Thursday, May 23, 2013

Aloha Hawaii!

Ok, so since most people who know me know that I head off to Hawaii several times a year, mostly because it is an easy 5 hour flight from California and that there are some cheap flights to be had.  I have been doing this regularly since I was 25, which is... a long time ago.  haha!

I went on one of these trips in late April and never posted because

a) I was actually looking at real estate, not aggressively, but just a thought since I'm there so much.  On the other hand looking at condos doesn't really make for good travel photos.
b) I was pretty lazy from the recent trip to Colombia and photo'd out.

The assorted photos are from my previous trips to Hawaii.

Anyway, most people think that Hawaii is a family destination, a honeymoon destination, or something really expensive.   I thought I'd update on a few things about WHY I go to Hawaii so much, what I think is awesome about it, and how it's possible to go there by yourself and not on some romantic honeymoon. 

Though I have been to all the Hawaiian islands, I generally go to Oahu for ease, the number of people I know, accessibility.  Honolulu Airport is on Oahu and is the largest city on all the islands.  When petrol was cheap, round trip flights were to be had for $250.  My personal record for a cheap round trip flight was $235. Score!  From California there are many flights and it's almost impossible to get a non-direct.  What are you going to stop in the ocean or something? lol.  Which brings me to my next point, timing.

Because of the time difference in Hawaii and the direct flights, it is really, really easy to take a weekend jaunt or a long weekend.  It is typically 3-4 hours difference in time between HNL and the west coast.  This means I can take a flight out Thursday around 6:30, and arrive in Hawaii at 9:30 pm the same day.  Then I have all of Friday, all of Saturday, and Sunday until 10 pm (essentially the full day) to hang out in Hawaii before heading back.  Yes, this makes Monday morning a bit rough.  But I'm a consultant so we power through Mondays anyway with a lot of coffee, and what do you think the people from the East Coast do when they come to Cali every week?  So I never complain.

Second, housing is NOT cheap in Waikiki, but you can find good deals. When with friends or family, I will shell out points to stay at the five star hotels, which range from the Grand Hyatt, the Westin Moana Surfrider, the Sheraton, or the Hilton Hawaiian Village.  If on a budget and with friends, I find a budget vacation rental on craigslist for $50-100/night. When by myself, I typically stay at this hostel: Which is less than $30 a night for a dorm bed.  Yes, you can stay in Waikiki for $30/night.  Go find yourself some L&L an you can also feed yourself for $5-10 a day.

What do I do there?  Well, first of all I work.  I get up at 5 am and work all day Fridays until about 5-6 pm PST, which, because of the time difference, is about 2-3pm Hawaiian time.  Then I have the rest of the day to relax!  This isn't really conducive to late night drinking in Hawaii but I don't really do late night clubbing anymore, though when I was 26 I totally went pub crawling and had tons of fun.  Saturday I will either go scuba diving and Sunday  I rent a surfboard for a day for $15. Or go out and have some beers, like with people here:

Scuba diving. Anyone who's been to Hawaii with me knows I love diving and though Hawaii is not the most beautiful destination I've been to (I've now gone on to 150+ dives in probably about 15 countries), it has a really nice amount of aquatic life, and a mix of coral and larger animals such as turtles.  Hawaii is not a tropical water destination as the currents come down from Alaska, similar to how the water in California is not as warm as in Florida.  You cannot dive here without a wetsuit (see photo from Colombia where I got attacked by the horrid jellyfish and burned all over because of no wetsuit).
 I have gotten all my certifications from here, from one dude in particular, who I consider a friend, someone I trust with my safety and life, and an entrepreneur I respect.  Gabe is the owner of Kaimana Divers and he's awesome.  I met him when he was newer to the islands and working as an instructor.  Now he owns his own biz and I'm rather proud of him.  It takes guts, risk and a lot of blood and sweat to start your own business.   I've gone on dives to military wrecks with him, black water pelagic night dives, dives where we had an octopus stuck to my head, lots of stuff. There is a thing called a Discover Dive for those of you who are not certified and want to try it out... Gabe would be happy to take you out on one of those and you can see if you like it.

Finally the food.  Hawaii is a great mix of local, Asian, American and everything food. My fave is poke, which is basically an ahi tuna ceviche with soy sauce instead of lime juice. I eat pounds of this stuff.  I don't care. It's awesome. I try to make it at home but ahi tuna is kind of pricey.

 Second, I like spam. I also don't care what you think.  Lots of people like Spam. You will find lots of things in Hawaii that have this.

 Other notables are tropical fruits, such as a large number of things with coconut, papaya, guava, pineapple, etc.

There are many things to do in Hawaii such as go scuba diving, see Pearl Harbor, go to the Dole pineapple plantation, or the swap meet at the Aloha Stadium, but I'll save it for a different post and focus on a quieter one.  On this trip I chose to stay at a different hostel in the North Shore for a change.

A note - you do need a car to go up to the North Shore.  Well, you can take The Bus (yes, the system here is called The Bus - its an island, people!) but its just easier to have a car. If you have the budget just do it.

I stayed at this hostel called Backpackers Lodge.  I give it pros for convenience (it was one block to the only supermarket in the north shore) and reasonable distance to a pretty good beach and surfing. I give it cons for the quality of the dorm rooms. it was like staying in a bunch of run down sheds. The water was leaking, the place was filthy and there were roaches in the kitchen. wifi sucked as it originated from one point on the lot and my dorm was too far to reach it.  But. It is the only hostel up there, they have a variety of rooms so next time I would probably ask for a different accommodation.

Haleiwa is a really cute place to get food to eat, look at shops for beach clothes and hang out at the beach right outside of it.  There is world class surfing right here and all along the North Shore.  Right now the big thing seems to be paddle surfing.  I saw places offering classes to paddle board EVERYWHERE.

All put together, my weekend in North Shore rained so I have little to report other than I drank a bunch of beer, ate some poke and went diving and laying on the beach when the weather wasn't acting up.  But I know I'll be back soon! Though next time I'm going to stay in Waikiki for cost reasons and laziness.  It might be super built up, but it's convenient if you're working and need conveniences such as internet, easy food, coffee shops and it's open till late.

There's a lot to like about Hawaii and I'm sure I'll be posting about it more in the future. But moving on... 

Coming soon - El Salvador!

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