Summer running plans after the Brooklyn Half that wasn’t…

Soooo remember the Brooklyn Half I was “training” for? Yea, that didn’t happen… and if you follow me on Instagram, you know why:

The week before the Brooklyn Half, Justin and I were set to run 10 miles. Because of Mother’s Day on Sunday and our plans for brunch, we knew Sunday was out. Saturday looked like it was going to be a crappy rainy day so we decided to get our 10-miler out of the way Friday night. We pre-ordered Carmine’s delivery for 8pm and set out right after work for an easy 10 miles in Central Park.

About 4 miles in, a young kid swerved out of the bike lane in front of Justin and directly into me, sending me flying forward onto the concrete.

The boy and his parents stopped but were tourists and spoke absolutely zero English. Once another couple came over (equipped with antibacterial wipes, gauze, and medical tape!), the tourists left. There was really nothing to do. I felt shaken up but I hadn’t hit my head or my back. My legs and right hand seemed to have gotten the worst of it and were peppered with cuts and lacerations but I otherwise felt okay.

We actually ended up completing the loop in Central Park (Justin got all, “well, no one can ever say you aren’t tough.”) and I truly had no intention of heading to an urgent care center until we were almost home and I really thought about the cuts on my hands. They were… bad. Like, really bad. The cuts on my legs would have been easy enough to clean and cover but my right hand? Yeaaa I didn’t think I was going to be able to handle that one. Before going home, we walked into a Northwell Urgent Care and I literally said, “I’m just here so someone can clean up this hand.” Turns out, that’s not how any of this works.

After a tetanus shot, an x-ray, quite a bit of skin removal on my fingers (ugh I’m sorry for that mental image), and lots of cleaning and bandaging, I walked out of there thankful we hadn’t just gone home. I ended up being on antibiotics, muscle relaxers, and pain killers for quite some time following the accident due to my multiple skin cuts/lacerations/road rash, broken finger, and overall impact of the fall on my body.

I knew running the BK Half was completely out of the question but I was definitely toying with walking it as Saturday approached. And ya know, if it had been a beautiful day out, we probably would have walked it. We’d have gone to Brooklyn and we would have taken our sweet time enjoying the course together. But mother nature was all, “Nah Ang, I’m gonna be cold, rainy, and windy for ya. Stay home, watch this royal wedding in your PJs and a ridiculous hat and a steaming cup of English Breakfast tea. Have at it, girl, you deserve this.” Thanks, mama nature.

Everything is healing well but I’m still working through some lingering issues on my right hand. I’ve got ligament damage and scar tissue that makes moving certain fingers in certain ways either impossible or extremely painful. I’m doing occupational therapy 1-2x a week and will probably continue doing so through the end of July. 

Sooo what’s the plan going forward? Well, the plan is that there is no plan. After last summer in which I simultaneously trained for a marathon and planned a wedding/got married/went on a honeymoon, I need a summer to just relax.

And by relax, I mean keep up with my regular active lifestyle but not necessarily have a goal in mind other than “stay sane.”

This means Mile High 5x a month, a Soulcycle class or two sprinkled in, some strength training and yoga, and of course, easy outdoor runs. I’m thinking I may have to bring back my all-time favorite summer run: the easy 60-minute Friday night run. THE. BEST. (If this sounds at all interesting to you, send me a message because I love company! I like to follow this run with pizza if that entices you a little bit more.)

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See ya after the 4th (follow my super long weekend/4th of July festivities here)!

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Our Honeymoon in Hawaii: 3rd Stop – Maui.

Next up on our Hawaiian honeymoon adventure was Maui!

If you’re just tuning in, previous honeymoon posts can be found here:

Leaving the Big Island was bittersweet for me – I was excited to explore a new island (and originally I was most excited for Maui) but it truly gutted me to leave the Big Island.

Island of Hawaii

I was not expecting to fall so hard and fast for the island… but I did… and leaving left a hole in my heart. Also, heading to our last island marked the end of our honeymoon even though we had a full week in Maui scheduled. #endlessvacationplease

Maui

Let me tell you, these interisland flights on Hawaiian are just wonderful. They should have a pass option for these flights for people who live on the islands. Maybe they do. All I know is that it is WAY easy to travel between the islands this way. #easypeasy

Anywho, Mindy arranged for us to pick up our car at the airport in Maui so once we were set with our car for the week, we got moving towards the Wailea Coast and the Fairmont Kea Lani.

