O’ahu, Hawaii

Hawaiian Islands

Hey look, it’s a new blog post! It’s taken a while, I know. But I was really busy having cool new experiences, driving around, recovering from illnesses, visiting folks, trying to figure out where to sleep at night, reading, etc, etc. Being voluntary homeless, unemployed and living out of your car (or a suitcase) is time consuming. 🙂

I traveled to Hawaii on May 2nd and visited O’hau, Hawaii (the Big Island), and Kauai before flying back to San Diego on May 30th. This post is about my time on O’hau.
Wanna see the photos before you read all the words? Click the image below.

I arrived in Honolulu on the island of O’ahu around 5pm local time. I picked up my rental car and was immediately stuck in rush hour traffic. WHAAAAA………. Yes, turns out that Honolulu has bad traffic a lot of the time and especially during rush hour. (Later in the week I totally got stuck in traffic on the Westside too.) I left the city as soon as traffic would allow and headed toward the North Shore. I had plans, Oh did I have plans!, for camping my way around Hawaii just like I had across the US. Alas, this was not to be the case due to a few things. The first is that you have to reserve your campsite in advance online and print (digital not acceptable) a pass for your car. This means I wasn’t able to check out the sites first to see if the campground was in a good location, in good condition or if it was sketchy. I was told by several locals that the place I’d planned to camp on the Westside of O’ahu was not a good place to be after dark. Yikes! Also I could’t just sleep in the rental car like I can the Prius. I know because I slept in the Toyota Corolla rental the first night, and it was not comfy. That was the same night (as in dark in the middle of nowhere) I locked myself out of the car and had to use a stick like a coat hanger to pop the lock through the window which luckily I’d left down a tiny bit. Good Times!

The stick that unlocked my car door.

SO, I ended up using a combination of hostels, airbnb and a few hotels. Not as cheap as camping but made more sense.

During my 7 days on O’ahu (plus 3 more at the end of my trip) I managed to drive on every major road, some more than once. I saw all the typical things you think of when Hawaii is mentioned – pristine beaches, palm trees, clear blue ocean, surfers, tropical landscape and tourists – lots and lots of tourists (except on the North Shore). I took a movie tour at Kualoa Ranch where many, many movies and TV shows have been filmed. It was interesting, fun and beautiful.

North Shore: I stayed at a place across from V-Land Beach which is a popular surf spot for locals. I spent many hours there watching the surfers. One afternoon I counted 25 of them out there waiting for the perfect wave. On a warm, misty, rainy day (of which there were several) I went to check out the Waimea Valley Arboretum and Botanical Garden. It was beautiful with flowering trees and plants, a reconstructed ancient Hawaiian village and a waterfall you could swim at though I did not. Later with a free ticket in hand I visited the hugely popular, highly advertised Polynesian Cultural Center. The concept is pretty cool – “Explore authentic villages from 6 Pacific cultures as they demonstrate their arts, music, history and games.” – from their website. It is located right next to Brigham Young University and most of the workers are students of the school. Turns out the place is a big money maker for the Mormon Church which has a long history in Hawaii. Read all about it here – http://gohawaii.about.com/od/history/a/pcc_history.htm

Waikiki Beach: I did spend some time in Waikiki both at the start and end of my trip. It’s a great place for people watching, eating and more people watching. Think tropical Old Orchard Beach in Maine or Myrtle Beach in NC. I did take up the challenge of using public transportation at the end of my trip. I took the bus from Waikiki to the Bishop Museum. En route I got to see Chinatown and the capital. The museum was really interesting – I learned a ton about Hawaii, really enjoyed the candy exhibit and had a delicious lunch. Time very well spent. One day I ambled west along the beach until I came to a huge marina. From there I followed the sound of an announcer until I ended up in a beachside park where there was a surfing competition going on. Watching that was several hours of entertainment.
Fun Facts:

  • Hawaii (some islands more than others) is awash in wild chickens, feral cats, and mongoose, yet I saw no seagulls. Despite the nuisance and roadkill factor, I did enjoy seeing the wild chickens everywhere. Why mongoose were brought to Hawaii is an interesting and ultimately unfortunate story you can read about here: https://www.hawaii-aloha.com/blog/2012/05/11/mongoose-on-the-loose-a-tale-of-bad-planning/
  • You may have heard that things are expensive in Hawaii, it’s true. Although gas for some reason was not one of those things which was really nice for me as I drove a lot – yes even on the small islands. It’s a gift.

    I drove the blue highlighted roads.
    I dove all the blue highlighted roads.
  • For your visit to Hawaii here are some tips I got from locals/repeat visitors: Buy gifts at wal-mart. They have all the stuff you want and it’s much cheaper than the tourist shops. Mail items back via flat rate priority mail – this was a great idea that really came in handy.
  • Waikiki Beach/Honolulu is chock full of Asian (mainly Japanese) tourists. Many of the signs are also in Japanese characters which is pretty cool. Considering how close Japan is to Hawaii this makes perfect sense, it just hadn’t occurred to me.
  • Hawaii pubic libraries (on all islands) do not allow you to use their computers or wifi without a library card. No card? You can buy a guest card good for 3 months for $10. None of the Librarians I spoke with could tell me the reason for the policy, but none seemed happy with it. As a librarian and non-cardholder, I know I wasn’t. On principle I did not buy a guest card.
  • Here is a brief history of Hawaii. It is, perhaps, a bit more tumultuous than you realize. All the aspects of Europeans/Americans decimating a native people and their culture combined with an overthrow of a sovereign nation essentially by business men who wanted the region’s resources. https://www.hawaii.com/discover/a-brief-overview-of-hawaiis-history/

Stay tuned for my posts on the Big Island and Kauai in the near future!