Friday, March 29, 2013

Buses, beaches and shave ice.

Alas, our second month comes to a close. It's almost time to leave this island!

We recently visited Lanikai beach on the Windward side, which struck us as an idyllic slice of Polynesia.

Yeah, it was worth the 1 1/2 hour bus journey there. Maybe even the 4 hours it took us to get back. Pelted by the rain and wind waiting for the bus in Waimanalo. After stopping for a fabled plate lunch truck that wasn't even there. Okay, maybe not quite worth that, but it was a fun journey.

Most epic of all was our local food romp last weekend. We stopped at House of Pure Aloha for some gourmet shave ice and some good conversation with the folks there. (You should put this on your itinerary if you're ever in Honolulu - they'll love to meet you. It's as much about community as it is about food, so plan a chunk of time to hang out there.) The next Saturday, we hatched a plan to try a bunch of sugary sweet places back-to-back. We took the bus towards Waikiki and walked among the following fine establishments:

1. Leonard's Bakery. Amazing malasadas. Stuffed with Dobash, Mango, Haupia... wow!

2. Waiola. Softest shave ice, like a light fluffy cloud. Its texture is barely perceptible before it melts.

3. Rainbow Drive-in. Good old plate lunch (okay) plus a "slush float", which is like putting ice cream in a cherry slurpee.

4. Snow Factory. It's like shaved ice cream, but it's not. Confused us. Mellow flavors, milky. Lady J loved the little flavor beads (look like caviar) that burst open when you chew on them.

5. Ailana. Nice people serving a rockin' pyramid of shave ice. We've had the tropical trio and chocolate brownie before, but this time was peanut butter and caramel.

We haven't had that much sugar in a long while. What a stomach ache of a mistake, the likes of which will not be repeated on our wanderings. But it was another fun journey.

To atone for our follies, we took our hiking up a notch, doing Koko Head trail so often that we worked up to twice in one workout session last week. I got it down to about 17 1/2 minutes, she did it in in 18:24. Just to think that on one of our first hikes up here, some guy was talking about his 16-something time and we thought, "we could never do that!"

I'll leave you one more picture, this one from the top of Koko Crater.

Do you think our next stop will be this beautiful? Well, I guess that depends on what you know about a place called...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sore legs and rewarding vistas in Hawai'i Kai (Month 2) beautiful O'ahu! They call it the "Gathering Place", and it shows. More crowds, more city, more concrete, more big-box and chain stores than our last spot. But we're digging a bit below the surface to find an island of contrasts, which has rewarded us with amazing scenery. (Actually, "above the surface" would be the right way to put it. Check out our hiking photos below.)

We shuttle-bussed it past the high-rises of Waikiki and settled in residential Hawai'i Kai. It's a respectable suburb, with houses and shops scattered across islets nestled among craggly cliffs on the south belly of the Windward Coast. "Wind" is the operative word. We work and sleep to the intermittent sounds of howling winds.

Nestled among craggly cliffs (and bounded on the east by old volcanic craters) equals PLENTY of hiking opportunities. So, in our off time (and our lunch breaks), we hike.

We hike Hanauma Bay (sometimes multiple times in one day). We might snorkel there with all the tourists next week, but this week is hiking season:

We hiked Koko Head, and we're about to do it again:


We hiked Mariner's Ridge:

Since we don't have a car, we have to hike to the hikes. That usually adds just a few miles each way.

But on our lazy Saturday we took the 2 hour bus ride to "hike" around the Dole Plantation (a total tourist trap) and gorged ourselves on Dole Whip floats!