Fairmont Kea Lani

I don’t know what rock I was living under prior to our honeymoon but I had never heard of Fairmont Hotels and here we were booking two Fairmont stays during our time in Hawaii. Just like the Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island, the Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui is something out of a dream.

After a nice lunch at one of their outdoor restaurants, we decided to take a short run along the water.  There is a great path along the water that makes it easy to access other hotels along the Wailea Coast. We did roughly 3 miles round trip, taking note of which hotels we wanted to eat at (Four Seasons) and even running into a wedding!

A small crowd had gathered and it was so beautiful to see absolute strangers come together to watch the happy event and cheer for the two grooms as they began their lives together as a married couple.

Lahaina and the Feast at Lele

Lahaina

After an easy first night of sipping cocktails in a lounge chair overlooking the water, Justin and I ventured out to the town of Lahaina for our second night on Maui.

We decided to uber out to Lahaina instead of driving ourselves since we planned to come back late and slightly buzzed drunk. Mindy had booked us a table at the Feast of Lele Luau and we both planned on letting loose and enjoying the night and lots of Hawaiian cocktails (these cocktails omggg).

We got to Lahaina a few hours early so that we could walk around, do some shopping, and explore a little. We ended up buying a few things for ourselves and Justin bought some souvenirs for his brother and cousin in the cute little shops that line the main street along the water.

Before heading into the luau, we stopped at Banyan Tree Park, which is home to the largest banyan tree in the United States. This tree is absolutely insane. It has a circumference of about one-quarter mile and about 1,000 people could all stand under it at once.

Standing under a banyan tree (yes, that is all one tree) is an experience in and of itself, especially later in the day when the tree is full of birds (the noise omg!).

Feast at Lele

We walked into the Feast at Lele and were immediately greeted with leis and cocktails (mango mojito for me and mai tai for Justin). Mindy hooked us up and everything was paid for in advance so we had nothing to think about except to enjoy ourselves the whole evening. We were brought to a table right in the center directly in front of the stage. Mindy FTW!

Once we got ourselves settled at our table, we decided to pop onto the beach for a bit while people were still walking in. The sun was setting and the sand was warm and it all felt very, well, Hawaiian.

Once everything got started, Justin and I were treated to a 5-course dinner with entertainment. The courses and dances highlight the Polynesian culture with food and dance from Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, and Samoa.

I’m a bit of a picky eater so I didn’t get to try everything but I did enjoy what I ate; although, to be honest, the mango mojitos were what really stole the show for me. We enjoyed the dancing very much, especially since one performer looked exactly like our favorite neighborhood pizza owner here in NYC and we couldn’t get enough of watching his doppelganger in action.

Molokini Snorkel Tour

I knew I wanted to do a snorkel excursion while we were in Hawaii but Justin was pretty hesitant as he, uhh, doesn’t know how to swim. Mindy assured us that people who aren’t strong swimmers go on these excursions all the time so Justin acquiesced… “for the sea turtles.” (I should also point out that Justin stated wanting to see the sea turtles as his reason for having lasik surgery last June)

So there we were one morning suuuuuuper early to meet up for our boating and snorkeling excursion. Justin was obviously antsy and I was annoyingly giddy as we met with the guys from Trilogy and got on board.

The excursion consists of two meals, drinks and cocktails, and two different snorkel locations, Molokini Crater (a partially submerged volcanic crater) and an area aptly referred to as “Turtle Town.” 

As we made our way to the Molokini Crater, we got the safety spiel and general snorkel lowdown from the guides and Justin visibly relaxed when he was told there were floating devices for people uncomfortable swimming in the ocean – crisis averted!

Once we jumped in at Molokini Crater, we were off exploring! Justin ended up having a great time and I kept laughing below my mask because I could literally hear him squealing underwater when he saw something cool. I actually think I ended up being more nervous than him during the excursion because I was so worried I was going to lose him out there (#oyvey).

