by McDonalds before making our way back to the beaches. Originally I wanted to goto Mokes and Bread for breakfast however it being the 4th of July, it wasn’t open. The roads around Kailua & Lanikai beach had signs everywhere saying no parking because of the parade but after looking at it more closely, we realized we could park up until 8AM. Since we had gotten there at 6AM, our day was still early that we parked near entrance 6 for Lanikai beach and stayed for about 30 minutes before continuing with the days itinerary. Down the Southeast coast of Oahu. Our next stop was Makapu’u Lighthouse trail. Super packed with cars everywhere and after 3 rounds of circling, we found a parking spot at the lookout point. We walked over and did the up trail for Makapu’u. I wore sandals/flip flops but shoes would be more comfortable. The path up is rather flat and is a paved trail going all the way up. The last time I was here, we did detour on the trail and at first, we walked towards the little white and red house and took the path to the actual lighthouse (well outside of the fenced government property) and also a few of my friends went down the side to the tide pools. The tide pools from what I recall was a trek to get down to so we opted out of that. I’ve heard great things about the tide pools but not worth it to climb down to eventually have to climb back up especially with my bum knee.
By the time we had finished the trail, it hadn’t even hit 10AM yet and it was turning into a scorcher. We continued down the road to Halona Blowhole and Beach. The blowhole was ok but the waves were so big that the blowhole didn’t compare. To get to the actual beach, you have to climb down some rocks but it’s worth it. The waves come in with a strong current but because of that, it creates the perfect opportunity for people to jump in off the side when the tide is high. Halona Beach was made famous by a 1950’s movie. It is also known as cockroach beach. You can go into the water but be warned that the current is strong because the waves come crashing in and pull out quickly so its not for the faint of heart to go deeper in than you need to and swim in the middle so you don’t get pushed into the rocks on the sides. There is a tunnel on this beach as well but it doesn’t quite lead to anywhere.
After a quick hour at the beach, we turned back down the road and stopped by Sandy’s Beach where they had food and drink trucks. Punchbowl Coffee truck was parked there and my attempt to see Eric from Terrace House was shattered as he wasn’t working. So far, no Terrace House sightings. I did pick up a Kobe style Milk tea $3.50 from Punchbowl truck.
Back on the road we went to our next destination and the final spot on my itinerary – Spitting Cave. The location on the map is correct and it takes you into a residential area (a posh area to say the least). It is on a dead end street and its seems like it led you to the wrong location similar to the Hollywood sign directions for LA. The directions are correct. You will see 2 poles with signs that seem quite inconspicuous and maybe some garbage in front of it but it is indeed the path down. It is a little alleyway that has reddish clay going down between houses. There is a makeshift rock stairway to get through and watch your step as it gets wet. This path leads you to the wonderful rock formation that houses the Spitting Cave. For those not faint of heart, you will find an arrow at the point where you are to jump off the cliff into the mouth of the spitting cave. You need to wait until the tide pulls in to jump and must climb the rock face to get back up. It is called Spitting cave because the formation has an inner cavern that collects the strong waves coming in and pushes it back out with the same amount of force that it spits it back out.
We did a slight detour to Hanauma Bay but with an entry fee of $7.50USD pp we decided to opt out and head back to Waikiki. I’ve been told this place is beautiful to see the national fish and also the view and snorkelling are great but not for us that day especially it being 4th of July and overcrowded. One last stop before heading home was Leonard’s Bakery for malasadas. I picked up the original and Li Hing Mui. $1.25USD ea (no filling). BUT PLEASE DO TRY THE FILLED ONES. The flavours are all great and each month there is a monthly feature. The shop might be small but it is mighty and flavour with its iconic sign outside leading you in with droves of people sitting outside eating their malasadas.
