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Day #3: Around Oahu

We grabbed breakfast early this morning before heading off to Hertz a couple of blocks away to pick-up a rental car at 8am. Once behind the wheel, I set the GPS for Hanauma Bay which is located about 25 minutes to the east of Waikiki. From my childhood visits to Oahu, I distinctly remember this place as one of the most captivating bays / beaches in the world, reknowed for its reef and associated marine life. Having never snorkeled there as a child, I thought it would be awesome for the girls to have that opportunity to do what I never did: swim with tropical fish and see a coral reef up close and in its natural habitat.


Hunauma Bay

That said, even arriving early, visiting the beach at Hanauma is a bit of a hassle. Thankfully, we got there early enough to get a parking spot. Unfortunately, there was a lengthy line to pay for admission and get a timed entrance ticket. Why timed? It turns out you have to watch a safety / education video before they’ll let you down to the beach. Once at the beach, I returned us snorkel / swim gear and a locker (about $65 for the three of us). Then we headed to the shoreline and got our gear on… or tried too… as the girls couldn’t handle walking in flippers. 

Indeed, we found access to the water difficult even without fins (in hindsight I realize we picked a bad spot) due to coral / rocks that came right up to the water line. What’s more, Libby realized she wasn’t a fan of swimming with either a snorkel or so close to so many large fish. For her part, Emerson liked the fish but found some of the marine invertebrates a bit unsettling (like the spiky urchins) and feared a face-to-face encounter with an eel (which I never saw) thanks to the damn safety video. 

As for me? Well, it took a little bit to get comfortable using the snorkel. Breathing through your mouth underwater doesn’t feel natural. However, once I got the hang food it, I have to say… wow… that was one of the more spectacular experiences of my life. I felt like I was part of an ethereal undersea world… or maybe swimming through a giant scale version of my childhood salt water aquarium. I now fully understand the appeal of snorkeling and (presumably) scuba diving. Just spectacular!

After Hanauma Bay, we drove up the windward coast of the island toward the North Shore. A particular highlight (despite it now raining us) was the replica of the Byo-do-In Temple of Equality and surrounding gardens located in the Valley of the Temples cemetery. 


Byo-do-In Temple

We continued through the drizzle to the North Shore, stopping at Waimae Bay to see (for the North Shore of Oahu in winter) only relatively modest surf. This was a bit disappointing, but what can you do? Wind and currents are not within my control.


Waimea Bay

Having little surf to watch, we proceeded to the Dole Pineapple Plantation, which was transformed (based on my childhood recollection) from factory tour and fruit stand into far more of a proper tourist destination (complete with gift shop, cafe, gardens, maze, etc.). Despite a drizzle, we opted to conquer the world’s largest maze: requiring a person to enter the maze with a time-stamped card, find eight locations and stencil each’s associated icon onto the card, and then successfully exit the maze to receive a completion time stamp. The record elapsed time is around 10 minutes; the average closer about 45. We managed it (despite the rain and sliding through red mud that eventually covered our feet and legs) in 28 minutes. Not too bad!


Map of the maze…

As our reward, Libby and I had a Dole Whip! Emerson–not a fan of pineapple–got a bag of BBQ chips, much to my chagrin. :-)

We drove back to Waikiki via downtown Honolulu (which allowed us to briefly see some of those sights), arriving back at the rental car agency around 5:30pm. 

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