This was single handedly the best trip that Craig and I have ever taken together. And almost everything went wrong. I can’t exactly work out how it managed to be so monumentally perfect while going completely awry but it did! And now I will tell you all about it.
No, seriously, ALL about it. This is long. But i don’t want to forget a thing.
We arrived at about 8pm local time feeling the kind of exhausted and disgusting that only long flights can make you. But we’d made it in one piece. Sort of. Craig and I were there and whole but only my bag had decided to accompany us. Craig’s was who-knows-where. Thankful that we had taken out full travel insurance we filled out an Air New Zealand ‘Property Irregularity Report’ and took mental note of the important stuff in the missing bag – besides Craig’s clothes and shoes it was only toothbrushes and power adaptors.
With all the mayhem that would colour our trip the shuttle bus to our hotel managed to take three times as long as it was supposed to and we didn’t arrive until close to 11pm. Exhausted but thankful for Hawaii’s crazy opening hours. We went to an ABC store to buy something to eat (twinkles and ding dongs as it turned out) and toothbrushes before collapsing in our hotel.
We woke to find that Craig’s bag had stayed in Auckland and was in the process of being re-routed to Hawaii via Los Angeles and that it would be there at 7 that night. But Craig was still wearing clothes from an entire day and a plane ride ago and Air New Zealand offers $100 for essentials in the case of a “Property Irregularity” so shopping was on the agenda first thing. Well, second thing. First thing we had breakfast.
We spent that afternoon at the beach, wary of the weather reports for rain for the rest of our week in Hawaii, and a little worried that Craig’s bag would decide to stay in LA like it had decided to stay in Auckland.
The day ended up being lovely. In the face of impending doom Craig and I just held hands and wandered around, swam in the sea, visited the iPads in the Apple store, and ate ice-cream.
For our first night in Hawaii we ate at Cheeseburger in Paradise. An amazingly cheesy restaurant we’d enjoyed in 2008. The kind of place where the burgers are amazing but the waitresses wear grass mini-skirts and you get a free glass if you order a 20oz draught beer. Craig ordered one. I had the regular 16oz.
We tried to not think about the possibility that Craig’s bag wouldn’t make it to Hawaii. But it did. Thankfully. It arrived at our room sometime after 11pm. Only a little late, better than not arriving at all. Craig had only bought one extra tee shirt that day.
It rained! We had a 5:30am pick up time for our day trip to the island of Hawaii (aka The Big Island) which was painful enough but to wake to torrential rain? Was most decidedly not cool.
We caught a Hawaiian Airlines flight to The Big Island – about an hour long and as bumpy as any flight in to Wellington. Thankfully it was grey but not actually raining when we got there.
The whole trip felt a bit like a scam. Yes we walked on the lava floes and saw the black sand beach. Yes we went to the Caldera and saw the smoking crater and yes we walked through an impressive Lava Tube. But that ultimately took less than half the time we had on The Big Island. The rest of the time was filled with visits to Big Island Candies, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm, and an Akatsuka Orchid Garden. All of which were little more than gift shops with factory viewing areas.
I guess the flights are only ever at the beginning and end of the day and they felt they had to entertain us somehow.
Despite the bad feeling parts of the day left in my mouth, I thought it was worth the money – I loved seeing the crater, walking through the lava tube and on the lava floes, and the somewhat kitschy café we stopped at for lunch.
And most everyone else on the tour bought up large. So I guess they enjoyed the gift stores.
it was late and we were exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel. We didn’t notice just how much it had been raining so we decamped to the bar on level 2 and tried to not fall asleep in our beer. We had a 7am collection the next day to go diving. I was half excited and half terrified.
I needn’t have worried so damn much. We were downstairs in the lobby at 7am with grim faces. Partly because of the hour but partly because the local news had been full of tales of destruction from the storm we missed the previous day.
But our driver showed up. With a party bus. Seriously, it looked normal from the outside but inside it was all limo style seating with multi coloured lights, a DVD screen, and a perspex cocktail bar (empty because scuba and alcohol do not mix). Craig and I felt a little out of place in a sober party bus at 7:30am.
The bus picked up 5 other hopeful divers and we set off for a harbor on the leeward side of the island. Instead? We ended up being driven around for an hour, watching an Under-The-Sea documentary narrated by Jim Carrey, while our intrepid and distracted driver received contradictory information about the quality and safety of the water.
A sewerage pipe had burst during the previous day’s storm and it was ultimately deemed that the brown water was the icing on the brackish water cake that was the dive sites on the leeward side of the island.
We turned around and headed back to the hotels. I breathed half a sigh of relief. But still we rebooked for Saturday.
Attempting to regroup after a nap (6am feels so much earlier on vacation) we headed out under blue ish skies. Which soon turned to rain. Again.
We took shelter at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf where I bought Craig a Red Velvet Hot Chocolate because it’s pink and he’s too much of a little girl to drink coffee like a grown up but mainly because it looked delicious. It was.
