We went to America! A celebration of two years living together.
Here is my thoughts on Hawaii:
First off, short story:
Opening scene: It is May in New Zealand which is a brittle month with cool weather and dark afternoons. Tess and I are in-between lectures, sitting on the red couches for a peaceful but slightly uncomfy would-rather-be-at-home kind of wait. We are looking up places that you can see actual lava on our laptops.
‘We should go to Hawaii.’ One of us suggests.
‘We definitely should,’ the other replies.
But we’re joking. Because it’s cold and it’s May and we’re university students who have a long list of things to do, none of which include an overseas holiday.
Finale: It’s December. Tess and I are sitting on the edge of a stone wall wrapped in towels to keep out. The sky is starting to fade from a bright blue into a mellow golden dark, and as we watch we see the bright red spark of lava splashing up the side of the crater.
Long story short; Hawaii was a dream come true.
My favourite things:
Waikiki Beach. It’s exactly what you want it to be. A long stretch of sand edged by high-rise flashy hotels and quirky buildings. Golden sand, palm trees, distant views of the rise of Diamond Head crater. Bright blue water that is WARM (though not as warm as you think) and full of swimmers because all the surfers are further out at a swell break. Floating over the waves in Waikiki with the sun setting and music drifting down from the hotels is one of the biggest pinch-myself moments I have ever had. So, so special. So good.
The Pillbox Hike. Honest have never been so hot in my life as I was climbing this hill. The walk isn’t super long or super steep but the heat of the sun makes it gruelling – collapsing into the marginally cooler shade at the top was a sweet relief. Still, it was fun! The views were so beautiful – exactly the kind of white beach, blue water scenes// green mountains, lush landscapes you expect from Hawaii and even though I am the most uncoordinated girl, it was kind of fun to fall ungracefully down the hill at the end.
Big Island. We had a shaky start changing islands (no bags then no car then no food) but after a good night’s sleep in our funny little Airbnb we had some great BIG adventures.
Big Island is big (no shit) and also kind of unreal. The entire day there were radio sirens and weather alerts blasting over the radio, telling us to move somewhere but since we didn’t know one part of the island from the other we just continued on and hoped for the best – and by some luck it really worked out.
We saw turtles swimming free in the ocean, volcanic craters steaming from the ground, a fully grown tree crash down a waterfall and smash into the water below. I was tired and happy and hyped on my over sweet iced coffee. So content and excited by our day of lucky timing and squashed packed lunches.
But it was the lava that really got me. LAVA. Real, red, glowing lava that spat up from the ground and lit up the entire crater in the dark. We spent the afternoon napping and reading in the carpark so we had front row seats, crowded together on our stone ledge as the sun set. Seeing something so rare, that I had really dreamed of, was the craziest and coolest thing in the world.
My Least Favourite Things:
The weather. We travelled in Northern Hemisphere Winter so understandably it was raining. Hawaii was still very nice in the rain but it is infinitely better in the sun.
The food. There wasn’t a lot of great, affordable, readily available in central Waikiki, food. Ok there were def a few notable exceptions – we had the most extra and glorious tacos from a little hub of food trucks and one very nice dinner at a cute little restaurant – but for the most part we struggled a bit with where to grab a cheap snack without having to travel quite a way on foot.
(This is such a small gripe but I had to think of something)
The landscape of Hawaii reminded me a lot of the places I have travelled in South East Asia. The low level houses settled into the jungle-like hills and the messy powerlines were familiar and unexpected. Oahu is a city, but the man-made aspects aren’t altogether that pretty. Rickety looking apartment buildings contrast starkly against the flashy glitz of the hotels. Yet still, I loved it. The poverty divide was unmistakable, but it was less harsh than everywhere else we travelled – something about the strange amalgamation of buildings and the sprawl of the town. It made it easy to be happy and to be on holiday. To absorb the warmth and laugh at the abundance of tourists smiling at each other on the street and to see the beauty in the how the bustling and functioning city suddenly gives way to beach.
I will say that while I really loved the way we spent our time here – squeezed into a small and fairly basic hotel which quickly became a cozy (and messy) safe space. If I were to go back to Hawaii again I think it would be very fun to be at one of the flashy hotels with a pool and beach access and fancy restaurant buffets. Also to have a car and explore further – we went for a few drives around Oahu but we definitely didn’t get to spend enough time to properly see everything we would have liked to.
Hawaii was a destination to escape to but it also is rich with culture and history. The landscape is honestly like no other (LAVA) and it was the most warm and happy start to our three weeks.
Next stop –> L.A.