Hawaii was a dream. Luaus, Pearl Harbor, snorkeling, surfing, Hukilau Café, Chinatown, Crouching Lion, NSO, cockroach car, Chainman’s Hat, red hot dogs, PCC and more.
We left on a Sunday from Portland, Oregon. My mother was so gracious and took us to the airport. It was so exciting! We were thrilled to be able to go to Hawaii – but due to a lack of sleep we were for sure able to nap in the airport.
We got to Hawaii and rejoiced at the sunshine and warmth at the airport.
I don’t think any of us could stop smiling. We enjoyed our first meal in Hawaii with a ward at BYU-Hawaii. What would be better to welcome a group of kids from Idaho to Polynesia? Potatoes of course! J We then frolicked on the beach in the warm water, then settled down and planned the rest of the week.
On Monday we enjoyed the beach, boogie boarding, some fun tennis matches, playing baseball for FHE and Ted’s Bakery. It was a very relaxing day and a great way to adjust to Hawaii.
Tuesday started off with a grand tennis match between Valerie and myself. We bet on the set – whoever lost had to cook breakfast. Valerie may or may not have learned how to cook Eggo Waffles after she lost. Victory tastes even sweeter on a tropical island. We spent the remainder of the day hiking Crouching Lion. This is an intense hike through a mountain range outside of Laie. We spent 6 hours hiking through tropical forest, lava rock, jungle, cliffs, and swampy mud. It was such a great hike and nobody cried or came near death.
After the hike we were covered in mud, so we hitch-hiked our way back to Laie and Julie and I went and visited her former bishop, who was also vacationing in Hawaii. It was a lot of fun – and it turns out I totally knew their daughter. Small world when you’re Mormon.
On Wednesday we rode the bus to Honolulu and visited Chinatown – which was the most authentic Chinatown I’ve been to in a long time. We saw a lot of disgusting food things, including live toads and every part of a pig imaginable. We went to the swap meet and bought bucket loads of souvenirs and wandered through the shops of knick-knacks and random Hawaiian junk made in China. We also were able to visit Pearl Harbor, which was amazing. I hadn’t given much thought to the men and women who died in Pearl Harbor, but I was awestruck at their story and the memorial built in their remembrance.
That night Julie and I were able to help the NSO at BYU-Hawaii with their Spirit Challenge. It was so interesting to see how differently their campus does NSO. I was asked to lead the debriefing among the students and I was able to share my testimony of the Spirit Challenge and 1st Nephi 8. It was a very special and spiritual experience for me.
Thursday we went to breakfast at he Hukilau Café, a small café in Laie that is famous among the people on the island. I had banana pancakes, and we all tried to eat some sort of “Hawaiian” breakfast. It was DELICIOUS. I love food! Afterward we went to the temple and were able to do a session. The Laie Temple is beautiful! It was one of the first temples and so it is built differently and has older artwork, etc. But it was full of beauty that is completely unique to that temple.
After the temple we headed over to the Polynesian Cultural Center to experience a little of Polynesia. The variety of cultures that were on display at the center was awesome. I loved learning about the different islands, their dances, songs, and language. I love embracing new cultures – and I even got my picture taken while dancing to a Tahitian dance. We took a boat ride through the park to our luau, where we enjoyed an all you can eat buffet. We tried poi, poke (a raw salmon salad), and of course, kalua pork. We also purchased piña colada and a mango drink inside of carved pineapples. It was amazing. We felt like real Hawaiians while wearing our leis, sipping drinks from a pineapple and eating pork from a spigot.
After the luau we went to the night show called HA: The Breath of Life. It was a depiction of a young mans journey through Polynesia and his coming of age. It featured dances from all the Polynesian islands – all of the dancers being students from BYU-Hawaii. We loved the show so much - we went and saw it again on Saturday.
On Friday we spent the majority of the day snorkeling through a bunch of coral reef. We snorkeled up to an island called Chinamans Hat, then hiked to the top of the island. It was a beautiful view of the crystal clear water. After snorkeling, we were a little tuckered out, so we got drunk on sugar from a shaved ice stand and enjoyed the BYU-Hawaii talent show and a Fijian party.
On Saturday I finally achieved one of my life goals and went surfing. Surfing is hard work. Although we had practiced our balance on the IndoBoard for months, we had not practiced standing up or catching a wave. Those took a little longer to master (maybe we didn’t even master them). But it was great. We enjoyed a lunch of red hot dogs and went to another luau with the NSO bunch.
On Sunday we enjoyed church at BYU-Hawaii, toured the temple grounds and went to a fireside at the temple visitors center. It was a beautiful musical fireside. We also went to a FHE type thing with the Tongans. We were able to sing in Tongan and enjoy Tongan food. The Tongan people are some of the nicest we met. We were sad because we knew we only had one day left on the island, but we didn’t let it get our spirits down.
On Monday we went to Waikiki and Julie went parasailing while Valerie and I enjoyed the beach. We stopped by Walmart and bought some more souvenirs and finally flew back to the mainland. What a great and amazing vacation.