After Molokini, we set off for an area near Makena (often referred to as “Turtle Town”), to try and spot some sea turtles. Luck was on our side and we got to see a couple swim by us. There was also a huge sea turtle sleeping in an underwater cave and a few of us who felt comfortable diving underneath were able to catch a glimpse of the big lady (one of our guides recognized her – isn’t that crazy?!). 

Once we were back on the boat, it was time for lunch, cocktails, and relaxing to music. I cannot recommend this group enough. The guys on the boat with us were absolutely fantastic, the food was good, and the views were absolutely stunning. On our way back to the dock, Justin and I kept commenting about how these guys really are living the dream out here everyday. 

Cancelled Plans and Laziness

Hotel Canoeing

We had registered with the hotel to wake up early and do an outrigger canoe experience. Unfortunately, the waves were not in our favor the day we were scheduled and the hotel cancelled it for the day. We tried to get another day but everything was booked up as 1) it’s a free experience for hotel guests and 2) the canoes are super small and only fit 3 people aside from the guide. It’s all okay though because we’re booked to outrigger canoe while we’re on the Big Island this September! Hopefully the ocean cooperates for us this time around! #fingerscrossed

Road to Hana

Anytime you mention traveling to Maui to anyone, they’re likely to mention the Road to Hana. The Road to Hana, a scenic drive along Hana Highway to the town of Hana, is probably Maui’s top attraction. People will take the day to drive along the curvy highway, stopping to explore and hike different colored sand beaches, waterfalls, and other attractions.

Source

We had set aside an entire day to devote to driving the road to Hana but hadn’t booked an official guide or tour experience; we just figured we’d do it ourselves and go at our own pace. Looking back, this was probably not the greatest idea for two New York City folk who never drive. Because the road to Hana is not the easiest to drive, we got increasingly antsy as the day neared. When we woke up that morning and saw that the weather was questionable in some areas on the way to Hana but the weather in Wailea was beautiful, we opted to stay at the hotel and drink cocktails on the beach.

Ah well – I guess we’ll have to go back!

Haleakala

Haleakala is also one of those items that everyone and their mother will mention to you when you travel to Maui. Justin and I opted to not do a guided excursion for Haleakala as it meant another really early morning. We threw a timeslot on our agenda and figured we’d head to the volcano for sunset when there are less crowds than sunrise.

Even before we left the Big Island, Justin and I began to question if we even wanted to go to Haleakala at all since we already did a sunset atop Mauna Kea, which is taller than Haleakala. Once we saw the driving time from our hotel to Haleakala, we nixed the plan immediately. Plus, we technically already saw Haleakala from the Big Island.

I have no regrets about skipping Haleakala because we already had such a great experience on Mauna Kea. Maybe next time!

We had such a busy first half of the trip that I’m not surprised in the least that we opted for a more relaxing week in Maui. Instead of gallivanting around the island, we stayed around the hotel, went for runs along the water and in nearby neighborhoods, read on the beach (me), went down the water slide a million times (Justin), and drank fruity cocktails in our lounge chairs. It was perfect!

Last night in Hawaii – Just Maui’d

At breakfast on the morning we left to come back to NY, I looked up at Justin over my coffee cup, “ya know, we don’t have to leave yet. We have money.” Justin, ever the rational one, replied, “I have to go back to work.” Cue me, “ummm I don’t think you heard me because I said we have moneyyy.” I wonder if he’ll be able to be so rational when it’s time to leave the Big Island and head back to NYC… #LevineKonaRetirement2052

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Maholo, Hawaii. You were everything I dreamed you’d be and so much more. See you in approximately 96 days (but who’s counting?)!

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Our Honeymoon in Hawaii: 2nd Stop – Big Island.

After an incredible 3 nights on Oahu, we were ready for a new adventure on another island. I had no idea what to expect of the Big Island and, looking back, I can’t even remember what it was I was expecting, all I know is that the Big Island wasn’t what I had in mind. It was nothing like I imagined and it was everything I needed in a place on earth. This place is everything to me and I struggle to even speak about this island without getting choked up so I’m sure writing this will bring on some waterworks. Here we go!

