It was miserable, rainy, and cold the day we left for Hawaii, but it was only 6 short hours, before we felt the sun beating on our faces. I kept my packing relatively light again for my camera gear, only brining my Sony A7 and GoPro. It was such a great camera, during my Japan trip, I was less reluctant to leave my Nikon’s and bigger lenses back at home.

A smooth plane ride, a pack of dried mangoes, and a few movies later, we arrived in Honolulu! It was Helen, Ted and my first time being here, and Mimi’s second time visiting the big island. Quickly after arriving, we picked up our car, and headed directly to our AirBnB where met met our host Andrew. The last two times, I’ve stayed at AirBnB places have been a great experiences! If you haven’t tried them, it’s a way cheaper alternative to hotels, and includes all the necessities for a great trip.



Although I feel a bit of shame for posting the next photo, myself and Ted couldn’t resist the great deal they had at Mcdonald’s ( $5.00 for 20 nuggets). It was our first meal, but it was getting relatively late, and we we’re all hungry.



Waking up in the later morning, we slowly got ready and headed to Pearl Harbour for our first attraction. It was definitely an emotional start to the trip, but with this being such a significant part of history to the island, we felt this was great way to start. Before heading to Pearl Harbour, we made one more pit stop to Mcdonald’s to try their local breakfast platter featuring spam, rice, eggs, and Portuguese sausage.





During our visit to Pearl Harbour, we visited the many attractions offered there. Although we didn’t have time to visit the monument due to our time restraint, we had a chance to see the other attractions they offered. We headed toward the exit, but before doing so, we met Al, and Sterling WWII veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack. It was a pleasure meeting these two as they were quite the character with their jokes, and smiles. One of my favourite photos of this trip was this spontaneous moment, when Sterling held his fist up high and gave Ted a fist bump followed by these words ” better put a 5 karat ring on her soon”.


” better put a 5 karat ring on her hand soon” – Sterling, World War II Survivor from Pearl Harbour


After an emotional start to the morning, we headed to the Polynesian Cultural Centre for our evening luau. What amazing sights on the drive up! The waters were as blue as you see them in pictures. The Polynesian Centre, contains different activities from the different nations. However, we didn’t get to experience everything as we arrived a little on the late side. Our evening luau, was what we expected! A lot of traditional foods and good entertainment. The main event of the luau was the roast pig and the show. In addition to the roast pig, and tuna poke, one of the local foods we tried was poi, made from taro root. I can’t say it was any of our favourite dishes. Although poi is intended to be eaten as a standalone dish, the locals suggest to mixed it with fish and pork, none which we found appetizing.




One of the best things I loved about Disney on a hot sunny day, was a Dole Whip. Now if you’ve never had one before, they are one of the best treats that you need to try. Dole Whips can only be found in two places: Disney, and the Dole Plantation in Hawaii, which is where we headed to on our second day. You could only imagine how excited I was for the Dole Whip! Before the Dole Whip we did the ” World’s Largest Maze” for a scavenger hunt. We split up into two teams with the guys on one team and the girls on another. After a close finish, the guys squeaked out a win! And of course  after running in the World’s Largest Maze, it was time to reward ourselves with some Dole Whip!


The trio! Pineapple juice, Dole Whip Float, Dole Whip Ice Cream!  The trio! Pineapple juice, Dole Whip Float, Dole Whip Ice Cream!


We continued up the North Shore, to Waimea Bay and Turtle Bay on the hunt for some sea turtles. We made a quick pit stop to Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck for their award winning shrimp scampi! If your a garlic lover like me, this was an amazing dish. Just be sure to bring some gum or mints with you for the post meal. Most of our time was occupied with snorkelling and tanning. Although we were a little disappointed with no turtle sighting, we started our drive back. On our way, we noticed a small group of tourist on the beach stopped along the shoreline. My curiosity and interest got me to pull over. To our excitement there was a sea turtle on the beach, which drew tons of interest from the tourist.  It was a great way to end our day after being disappointed earlier on the day.



