hawaii, part two

Packing in all of the fun

Our time in Hawaii continued to deliver. We settled in to a relaxed routine, with me rising early (for 4 or 5 am calls!) and Phil sleeping in. While I worked at the desk in the living room, he painted at the dining table. I’ve been asked whether we tire of each other’s constant company, and I think the reasons we don’t are (a) we really love being together and (b) we are like toddlers in parallel play–we can be in the same room but engaged in completely separate activities. We often went for walks or drives after I finished work, to catch up on each other’s day and see the sights. Did I mention that Hawaii is beautiful?

These cattle egrets were ubiquitous–on beaches, in towns, and especially perched atop cattle!

Wild chickens abound in Hawaii. We almost stumbled over this mama and her chicks!

And no, we didn’t spend all of our time on Oahu! On consecutive weekends we visited the Big Island (Hawaii) and Kauai. We had to get negative COVID tests before entering Hawaii, and again before visiting each island. Fortunately, Walgreen’s had good availability, and we got our results on time. On the Big Island we used Marriott points to stay at a Courtyard, securing a lovely ocean-view suite via upgrade certificate. But before checking in we headed out for brunch at Island Lava Java Bistro, where our outdoor table afforded a splendid view of the ocean. 

Phil skipped the Java for the adult beverage!

We saw the Big Island the next day via a commercial tour. Along with two other parties (all of us masked, of course!), we boarded a van and proceeded on a Circle Island tour, with stops at a coffee farm, active volcano, waterfall, candy factory, parks, and much more.

A rainbow of flavors from a Big Island shaved ice shop

We were astonished at the microclimates–sunny and hot on the south shore, pouring rain on the north. It made for a long day, but when we boarded our flight that evening we felt we’d truly experienced the island.

The Roamers on the Big Island

We loved the Big Island trip, but our favorite place was Kauai, known as the Garden Island for a reason! Kauai is GORGEOUS! It has everything–mountains, ocean, gardens, beautiful resorts, hidden beaches, and great food. We landed, picked up our Turo rental (the ONLY vehicle available on the island, a Ford F1 pickup!), and after a quick breakfast headed out on our audio-guided tour. For a tiny fraction of what we paid for our Big Island tour, we got four GPS-enabled audio tours that included turn-by-turn directions. We could set our own pace, linger where we wanted to, and explore places a large van would never be able to access.

Beautiful Kauai

After a wonderful day touring the island, we checked in to the Kaloa Landing Resort. WOW! I had booked on points and used an upgrade certificate, but we were blown away by our two-bedroom villa overlooking the ocean. I’ve traveled for business for many years and have stayed in a lot of gorgeous properties, but this might be the best of them all! We enjoyed a lovely evening, slept like babies, and the next morning after a quick breakfast were out exploring. 

Welcome gifts at our villa!

We grabbed coffee at a local truck (stood in line for 30 minutes!), then headed to the beach. There we spied what appeared to be a dead seal–but then it started wiggling, rolling around in the sand. It completely ignored the few people gathered to watch, burying its head in the sand and going back to sleep.

Our new seal friend

With our audio guide in hand, we proceeded to explore Waimea Canyon, aka the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It was breathtaking, in more ways than one–I was terrified at the sharp drops just inches from our truck’s tires! We stopped halfway up at a lodge for a much-needed break (yes, there was a calming adult beverage for me).

The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

Just before heading to the airport we had the best meal of our entire Hawaii adventure. The Hukilau Lanai offers a 5pm Sunday tasting menu, including wine pairings, for $50, and I had made reservations weeks in advance. This made our top 20 list of the best meals of our lives! 

Corn risotto cake topped with a perfectly cooked Fresh Catch at Hukilau Lanai

The day after our return from Kauai, our dear friend Patricia arrived. Visiting Hawaii has been a dream of hers, and she would be spending a week there, split between her son and family, who were visiting Maui, and us. We had a glorious time enjoying adult beverages in beachside bars, sunning and beaching in Waikiki, and exploring the island together.

Patricia enjoying a local specialty, loco moco. And, yes, a mojito. For breakfast.

 We were on the fence about attending a luau, and Patricia decided to skip it. My FOMO eventually won out, and Phil and I thoroughly enjoyed the Paradise Cove Luau. We learned about the culture while enjoying dinner and entertainment in a gorgeous setting. 

Official Luau shot

By far the most astonishing thing we saw was the Banzai Pipeline. One of the most dangerous surfing spots on earth, the waves average 9 feet but can be as high as 20 feet! Standing at a safe distance on the beach, we were mesmerized by the force of these walls of water–and shocked that surfers can actually navigate them!

Patricia at the Banzai Pipeline

On Patricia’s last day we visited Pearl Harbor. I can’t find the words to describe the experience. I especially appreciated all the people who were there during the attack and its aftermath, sharing their memories via video.

Approaching the Arizona memorial, everyone on the boat was respectfully silent.

Our final week flew by. Patricia departed, and the next day was devoted to organizing and packing. We bid a fond farewell to our host Kai, who promised to visit us when we move to France, and boarded the flight to the mainland. We loved Hawaii and will never forget this time, but now we’re ready for our next adventure, in northern California’s Sonoma Valley!

Last glimpse of Oahu

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