On this particular morning we decided to sleep in and took a leisurely stroll to the Hula Grill at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel for breakfast. Going out to breakfast feels like the ultimate luxury when on vacation and something that we rarely have done. After eating we explored some of the hotels along Waikiki and came across a lei making class. Cameron was convinced it was only for hotel guests, but they were insistent that we participate too. Making my very own lei was probably one of my personal highlights of the trip. I love flowers and I love wearing jewelry, so leis are the melding of the two.
With a significant amount of beach time under our belts, we drove up the Windward side of Oahu to the Hawaii Temple, Visitors Center and Polynesian Cultural Center. When we arrived at the temple I was greeted with the most fragrant yellow and white plumeria. I promptly placed it on the wrong side because apparently married women must wear it on their left side, who knew?
The Polynesian Cultural Center was informative, interesting and entertaining all in one. It made me realize just how detached I am from my own heritage. Preserving ones heritage takes determination, interest and passion, so it was reassuring to see this kind of interest still exists in the homogenized, diluted world we live in.
The next day, we started the day off with a strenuous hike up Mt. Olomana. At the gate we were warned two things: one, there are wild pigs on the property and two, a woman fell off the trail yesterday because she was attacked by a swarm of bees. Oh great!
I am happy to report we avoided both incidents, but I think we both were secretly hoping we would come across a wild pig. The trail was varied in both terrain and surroundings, one minute you were in a lush section similar to the Costa Rican rainforest and then the next you were hiking up brilliant red dirt thinking you were in Utah. We had the trail to ourselves, but after the bee warning we decided to only go to the first peak. The view appeared to be identical at all peaks so why waste precious beach time and why press our luck.
As you can see the trail literally goes up the spine of the peak, in some places the trail was no more than three feet wide with sheer drop offs on both sides, it was both exhilarating and frightening at the same time.
Coming down Mt. Olomana proved to be equally challenging due to the steep incline and in several spots it was best to rely on the rope someone had installed to help navigate your way down. Exhausted and hungry we sought refuge at Buzz's Steakhouse, located directly across from Kailua Beach. We were able to dine there while catching a cool breeze. After feeling rejuvenated it was back to the beach.
I was equally impressed with the sand as I was the turquoise water. I do not believe I have ever seen water so beautiful. Kaulia is known for its windsurfing, which means there were breezes a plenty. The wind was so strong that whatever you set down would inevitably be covered in a blanket of sand just moments later. The turquoise water beckoned me in and I was able to shed the grime of the day for a layer of salt water. The water was warm, the crowds relatively small and it was the perfect afternoon for a dip in the ocean.
One of places recommended to us by our friend was Duke's, we thought we had better give it a try. Amidst burning tiki torches, waves lapping up on the shore and lei laiden women we dined on a delicious meal. We were able to see Diamond Head from our table and ate while the daylight slipped away. The service was superb and we were thoroughly impressed by the friendliness of the staff and everyone we have met thus far in our travels.