We rested back at the Airbnb before attempting to have Marukame Udon for late lunch/early dinner. Since it was an odd time (4PM) the line was short and we finally got to taste what everyone was raving about. There usually is a line up outside and the place is open from 7AM-10PM. I ordered the Nikutama Udon – Regular $6.25USD. You can also choose to add on tempura options and drinks as well for a few dollars. The line is long because they make the noodles fresh in house and you have to wait for them to cook while also waiting for the people to get their food, eat and leave. The actual restaurant seems to look like a food court style seating area. The turnover is rather quick though. For the quality and price, it is no wonder this place is always packed.
After dinner, we grabbed Matcha Cafe Maiko – I got the matcha soft serve with hojicha powder $5.50USD + $0.50USD for the powder. After our delicious meal, we walked around our area and did a bit of shopping. I wanted to check out a cute little coffeeshop/boutique called Olive & Oliver at the SurfJack Hotel. We stopped by other little cute shops before walking a bit to Waikiki Beach. Being 4th of July, we had messaged Herbie & Elvia to see what they were up to and arranged to meet to watch fireworks at the beach. The fireworks were ok but I think we also situated ourselves far away from the firing point. The beach was super crowded and we didn’t get that far in but we took in the fireworks. Connor was on my shoulders but didn’t seem too impressed with them and wanted down off my shoulder and immediately went into his stroller and went to sleep. If you do want to experience fireworks in Waikiki – 4th of July or every Friday, you need to goto the West side of the beaches closer to the Hilton.
We finished off the night back at the Mall and getting Magnolia Ice Cream. I got the single scoop of Macapuno Ube (with Coconut). It was a good idea at the time but a single scoop was just too much for me that night.
I’m usually not one to travel in the summer due to the fact that for a short period in time, Toronto has great weather and also because I dedicate my summer travels to volleyball (9-Man). It also is prime time for work opportunities. I made an exception this time around as it all started with my friend Lulu trying to convince me to join her and Renee back in Feb/March to goto Hawaii with them. With this being said, it led to us booking a one-way ticket to Maui. With the one-way ticket purchased, it left me to planning a trip that we could do in a 2 weeks span and also island hopping. Once my itinerary was made, I was able to convince (not very hard to) my friend Tiffany to join us making us a group of 4. I have previously been to Hawaii back in 2014 to photograph my high school friends wedding and staying in Oahu for 13 days – it was amazing and I was mistaken for a Kama’aina surfer girl (a local).
Looking at my last few trips, you can probably tell that I am a very ambitious person and my itineraries are jam-packed. This one was no different. For 2 weeks, we made it so we would island hop – Maui to Oahu to Kauai. This itinerary was made 1.5 months before the trip was to happen and a month before, I injured my leg – side note: sprained my hamstring a month before and didn’t let it rest enough – knee irritation during trip.
For good quality poke anytime, anywhere – goto Foodland.
Download the Gypsy Guide – for your most in-depth car ride. It is an off line audio guide that tracks where you are and will tell you where to stop off to get the most of the islands. It is also very informative and fills you in with all the history that makes Hawaii what it is. We downloaded it for Maui especially for the Road to Hana and also for Kauai.
And of course, last bit of advice: Check airport car rental hours before booking your flights to ensure the offices are open when you land. Late late night flights are no good if you can’t actually leave the airport.
Some facts about Hawaii:
Hawaii is one of the only places in the world that I cannot really tell ethnicity apart. That is because it is a mishmash of many ethnicities and of course tanned complexions. The reason for such mix of ethnicities comes from back in the day when the concept for having an owner and workers started. Before that, people believed they could just survive off the land and live well that way. There was a shortage of workers to work plantations once they adopted the owner and workers system. Since there was a shortage, Hawaii took in workers from different parts of the world such as China, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Puerto Ricans, and Portuguese etc.
After each ethnic group started to immigrate to Hawaii for a better life, the locals started to feel like they were taking all the jobs and started to xenophobia them over and over as a new group came in. Sugar cane plantations were a huge source of income however in 1990, 150 years of plantation ended as the introduction of high fructose sugars started being put into food and the demand for real sugar dropped.
100% Kona Coffee is one of the highest qualities however the price that comes with it isn’t always ideal.
Hawaii has also banned non-coral friendly sunscreens.
