March 2019 | Exploring the Island with Our Friends
If we weren’t on the trails or under the water when our friends were here, we were usually out exploring the island through different scenic spots, historic sites, or trying out foods unique to Hawaii at different restaurants. Here’s the final post sharing what we did with our friends while they visited us on Oahu for a week:
The highway along the South Shore of Oahu has plenty of scenic spots where you can pull over and enjoy the incredible views. After our time at Hanauma Bay, we stopped at the Halona Blowhole to see both the blowhole and walk down to the beach cove just to the West of the parking lot.
Japanese Cultural Center
I’ll be honest, our primary interest in visiting here was for the National Park Site cancellation stamps for a new national monument that is still in its early stages of development. However when we arrived we learned that the stamps for this site are currently kept at the Pearl Harbor gift shop. We still spent a little time here learning about what this new national monument site will feature. It will eventually be located on the Leeward side of Oahu, but we aren’t sure if we’ll still be here when it opens.
The real highlight of this stop was walking down the street to get ice cream and discovering another place that sells shave ice cream (before this, we were only aware of Snow Factory) so we got to introduce the guys to one of our favorite island treats! This place is called Frost, and we liked it just as much as Snow Factory! Also on the menu was something called the Tea Egg, so naturally the guys all had to try that.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Curtis and I really enjoyed our visit to the National Memorial Cemetery last December, so since it was on our way home we made a return visit. Along with having plenty of history to read about, it also offers great views of Honolulu and Waikiki.
It should also be noted that during our time downtown between the Japanese Cultural Center and the National Memorial, we made our first ever visit to a Walmart on Oahu. I could say that’s another thing checked off some non existent Oahu bucket list, but in actuality I’m more disappointed that I can no longer say I’ve never been to a Walmart on the island.
In my last post, I mentioned one thing I had never done in my 1.5 years of living here before the guys came: snorkeling. The other controversial thing I hadn’t done was visit Waikiki. Curtis and I attended a dinner downtown one evening in our first few weeks of living here, but hated the traffic, crowds, parking costs, and prices at the restaurant and were in no hurry to ever return. However, with the promise of mai tais on the beach, I was persuaded to join the guys for an afternoon/evening in Waikiki on Saturday while Curtis was on duty.
So how was it? For the most part, it was exactly what we were expecting, but there were a few highlights that made it worth it. It turns out Waikiki is a great place to enjoy activities such as PokemonGo and people watching. We also found a relatively cheap parking area across from the Army museum, where military ID holders can have their tickets validated at the Hale Koa hotel, and had a delicious dinner at the Hale Koa. And yes, the mai tais were also good, and made being around all the tourists more bearable. We also enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the beach. Most of all, it made us appreciate the other parts of the island even more!
We saved Pearl Harbor for a day when Curtis was at work so that we could meet him for lunch afterwards, and that worked out perfectly. We started with the USS Arizona Memorial tour — you might have heard that it’s currently under repairs so the boat no longer docks at the memorial and you can’t walk around, but I thought it was still absolutely worth doing. We were still able to take a boat into the harbor and go near the memorial and the Missouri Battleship, and a volunteer veteran spoke to us as we made our way around the harbor. Our tour was timed perfectly so that we were out on the water during the national anthem being played on the navy base. Direct quotes from the guys were, “The most patriotic moment of my life,” “In that moment, my blood went from just red to red, white, and blue,” “I just kept telling myself to keep it together,” and “That was the most emotional I’ve been all year.”
Afterwards, we took a tour of the USS Missiouri Battleship, and I gave a short driving tour around Ford Island, pointing out other historic sites and sharing memories from when Curtis and I spent 2 months living there. When Curtis was finally on lunch break, we met him at 604, which is a favorite restaurant of ours that’s located right next to the historic sites and the Ford Island bridge.
Throughout their visit, we spent a lot of our time around Kailua town, at Kailua and Lanikai Beaches, and the Kawai Nui Marsh. Restaurants we visited in town were Kalawapai Market & Deli, Zippy’s, Boots & Kimmo’s, Maui Brewing, and Nico’s. Several of these were new for Curtis and I as well, and we especially enjoyed the banana pancakes with macadamia nut sauce at Boots & Kimmo, and the poke nachos at Nico’s.
On their last day on the island, we went for a drive around the North Shore. Typically when Curtis and I visit the North Shore, we go to do hikes, and on our way we’ll consider possibly stopping at a beach when we’re done, but usually after hiking we’ll find that there are just too many people out and we’ll return home without any more stopping. However, since it was a weekday, traffic wasn’t bad at all and we had a very enjoyable time driving around and stopping at several beaches. We stopped at Waimea Beach briefly and saw a rainbow that ended out over the ocean. We stopped at Shark’s Cove, and while the waves were too big for snorkeling, we enjoyed walking around the tide pools and seeing yet another rainbow, this one stretched out perfectly around the cove. And finally, we stopped around Sunset Beach to watch the surfers take on the huge waves. If you’re ever wanting to do a similar drive with several stops, my best advice is to go early and beat the traffic!
Thank you to Mitch and Alex for making the trip our here and giving us one of the best weeks we’ve had in a while! We value our friendship with you (as well as our other AZ friends who weren’t able to make it) so much and are looking forward to the next time we’re reunited!