|A little bit of an ocean view from the condo in Waikiki|
|free tourist dancing show in one of the malls|
|Waikiki Beach at sunset|
We met up with family and did a lot together: shopping, eating, playing games, snorkeling, kayaking, hanging out at the beach. Pretty much just enjoying the time and planning as we went along, which isn't usually my style, but you can kind of get away with doing that there. The only thing we had to plan for was a Pearl Harbor visit, since tickets can sell out. I will say I was surprised at how non-eco-friendly Hawaii was. Restaurants gave out styrofoam containers, plastic water bottles were common, and recycling was hit and miss. I was also surprised at how cash-heavy it was. Where elsewhere in the world no one carries cash and cards or mobile phone swiping is ubiquitous, in Honolulu not only were there some places that only took cash, but you had to have exact fare (in cash) for the bus, and that meant getting a roll of quarters and putting bills and coins into an automatic counting machine after getting on the bus. It felt so antiquated, and was a real pain as a tourist having to carry around cash and coins and ensuring I had the right amount for how many trips I was going to take. It is quite behind other tourist destinations, and I suppose it's still there because there's enough demand regardless of the inconvenience.
|U.S.S. Arizona Memorial - closed for repairs but you could still take a ferry by it|
|Also went to the Army Museum|
|Too nice a shot to miss - at Hanauma Bay on the beach|
|Many steps to hike to the top of Diamond Head Mountain|
|Nice views at the top though|
We ate out a lot and tried a cool Japanese restaurant and got the full multi-course meal which was quite an experience. I didn't try the octopus on the meat platter, but I did try the fried ball with octopus inside which came later. The food was very flavorful and tasty, and we were glad we tried something new.
|first stop: Denny's and cinnamon pancakes|
|deconstructed burger with yummy gravy|
|shrimp and lobster pasta dish|
|the Japanese meat platter - great marinade|
|stop at IHOP for sprinkle pancakes|
|peanut butter fudge and Oreo cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory (so rich it hurts!)|
|malasadas (donuts) at famous Leonard's Bakery|
|Blue Hawaiian poolside|
|variation on a mai tai|
|good old frozen margarita (pineapple flavored) and chips and salsa|
|I miss Mexican food so much - this enchilada platter was exactly what I wanted|
|food court pretzel - delicious|
|finally found a shave ice place - this was so much sugar - banana flavor was yum|
|it's still surprising how we bleach our eggs - not necessary!|
|I stocked up (by eating) lots of berries, which are so expensive in NZ|
Kayaking in Kane'ohe Bay was fun. There is a sandbar out aways where you can get out of the kayak and walk around. The water was warm enough for me and it was a beautiful day for it. Elsewhere the reef was very close the bottom of the boat, so it made for a more interesting experience than usual.
We ended up buying too much stuff, as usual, for our luggage allowances, and for some reason on the way back, Air New Zealand actually checks your carry-on weight at the check-in desk. Fortunately, we encountered a sympathetic staff member who let us shift weight around to make our checked luggage overweight and have more than the peasly 15 pounds you're allowed for carry-ons.
I didn't buy these Junior Mints bubbles or the "cereal" (cough, dessert), but I took photos for this blog as an example of what I both like and dislike about the U.S. -- you can literally get anything there...but it's probably not good for you, not necessary, and harming the planet.
|Mint scented bubbles - really?|
|this is getting a bit ridiculous calling these cereal...|
|view from the conference at the university (Diamond Head on left)|
We checked out the zoo, which is very close to the main Waikiki area, and got to hear the elephants making a ruckus in response to some antelope-type animals making some calls. That was fun.
|alligator ready for a bite|
|other alligator being more stealthy|
|we all tried to feed them, but they weren't very interested|
|such cute foxes|
|these Green Wood Hoopoe (see below) sounded just like a kookaburra|
|wild dog, relative of hyena|
|don't think I've seen a peacock nest like this before - cute|
|the actual kookaburra was silent but had its mouth open|
|banyan trees - common around here|