Now onto my itinerary. To make the most of our time, I tried to align each day to explore certain areas of each island and tried to alternate hiking days with beach days. I think the biggest thing I am happy to have done was reversing the Road to Hana route – Drive all the way to the end of Road to Hana and explore in reverse for optimal time at Pipiwai Trails and less tourists.
We drove over to Kailua and Lanikai beach. The sand was so soft and white but the water was a little choppy. NOTE: It is easier to find parking at Kailua Beach surrounding area then walk over to Lanikai Beach. We walked over to Lanikai beach which has a few alleys/access points to get to the beach – Enter through the 3rd entrance / gate. The journey over to Lanikai beach just looks like normal residential making the beach seem like a hidden secret. The waters were calmer at Lanikai. Such a relaxing oasis. If we had the time we would’ve tried to go for a hike to the pillbox. We were hungryso we ventured back to our car and made our way to Agnes Portuguese bakery (46 Hoolai St) for malasadas. We then walked over to the next plaza and ate at L&L drive-in for Chinese/Hawaiian food. I got the Saimin Burger (fried ramen buns) and it was only $4.99USD. So oily because it was fried but so tasty after it cooled down.
After re-fueling, off we went to Makapu’u lookout but we really wanted to head to the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse. We hiked up to get to the lighthouse which technically is in a restricted area. We climbed around the fence and walked where the white fence was. We walked all the way about 10 meters from the lighthouse which was also blocked off with barbed wire. There was a cliff where the fence ended and it was such a sight.Juan and Melissa climbed the cliffside and placed their blessings of flowers that was wrapped at their ceremony and put it up in a little corner where the wind wouldn’t take it away and stay forever peacefully (hopefully). They put it high enough that it would be hard for others to reach. They took the remaining flowers and threw them over the cliffs. The hawaiian saying is if you throw flowers into the ocean and they return to the shore it means that you will return back to Hawaii once again.
Also located at Makapu’u trails are tide pools which you must climb down to (there is no true path down but you figure it out as you go). I ended up driving home after a McDonald’s run. The drive back seemed so long but not too bad. We ended up just hanging in the living room together and talking, eating and sharing photos with one another.
Woke everyone around 545AM so that we could all take in the last sunrise of the trip. We walked over to the field where the basketball courts were and just took it all in. The sun started rising fast and it started to sink in that we were nearing the end. We all hopped into the 3 cars to head back to Waikiki. As we arrived at Aqua Bamboo, we unloaded and the shuttle for Juan & Melissa’s family arrive forthwith.
From there, 6 remained who were leaving later in the evening and Megan & Kim who were staying a day or two more. We decided to go back to Surf N Turf Tacos for lunch – I finally got the kalbi and spicy sesame poke tacos but they just didn’t compare to the grilled fish taco. The spicy sesame poke taco was pretty good though. We walked over to Lawson’s for mochi ice cream. I grabbed the guava, passionfruit, cantaloupe and li hing mango. We ended up just hanging by the beach for a little bit as we had about 3-4 hours to kill before our shuttle to the airport arrived. Ronnel, Jennifer and I decided to walk the beach one last time and it was such a great day for it. The waves were perfect but too bad we didn’t have time to surf. At 330PM Jennifer, Eric, Ryan and I went to Food Pantry and got our final steak plates and mochi ice cream. I finished off with pistachio, chocolate peanut butter and finally the azuki red bean bringing my total to 20 mochi’s eaten this trip. My true love of Hawaii. The airport shuttle arrived and we said aloha to 13 blissful days in Hawaii.
Recap the trip. I love the culture & lifestyle here with the integration of so many multicultural groups that it still phases me how I can’t tell ethnicities apart especially realizing that we were still in America. I kept getting mistaken for a local surfer girl because of the long hair (longest I’ve ever had which is almost to my butt) and how dark I’ve gotten. Hawaii is beautiful and relaxing but it is a little too laid-back for me to ever consider moving there. I need more city life, more hustle and bustle. I do however love the weather though and wish Toronto had it year round.