David greeted us at the airport and we were delighted to get to see him, hug him and hear him talk about his island living and the places and things he wanted to show us while we were here.
He took us to Hale Koa Hotel our home away from home this week, "nestled on the finest stretch of beach in Waikiki " After exploring the resort we wanted to see the beach...okay, gotta explain what we just didn't know before... the sand was soft, not as soft as what we are used to, a little grit-ier and a caramel brown color (?) but ... interestingly, it had a sidewalk up close to the resort-side of the beach and extended to cover several hotels and resorts on either side of where we were located. Then beyond the sidewalk was the sand, then the ocean... and due to the reefs... the waves break quite a long distance away from the shore which is not like what we are used to seeing and therefore didn't hear the crashing waves against the beach. Different, not better or worse, just different. People passing by on the sidewalk were always walking, jogging, passing back and forth with their stuff, including surf boards and more. It was a place we enjoyed people watching when we wanted to relax and sit awhile - anytime of the day. And, oh, the palm trees are sprinkled all over the beach -- that was very pretty to see!!
We walked (about 2 miles) from where we were staying in Honolulu to a restaurant in another hotel...Duke's . A surfer legend who built a nice place with a view of ocean and Diamondhead Mountain and that we really enjoyed.
The following morning David brought us some amazing treats: freshly made Cocoa Puffs from Liliha Bakery - YUMMY! And for breakfast we traveled (in his fun Jeep!) to Kailua and enjoyed a delicious Cinnamon Roll with Macadamia Nuts at Cinnamon's (a local favorite). This restaurant (Cinnamon's) was located in a building that honestly, we would have never seen or noticed. This became a habit that we would eat where it had to have been word-of-mouth to find out its existence and location. After breakfast, we walked upstairs for a quick Chocolate history and tasting samples at Manoa Chocolate - oh my my - Yippee! http://manoachocolate.com/pages/stores. He did everything he could to spoil us.
We learned that food trucks are a very big deal throughout the island! Then, to top it off, we went to another local favorite. David introduced us to the "best shaved ice" on the island~ Matsumoto Shaved Ice - in historic Hale'iwa, North Shore, Oahu. Okay, so it's ice cream, covered with shaved ice and your choice of flavor, then if you really want to go the extra mile, you get the condensed milk drizzled on top. YES WOW!
David took us see the Naval base so we could get a look around where he goes to work each day. He described as much about the base as he could and we asked a million questions at least. He was gracious to take us to the NEX store so we could both get a new ball cap (of course!) and I needed a replacement sticker for our golf cart - important little details ;o)
Beware the traffic here is an ever-changing constant challenge of paying attention. They changed the lanes multiple times in a day for one or two lanes to be used by the oncoming traffic... simply by placing orange cones... and hopefully placing well enough to not be run over by the big buses that were everywhere! City buses, tour buses, unbelievable how long it took to get anywhere in Honolulu.
The Pearl Harbor memorials are must see. We toured the USS Bowfin, a WWII Submarine - very successful and helped to make famous the term "Silent Service". The audio presentation that you use along the way was really insightful.
We went next to the USS Arizona Memorial, watched a very detailed movie of what happened that day and events leading up to it, then we were taken by ferry boat over to the site. It was a very sacred hallowed site. I did not realize that the survivors who later in life passed away were also included in memory. And, it was much unexpected to see the droplets of oil that continue to surface from the ship. Very important to remember these men.
We then went together to see the USS Missouri battleship - "Mighty Mo" - wow it was huge (way bigger than the USS Alabama in Mobile). But the BIG DEAL here: This was the site where they signed the document for the end of WWII. "Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed!"- General MacArthur, September 2, 1945, aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay................ With those words, World War II was finally over. What a day of much reflection, remembrance, sadness and history...
The following morning was a beautiful cool sunny day and we would go to hike up Diamond Head State Monument . That's a hike! But the views are worth every step! What I didn't know was to my great relief; there were guard rails - yea! And, that it was hiking, not climbing, whew! And, honestly, I was dealing with the whole height thing... but WOW what an incredibly beautiful view and worth the trip up!!! Now coming down is not to be careless, David explained you call it "controlled falling".
We headed to our next adventure. To my delight, David took us to the Dole Plantation!! Then, we were energized to take on the World's Largest Maze... yep in the shape of a pineapple, of course ;o) David was very fast to look at the miniature map (we didn't have reading glasses with us and it was SMALL!) and could quickly determine the best path to get to each checkpoint. Oh, he reminded us, he constantly looks at and studies schematics (like in an electrical circuit)... then the game became fun and funny as Ronnie looked for ways to beat him. I love my guys so much! They make me smile, they make me laugh... and David is incredibly calm all the time!
We headed back to the Hale Koa Hotel to rest and get ready for the Luau. When David returned at 5 p.m. we went to the location - on the resort - for what we had other guests tell us was the best Luau they had been to on the island...how nice and convenient for us!
Now, here again, never been to a Luau and didn't fully know what to expect. These folks delivered a wonderful evening!! 3 hours went by very fast!
Friday seemed to be so appropriate to not to leave the resort and stay local and walk wherever the day led us. We walked to eat lunch at Yard House to enjoy a delicious burger... We did a lot of hanging out and relaxing together outside - so many places to walk to, look at, enjoy great views... mountains in one direction, ocean in the other direction. Ronnie and I walked over next door to the Hilton's "Hawaiian Village" to eat dinner.
Before you know it, it was time to leave. We felt like we just arrived and we have so many things to do and talk about together, it just cannot be time to go yet. David arrived early and we just hung out. He told me lots of details about his prior night's dive and other adventures. He's enjoying so much of the island life.
We made our way to the airport, we said "Mahalo" to say thank you David for being such a loving son and spending so much time with us and sharing what he has committed to calling home for a few years. We hugged and teared up and said we will come again. We've been blessed beyond measure.
P.S. Here are few places to also visit while you’re here for adventures and memories. "Sandy's Beach". Halona Blowhole. KoKo Head Crater - a way bigger mountain than Diamond Head and be prepared for a much more challenging hike.