Hawaii 2022

C and I have been talking about going to Hawaii for years but never found the right time, especially given a >10 hour flight from the East Coast. But now that we live in SoCal, we took the opportunity of some cheap airline tickets to book a quick trip to Hawaii in early February. I also used it as an excuse to celebrate passing my boards. After 10 years of medical preparation tests, the MCATs, USMLE Step 1,2,3, and ABIM medicine boards, I finally completed and passed my final two medical board licensing exams and am now triple boarded in Internal Medicine, Hematology, and Oncology! 

Even though the flights were cheap (around $175 round trip), a trip to Hawaii still adds up with the airport parking fees, hotels (with hidden resort fees), and rental car fees. Still, we got in a few days of R&R, eating, hiking, and adventuring around the beautiful island. I hadn't been to Honolulu since medical school, so it was nice to go back, but it was C's first time. Next time, I want to check out Maui or Kuaui which are known to be much less crowded and touristy. Even though we had just gotten over the Omicron hump, there were still a ton of tourists everywhere, and the hotel looked mostly at capacity, so keep that in mind if you're planning to visit Hawaii. They have relaxed their visitation requirements as well, so you do not have to quarantine if you provide proof of vaccination. 

We stayed at the Sheraton Waikiki, which is located right in the center of the action on Waikiki beach. It's located right next to the pricier (but classier) Royal Hawaiian (the pink hotel) and the Moana Surfrider, so it was great location. I had read it's better to request a higher floor room due to noise from street level but I didn't want to pay more, so we lucked out with a when they automatically gave us oceanview/city view on the penthouse floor. The nice thing about Hawaii is it's 3 hours behind the west coast, so we woke up early every morning and caught the sunrise. 

We were one of the earliest people to breakfast every morning so got prime seating at their beachside cafe. 
At the beach by 10 AM! Even though we live 5 minutes from the beach in California, you can't beat the warm, calm waters of Waikiki!
We were craving poke for lunch but upon arrival at Sam's cafe, found out their poke catch hadn't come in for the day yet! So we had to settle for teriyaki chicken. It was fine, but not amazing. 
After lunch, we hopped into our rental car and drove about 45 minutes to the east side of the island to do the Lanikai Pillboxes hike. The hike is very popular with tourists and locals alike. I follow this blogger who has a ton of great tips for Oahu, and pretty much followed her guide for the hike. I will have to say it was probably moderate in difficulty with quite a bit of rock scrambling near the end. Other people were doing it in flip flops but I was definitely glad to be wearing hiking shoes. It took us about 25 minutes each way and the views were unbelievable. The pictures do not do it justice. Our favorite hike of the trip! 

Posing at Pillbox #1. There are 3, but the third is farther. We only made it to 2. 

After the hike, we headed down to Lanikai beach which was also beautiful and calm. We weren't not well prepared and didn't bring any towels or a change of clothes to fully enjoy the beach before our early dinner reservation. I would recommend to do the hike a little bit earlier in the day and budget some time to enjoy the beach afterwards. 
Enjoying a mai tai the size of my head! At Hula Grill in Waikiki. Once again coming in clutch with the early dinner reservation (around 5:30PM) as we got the best seats in the house with live music coming from Duke's down below us. The food wasn't anything to write home about but the restaurant had major Hawaiian vibes! 

Dessert at Island Shave Ice. Also just OK! I guess I am spoiled by the shave ice options in SoCal

The next morning, we woke up bright and early again (around 5:30 am) and drove to the Diamond Head trail. This was an easier hike as it was all paved, but it was still very crowded for a sunrise hike. We managed to miss the sunrise by a few minutes, but were still at the peak around 7:30 to catch this view of Waikiki. You can explore Diamond head peak, which used to be a military bunker in WWII. It used to be a lookout for ships however never saw any action. 
Walking 10,000 steps before breakfast will certainly work up an appetite. We dropped by another famous local spot (Rainbow Drive In) for plate lunch (breakfast) with mahi mahi, steak, chicken, rice and mac salad. C got a loco moco. Really good and cheap!
In the afternoon, we made the drive back to the windward side of the island for Kualoa Ranch aka Jurassic Park! The park is a sprawling, working cattle ranch as well as a filming site for so many famous movies, including Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates, King Kong, etc. We chose to do the Electric bike tour which was SO fun! It was my first time riding electric bikes and it was just like riding a bike but supercharged. It was the perfect way to explore the huge park and visit the different movie sites. They offer a number of different tours from bus tours to zip lining to ATV tours. I would definitely come back to check out another tour, maybe the zip lining or secret beach tour next time. It was definitely the highlight of our Hawaii trip. My blogger girl also has multiple posts about Kualoa Ranch. 

Jurassic valley where they filmed some scenes from Jurassic Park
Skull island from King Kong
We got back to our hotel room just in time for sunset again before meeting C's brother and his family who were coincidentally in Honolulu visiting friends at the same time as us. 

The next day, we had to check out of our hotel, but our flight wasn't until 10 pm. We relaxed in the morning by the infinity pool then took a leisurely drive to the North Shore. It is a more laid back, chill area of Oahu away from the touristy Waikiki area famous for huge waves and surfing competitions. We visited Pipeline beach and spent a good 30 minutes just watching surfers surfing the massive waves. We stopped by the cute town of Haleiwa and got the famous shave ice at Matsumomo's Shave Ice. I don't think I'm the biggest fan of Shave ice as I feel like it's just inferior to ice cream or froyo! 

We had lunch at Giovanni's Shrimp truck along the way which was pretty good! Very garlicky. It was expensive at around $18 per plate, which additional charges for sauce and mac salad. 
Not my pic as I didn't get a good one! 
We stopped at Turtle Bay (where the filmed Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as well. 
For our last meal, we went to Fete, a new American/Hawaiian fusion restaurant in Honolulu's Chinatown. I had no idea Chinatown was a less than desirable area, so we ended up walking around for less than 10 minutes before just going to the restaurant itself. It was a cute restaurant with a hipster vibe, but I've had better in Richmond, SF, and LA. Our waitress recommended a nice spot to watch the sunset, and then we headed back to the airport. All in all, a quick trip full of hiking and food, which was hit or miss. Now that I live in Southern California though, I do feel like it was pretty similar­čść. Though of course the natural beauty and hiking (especially Lanikai) cannot be beat. Next time I want to visit Kuaui or Maui! 


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