I stopped in America for the holidays and decided to take at least one more American stop. Originally I was going to visit friends, however they all turned out to be the opposite direction if I was heading to Asia next. So I decided to go to Hawaii. It was a place I had never decided to go because I was too busy going to more exotic locales. What better time to visit a state where I love the food and the weather?
I flew into Honolulu on Oahu. I learned right before I left that Oahu is not the biggest island, which is fittingly just known as Hawaii or Big Island. I really ought to write about more of my first impressions of a place, they are often proven pleasantly wrong later. I was instantly appalled by my entry into Hawaii as the bus whisked me into Waikiki. The street was packed with American chain restaurants and tourists. I could not even see the sand, too many people were on it. I later realized this was partially due to my arriving on the first beautiful weekend they had in a month.
As I later went on a bunch of hikes around the island and met people who lived there, the island became much more beautiful to me. I could see what natural beauty had attracted so many people to visit there in the first place. I just wish the culture was not mostly immortalized by cheesy exhibits inside hotels and by having every tourist facing person wear a bad Hawaiian shirt while saying Aloha and Mahalo to you. I’m glad they have a fantastic bus system and wonderful beaches and hikes. I ended up walking to many of the places I’d like to see. Random tip about the bus system there: They don’t really check when your transfer for is very often, so you can just use your transfer as a return pass later.
I strayed from my normal activities of not doing much at all and finally went to go do something touristy. I felt like it would be unpatriotic to go to Hawaii and not visit Pearl Harbor to pay my respects. However due to my own lolligagging and eating, I got there late enough that I did not have time to take the two hour tour of the Arizona memorial. I was rather excited about this later as you could see the people packed on the boat like sardines. The exhibits in the area were rather interesting and I learned quite a bit about World War II that I did not know before. I enjoyed taking a somber day of remembrance but I did find it a little weird to see so many tour groups of smiling Japanese tourists. I guess they’re just everywhere on this island.
My favorite place I went to on the island was the North Shore. There were way less people on that side of the island and it was only a two hour bus ride or 45 minute drive away. My understanding of distances is skewed because I lived in LA, where a 45 minute drive is what you need to get anywhere. My favorite spot was Shark’s Cove, where I saw many people snorkeling. I quickly realized how shallow the water was in the cove and just wandered around. I’m not sure why you would snorkel if you can just walk in the waist high water. I really enjoyed seeing all the fish and sea life swimming around my feet. I’ll save the snorkeling for one of my later stops.