I cannot believe it has already been three months since Cj and I boarded a flight and began our journey to spend the next five months of our lives in Australia. So far the trip has been nothing short of amazing.
Along the way, we decided to stop in Honolulu for a week-long layover. Being somewhat of a penny-pincher, I would never have dreamed we would have had the opportunity to spend a week in Hawaii, especially since we were about to move to one of the most expensive places to live (Seriously prices in Sydney are no joke.) However, we actually saved $300 each by buying a one way ticket to Honolulu and then a one way from Honolulu to Sydney, versus just buying a one way from Seattle to Sydney! So it only seemed reasonable to take advantage of the money we saved and make a vacation out of it. And thanks to Cj's lovely Grandma, she helped us find an affordable hotel right on Waikiki Beach. It was also a great way to break up the otherwise 21 hour flight.
This was my first time on any of the Hawaiian Islands. I usually don't associate super touristy places as "paradise" but I completely fell in love with the island life even while being in one of the most touristy cities. I think a lot of it had to do with being with Cj. He's great at finding the most beautiful places and making anywhere a romantic adventure.
We arrived in Honolulu around 4:30pm, where Cj surprised me with a hawaiian lei and an already booked shuttle to our hotel. After checking in, we grabbed some burgers and drinks and then walked the beach. Our shuttle driver mentioned the famous Leonard's Bakery for some of Hawaii's best Malasadas. Being the foodies we are, we had to start the trip off right so we spent the rest the evening walking to the bakery where we devoured an entire box on the side of the road.
Cj and I have this thing with huge surprises and going all out on each others birthdays. It just so happen that we would be in Hawaii for his birthday this year so I knew I had the chance to do something awesome. I found Kualoa Ranch a few weeks before our trip and guys...this place is amazing!! If you're ever in Oahu YOU HAVE TO GO! They have so many fun activities to do and the staff is some of the nicest people I've met. Not knowing much about it, I booked Cj and I for a Zip lining tour and Catamaran ride off the coast of their secret island.
The scenery around this place is unlike anything I've ever seen. And I guess it's what they're known for since it's a huge location for movie sets including Jurassic Park, Lost, and 50 First Dates. I had no idea, so it was a surprise for both of us when our ride up to the zip lines led us through the valley where the sets were.
Zip lining was SO much fun and our guides made the whole experience so enjoyable. I'm a bit of an adrenaline junky so this was right up my ally. At first it was a little wet and rainy which I thought would put a damper on the day but everything ended up being perfect.
After, we grabbed lunch at their restaurant (which was excellent. They use grass fed cattle straight from their ranch) we then headed to our next destination. I kept everything a surprise to Cj throughout the day so it was great to see his reaction as we went. We took a small boat ride across a river onto their secret island. Here, I took Cj on a Catamaran ride into the ocean where we saw sea turtles and the most amazing blue colored water.
We woke up early (which is rare for the two of us) and hiked Diamond Head. This is probably one of the easier hikes we've done, however the heat made it twice as difficult! The view from the top is amazing of the city and the colors of the ocean are unreal.
After our hike, we refueled with shaved ice and grabbed a bus back to our hotel. Later in the day we ventured through the city and got dinner at a place our shuttle driver recommended.
Being our second to last day in Hawaii, we packed as much as we could into the day. We woke up and started the day out right: breakfast burritos on the beach. We then decided to rent bikes to a more secluded beach north east of Waikiki. This has to be one of the best ideas we had the whole trip. The bike ride along the coast of the island was magical! (granted it was a million degrees out and I fell and scrapped my hands and knees up).
We followed Kahala Ave up to Waialae Country Club where we found Kahala Beach. It was a perfect spot to layout and relax in the sun without a mass of people and the water was a lot calmer than at Waikiki Beach, which made it a great spot to swim.
We heard there was a hotel close by which had a pool with dolphins in it so of course we had to check it out. It saddened me to see the dolphins contained in a pool for people's amusement, however it was the closest I'd ever been to a dolphin before so it was incredible to see one in real life. The walk from the beach to the hotel had the coolest palm trees and even more great spots to layout.
By the time we got home we were completely exhausted! Cj had a great idea to sneak into the Waikiki Sheraton Hotel infinity pool (which is a lot easier than we thought. It's on ground floor and you can just walk in). We had originally wanted to stay in a place with this kind of pool but when the money's tight, improvise. The pool was so dreamy and we got there right in time to enjoy the sunset, which was absolutely beautiful!
Cj's feelin 22! Being in Hawaii and getting to do all that we did was incredible, and getting to spend Cj's birthday while we were there made it even more memorable. Cj has a favorite breakfast spot in Honolulu, called Lulu's, which he found the last time he was on the island with his grandma a few years back. We enjoyed eggs benedict from a balcony table over looking the beach. Afterwards, Cj rented a surf board and spent an hour in the ocean trying to catch some waves, while I laid out. After a while he traded in his surf board and we both got boogie boards. I don't know how people use those things. We probably spent hours trying to catch a wave into shore, and failed every time. But you know it's a good time when you're both crying from laughter.
We spent the rest of the evening getting ready for a luau for Cj's birthday dinner, because what's a trip to Hawaii without a luau! The entire experience was so much fun and the greatest thing that could have happened, happened: Cj got pulled up on stage by a hula girl to hula dance in front of everyone, and yes I have video footage!
We ended our night, and the trip, with one last visit to Leonard's. We took the fresh hot box of custard filled pastries back to the beach and enjoyed every sugary bite while listening to the waves crash in the dark. To say it was the perfect vacation is an understatement.