Of course, our second day had to end off with food. By the time we left, it was already 5:30pm and the sun had already started setting. We managed to catch Matsumato Shave Ice, as it was closing and had a little appetizer there before making our way to Uncle Bo’s Pupu Restaurant right beside. This had to be one of my favourite restaurants as they had a few signature dishes which included the Boca Rota ( cheesy bread, with prime rib strips, mozzarella cheese, and sautéed mushrooms), Cajun Ahi Tuna, and the SOS ( which was like a seafood stew). The dishes had such great flavours, it was a perfect meal to end the our second day.



A 5:00am wake up, was in store for us the next day. We all reluctantly managed to wake up, and get ready for our two morning hikes. We parked our car at Makapu’u Lookout, waiting for the sunrise, only to find out there was an additional hike that we missed down the road. Although we missed the sunrise,  we hiked up the Makapu’u Lookout for a nice view before making it to our next hike at Koko Crater. The trail was built over 60 years ago to allow military to bring supplies to the bunkers. In order to get to the view, one has to climb 1,048 steps before reaching the top at 1,208 feet. It was early in the morning, but the temperature had already reached 27 degrees.  Perhaps the toughest part of the hike was being able to see how steep the staircase was all the way to the peak. With few breaks in between, we reached the top with a 360 view of all 3 islands.


Sunrise hike at Makapu'u Lookout!  Sunrise hike at Makapu’u Lookout! One of our hardest hikes, the Koko Crater Trail. You can see the stairs all the way up. One of our hardest hikes, the Koko Crater Trail. You can see the stairs all the way up. View from Koko Crater! View from Koko Crater! After a long and gruleing hike we made it to the top of Koko Crater! Overlooking the After a long and gruleing hike we made it to the top of Koko Crater! Overlooking the “toilet bowl” or aka Hanauma Bay. Mimi and Ted at the top of Koko Trail!  Mimi and Ted at the top of Koko Trail! Our reward after the hike! Mochi Ice Cream!  Our reward after the hike! Mochi Ice Cream!


In the afternoon, we managed to continue our physical activity, with surfing lessons, with Daniel a friend I met at Disney on my 2011 program! It’s been 5 years since we last saw each other, but we managed to catch up while waiting for the waves. Ted and I went out first, only managing to get on our knees a few times before hitting the water. Helen and Mimi had a bit more success with actually standing on the surfboard. It was an exhausting day thus far, with the two hikes, but I managed a quick snooze on the beach before we headed to Ono Seafood famous for their tuna poke, and Waiolo Shave Ice. Following our food extravaganza, Ted and I went to go play frisbee pick up at their nearby university. The day was filled with activities, but it justified all the eating we were doing throughout the trip. We had a great time, playing a quick game of frisbee with some new faces. It’s always fun meeting new people in the ultimate frisbee community!


Shaved Ice at Waiola!  Shaved Ice at Waiola!


To finish the 3rd day, we headed to the downtown core, for Marukame Udon. Although the line looks long from the outside, don’t be afraid to wait in line, as it goes by quite quickly. After ordering your noodles, you head over to a self serve tempura bar. I couldn’t resist trying all the tempura, but with full stomachs from shaved ice and tuna poke, I only tried a few select pieces. The wait was definitely worth it. The udon perfectly cooked, with a flavourful broth, and perfectly fried crisp tempura. With full stomachs we walked around the Waikiki neighbourhood, before calling it a night.



I’m almost certain, I slept less on this vacation than the week prior at home. We woke up once more at 5:00am to make sure we beat the morning rush to Hanauma Bay. Andrew and Allie our Airbnb host informed us to to beat the admission price and tourist rush by arriving early. Hanauma Bay, is a marine life conservation. Because of this they only allow a small amount of people in their facility at one time with limited parking, which is the reasoning for the early departure. By the time we got there, parking had already filled half way. Watching the sunrise for the second day in a row, on the white sand and blue waters was such a sight. After the sunrise, I promptly got my snorkelling gear and dove right in to the chilly waters in hopes of finding some neat marine life. Although there was a vast variety of marine life, I had no luck spotting a wild sea turtle in the waters. As soon as the tour busses arrived, we made our departure from Hanauma Bay as the crowds filled the beach.


