Hawaii…a word that encompasses many fantasies; gentle waves, warm breezy air, lush greens, coconut trees, soft sand, ocean full of fish, sea turtles jumping dolphins, and a luau in every corner. It’s what the survivors on LOST experienced minus the plane crash and creepy ghosts. The perfect island getaway.
That was the call I got during my six day exploration of Oahu in March. It was one of the coldest week in Hawaii (snowed a few inches in the mountains on Big Island). By cold, I mean pleasant fall weather in the evening, for those from the Northeast region, and bubble jackets for the locals. Though during the day when the sun hangs high, it was pretty picture perfect.
So here’s why winter in Oahu is nothing like what I had pictured Hawaii to be:
- The water was freezing. This may not be a winter thing but just a year round, Pacific Ocean thing. Without a wetsuit, I couldn’t stay in the water for more than 10 minutes.
- The bus was freezing. Every. Single. One. Of them. I had no idea why.
- Morning and evening was chilly and windy.
- The best luaus are supposedly the ones thrown at the big hotels.
- There’s nothing under water unless you’re diving, or get in line for Hanauma Bay where the corals can’t regenerate fast enough to keep up with unrestricted number of visitors.
On the other hand, Oahu had a lot more than expected:
- SEA TURTLES! How Finding Nemo ruined me. Love the sea turtles, they’re a symbol for all things good in life, and there they were, hanging out on the beach. Please note that the locals take extreme precautions to protect the turtles’ habitat. Tourists have been disturbing and driving sea turtles from their resting place by being too close, too touchy, or taking selfies without the turtle’s permission.
- Japanese food was spot on. Especially the cafeteria inside the Japanese department store in Ala Moana Mall.
- Japanese hair straightening was very reasonably priced with trained stylists from Japan.
- Musubi and ramen everywhere. Iyasumi was the favorite, fresh, cheap, made on the spot, YUM!
- You can join a tour of the fish market to observe their morning auctions, a mini version of the Tsukiji market in Japan.
- The mountains are gorgeous, with trails to overlooks that will take your breath away (figuratively and literally speaking). Here’s the Koko Head trail with its nonstop ascent straight to the top.
- Surfer spotting, it’s a lifestyle I so wish I have the courage for!
- A night in Waikiki – $160 for a one bedroom apartment from Airbnb, 10 minutes walk from the beach
- A bowl of Poke on rice plus soup – $12
- A musubi – $2-$4 depending on topping
- Fish auction tour – $25 per person
- Hanauma Bay entrance fee – $7.50 per person
- Hanauma Bay snorkeling gear rental – $20 (bring your own!!)
- Bus pass – $2.50 per ticket, allow 2 transfers
- Beach access – FREE! All beaches in Hawaii are open to the public