Island of Hawaii

Before we chat honeymoon, I want to address the Kilauea eruption and new lava flows currently occurring on the Big Island. For info on what is happening and ways you can help those displaced by the new fissures and lava flows, check out my Instastory Highlight.  I’ll also include some information below. Madame Pele (In the Hawaiian religion, Pele is the goddess of the volcanoes and the creator of the Hawaiian islands.) has been quite busy these past two weeks.

 

Okay, back to the honeymoon…

We left this:

Diamond Head, Oahu from the sky

And landed in this:

Landing at Kona Airport

Island of Hawaii (Big Island)

I legit had this moment of “what have we gotten ourselves into?” when we got off the plane and “into” the airport (I use quotes because you don’t go into anywhere. The airport is basically a bunch of little outdoor huts.). I looked at Justin and said, “well, this is different.”  While I was a little wary, he was just excited because all he wanted out of this honeymoon was volcanoes and here we were on the Big Island which is basically just five volcanoes, two of which are currently active.

Some notes on the Hawaii volcanoes:

  • The active volcanoes on the Big Island are shield volcanoes. The name comes from the fact that they look more like a warrior’s shield than they do what we normally think of when we hear the word “volcano.”
  • Shield volcanoes have relatively gentle slopes (they just look like regular mountains to me) and their eruptions tend to be non-explosive, with lava that gently slopes down from the volcano vent.
  • Kilauea, the volcano that is currently making headlines, has been erupting non-stop since 1983.
  • Mauna Loa, considered the most massive volcano on earth, is still active but hasn’t erupted in over 30 years.

Mindy arranged for us to pick up our rental car at the airport and then we were on our way to the hotel that would be home for the next 6 days. After stopping for lunch at a place Justin found on Yelp (incredible food, btw), we decided to make a pit stop at a coffee plantation before heading over to the Fairmont Orchid (we’ll be returning here in September!).

Hula Daddy Coffee Plantation

Justin called Hula Daddy Kona Coffee before we drove up the mountain to make sure they’d be able to give us a tour. Lucky for us, we had about 30 minutes before they were going to start a tour for another couple and we’d be able to hop on with them!

The ladies at Hula Daddy welcomed us and set us up with some coffee to taste while we waited for the tour to start. I said it in my Oahu post but the coffee in Hawaii is AMAZING. Seriously, I don’t drink coffee (#teaforever) but I had a cup every morning. 

As someone who knew nothing about coffee, all the information was new and surprising to me. I’m not sure what is common coffee knowledge but I was blown away by the fact that coffee comes from a fruit (red berry looking photo above) and that the darker the roast, the less caffeine (I always assumed the opposite!).

Hula Daddy was the perfect welcome to the Big Island. We left with lots of goodies (chocolate covered coffee beans, medium roast coffee grinds, and tea made from the coffee fruit) and we just might have to stop in again to refill our stash.

Fairmont Orchid and Surrounding Area

While Mindy showed us a few options on the Big Island, she was very clear that she truly thought that of all the options, the Fairmont Orchid was actually the only option for us – and she could not have been more right!

The hotel and grounds are beautiful, the dining options are fabulous (Justin-approved is a big deal!), and the staff is beyond helpful. We had so much fun exploring the Fairmont Orchid and the area surrounding the resort. I’m extremely glad we peppered in some “free” days into our time on the Big Island to allow for lots of relaxing and mini adventures at the hotel.

One morning, we decided to take advantage of a free culture “hike” and walked over to the beach hut nice and early. We ended up being the only guests to show up so we got our own personal tour! We walked around the grounds for about an hour and learned so much from our guide about Hawaii and the Big Island specifically.

Shown above from our culture hike:

  • Flow hive “hotels” that are home to thousands of bees making honey!
  • Ancient petroglyph
  • Fresh guava straight from the tree (I finished the whole thing before Justin even got a bite – whoops!)
  • Ahu a Kupuna – a sacred Ahu (stone altar) built in the 1750s, during the reign of Kamehameha 1. People will often leave  a single flower as an offering at the ahu or come and say a prayer. Facing east toward Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (volcanoes) will pay tribute and respect to elders and ancestors.