It soon seemed that that the rain was not going to stop for any length of time so a trip to the Ala Moana Shopping Center was quickly cobbled together.
I think by the end of it we had spent four hours shopping. Craig was a saint throughout. He is frightfully useful at reading maps and all I had to do in return was go with him to the Lego Store and Fossil and Abercrombie & Fitch (which terrified us both).
I was very pleased with my shopping. I had wanted to not just shop for shopping’s sake but to not restrict myself either. Both Craig and I tend to suffer from whatever is the opposite of Buyer’s Remorse. Which is a lot harder to rectify from New Zealand.
I came away with M.A.C. Makeup, benefit from Sephora, a pair of Lucky Brand Jeans, a skirt, a dress, and a top from Forever 21, and most importantly an iPad.
Again I say, Craig is a saint.
That night I put on my pretty new lavender dress and we went to one of the Oahu restaurants recommended by Jeni. Duke’s was packed. We were given a wait time of an hour and a half but since we’d walked all that way and it was already pretty late, we decided to suck it up, buy a couple of drinks, and hurry up and wait.
Two daiquiris for me and a beer for Craig later we got called to our table. Thankfully the food was well worth it. Nothing super fancy, I mean, they had a salad bar and roving ukelele playing ladies. But both of our steaks were amazing. Mine came with crispy coconut shrimp which were delicious. But it also, like Jeni said, came with mash and an unexpected flower. I didn’t try it to see if it was edible.
Duke’s is right on the waterfront and despite the marginal weather all day they were still open to the night air. Which made the whole dining experience somewhat breezy! But I found that delightful.
It was sunny! And it was our wedding anniversary! I was so excited. We were booked to go snorkeling with the same company (Outrigger) we went with in 2008. And! It wasn’t until 10am so we had something of a sleep in.
But of course, nothing ran smoothly this trip so what happened when we got there? The dude tuning the place was all “I have good news and bad news. Good news is, it’s sunny. Bad news is, the wind’s coming off the ocean which means there’s no good snorkeling today”. I just laughed. And rebooked for Sunday.
We walked back along the shoreline and, with the rain of the previous day and the sun of the current in mind, decided to spend the rest of Thursday at the beach.
So we did. From 10am to 4pm we alternated between swimming and lying in the sun, between reading and sleeping. It was unplanned but so much fun. Apart from Craig’s sunburn – of which, more later.
It has been quite some time since we’ve spent extended periods of time just by ourselves. We get busy with work and tv and life and we fell apart ever so slightly. This trip reminded us why we’ve made it together for a decade. Playing together in the sea? Reminded me how much I adore the man I get to call my husband*.
We were going to go to another** Jeni recommended place for dinner (it’s also Barack Obama approved apparently – Rainbow’s Drive-In) but when we got there it wasn’t what Craig felt like so, giving him free reign, we ended up at Chili’s. They offer Fried Cheese as an entrée*** and their “healthy choice” options had a caloric limit of 750! So it wasn’t health food. But it was tasty. I was especially a fan of their bottomless sodas. Strawberry lemonade. So good.
Another day, another 7am pick up. This trip did NOT want us to sleep in. We sat down in the lobby until Captain Bruce’s Party Bus showed up to take us diving. Again I was torn. It has been 6 years since I’ve been diving and while I’m sure all I need is someone (i.e. Craig) to stick close by me but the fear is still there. But I thought there was a chance that we wouldn’t even make it to the harbour because, on the local morning news, I’d seen that the beaches on the leeward side were closed because medical waste was washing up on shore****. But no, we got to the harbour without any troubles, got on to the boat, into our wetsuits, and out on the water. That’s when my fear began to manifest itself as tears. Fun.
We sailed on and on and on. Craig mentioned my nerves to the dive guide and he was very sweet, ran over the basics with me (which Craig had done as well) and I was feeling much more calm when the captain called us all around and told us that there was poor visibility still due to the storm and that there was reports of brown water from the sewerage spill. The only option we had, besides heading in to shore, was to go out and dive in blue. We’d still be going 100 feet down but we’d be holding on to guide ropes and in SIX HUNDRED FEET of water. We probably wouldn’t see anything but we’d “feel” like we’d been diving. The idea of hanging there in so much water? Did not appeal . We decided to head back in to shore instead. They tried to rebook us but I wasn’t going to swap something I was sure to enjoy with something i was finding somewhat terrifying. And that’s how another trip passed without any diving.
On the Party Bus back to our hotels? The driver stopped suddenly at a red light and I slid right off the stupid sideways seats with their stupid lack of seat belts. It was one of those ‘damn-it-all’ slow motion moments too. I hate them – they’re such a cliché. Thankfully my head hit the corner of the pleather padding. I managed a bruise on my arm and my ego, and the world’s smallest bump on my head.
Back at the hotel Craig was exhausted and sunburnt. I wanted to get out of the hotel room but he just wanted to sleep. Poor boy.
So I headed out on my own, called by the siren song of Marc by Marc Jacobs.
