We arrived into Honolulu at 5:45am after a rather lovely flight from Brisbane. The plane was only about half full so as soon as the seatbelt sign switched off, K, L and myself dispersed and claimed a row to ourselves. For an el cheapo Jetstar flight that we’d been dreading, it was actually one of the easiest flights I’d been on!
The three of us made it through baggage and customs quickly and hailed a taxi to take us to our hostel in downtown Waikiki. We were staying at the Waikiki Hostel International, which was about a 25-minute drive from the airport. Even though it was nearing 6:30am, the sky was still covered in a blanket of darkness and we could only see the outline of the palm tress and skyscrapers. By the time we reached our hostel, the sun had made an appearance and the city started to come to light. We were way too early for reception to be open, let alone checking in time so we did what every self-respecting human would do. We went to find food.
Walking towards the water and the main strip, the city began to come alive with a mix of street cleaners, shop owners and early birds who came out to watch the sunrise. We walked right out to the edge of the sand and looked out at the blue water, relishing the fact that we’d arrived. Waikiki was exactly how I expected. Palm trees swayed in the slight breeze, surfers and paddle-boarders floating on the azure coloured water and high rises lining the beach from one end to the other. It had a similar atmosphere to the Gold Coast, but a little more island-y.
Instead of forking out a bunch of dollars on a restaurant breakfast, we had too much fun in an ABC store (like a 7/11 on roids) and picked out heaps of random things to sample for breakfast. Making a little picnic in a grassy area by the beach we devoured our food and watched Waikiki wake up. There was a slight chill in the air, which stopped us from jumping into the water then and there so we settled for watching the surfers catch the tiny waves until our hostel opened.
Around 7:30am we meandered back to our hostel and dropped our gear off that we wouldn’t need for the day. Going with the theory that if we stayed up all day we would miss the whole jetlag situation, we got changed into swimmers and headed for the beach.
By the time we were down at the beach, Waikiki had truly come to life. There were people everywhere. We found a patch of sand to call ours and made a beeline for the water. The water seemed saltier than back home so we floated like buoys under the increasingly hot sun. We laid out on the beach, enjoying the sun until the itch for coffee got too much. Wandering down the strip to the nearest Starbucks we got our caffeine fix, we wondered why people were starting to line the streets with sun chairs and eskies. As it turns out, it was Martin Luther King Jnr day (ignorant Aussie right here) and the city of Honolulu was here to celebrate him!
We watched the parade for awhile, impressed with the passion and vigour of these locals. They knew what they wanted and weren’t afraid to say it. Group after group of people chanted and marched down the busy main street, adamant in their beliefs. We watched the parade for awhile before heading back to the water to cool down again and deciding to do something productive for the day.
Walking through the streets with the intention of finding stand up paddle-boards but this quickly changed to bicycles after finding a good deal. We took off in the direction of Diamond Head and hoped for the best. After working out which side of the road to ride on and a brief lowdown of the road rules from a local, we pedalled off on an adventure. What we found was a very steep hill, which just seemed to keep going. The bikes weren’t exactly Tour de France worthy, making getting up that hill a workout and a half! However we were rewarded with constant view of sapphire coloured water and swaying palm trees so it’s hard to complain. At the top of the hill, we found a path down to the water, which we gladly walked down and leapt straight into the waiting ocean.
This little beach was much quieter than the busy shores of Waikiki. Full of surfers and body boarders this seemed like a local jaunt as the gnarliest looking guys kept coming in and out of the water. We swam, sun-baked and checked out the surfers until our stomachs started to grumble.
Riding the bikes down the hill much easier and quicker and we reached downtown Waikiki in no time. Taking a different route to last time (not planned) we ended up finding an ocean blue food truck offering some local Hawaiian fare. Not one to pass up on freshly cooked food, we ordered coconut shrimp and salmon and shrimp poy bo and sat at the makeshift tables in the shade.
The food was delicious to say the least. The shrimp and salmon were fresh, crunchy and full of flavour. We devoured the food in minutes, totally satisfied with our choices. If this was an indication of the food we would be eating, I was absolutely okay with it.
Deciding to ditch the bikes for awhile, we got back on the foot falcon and walked around the streets a bit more. Ending up in the more upmarket part of town, we quickly discovered our sandy feet and wet hair wasn’t really welcome in the likes of Jimmy Choo and Tiffanys! Luckily it was time to properly check in to our hostel so we hoofed it back and had some down time in our room to recuperate a bit.
Wanting to catch the sunset, we showered and dressed up ready to watch the sun fall below the horizon. It seems like everyone else in Honolulu had the same idea as us, making finding a spot on the beach near impossible! We found a spot just as the sun dropped below the water line. It disappeared so quickly, but we managed to catch the final rays. The crowd erupted into applause and exclamations of the sunsets beauty. It was nice to see that in this crazy concrete jungle of Waikiki, that Mother Nature was still appreciated.
Just as quickly as the sun went down, the city lit up in blinding lights. Nighttime in Waikiki had begun! We searched the strip for somewhere to eat and ended up at a Mexican restaurant one street back from the strip. Cheers-ing to our first day in Hawaii we discussed plans for the next few days. Despite the fun and hustle and bustle of Waikiki, we decided it was too touristy for us. Making plans to head north a day early, we rearranged our plans a touch so we could escape the busy strip and discover some of the real Hawaii..
It sounded like a solid plan. I couldn’t wait!