My first trip to Hawaii

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I recently went to Hawaii (Oahu), and it was kind of a spontaneous thing. I ended my streak of recent unemployment with a solid job offer, and I felt that I needed to celebrate. I wanted to go somewhere. Heck, I had a month before I was to start working again, so I jumped online trying to find some good bargains to someplace cool. Hawaii happened to be one of the places I looked, and it turned out to be one of the lowest prices. AND…it was on 747’s round trip. I was sold.

It was a really busy time. I went to Ohio a few days before I was supposed to go (to check my old PO box), and that really wore me out. Because of these back to back trips, my schedule was looking like this: Saturday morning, fly to Columbus from San Diego. Sunday, Fly back to San Diego. Arrive in San Diego in late afternoon, then back to the airport at 6am to catch a flight to HNL. As busy as it was, I admit that I was having fun.

Finally…the morning arrived. 5am and the buzzer is blaring in my ear. Funny thing is, I wasn’t all that jazzed about what I was about to do. I was really tired. Anyway, I pull myself out of bed, and rushed through the shower/breakfast routine before the drive down to the airport. I arrive WAY early and wish I would learn to get to the airport on time. I don’t know, but I have this weird paranoia about arriving to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Praying like mad that my 8am hop to LAX wouldn’t be delayed (as I was about to fly on my first 747!), I sat in the terminal thinking about the days to come. We boarded the A320 right on time and were promptly off – which also meant an on-time arrival into LAX. I rushed over to my connecting gate, and there it sat…one gigantic freaking UA 747. And a crap load of people waiting to get on it.

It’s funny looking around the boarding area when you are about to jet off to some exotic location. Everyone seems to have that smirk. That “oh yeah, I’m going to Hawaii” smirk. And it’s fun to watch people walk by the gate who aren’t going. Anyway, boarding was about ten minutes late, and it took a long time to fill that airplane. Once everyone was boarded, the delays began. There I was: in a middle seat sitting next to a big guy who just didn’t understand the concept of staying within his own space. He was really ticking me off, and I was getting frustrated. We ended up sitting there for about an hour, and I was SO happy once we started pushing back. Once in the air, I quickly fell asleep, and woke up about an hour prior to landing. We arrived in Hawaii about an hour late, but it was still only mid day…and beautiful. Since I was in a middle seat, I didn’t get to see much on the approach.

The walk to the main terminal at HNL is via outside walkways, and that’s where I got my first real glance of the Island of Oahu. Gorgeous. Mountains, fog, sun, palm trees. Screw the shuttle bus – it was time to rent a car! I figured that a drive around the Island would be a great way to spend the following day. I got a car, and was soon off to my hotel in Waikiki.

I was a little surprised once I started driving away from the airport…there were some really run-down areas of Honolulu. I was through all that in a hurry, and soon found myself at the cluster of hotels where I would find mine (the Outrigger Surf). It took a while to find, but I was really happy once I realized where it was: just a few blocks from the beach. Score one for SANspotter.

view from the outrigger surf hotel

The view form my hotel room at the Outrigger Surf (notice my reflection in the glass)

another view from the outrigger surf hotel

Another view my hotel room

I quickly changed into the appropriate attire (shorts), and headed for the beach. I had no plans for the day, as I just wanted to relax and people-watch on the beach. And there was plenty of people to be seen. It was very crowded! I ended up sitting in a shaded part of the beach for about three hours before I got up to find something to eat. Nothing fancy, just Subway a few blocks away. Lots of Japanese tourists. It could almost be confused for Japan if I was dumped there by surprise.

quiet park in waikiki

A rare quiet spot in Waikiki

After dinner/lunch, I decided to take a walk up the Waikiki strip. Very impressive. I eventually found a spot on the beach to watch the sun go down…it was at that point that I told myself that I was really happy I decided to spend the money for this trip. I had dinner at the hotel restaurant that night, and then retired to bed by 10 to prepare for the next days’ drive around the island.

I was up the next morning by nine, and stopped into a 7-Eleven for a quick breakfast. Yeah, I know. Not very Hawaiian. I then headed East, turning north and was not disappointed with the scenery. Everywhere I looked was incredible…I started to realize that out of all the places I have ever been, Hawaii was one of the best. I stopped at a few places along the drive, but never for a long period of time.

Hanauma Bay on the island of Oahu

Hanauma Bay

Kaupō Beach Park area

Big rocks around the Kaupō Beach Park area

quiet beach

There are a lot of quiet beaches along Hwy 72 on the eastern edge of Oahu

north shore on oahu

The north shore – famous for the big waves. This is the wrong season for that, however.

rocky north shore beach

Another quiet spot along the north shore on Oahu

I was getting a little tired by around 3pm, so I decided to cut back across the Island via H2 and spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach in Waikiki. And spend the afternoon there I did. All afternoon. No pressure, no worries. I headed back to my hotel by 7, and went out for dinner at a small restaurant down the street from my hotel.

Unfortunately, as I got mild food poisoning from that place. I was not a happy guy the next morning. Anyway, I still didn’t want to leave. I just wanted to stay there and camp out on the beach all day long. Oh well…I knew I’d be back someday. And I would definitely spend more than two days there! I Got to the airport early again, and was on an eastbound 747 by noon. How I managed not to throw up once during the trip back to SAN I’ll never know.

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