Overlooking Hanauma Bay! Overlooking Hanauma Bay!


Our next stop, was the Pillbox hike featuring two World War II bunkers. By now if you’ve read the whole blog post, you may notice a consistent theme of food. Of course, before heading to our hike we stopped by a local eatery to try the popular Hawaiian cuisine, the loco moco ( rice, hamburger patty, gravy, and fried egg). Again, by the time we started our hike, after breakfast, the temperature had already risen to 27 degrees. However, after the Koko Crater hike from the day before, this hike was a breeze. The views from up top were breathtaking. We stayed there absorbing everything in, before making our way down to Lanikai Beach.





With an exhausting morning, we headed back down along the eastern coastline of the island back into Waikiki. Surprise, surprise we made another pit stop to a restaurant featured on the Food Network. Again we had loco moco, since the Rainbow Drive was featured on Diners Drive In’s and Dives for that dish. Compared to the one in the morning, I didn’t notice much difference, but both were equally delicious. With our stomachs satisfied our next attraction was the Diamond Head State Monument. The name was a little misleading, as we thought there was an actual monument, only to find out the monument included a hike. According to the tour guide pamphlet it was a recommended 1-2 hours for a leisurely hike. As a group we were all tired of hiking, and our legs were sore from the previous hikes. We finally decided to do the hike, as a family informed us it was only about 45 minutes roundtrip. This hike was by far the easiest of all the other 3 we did before. Again, the view was spectacular overlooking Koko Head and Waikiki.



After our hike, we rushed down to catch Ono Seafood and Waiolo Shaved Ice before they closed at 6. Making it in the knick of time, we satisfied our cravings for shaved ice and tuna poke on our last night. We explored Waikiki and finished up some souvenir shopping before we made our way to dinner at Tanaka of Tokyo for a teppanyaki-style dinner. This was a perfect ending to our last night. Following two hard days of hiking and activities, this hearty meal was much needed.



We finally got to sleep in on our final day! With no plans, for the last day we headed back down to Waikiki. The weather was a bit a gloomy that day, with clouds and the occasional showers. One of the last things on our to-do-list, was to find a good location for musubi. Musubi is a popular snack in Hawaii consisting of spam, rice and seaweed. Like the loco moco, I was quite skeptical of the musubi. However, myself and Helen split a bacon, avocado musubi. I was so blown away how good it tasted, I ended up getting another one. Musubi Cafe Iyasume, offers a variety and selection of musbi that is a must try! Myself and Ted, couldn’t get enough of the udon from the night before, that we decided to go back one last time to Marukame Udon for our last meal.



Ending on a high note, we headed to the outlets for some last minute shopping! As we were leaving the outlets we noticed a food truck, Leonard’s Bakery. This was originally on our list of things to do, but due to our timing and location we didn’t manage to make it to their actual store. Of course as a group we couldn’t resist leaving Honolulu without trying some of these donuts (aka malasadas) that everyone was raving about. We opted for the original and malasada cream puffs. Much like a donut, it was very soft on the inside with a bit more of a crunch on the outside.



With our stomachs full to our hearts content, some extremely tender legs, and minimal sleep, we were ready to head back to Vancouver! I forgot to mention at the beginning of this post that I continued our project “Follow Me To” inspired by another photographer when he and his wife traveled around the world. So throughout the posts you may have seen Helen’s hand dragging me around ( aka me asking her for hand constantly). Thanks for everything Honolulu! Can’t wait to visit soon!



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  1. Vicky says:

    LOVE your photography Justin…and all the yummy food you ate…and the wonderful stories you capture and tell…LOVE!


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