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Day 6: Oahu!

Today marks the end of our stay on Hawai’i, the Big Island in the Hawaii chain of islands.

But before that, we decided to fit in as much sight-seeing as we could before our flight in the afternoon.

After visiting a local drive-thru coffee place and a bakery place (that had monkey bread), we headed from Hilo to nearby Pahoa to visit their Lava Tree Park. You can get an idea of where Pahoa is in this map, where our route today is in red:

Day 6 Route

Day 6 Route (red)

At this point, we’ve pretty much gone around the entire Big Island. As the person who did most of the driving, I’ve got to say that it’s been really interesting circumnavigating the island, you get to see a lot of different kinds of scenery, everything from the Jurassic Park-style rain forests that seem to be the default, to the dry, grassy plains in the rain shadow of the volcanoes, to the really tall trees near the northern part that remind me of driving through California, and driving along the coast, which is as tropical and picturesque as one would expect from Hawaii.

We got to Lava Tree Park, and the first thing is that all the trees areĀ huge.

Lava Tree Park

Lava Tree Park

For whatever reason, this park is also really dangerous:

Danger at Lava Tree Park

STAY BACK!

Also, there are a bunch of these interesting-looking lava flow remnants everywhere:

Lava flow remnant

Lava… throne? (2C)

It’s a fairly small park, with only really a small 0.7mi trail that we quickly walked around (we did have a flight in the afternoon, after all). Very scenic, with huge-ass trees everywhere:

Huge-ass trees

Huge-ass trees

We also randomly saw this rooster just chillin’

Wild rooster don't give a fuck

Wild rooster don’t give a fuck

And I took a picture of this flower (?), not even sure what it is, but it’s interesting:

Itano-circus flower

Itano Circus flower

Afterwards, we headed to a scenic drive in the area, but since I was driving, I didn’t really get any chances to take pictures. Most of the drive was one lane, which was usually okay, but that also meant being really careful at blind spots for passing cars. The drive itself was… scenic, lots of big trees and some views of the ocean.

On the way back, we headed to the Mauna Loa macadamia nut company to stop by their visitor’s center:

Mauna Loa Macadamias

Mauna Loa Macadamias

Inside, there’s a large shop with a whole bunch of Mauna Loa-branded macadamia snacks as well as other stuff like shirts, jewelry, coffee, etc. They even sell ice cream in flavors like vanilla macadamia, chocolate macadamia, coconut macadamia, etc., which are all delicious (but I only had the kona coffee flavor).

We headed straight to the Hilo airport and returned the rental car. One thing that still impresses me about the airport is that so much of it is open-air. Even the ticket counter is completely open-air, which says something about the weather in Hawaii:

Open-air ticket counter in Hilo Airport

Open-air ticket counter in Hilo Airport

 

Plane ride from the Big Island to Oahu is really short, about an hour or so. On the way to Honolulu, I looked out the window and noticed that there’s a rainbow just jutting out into Honolulu. Given the fact that the Hawaiian license plate is a rainbow, I’m going to guess it’s just there all the time.

The Honolulu Rainbow

The Honolulu Rainbow

Getting to Honolulu then getting another rental car and starting to driving was kind of shocking. The Big Island is somewhat… sparsely populated but Honolulu is a real city with real traffic. After days of driving through mountain paths and through rain forests, driving in the packed streets of Honolulu was really different.

Waikiki Beach Hotel

Waikiki Beach Hotel

We’re in the Aston hotel at Waikiki Beach for 2 days. It’s really nice, very much so what I would imagine from a hotel in Hawaii. Waikiki Beach is also more or less what I imagine a stereotypical Hawaii to be like. Right next to the ocean and lots of people walking around. One interesting thing is that it really seems to be mostly Asians walking around. Probably mostly Japanese. A lot of the buses and the like are even all in Japanese or clearly meant for Japanese tourists.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

We headed to a place called Rainbow Drive-In for dinner, which is a plate lunch place. Along the way, we saw these palm trees with these weird metal bands around them.

Palm Tree Strength Training

Palm Tree Strength Training

I have to assume these palm trees are training for the Tenkaichi World Palm Tree Fighting Tournament.

We also saw a Double Rainbow:

Double Rainbow

All across the sky.

Rainbow Drive-In was surprisingly… far on foot. Turns out that checking the distance when navigating on foot via Google Maps is probably a good idea.

Rainbow Drive-In

Rainbow Drive-In

I got a mixed plate with fried mahi mahi, bbq pork, and chicken, and it was delicious. I’m a huge fan of these kinds of Hawaiian plate lunches, kinda wish they had an L&L or something in Pittsburgh… (actually I don’t, otherwise I’d eat it way too often)

Mixed plate lunch :9

Mixed plate lunch :9

By the time we got back to the hotel, it was already evening, which gave me the opportunity to take this shot of the street lights in Waikiki Beach:

 

Evening at Waikiki Beach

Evening at Waikiki Beach

 

My sister and I decided to wander around what appears to be the main commercial street in Waikiki. This place has everything, for example random dudes playing chess:

Random dudes playing chess

Random dudes playing chess

We also ran into a Lawson’s of all things. The Japanese convenience store actually reminded me a lot of the Lawson’s in Japan, mostly due to the smell. (Funny enough, as we were exiting, some Japanese tourists were commenting that it didn’t seem like a Japanese Lawson’s at all).

We also stopped by a cupcakery called Hokulani Bake Shop, which apparently won a reality show called Cupcake Wars. We tried out a Peppermint Mocha cupcake that was pretty good:

Cupcake @ Hokulani

Cupcake @ Hokulani

We also passed into what seemed to be a night-market-ish place called the International Market or something similar. There were a bunch of booths hawking stuff (all the jewelry booths had “going out of business” signs, which was kinda funny).

Night market-ish

Night market-ish

Walking back, we noticed that there were a whole bunch of tourist shop/convenience stores called ABC Stores. A whole freaking lot of them. To the point that a single block probably has one, maybe even two of them.

Overall, the Big Island’s been fun and scenic while Honolulu has been jarringly urban. Also, Merry Christmas! I’m quite excited to be spending Christmas in Hawaii, which I think is almost a vacation cliche but I’m glad to be doing it anyway.

Also, have a random picture of some Hawaiian prince:

Hawaiian Prince Dude

Hawaiian Prince Dude

Posted in US Travel.

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