While we were in Oahu, I continued to have the “omg I’m in Hawaii” feeling but the Big Island gave me more of a “omg this is what I’ve been missing” feeling. The landscape, the ocean, the sunsets, the people, the adorable sea turtles – everything just felt like home. I had been looking forward to Maui; this island took me by surprise.

Puako Petroglyph Park

On one of our “free” days, we decided to do the short hike to Puako Petroglyph Park, right next to the Fairmont.

This archaeological park is a state and national historic site. No one is completely sure what all of the symbols mean but they do speak to the history and culture of Hawaii (there are pictures of deities, animals, paddlers, dancers, and families). According to the sign when you enter the park, ancient Hawaiians traveled across harsh lava flows to reach this spot.

The trail to and from the park is well-maintained and marked clearly. We went mid-morning and saw maybe two or three other couples along the way. I’d love to go back with someone who can speak more about the history and significance of these particular petroglyphs – I’ll definitely be looking into that for September!

Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo

One day we decided to take a drive across the island to Hilo to visit the Panaewa Zoo and Gardens. Panaewa is the only naturally occurring rainforest zoo in the United States so we decided it was something we definitely wanted to check out!

It was a great morning at the zoo but we didn’t linger too long because it was so hot! Justin kept going back to certain animals and I kept complaining that he is the slowest human ever.  Humidity makes me an absolute delight, dontcha know.

Some info about the Big Island and its’ two sides:

  • The two main areas of the Big Island are referred to as the “Kona side” and the “Hilo side.” There is an international airport in both Kona and Hilo.
  • The Kona side is definitely the dry side, averaging about 18 inches of rainfall a year. Hilo is essentially a rainforest, averaging about 130 inches of rainfall a year.
  • Hilo is the city closest to the active volcanoes and Volcanoes National Park. Hilo is about 35 miles from the current lava flows on the Big Island while Kona is about 100 miles away. The eruption and lava flows are currently affecting only a small fraction of the island and life is continuing on as usual in other areas.

Big Island Touring & Volcanoes National Park

What Justin was most excited about and what ended up being one of the major highlights of the trip was our small guided Big Island Twilight Volcano Tour with Viator. We were picked up bright and early at the Fairmont and began traversing the island via the very scenic Saddle Road.

I was immediately at ease with our guide for the day and the small group of travelers in our van. Our first stop was Rainbow Falls near downtown Hilo!

Rainbow Falls is over a lava cave that legend says is home to the Hawaiian goddess, Hina, the goddess of the moon. In the morning, it is most likely you will see a rainbow and see a rainbow we did!

Also, atop Rainbow Falls is one of the largest banyan trees in the world. These trees are insane – they look like they are multiple trees because there are multiple trunks. These trees grow roots from the top and when they fall to the ground, they dig in and become new trunks. Seeing these trees never got old for us. We definitely don’t have these in NY!

Next up was Richardson’s Black Sand BeachI had been waiting for this! Black sand beaches form when a large lava flow enters the ocean and basalt fragments are created. The black sand beaches in Hawaii were built extremely rapidly due to the violent reaction between the hot lava and the ocean water. I had just assumed they were from erosion of lava but NOPE!

We were able to see a few endangered sea turtles swimming in the water – one even got super close to me while I wasn’t paying attention. It was all absolutely breathtaking. FYI – don’t ever ask someone to bring you back sand from a black sand beach – it’s illegal (and very bad luck)!

Upon entering Volcanoes National Park, we took a trip down Chain of Craters Road where we made multiple stops to walk across past volcanic eruption and lava flow sites and take in the amazing cliffs and Holei Sea Arch.

We spent quite a long time exploring here and soaking in all the interesting stories from our guide. One of my favorites was about Hawaii officials who kept trying to build a road and the lava kept overtaking it so finally they just gave up because obviously Pele did not want the road to be built (see photo above).

We did an afternoon stop at the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum to see the Halemaumau Crater during the day. This crater contains the lava lake of Kilauea that dropped so much earlier this month that it caused the recent explosive eruption of ash. Luckily, Volcanoes National Park was closed and evacuated in anticipation of this event so no one was/is in immediate danger following an eruption.

