On Monday morning we woke up at around 6 AM, had a quick
breakfast and walked over to Hiking Hawaii Café, were we would meet our small group for a hike over to Manoa falls, one of Oahu’s best-known waterfalls. According to the company’s website, the founders are avid hikers who started the business to attract like-minded who enjoy the outdoors and good, natural food. We got there a little before 7:00 AM and met with our guide and the other members of the group – a honeymooning couple from the DC area.
Our guide drove us to the base of the hill and then we began the trek: he talked about how the area is frequently used by film crews, and that several scenes from the ABC show Lost and CBS’s Hawaii 5-0 were shot there in the past. He also described the local vegetation as we made our way up.
The trail is quite muddy and slippery, but we made our way quite quickly. Since it was so early, there weren’t a lot of people there, so it made if for a more pleasant experience. However, it was quite hard as I am not much of a hiker (I do bike and swim, but climbing a mostly non-existent trail is another story). Our shoes were starting to feel heavy with all the mud we were walking through. Parts of the trail were quite hard, and I am thankful that neither of us slipped at any given time. The hike almost a mile long, but when you reach the top you see the fall, which ends in a shallow pool that some people bathe on, even though it is not recommended due to the risk of rockslides – in fact, just a few days after we returned, we heard that some hikers had been hurt after some rocks fell over the trail.
After taking a few pictures and replenishing ourselves with water, I got my feet wet. The honeymooners actually went into the water and after a few minutes we made our way down. The walk down was not easy, but we all made back up without incident. Back at the café, we sat down and order a bowl of açaí – the super fruit originally from the Amazon that has become popular among active people At Hiking Hawaii, they serve it the same way it is done in Brazil, with a delicious combination of fresh fruit and granola. As we got ready to leave, I checked the pockets of my cargo pants and realized I had lost my camera (we always take two: Renata’s professional Nikon and a small model for more casual shots) – I probably left it on the rocks at the falls when I went into the water, and since it was thinner than my iPhone, I only realized it when it was too late.
I became very upset, but by then there was nothing that I could do. In the afternoon, I did some more food shopping while Renata used our laptop computer at a Starbucks near our hotel and when I returned I cooked lunch and relaxed. The rest of the day was spent at the beach and around the Waikiki area.
The next day, we again woke up early and took the bus to Diamond Head, the famous national park and landmark of Oahu. Over there it was much easier, since there is no mud on the trail – it is actually very dry there, and most of the trail is well-marked and safe.<Interestingly, the top of the mountain (now a state park) was once militarized, and the lookout stations where cannons used to be kept (made in Kansas!) still survive – ironically, those stations were never utilized in time of war – even during Pearl Harbor,since the mountain is too far from the area where the Japanese attack took place.
It took about 30 minutes to make the trek up – but once we got there it was breathtaking, with great views of Waikiki and the surrounding areas. As time went by, more and more tourists crowded the area, and after taking multiple pictures we made our way down and headed to Pearl City to check out a Olay’s Thai, a restaurant we’d found on Groupon. The ride took about 40 minutes, and we found ourselves in a mixed residential/business district. The place was quite simple, When we sat, I selected the day’s special, which was chicken served with Thai salad and meekrob – crispy fried noodles with vegetables. The waitress asked me if I wanted my dish ‘mild, medium, spicy or Thai spicy,’ and recalling that I was not in New York, I went with ‘regular’ spicy, while Renata had ‘medium’ spicy shrimp.
When the dish arrived, I realized that I had been right – their take on spicy is really, really hot – and medium, which the waitress said had a ‘kick,’ was quite hot as well. But the food was delicious, and paired with Thai iced tea or coffee (again, it was a place with no alcohol license) it was just perfect. On the way back, we made a stop in Chinatown and browsed the stores, but we didn’t get anything.
Back in Waikiki, we caught a beachfront show that briefly
chronicled the history of hula from its initial percussion-rich days going into the Portuguese influence (the ukulele, for example) all the way to the Hollywoodization of the genre and today. The show was quite enjoyable. It was early in the evening, so the famous Hawaiian breeze was coming in from the sea – it was quite nice.
On our last full day in Oahu, we mostly hung around Wakiki and the surrounding areas. At night, we went to Adega Portuguesa once again to finally hear some live jazz – there was a trio playing there that blended bossa and contemporary jazz. I briefly spoke with the musicians – the guitar player (Angela) had relocated to Hawaii after 9/11 from Boston, and the bass player followed her. They sounded really good, but the bassist griped that what they were playing wasn’t ‘real’ jazz, and invited me to hear them at this other club. Unfortunately, I was about to leave so that will have to wait awhile. I mostly drank wine, but Renata sampled some of their more exotic drinks – including a mango martini that she described as ‘very refreshing.’
We woke up on Thursday hoping we could stay longer – we spent some time Wakiki Beach, where I left our wiltering leis on the arms of Duke Kahanamoku statue (it is said that if you do chances are you will return) and then visited Duke’s Marketplace , where artisans and street vendors sell tourist-y material. We bought a few things we wanted (after bargaining a bit) and also browsed the shops at the Royal Hawaiian Center – nothing impressive really, but I must admit the mall is built around beautiful grounds. After that we returned to our hotel room, where I cooked up everything I could from the groceries I’d bought earlier that week.
After cleaning up, we then packed our bags and waited for the shuttle bus to take us back to Honolulu Airport – the trip was over, but the desire to stay was larger than ever – but our New York lives were beckoning us back home – until we return.
Hawaiian Poblano Fried Rice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
5 ounces chorizo sausage, diced (about 1 cup)
2 medium poblano peppers, cut into thin strips
1 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled and
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 can (14 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks in natural juice, drained
4 cups cooked rice
1 Tbsp. Chicken flavor Bouillon
Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high
heat and cook chorizo with poblanos about 10
minutes, stirring frequently. Stir
in shrimp, red pepper and Knorr® Chicken flavor Bouillon and cook
until shrimp turn pink, about 4
minutes. Stir in beans and pineapple and cook about 1 minute. Stir in
rice. Remove from heat and stir in MiniCube. Stir in reserved pineapple juice as needed.