Aloha everyone! Welcome back and thanks again for following our travel blog. Today I have another cool video for you all at the bottom of this post. So enjoy!
Following on from Andy’s last post, I’m sure you are intrigued to know if we made it to Waianae, west coast Oahu and if it was a bad idea to go there. Well of course we made it and in fact we had an awesome time there. The myth surrounding the place as being rough, full of angry locals, camps of homeless on the beaches and it being the crystal meth hub of the pacific couldn’t be any further from the truth. However we didn’t know this yet on the morning we left the North Shore. In fact after hearing so much negativity surrounding the place, I was nervous as hell about going.
You would think getting from the north to the west coast would be simple and quite a short trip, since people always talk about doing a loop of the island on the bus. However, since the road runs out around the north-west at Cape Ka’ena, you have to venture back inland down the centre of Oahu to Honolulu, to take the other connecting road back up. This meant for us three different buses and around three and a half hours of travelling. Not great when I had planned to meet an old client of mine from my Icon magazine days at our accommodation’s café for lunch. Doh!
We were half an hour late when we turned up at the Kahumana Organic Cafe, sweaty and tired, but my super sweet friend Melissa (who I had never met before) ran out to welcome us with a big hug and a kiss. Melissa is one of those people who just makes me smile. Her personality is like a ray of sunshine and she is really creative and talented. Check out her website. The food at the café was beautiful, everything grown onsite on the organic farm (yes we were staying here on the farm, there were chickens everywhere ha ha!). We had fun chatting, getting to know each other and I couldn’t thank her enough for driving out all this way from Honolulu to come and see us plus treat us to lunch which was really nice of her. I promised that if she ever visited the UK, that I would show her around and treat her with the same aloha she had shown us 🙂
When it was time to check in, we said our goodbyes and were shown to our room. This place was like no where we’ve ever stayed before, a big bedroom within a wooden house with shared bathrooms, lounges and a lovely conservatory looking out onto the farm. Other houses and sculptures were dotted around, each having different religious symbols showing no matter what, everyone was welcome here. I liked that. Considered a retreat by people who have visited, the farm also housed families in need and our money went towards helping these people, which was fantastic.
Days on the farm, chilling out writing our blogs in view of Mount Ka’ala were lovely. Each day sunny like the last with a warm breeze that always seemed to appear at around 2pm every day. The nights however were very different. It was pretty cold in our wooden room with open vented windows and cockerels crowing loudly outside at midnight. I thought they only did that at dawn for gods sake?! One day, keen to go into town and get a feel for the place, we took a bus into Waianae and went to the local surf shop to hire bikes. On the way there we noticed empty pristine beaches, not a hotel high riser in sight and received smiles from locals and many a ‘hello’ from passing strangers. Wow, what a different place Waianae was setting out to be. The old cranky white dudes from the North Shore and writers of our Lonely Planet guidebook couldn’t have painted a worse picture of this place. We were proving them wrong and we were loving it!
Now, Andy and I are no strangers to Hawaiian music. In fact ever since deciding to go traveling, especially to Hawaii over three years ago, we’d been listening to a local legend called Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, also known as Bruddah IZ. Quite a heavyweight (literally) in the art of playing the ukulele, his silky smooth voice was beautiful and conjured up images of deserted beaches and swaying palm trees. Well it turns out he had come from just down the road in Waianae and there was a statue there now to celebrate his life and music (yes unfortunately he died at a young age). The family in the local surf shop were pretty taken aback that we were keen on visiting his statue, let alone that we had ventured out of Waikiki to go and see the west side of the island, and so were pleased to show us the way. They also dug out photos of IZ’s funeral that their family had attended (an ocean burial that hundreds went to on canoes and surf boards). Their faces lit up when we told them how beautiful we thought Waianae was and they agreed that maybe it was a good thing tourists weren’t flocking there, because it kept the place real, local and undeveloped.
Apart from giving big IZ’s statue a hug and hanging out with the locals, we also spent a day with a nice American guy called Jonathan – an LAPD cop on vacation we’d met on our farm. He had a hire car and so offered to take us for a spin to the coast to see the headland, to try to snorkel it. Unfortunately a big swell had come in so we couldn’t swim in the sea, but the two hour return hike of the headland was spectacular! Not only were we randomly involved in a mass Hawaiian Harlem Shake video (ha ha, that’s another funny story for the books), we also saw huge albatross sitting in the long grass, spinner dolphins going nuts out at sea, whales breaching along the horizon and Monk seals basking in the sun. And all for free!!! Sea World eat your heart out! If it wasn’t for Jonathan driving us out there, we wouldn’t have ever seen it all, so thanks Jon it was awesome! Harlem Shaking is pretty fun too! 🙂
The time had come to return to Waikiki for our final week on Oahu, and we were secretly pleased in a way. There’s just something about the place, I guess it really felt like we were on holiday there. Yes after dark it can be a bit scary and seedy, but I love it’s beautiful early sunsets, big surf scene, live music and dancing on the streets, silly ABC stores selling hula girls for your dashboard (I still bought one!), cool bars with people wearing loud shirts and fragrant Lei necklaces, plus everyone just smiling and happy to be there. The North Shore may have been my favourite spot on Oahu and Waianae was definitely an eye opener, but Waikiki was just plain fun 🙂 We spent our time back there surfing on the long rolling waves (which is pretty special since out at sea you have a great view of Diamond Head and Waikiki beach), enjoying a few beers at the Dukes bar, chilling/gate crashing the lounges at the Royal Hawaiian (omg I love that hotel!) and visiting the Polynesian Cultural Centre. Oh and Pearl Harbour, I can’t forget that windy, rainy day. I wont go into it, but if you want a history lesson, check this out.
The epic Polynesian Cultural Centre is Hawaii’s number one most visited tourist attraction. With sprawling gardens and a canal running through the middle, the sectioned off islands included Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Aotearoa (New Zealand – woop woop!) and Tahiti. We spent the entire day walking around, visiting each island learning about their traditions and cultures, watching dance performances and drum displays. It is amazing to think that the Polynesians travelled all over the Pacific ocean in canoes with only the stars to guide them. An incredible people. We ended the day stuffing our faces in the huge banqueting hall on an all you can eat buffet, then we watched the Ha – Breath of Life show. It was a story following the life of a young boy as he grows up to become a man, told through the different styles of each Polynesian island we’d visited in the day. There was Samoan fire dancing, fierce Tongan battles, NZ hakas and a Tahitian wedding. It was quite moving and I felt I had a better understanding of how all these places were tied together. You never know, maybe one day we would actually go and visit a few more of them.
Leaving Hawaii for our next stop Canada, was an interesting thought. It wasn’t like leaving NZ for us, that was too difficult. Don’t get me wrong, we were going to miss Oahu, it’s just the hardest part for me was packing the bikini and flip flops away for good. That was it, it was going to be all snow and gloves from here on in. And that’s where Andy will pick things up.
Maple syrup here we come 😉