Sometimes, when you have the best mom ever, she will just randomly have a brand new scanner sent to your house after hearing you mention you wished you had one. And when it arrives you might be so excited to try it out that you scan in all your old photos from a vacation that took place nearly ten years ago, put them in a blog post and then force them on all of you fine people.
(And you didn't know today was your lucky day ;)
So, if you'd care to take a stroll down memory lane with me, come right along, I've got lots to share!
After Josh graduated from college he wanted to go on a nice, celebratory vacation. Somewhere warm where he could relax, somewhere with a beach. This is always his objective when vacationing. Mine is usually big city! adventure! culture! architecture! But this was his graduation after all and so naturally the beach it would be. When he proposed Hawaii to me I was actually kind of disappointed. I'd never been, obviously. In my head the idea of Hawaii seemed like a gimmicky tourist destination. The locale for something like 90% of honeymoons and oh so unoriginal. You didn't even need a passport.
"But it's paradise!" He declared.
I had my doubts but grudgingly consented. Clearly it was all just hype. Clearly it could not really be as great as everyone made it out to be.
Clearly, I was an idiot.
There is a reason everyone flocks to Hawaii. It is just as good as they say it will be. It is better.
It is like Neverland come to life. It is blue lagoons and lush green mountaintops scarved in mist. It is waterfalls and rainbows and ancient trees dripping with moss. It is mother f***ing paradise.
We stayed on the island of Oahu right in downtown Honolulu in a high rise hotel on Waikiki Beach. A place where the ABC corner stores are as prevalent as the Dunkin' Donuts are in Boston. A place where Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is pumped into the streets through invisble speakers 24 hours a day. This was, for all intents and purposes, the most gimmicky, popular Hawaiian destination we could have possibly chosen. This I realize. But it was also the cheapest. Though believe me when I tell you we were only in that hotel long enough to lay our heads down at night and then we were off again with the sunrise. Literally. Our internal clocks were so off that our first night there we awoke around 3am and decided the best course of action would be to drive to the entire other side of the island and watch the sun rise over our first day in Hawaii. It was probably one of the best ideas we've ever had. We rented a car for the week and every day we took it out into the far reaches of the island where we ate lunch from roadside shish kabob stands and had whole beaches to ourselves. I know we were first timers in Oahu, but I feel like we really did that trip right. There is nothing about it I would have changed, and looking back Josh and I still view that vacation as our best ever.
We saw Pearl Harbor, of course. You can not come all the way here and not make the time to see the site where so much started - where so much US history was born. We also visited the famed Dole plantation (I sadly have no pictures) where we scoped out the pineapple fields and downed ice cold pineapple juice served in cups the size of a big gulp for practically pennies. Oh, oh and the Dole Whip! Oh heavens, fresh pineapple soft serve like nothing you've ever tasted. Worth the 15 hour flight alone.
We visited the Byodo-In temple (above) and the Waimea Valley, (below) both of which are such unbelievable examples of visual perfection it's hard to believe they weren't created by Disney as part of some make believe dream world theme park you hadn't realized you'd gained admission to. I know these pictures don't do it any justice. This was the pre-digital era and our photos were taken with a very basic film camera (and then scanned in here). How I wish I could go back in time and re-take these photos with the equipment we have access to now! But since I can't, I found some photos of these two areas taken by professionals with current camera equipment and linked to a few of them here, here and here. That might give you a better idea of what I'm talking about.
The next photos are even worse. Worse because they were taken with disposable underwater cameras, which are really scraping the bottom of the barrel quality-wise if you think about it. But what's good about these photos is that they represent my very favorite part of the trip and are therefore my favorite to look at, which was the snorkeling. We rented two full sets of snorkel gear the week we were there and kept them in the back of our rental car at all times. While we did hit up some well-renown snorkel spots on the island (like Hanauma Bay and Laniakea (or turtle) Beach below) we were also able to just pull off the side of the road if we saw an empty beach, throw on our gear and snorkel with the fishes wherever we pleased. It was the best snorkeling I've ever done in my life.
I remember being so excited when we got to Laniakea after I spotted the turtles lounging on the beach that Josh was literally holding me back trying to put sunscreen on me like my mother as I tried to wriggle away so I could go swim. You just can't believe these huge, wild animals are just hanging out right there, doing their thing, unsupervised. Hawaii, man. I'm telling you what.
The photo below is probably my favorite from the whole trip. I love how Josh and the sea turtle are both popping their heads out of the water at the same time to look at each other! Swimming with these guys was an absolute peak life experience.
We basically snorkeled somewhere new every single day we were there, but Shark's Cove (below) was so beautiful we made it back to this spot twice. The second day the water was a lot choppier and we both came away with some good gashes from the coral, so beware this spot in touchy weather.
Doesn't it look like the little fishy below is looking up at the camera and waving to me? That's pretty much Hawaii in a nutshell.
We also booked a snorkeling excursion on the last day we were there so we could take a boat out and do some deep sea snorkeling. We saw schools of dolphin, (terribly captured in the photo below) seals and tons more fish and turtles out there in the ocean.
It was an absolute dream vacation and Josh and I talk about going back all the time. We're considering going again for our ten year wedding anniversary but that first trip was so perfect we're afraid we just won't be able to recreate the magic, you know. Maybe we'll try another island next time we venture west. Have you guys ever been? I'd love to hear all about it!