I ended up buying an iPad case, a fuchsia watch, and a lavender dress. Unconsciously mimicing my outfit – fuchsia for my tattoo, lavender for my dress, and my bag has the same base material as the case. I guess I know what I like. I like frozen yoghurt too. So on the way back to the hotel I stopped off at Yogurtland for a red velvet cake batter frozen yogurt with cookie dough bites, marshmallows, and strawberry mochi. It was SO good.
When I got there my darling was still asleep so I crept about, grabbed a book and hid out on the balcony. The sunset was amazing.
That night Craig and I hunted out a Mexican restaurant we’d spotted. It turned out to be a riot of colours called La Cucuracha. My Michelada (Corona with lemon and lime juice in a large glass with ice – without the optional Tabasco) was as large as my head. And Craig’s burrito was as big as his. Oh and Jalapeño Poppers? So good. So bad for you.
Thankfully, when we finally made it back to the hotel, Craig checked our voucher for snorkelling and realised that instead of leaving at 10am like on Friday? It left at 8am. There fell another sleep in.
Yet again we managed to get out of the room at 7am – breakfast at Starbucks as it’s open from 4:30am (to 11pm!) – and off with bated breath for snorkelling. The sun was out but I couldn’t tell which direction the wind was coming from.
But, that day snorkelling went completely to plan. We headed out on the catamaran, which has the amusing soundtrack of cheesy 80s music’ and stopped at Turtle Canyon. The water was warm (ish) and the turtles? Ey were just hanging out.
I stayed in the water until I was exhausted. Then we sat in the sun and dried off before taking the long way back to shore. It was lovely. Sun and sea and a light breeze.
After lunch – Craig wanted to have Hawaiian Pizza in Hawaii (tick) – we headed back to the beach. Craig didn’t last terribly long. His sunburn really threw him, he’s so unused to it. He headed back to the carom and I stayed on the beach until the sun cooled.
Our final dinner in Hawaii was at the same place as the first. We drank beer and at cheeseburgers then had frozen yogurt on the shore, watching the white break of waves. Until, of all things, chill drove us back to the room.
Our final day in Hawaii. The trouble with an evening flight is that check out? Usually not in the evening.
It was Martin Luther King Jr day in the US. A parade started while Craig and I were eating breakfast and kept going for more than half an hour. Impressive. There were Frat brothers and Masons and the Hare Krishna.
We checked out at midday but thankfully the hotel stored our bags for us so we didn’t have to spend six hours hanging around the Lobby. Instead we headed out to the Oakley store as Craig wanted to get replacement lenses for his sunglasses.
Except, of course, he was taken with the customisation that the store offers so he ended up leaving with an entire new pair.
We headed to a park near by – the Fort DeRussy Armed Forces Recreational Park. We lay on the weird weird grass in the shade, had a drink, and watched the birds.
We headed out to the Army Museum but it was closed. Craig inspected the tanks they had parked outside and then we headed back down the main drag, stopping to make the most of air-conditioning and seats at the Coffee Shop by the Ala Moana Surfrider. It’s a beautiful hotel. We talked about the house we want to build for our retirement.
But we couldn’t stay there forever. We headed back to the hotel and, for the first time in BOTH our stays at the Park Shore, we excited the hotel and turned left into the Park. We found a Unity Rally and amazing views of Diamondhead.
It was really really warm out. And I just wanted to go for a swim – but our swimsuits and towels were packed away. So we retired to our hotel, took the lift to the third floor and hung out by the pool with our feet in the water.
The last thing we did before heading to the airport was another visit to Coldstone Creamery. We started the trip with it, and we ended with it too.
A crowded shuttle ride and three hours to kill at the airport. I hadn’t planned on setting my iPad up before leaving Hawaii but I’m so so glad that I did. I wrote most of this on Vlad (the iPad) during those three hours. Lifesaver.
Craig’s bag made it all the way to Wellington. Mine decided either to stay in Auckland or take a trip to Dunedin. Why don’t I know? Because the service we received from Air New Zealand at Wellington Airport was execrable.
They acted like it was my fault and sent me home with the instruction that they would be in touch. They were not. I didn’t hear from them AT ALL. It was only because the courier driver called to confirm my address that I knew my bag had been found. I didn’t receive anything along the lines of an apology.
But it arrived. And in one piece.
So that’s that. Another trip to Hawaii done. It was perfect despite the flaws, or perhaps because of them. I can’t tell. Either way it is possibly my favourite of all the trips Craig and I have taken together. Unless you count London. London trumps them all. But Hawaii 2011 comes pretty damn close.
If you want to see the full set of photos? click here.
* I’m so very very lucky.
** my iPad autocorrects snother to snot her but anither to another. Which was what I was trying to type in the first place. Silly little iPad.
*** it took C & I awhile to decipher but they use the word entrée for main and instead call entrées starters or appetizers. But I can’t get on board with that. So I’m not using it that way, just FYI.
**** not because there is regularly medical waste off the coast of Hawaii, but because there had been a flash flood near a landfill during the storm and this was just the flow on effects of that. Fun.