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Diary of a Travel Guide Junkie: Adventures in O’ahu January 24, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Food, Shopping, Travel.
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If only we’d had more time to explore, we could’ve covered all the places listed in Frommer’s. Alas, I live in the real world where there is never enough time.

First stop, shopping in Waikiki baby! Waikiki is truly a shopper’s paradise. There is every store known to man, and not just stores, but designer boutiques like Gucci, Prada, Tiffany’s, D&G, Fendi, Tod’s, Burberry, Coach, YSL, Louis Vuitton…enough name dropping. Pretty much all the stores where I leave a mark on the window because a face plant against the glass and drooling is free of charge! Two things that I noticed are huge on the islands are Crocs and LeSportsac. I don’t typically do Crocs only because I’m short with small, yet wide, feet. Put me in a pair of ‘beach’ or ‘cayman’ and I look like I have Barney Rubble feet. Yabba-dabba-do! Recently, Crocs has come out with much cuter designs for women, like the ‘mary jane’, ‘celeste’, and ‘alice’. For those who know me, you know that I seriously heart LeSportsac. The crappy thing is that there is no LeSportsac boutique in the DC area which is what makes it hard to believe that there are probably ten LeSportsac stores within a five mile radius in Waikiki. Our closest store is in NYC, and it’s hard to convince Casey to travel to NYC just so I can snag a new bag! You can always shop online, but then you don’t get access to the exclusive designs sold only in the boutiques. That being said, I picked up two bags during our trip in patterns exclusive to Hawaii. Next up are the ABC Stores. These are not the liquor stores that most mainland folks know. These are a cross between a 7-11 and a souvenir store.  A great place to pick up those random oddities.

We then went to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. It was a very educational and moving experience. We purchased a book while we were there and the author was on site to give autographs. Not only that, but there were four Pearl Harbor survivors on site the day we visited. We were able to get one of them, Robert Kinzler, to autograph his photo in the book we purchased.

Following the visit to Pearl Harbor, we went to Diamond Head. I think the total hike to the top and back is less than 3 miles and it took a little under an hour. While the distance of the hike wasn’t bad, the trail can be somewhat difficult to navigate with approximately 175 steep stairs to climb. With that being said, it is WELL worth it for the spectacular views. We even got to see a double rainbow (see pictures in sidebar).

At the completion of our hike, it started to rain. We decided to drive around to Hanauma Bay and then to Kaneohe Bay. The drive was nice and offered spectacular views of the eastern side of the island.

The following day we decided to visit the Dole Pineapple Plantation and then continue on to the North Shore. The Dole Plantation was so much fun. I had heard mixed reviews about it, but I am certainly glad we went to check it out for ourselves. I’m a bit of a gift shop fanantic and this one takes the cake! It is HUGE. They have pineapple everything, and I did purchase some pineapple coffee that I’m excited to try. There is a pineapple garden maze that covers approximately 3 miles. They even offer a garden tour which shows the various crops that are grown on that part of the island including coffee and chocolate. They also have a small pineapple garden that shows the different types of pineapple and the various growth stages. If you can’t tell, I seriously *heart* the Dole Pineapple Plantation!

We headed on up to Waimea Bay and watched people jump off “the rock”. It was unbelievably crowded, so we continued north to Sunset Beach and Shark’s Cove. We also pulled off briefly at ‘Ehukai Beach, home of the Bonzai Pipeline, to watch the surfers. Our pictures do not give justice to the size and power of the waves!

On our final day, we visited the Valley of the Temples which is home to the Byodo-In Temple. It was quite stunning and the Ko’olau Mountains were just unbelievable. You felt like you were in a movie or in some faraway land. Supposedly the temple was built without using a single nail. Pretty cool, huh? Also, I read that it has been featured in the show Lost. Casey and I both rang the enormous Peace Bell before entering the temple (which is supposed to bring you good luck). The sound was quite peaceful until you had some idiot who felt like they were trying to keep tune with the song “Get It On (Bang A Gong)”, then it got to be a little annoying! The grounds are also home to wild peacocks; however, we didn’t see any.

From the Valley of the Temples, we traveled to Punchbowl National Cemetery aka National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The grounds are beautiful and they also offer a wonderful panoramic view of the entire city.

We then spent the remainder of the day sprawled out on the beach in Waikiki. I couldn’t bear to go any deeper than my knees because the water was just too cold.

We had a wonderful time and I certainly hope to go back…maybe to visit Maui or the Big Island…a little Rusty’s Hawaiian anyone!?

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