Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Oahu, Hawaii | Part 3

After a breakfast of local fruits we had picked up the previous day, we went for a para-sailing adventure. We found a good deal on one of the deal sites (groupon, maybe?) and since neither of us had ever done it, we went for it! It was a cool experience, but I think we both thought we would go higher and faster (and longer!), haha.

Now that we were woken up with a shot of adrenaline, we started our drive around the Island - we wanted to drive up to the North Shore to see the less crowded and more laid back side of the Island. Our first stop was at the Dole Plantation. This wasn't a necessary stop, so we made our visit quick: watched a demo of how to property cut a pineapple; finally let someone convince us to buy a pearl from the oyster shell; and shared some pineapple dole whip.

What we were most excited for was a lunch stop at Macky's food truck for garlic butter shrimp! Shrimp plates are a very Hawaiian meal: shrimp served in a delicious butter sauce, a side of white rice, and a side of salad - it's a super fresh and filling meal. Macky's was suuuper busy, as both locals and tourists filled up all the picnic tables.

Happily fed, we continued on with our tour of the North Shore. We passed through little towns, stopped at seemingly-private beaches, and were in awe of the lush roadside landscapes. And, as promised, we even found roaming chickens.

We passed school buses and firetrucks, and seemed to get a taste for what everyday life might be like on the Island.

Nearing back toward the southern part of Oahu, we stopped at Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, where acres of endangered and rare plants are maintained.  There's also a large lake where Taras met some friends. :) The grounds are beautiful (just be sure to bring along some bug spray).

On our last night on the Island, we wanted to have a memorable dinner and decided on Sunrise Restaurant, an Okinawan restaurant. The place is small and unassuming; we walked into a room with one empty table (ours!) and noticed that all the other tables were filled with locals who were speaking Japanese to one another and sharing their bottles of what looked to be sake. It seemed that all the other patrons knew one another and this was their eating place. We knew we made the right choice. We shared the freshest sushi and sashimi platters we'd ever had, and we loved the Okinawan soba soup. This was the perfect end to a trip that had been surprisingly full of culinary adventures.

The next morning, we went to Hanauma Bay to snorkel for a couple hours. This is another place where it's great to get there early; as the water fills up with snorkelers, it becomes increasingly difficult to navigate the waters while trying to both avoid stepping on coral and keeping from swimming into other people. But it is a must-do, for sure. We saw so many beautiful fish!

Oh! And our last culinary treat in Oahu? Malasada at Leonard's Bakery...  fried dough that is served warm and soft and sprinkled with sugar. So good!

After a morning of snorkeling, it was onto our last stop on the Island: Pearl Harbor. We had been told to set aside a whole day to explore the museum, and later regretted that we didn't listen to that tip. While we're both generally ready to leave a museum after a couple hours, there is so much to see, read, and learn about World War II; we missed a bunch of exhibits on the property just because we didn't have the time.

Walking through the museum that outlined the events of the War was such a powerful experience, outdone only by visiting the USS Arizona Memorial (Get tickets in advance! We went to the booth when we arrived and ended up getting a time slot that was for a few hours later. We did, however, notice a few people would go stand by the ticket collector at an earlier time slot and ask if there was room - they all seemed to get admitted early with no trouble.).

Visiting the USS Arizona Memorial was truly one of the most moving moments of my life. The Memorial straddles the sunken battleship, and stands to remember the thousand-plus sailors and marines who lost their lives on the ship (many permanently buried underwater) during the attacks at Pearl Harbor. Even today, some 70 years later, small amounts of oil still leaks out from the ship and forms rainbow-colored circles on the surface of the water. These are known as "the Tears of the Arizona." The shipmates who survived the attacks are given the option to be buried in the ship when they die, alongside their mates. In a special ceremony, divers take down the remains and slip them inside the ship. So far everyone has chosen this option for their burial and there are 13 known living survivors. The Pearl Harbor visit put a very emotional and patriotic touch on our visit to Hawaii - this is absolutely a must if you're ever on Oahu!

Our last hours in Hawaii were marked by a couple of farewell beers at the airport. It was time for us to head back to California and go on with the rest of the road trip! Thanks for a great time, Hawaii!

You can find more Hawaii posts here.

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