We had dinner at the Kilauea Military Camp and I had an extremely cheap (but extremely tasty) sangria. I completely approve of this use of my tax dollars 🙂

Before finishing our evening back at the Halemaumau Crater, we hiked through the rainforest to explore the Thurston Lava Tube and got free facials at the steam vents. The lava tube is exactly what it sounds like – at one point several hundred years ago, a river of hot lava ran through and created what now resembles a cave.

The natural steam vents were a really cool experience because it was completely dark when we walked up to them and I really had no idea where I was supposed to go or if I was supposed to look somewhere. Turns out I needed to do nothing because you essentially walk right into a rush of the most intense steam you can imagine. The steam is naturally created when ground water seeps down to the hot lava rocks and comes back up to the surface in the form of hot steam.

And then there was Halemaumau Crater at night. My God was this incredible and I am so glad we got to experience this miraculous show from Pele (the crater is believed to be Pele’s home).

Visiting Volcanoes National Park was one of the best experiences of my life, let alone of my honeymoon. I am praying that Pele gives the island a nice reprieve so others can enjoy the park the way we did (I also selfishly want to be back there again to explore some more in September!).

Mauna Kea Sunset & Stargazing

Mauna Kea, considered by many Hawaiians as the most sacred place on all the islands, is a dormant volcano and the highest point in the state of Hawaii. Mauna Kea is over 32,000 feet from the ocean floor to the summit and is the tallest mountain on Earth! We rode with Hawaii Forest & Trail to the summit at 13,796 feet above sea level for some spectacular views and some seriously cold weather.

The parkas and gloves were provided by the tour and THANK GOODNESS because I do not own anything that would have been able to protect me from that level of cold. Ooph!

After an unbelievable sunset and some spectacular views, we moved down to 9,000 feet to set up a telescope and enjoy the sky with some hot cocoa and warm brownies. Believe me, you wanna look up this view.

Pele truly outdid herself with the Island of Hawaii (and continues to both destroy and create as I type this). What is truly astounding is how many of those currently displaced by the new lava flows mention respecting Pele’s wishes with the land in interviews. It’s astounding but not completely surprising, given what I learned about Big Island natives and residents while on the island myself.

This island means the world to me and it is so incredible to read how residents are reacting and adapting to the current situation. The love and spiritual connection Big Islanders have with the land is inspiring and even though my body and the majority of my heart is always on the island of Manhattan, there is now a huge chunk of my soul on this island of volcanoes in the Pacific. #LevineKonaRetirement2052 

Big Island, Hawaii

I love you, Big Island. See you in September.

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Ways you can help those who have lost homes or are currently displaced by the new Kilauea lava flows:

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Our Honeymoon in Hawaii: 1st stop – Oahu.

Because our wedding was a whole long weekend extravaganza, we knew we wanted to give ourselves a few days before heading out on our honeymoon (I also needed to squeeze in a 20-mile training run). The day we left for Hawaii was one full week after our wedding and it was the perfect amount of time. We were able to stay in Saugerties a few days after the wedding and relax (there was no going back to work!), I was able to get in some solid marathon training runs (looking back, I really can’t believe I managed to train for a marathon during these months and peak the weeks of my wedding and honeymoon. What was I thinking?), and we had time to casually pack for 15 days of heaven.

FYI: Our entire honeymoon was booked with the help of Mindy at MyVacationLady. She’s also helping us with our anniversary trip to SF and the Big Island coming up in September. I cannot say enough good things about Mindy and I could dedicate an entire blog post to how easy and wonderful she makes everything. (Also, I get nothing for singing her praises, I just love her SO much and she’ll probably plan all our vacations from here on out.)

 

Landing in Honolulu

Our flight on Hawaiian Airlines left at 10am EST and we landed in Honolulu at about 2:30pm Hawaii time. The time difference going to Hawaii is FANTASTIC because you truly feel like you gain an extra day of vacation.

Oahu

Day 1: Waikiki

When we landed, Mindy had a car waiting for us to take us to the Hyatt Regency on Waikiki Beach. The location was great because we were right on the beach and right in the middle of all the fun restaurants and shops of Waikiki. Our balcony had a view facing Diamond Head and it was EVERYTHING.

Since we were still operating on NYC time, we took it super easy and walked along the beach, had a nice dinner, and meandered through all the adorable little shops of Waikiki before calling it a night.

