Hawaii: The Recap

Okay, okay — as several of you have noted, I dropped the ball.

It’s been a week since I posted. I am truly remorseful. I promise.

(Maybe not so much — it was a hell of a week on several levels.)

So, here’s the recap, montage-style. Here, you can play the fast-paced Hawaii-5-0 theme song for background, if you like.

4th of July was spent in the Tropics beach bar. Many sail boats. More Tiki torches. Have to admit: I have a real thing for Tiki torches now.

Fireworks over Ala Moana park were fab, especially from our table. And there was drunken fun. Followed by amateur beach fireworks. Hard to capture with the camera, but oh-so-fun to try!

Sunday we spent on the North Shore: Waimea Bay was gorgeous beyond belief. What happened was, parking was awful, so we parked around the bend at the Catholic Church. And no, this wasn’t Bad & Wrong because the youth group CHARGED for parking as a fund raiser. Screw the car wash thing — charge the tourists $5 to park. We loved it. And besides, we then didn’t worry about leaving our valuables in the trunk. Upshot is? Camera and purse were in the trunk, so if you want to see beautiful Waimea bay, you have to go yourself. Or look up one of the undoubtedly millions of other pics out there. But here’s one of the beach bar at Turtle Bay.

Yes, there is a theme.

Then I went to work. And David played. With the local herons, koi and seahorses. I know. Don’t ask.

And then, Tuesday after work, I went swimming and it was the straw on the camel’s back of two days of non-stop snorkeling and beach-walking.

It rebelled and I was sad.

The “now I can’t walk much at all” kind of sad.

But we managed to make it to some great restaurants: The Ocean, House Without a Key, Go Mate, Cheeseburgers, Seafood Paradiso, Roy’s. And our breakfast spot on the lagoon. Included just because Marin agrees that “lagoon” is a great word.

Overall, it was wonderful. We worked hard. (Not David. Or Joe. In fact, the valets got quite a kick out of them loading Val, Laurie and I into the car for the workday and waving goodbye.)

But when you have a view of Diamondhead, somehow it’s not quite so bad.

Dream to Have

I managed to lose my sunglasses yesterday.

At any rate, I had them at Hanauma Bay yesterday and didn’t have them this morning when we got ready to go to the North Shore. The Hilton Hawaiian Village is part beach resort, part shopping mall, so it was easy to stop into one of the shops, so I could pick up some new sunglasses.

I quickly realized my mistake when David pointed to a pair in a glass cabinet saying they’d look pretty on me and I spotted the discreet Gucci sign next to them. The Japanese saleswoman, though, coached me through a purchase. She quickly determined only two brands would do for me, since I like polarized lenses. It wasn’t an easy sell – I don’t like dark lenses and David doesn’t give the thumbs up to anything too big. We finally found a pair of Oakleys that we both thought I looked good in. They were more than I wanted to spend. She knocked the price down and assured me, “Oakley sunglasses – many dream to have.”

I bought them as much to give her the sale for working so hard as to shield my eyes from the Hawaiian sun.

Not because they were something I dreamed to have.

It’s inescapable, the presence of the Japanese tourists here. The princesses in their designer clothes and stilettos, mincing with determined entitlement, escorted by consciously cool young men. The family groups – several generations traveling in their own pack. Their close-packed competitive culture leads them to push to the front, to block the way, to dive into the elevator before people have managed to come out. They follow a list of their own: some tourist destinations are packed with Japanese, others conspicuously void of them.

Hanauma Bay, for instance, is on their list of must-do’s. We spent the afternoon at the beach park, recommended as one of the 25 best snorkeling spots in the world. I snorkeled three times during the day. Still not as good as the Caribbean, to my mind. David swam in the sparkling waters. Otherwise we laid like slugs, watching the palm fronds wave overhead.

And watching the young Japanese couples arrive, pose on the beach for photos, trading the camera back and forth. The girl wears a floppy sunhat, glances over her shoulder and frames her face with elegant fingers. The boy waves a surfing hand gesture. They leave again, having checked off another point on their dream to have list.

Others do it, too. A Russian family – or some sort of Soviets, judging by the language – arrived, donned their snorkel gear, swam for fifteen minutes and left again.

As we left, I overheard a ranger telling a guest about a woman who saw a sea turtle while snorkeling. “She said it was the most beautiful experience of her life,” he assured the visitor.

At Waimea Bay today, it was all about the long term visitors. The water is crystal and aquamarine, gently lapping over soft white sand. People spent the afternoon, playing. Hanging.

I saw a group of teens playing a game while I snorkeled by. They would dive down to the white sand bottom – ten/twelve feet deep – pick up a bowling-ball sized rock and walk along the bottom with it as long as they could. I don’t know what the contest was based on. Strength, certainly. Holding their breath, too. And all below the water, where only they could see.

The dream to have isn’t about having, I don’t think. It’s about the image in the camera. About the image you want to present. If I have this, if I look like that, if I can say I’ve been to this place and done that thing, then I’ve accomplished something. Maybe become someone special.

Someone who has had the most beautiful experience of her life.

Dream to have.

Aloha Honolulu

Honolulu at night from our balcony.

A friend once told us there was no point in coming to Honolulu because it’s just like any big city. Any gorgeous big city dancing along a beautiful beach on a tropical island that is.

It’s funny to spend 4th of July with palm trees and fruity drinks. Instead of beer, brownies, bing cherries and fried chicken, today will be about chocolate-covered macadamias, mahi-mahis and pina coladas. Maybe a key lime martini, if I get lucky.

My new addiction: the key lime martini. Of course, I had my first one in Laramie, Wyoming, but that’s neither here nor there.

Hilton delivers as always. And no, they don’t pay me to say it. (Though I’m not too proud to let them, were they so inclined…) Hilton Hawaiian village is right in the city and right on the beach. With gorgeous tropical pools, flaming torches and a non-stop party.

This is not your quiet, pristine Caribbean get away, it’s true. It’s more the Las Vegas strip goes to the beach. Which has its own charm.
And nothing beats waking to this sight.