We have recuperated from our almost four hour drive to the airport yesterday. We got caught up in Bay Area traffic and what should have taken 2 hours… became a marathon almost 4 hour trip. However, as soon as we arrived at the Hawaiian Airlines check in and spoke with the ticket agent with the plumeria in her hair.. all was well again. I love flying Hawaiian because it feels like our vacation begins five hours before we land in Honolulu.
Day one in Paradise AKA Hawaii:
I was awake early but since hubby was softly snoring, I didn’t want to wake him so I went out on our lanai to say good morning to the ocean. We always stay at (and always love) the Hale Koa hotel. Our eleventh floor ocean view room doesn’t compare to some of the elaborately decorated and elaborately priced rooms at the Moana and some of the other gorgeous hotels along Waikiki Beach, but it is perfect for us. The room is very clean and comfortable and decorated with Hawaiian print fabrics. Did I say, “I love the Hale Koa?”
Our room is on the Diamond Head side of the building, so the view of grounds is gorgeous…lots of palm trees, acres of green lawn and the ocean sparkling in early morning sun. There were gray clouds hovering over the Ko’olaus but I love rain too, so all was right with my world.
Our plan was to have breakfast at the hotel and do a circle island drive around Oahu. If you have the opportunity to stay at the Hale Koa, I very highly recommend that you try the breakfast buffet in the Koko Cafe. I’m really not a buffet person because the food is usually luke warm and has been sitting on the steam table for who knows how long. This buffet is the exception for me. They offer coffee and juices, island fruits and pastries… then the normal bacon, sausage, hash browns, fried rice section. There is an omelet station where you can have your choice of dozens of omelets prepared as you watch. THEN there is the make your own waffle station .. with coconut syrup, chopped macadamia nuts, shredded coconut … whipped cream, strawberries etc.
So with full tummies, we grab sun block, hats and head off for our drive. We drive down Kalakaua through Waikiki and turn left onto Kapahulu.. heading for the H1 East (it becomes the Kalanianaole Highway).. which takes us through Aina Haina … Hawaii Kai and past Haunama Bay (the parking lot is already full at 8 a.m.) Our first stop is at the Halona Blow Hole.. where we join the rest of the tourists taking photos of Maui in the distance. After watching the ocean and the tourists for a while we continue on our trip. One of the prettiest views is found as we round the curve and catch our first glimpse of Makapu’u Beach down below. There are only a few people on the beach this early, so we pull over and walk for a while … wetting our feet for the first time. The water is almost bath tub warm…
Our next stop is only a few miles down the road. We turn right at the sign that says, “Bellows Air Force Station.” Part of the beach is open to the public on weekends but since this is Monday morning, you need a military ID card to enter. I said that Mokapu’u is a pretty view, but Bellows Beach is spectacular. The almost deserted stretch of beach is lined with pine trees and the wide, white sugar sand beach glistens in the sun. It is truly gorgeous. We walk along the beach for half a mile or so … then promise to return for a swim very soon.
We have stayed at the cottages at Bellows several times…and have many wonderful memories. As we drive back towards the highway, I spot two small black piggies running through the koa bushes. I warn them to hide because they are just about perfect size for a bar be que ;)
We continue along the coast through Kahalu’u and up to Punalu’u.. and past Kualoa Ranch (more on that later) where our thoughts turn from the scenery to LUNCH!!! When I was planning this vacation I asked the tripadvisor people for recommendations for good food and Tita’s in Kahuku was highly recommended. Tita’s is a little place directly across the street from the intermediate and high school… and it was obvious school was out… because there were about 20 kids at the picnic tables having a great time eating and talking. Tita’s is famous for local plate lunches and we decided to try their garlic shrimp… which came with two scoops aloha (white rice) and macaroni salad. While we were waiting for our order, I talked to the lady behind the counter and she told me the kids come by after school for either bread and butter or toast. I must have looked confused because she laughed and told me that the owner bakes bread every day and that seems to be the favorite after school snack. I said, “toast??” and she said yes she cuts a slice of bread and butters it and puts it on the grill to make ‘toast.’ She disappeared for a moment and came back with a “slab” of buttered bread for us to try. It was yummmmmmm… as was our shrimp lunch. We have always eaten shrimp at Giovanni’s truck .. which is only a few yards down the road and we were reluctant to try Tita’s, but I have to admit … Tita’s puts Giovanni’s to shame. It was really really delicious!!!! As was the bread. So, we washed our shrimpy, garlicky fingers and headed on up the coast … passed Turtle Bay…. through Haleiwa and headed back down toward Honolulu. As we passed the Dole Plantation (too full of shrimp to stop for pineapple this time)… there was a perfect rainbow hanging over the pineapple fields. I love Hawaii!!!!
The time difference between California and Hawaii is 3 hours and by the time we drove back into Waikiki … hitting some ‘pau hana’ traffic…. my eyes were getting droopy. We didn’t have dinner, but went down to the Barefoot Bar.. on the beach and had drinks. A Mai Tai for him and a Lava Flow for me…. then a long walk on the beach… before heading up to our room. I sat on the lanai for a few minutes … then took a quick shower and laid down to watch tv. Next thing I knew it was morning….. Day number two….