I was told we’d see a rainbow every day while in Hawaii. But since I wasn’t greeted on the tarmac by a hula dancer with a fresh lei, I figured that daily rainbows were a romantic exaggeration of fabled Hawaii. But the skies did not disappoint.
While I tend to think that life is too short and the world too vast for vacations that call for relaxation over exploration, Hawaii allows both at once. The rich Polynesian culture and the exotic flora and fauna can be enjoyed while half-dozing on a beach.
A few things you must do in Oahu:
Travel to the North Shore, where the waves, especially in winter, are the towering kind seen in surf videos. You won’t believe your eyes.
While in the North Shore, you’re bound to see bumper stickers and tee shirts urging Hawaii to secede from the United States. Far from downtown Honolulu and crowded Waikiki Beach, the remote North Shore is home to proud Hawaiians that would love to return to their Polynesian roots. While in the area, stop by a local food truck that nourishes surfers with poke – a delectable raw tuna dish.
Though the rough currents can push you against razor-sharp coral, a little blood is worth the snorkeling experience in Haunama Bay. The range of sea life below the surface is nearly psychedelic. Newbies to snorkeling should start out at Shark’s Cove, where rocks create a cozy inlet free of sea turbulence.
I’m not above a classic tourist trap, so get thee to a good old-fashioned luau with hula dancers, fire spinners and a roast pig. Save plenty of room for the best item on the menu: kalua pork.
Take in some history at Pearl Harbor, where you can see the sunken USS Arizona just below the surface. It’s still a watery grave for the trapped military service members inside, and the sunken vessel still dribbles oil from its tanks to the surface.
Hike Diamond Head, a dormant volcano. It has sweeping views of the sea, as well as the crater hole. You can reward yourself with a cup of shave ice at the end of your descent.
Asian culture is rife in Hawaii. Korean BBQ and outstanding Thai places fill the landscape. While there, take in quality Asian cuisine. Or the classic Hawaiian dish that meshes East and West? Spam Musubi – my Kryptonite.
Hawaii was a little bit relaxation, a little exploration. Perfect for an overtaxed Type A like me. Aloha.