We had a busy day at Pearl Harbor ahead of us!

Day 2: Pearl Harbor

Since our internal clocks were still quite a few hours ahead, we woke up bright and early on Sunday and I was able to squeeze in a strength workout before we had our first Hawaiian breakfast and experienced my favorite juice ever, POG. It is a combination of passion fruit, orange, and guava juice and it is the best thing to have every morning alongside a cup of Hawaiian coffee (I don’t even like coffee but I had a cup every single morning of this trip whaaaat). 

Let me tell you, of all my memories of Hawaii, and taking into account the fact that I feel like I literally left a piece of my heart and soul on the Big Island (I struggle to talk about this island without tearing up), it is this feeling that I think about most often – the feeling of having breakfast outside overlooking Waikiki Beach, having a cup of coffee with my new husband, on our first full day in Hawaii. I wish I could have bottled that up.

Waiting to get picked up for Pearl Harbor!

We spent the entire day touring Oahu with E Noa Tours. Our tour guide was incredible and his passion for Hawaii and Oahu was so palpable. Not only did we spend the day at Pearl Harbor, our guide also made sure to drive us around and show us other areas of Oahu (where Obama was born, where Bruno Mars went to high school, Honolulu’s financial district, Iolani Palace).

Top to bottom: Honolulu, King Kamehameha statue, Iolani Palace, hospital where President Obama was born, Bruno Mars’ high school

When we first got to Pearl Harbor, we had time to walk around the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is extremely well done and we definitely could have spent more time walking through the displays and reading about the events before, during, and after the attacks.

After exploring there for a little while, we hopped on board a shuttle boat to the USS Arizona. The first thing that struck me when walking onto the memorial is that you can still smell the oil leaking from the ship. It’s unbelievable. I cannot think of the right words to adequately describe the feeling of being above the sunken USS Arizona but it’s not just an Oahu must-see, it’s a must-feel.

From there, we traveled over to the USS Oklahoma Memorial and went on board the USS Missouri. We got a tour while we were on the USS Missouri and it was so incredible to learn about the ship’s history while standing in the very same spot where these things happened (the Missouri is where Japan formally surrendered to the Allies).

From top to bottom: USS MIssouri, me getting excited about vegetables because I’m a weirdo, flag aboard ship and instrument of surrender, footprints marking where a Japanese kamikaze pilot’s body was commended to the sea, USS Oklahoma Memorial.

I can’t explain what happened to me at one particular spot while we were on the water of Pearl Harbor but I truly believe that my grandfather’s spirit is there. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor during WWII (one of the reasons Pearl Harbor was one of our non-negotiable destinations) and ya know, I don’t blame him, I’d hang out in Pearl Harbor over Maspeth, NY, too.

Day 3: Dole Plantation

With my (borderline unhealthy) obsession with pineapples, it makes sense we’d end up at the Dole Plantation. Mindy arranged for us to pick up a car so that we could travel to the other side of Oahu for the day.

The weather wasn’t the greatest but we were able to get in a bunch of the attractions (and a Dole Whip!) before the sky rained on our parade. Our original intention was to head out to the North Shore after the Dole Plantation but the weather had us changing our plans. The forecast for the North Shore was not so lovely and the the forecast in Waikiki Beach?

DAMN NEAR PERFECT.

Sooo we forwent the North Shore and went back to Waikiki for a quick run to Diamond Head and some beach time.

Day 4: Diamond Head

Our flight to Kona wasn’t until early afternoon so we were able to sneak in a hike to the top of Diamond Head before heading over to the Big Island.

It didn’t take us too long to get to the top. The trail is very well maintained and as someone who doesn’t particularly like heights, I felt super safe the entire way up and down.

It was the perfect activity to end our days on Oahu. When we got back to the hotel, there was time for a quick shower and one last Oahu breakfast before making our way to the airport. I was so excited to continue our adventure knowing we still had the bulk of our trip ahead of us.

During our flight to Kona, I snapped the below photo with my phone of Diamond Head. ARE YOU SERIOUS, HAWAII?

Oahu –> Kona

Show off.

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Next up on our Hawaiian adventure – the Big Island 🙂

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