Thanks for your help, everyone! We LOVED Hawaii!!!!!!
(After a 4 1/2 hour delay) Arrived at about 8:30 pm Hawaii time, 12:30 am Chicago time, and were greeted with enthusiasm from VIP Trans and with such gorgeous (and heavy!) leis. I've worn the fake ones so often so I didn't think this would impact me but as soon as I put it on, I felt rejuvenated and so grateful to be here...yay for Hawaii!
Got to Outrigger on the Reef where the excellent customer service continued and I fell in love with our gorgeous view from our ocean front room (free upgrade!!!) I already feel like the late honeymoon is complete :) I spent so much time on the lanai just listening to the ocean....sigh
Dumped the bags, changed to sandals, made a beeline to Ramen Nakamura (picked this over Ezogiku bc of the oxtail ramen option at Nakamura). The hubs (husband) and I were not disappointed. The oxtail ramen was fresh, light, and not overly salted-my perfect meal after airport food. The char shoyu pork was saltier bc of the soy sauce added but it was expected... that char pork was amazing!!! Both were the best we've had but we don't have good ramen places in Chicago. After dinner, we walked down Kalakaua - we were so glad everything was still open until 11 and the place was bustling with people. Did some window shopping at the designer stores then walked to the police station, went down to the beach and walked back to the hotel. Didn't get to have the drink under the banyan tree-we wanted to but we didn't know which hotel was what bc we couldn't see any names. I'm pretty sure we knew the place when we saw the huge tree but it was empty so we kept walking. Got back to the hotel and went to bed at about 1 am.
We're still on Chicago time so we woke up at 6, excited for the day but wishing for more sleep (day 1 was loooong). Got our complimentary bfast- choose the Shorebird bc I wanted endless fruit. The buffet overall wasn't amazing but we found the dishes we liked...more like loved, which made bfast exciting. I loooooved the fresh pineapples-probably had 2-3 full pineapples by myself in 3 days ;) The hubs loved the portugese sausage (it's similar to the Filipino sausage that we like) and modified the fried rice by adding cut up sausage and eggs...yum. Of course, sitting next to the beach makes everything more scrumptious.
Walked to Budget to get our Ford Focus rental, bought a new pair of flip flops that feel like you're walking in a yoga mat! Left for the circle island tour at 8 (no traffic...thanks Dusty!) Wow, the handling on that car is NOT good-we kept bearing left and swerving that I got a little dizzy, which worried me for the road to Hana :(
Got lost getting onto H1 West. I got so mad at my phone GPS bc it kept rerouting, thinking I had turned when I didn't! It did this the entire time on Oahu!
1st stop Byodo-In Temple. Smaller than I thought but beautiful and calming. We were the first ones to ring the bell of everyone there and they all copied us...good thing I knew what to do bc of TA! Bought some fish food and caused a feeding frenzy among the koi...it was like we were 10 again :)
2nd stop Tropical Farms. Sampled EVERYTHING, some things twice hehe. Cracked a fresh mac nut in the back. Sad we didn't get to see a mature mac tree. Bought coffee for friends and we were off after 10 minutes.
Passed by Kualoa Ranch and gave the hubs facts about the place but didn't stop. Took pics at the Chinaman Hat...funny pics :) This is when I truly noticed the number of travellers from Asia in Hawaii...the last time I was surrounded by this many Asians was when I went to the Philippines with my fam. Crazy
4th stop shrimp trucks. Since we base our lives around trying food, we first went to Giovanni's and shared a scampi. We bought some turtle magnets in the back (2 for $4..cheaper than international market place) and waited 15 min for food. Yummy! Who could not love super garlic infused olive oil on top of soft white rice with big shrimp? Then we went to Romy's - GRRRRR!!!!!!! We got in line behind 2 people, ordered the sweet and spicy shrimp and waited...and kept waiting. After 40 min, we saw a large van pull-up and drop off 20 some people who immediately got their food and sat down. Obviously they must have called in ahead but why didn't the workers tell us that it would be at least a 45 minute wait? We understand that you're not a "fast food restaurant" but if you knew you were making food for 20-30 people instead of our food, why wouldn't you tell us? What's worse was that the shrimp was overcooked, not flavorful and some were NOT DEVEINED!
5th stop McDonalds and Ted's Bakery: Made a pitstop at McDonalds for a bathroom break and to get some deep fried apple pies - so much tastier than the baked apple pies in Chicago. Then we went to Ted's Bakery, got a little lost, and finally had chocolate haupia pie - it was so light and creamy...the smooth chocolate with the light flavor of the haupia was the perfect combination!
7th stop Laniakea Beach: A cute beach - we were sad the waves were so high and the beach bottom was slightly rocky. We still enjoyed ourselves and people/surfer watched - I loved that alot of locals were there. We almost left to check out Waimea Bay Beach Park since it seemed empty and the waters seemed calmer when we passed by it but we decided just to hang out and relax.
8th stop Haleiwa. If you haven't guessed yet, we were there on a mission - to get shave ice! We first went to Matsumoto's - there was a crowd but nothing horrible - waited about 10 min total. We then went to Aoki's where there were ZERO people. We ordered the same shave ice with ice cream and red bean from both places - we think the quality of the syrup, ice and ice cream are similar if not identical. However, we liked the flavor and softness of the beans at Aoki's. I truly didn't become a fan of shave ice until we had it at Ululani's in Maui since their syrup flavors taste so fresh -like I'm sucking on the real fruit itself- and their ice is a bit softer and fluffier.
9th stop Helena's for local fare: YUMMY! We had the kalbi/short ribs, kalua pork (definitely the BEST kalua pork we had on our trip - and I order it at every restaurant if they had it. Using an imu makes a huge difference in taste!), poi, some chicken dish (aloha chicken???) that was similar to the lau lau (b/c they ran out of lau lau) and was very tasty. Like many tourists, we weren't a fan of the poi but loved everything else! The hubs and I enjoy the fact that local Hawaiian food reminds us of a mix of our ethnic foods - Filipino and Korean.
After Helena's we drove to Chinatown - we got lost looking for it because we didn't know what address/intersection to enter on the GPS. We eventually found it and really didn't know what we would do there - was everything closed at 8 PM? It seemed dark and we weren't hungry so we just left. We figured we've seen enough Chinatowns in other cities to satisfy us.
Final stop before returning the car - Leonards: Ordered 1/2 dozen - 2 filled, 2 regular, 2 cinnamon sugar. We tried one and saved the rest for day 3's adventure. I enjoyed the sweetness of the cream and the sugared topping but wasn't a fan of how bready a malasada is - the hubs loved the bready/doughy part. So we ate the parts we liked - I guess that's why our marriage works ;)
Returned the car, cleaned up and walked down Kalakaua. Stopped at almost every ABC store to see if any of them were different - they weren't haha. Some of the postcards were different though, so we were able to buy a variety for the 20 + we had to send back to the mainland.
PS: The windward drive up North and the drive back to Waikiki were both beautiful. I wished we had rented a convertible so the hubs/driver could've appreciated the scenery more.
You're all probably tired of reading this but I promise this day is not as packed! Got up at 6:30, watched the sunrise over Diamond Head from our Lanai, had the same breakfast, watched hula lessons on the beach during breakfast and went to our rental car at Hertz - crowded! We waited at least 30 min for our car. This time we got a Dodge Caliber - much better handling than the Focus but it was a hatchback and I was worried someone would see the bags we planned on leaving in the car. We ended up locking things in the glove compartment to make it look like NOTHING was left in the car and took the rest with us. Drove to Hanauma Bay, got there at about 10 and luckily found a parking spot near the front as someone was leaving. Payed the entrance fee and once again, dreamed about being a local so we could come and enjoy Hawaii's beautiful nature all of the time (and for free apparently) Watched the film which wasn't as cheesy as I thought it would be - it was actually touching. We're pretty sure the Asian tourists couldn't understand it because we saw many people STANDING on the coral :( Snorkeled and layed out and relaxed and ate our Malasadas for lunch. Although there were alot of people there, it didn't seem overly crowded. I didn't get to see a honu, which made me very sad. It started drizzling at about 2 PM, which was fine because we were getting tired.
We thought about driving to Chinatown again to pick up some manapuas but didn't want to drive all day like the day before. We saw one at a gas station - it looks just like a Filipino steamed bun...which is probably why I wanted it.
Dropped of the car and got a ride back to the hotel - yay! Walked to the international market to get a Puka Dog. If you like mayo based sauces, you will LOOOOOOVE the Puka Dog. The bread was perfectly toasted in the middle and the combination of flavors like guava and banana will shock you. YUMMY...but seriously a heart-attack in a bun. Picked up some souvenirs for the parents at the market and went back to the hotel to catch the sunset. Too bad it was a cloudy night :( Hung out in the room for some R and R and then of course, had to get more food. Went back to Ramen Nakamura for the hubs - he is always craving Asian food. Walked around and had samples at the Honolulu Cookie Company - I was impressed that they wanted us to sample EVERYTHING - excellent marketing strategy. They weren't stingy at all and I really got my fill of cookies. Bought some for ourselves for the plane ride to Maui :) Got some mai tais at Shorebird at the hotel while listening to karaoke and settled in for the night at about midnight.