Mahalo, Hawaii


Early April, I went with my friends to the top of the Tantalus Lookout to watch the sunset. The lookout has such a beautiful view of the city lights.

Later in the month, we went to King Kamehameha III’s Summer Palace ruins. It is supposed to be very sacred and important to the locals. To get to it, we did a short hike through the woods, and the road leading to the hike was really beautiful (off the Pali Highway).

Photo of my souffle eggs from Kaimana Farm Cafe, a cute little cafe on Kapahulu.

Mini photoshoot from a lava tube off the side of Kalanianaole Highway (my favorite stretch of road on the island). This is on the east coast of the island and goes right up against the ocean with beautiful mountains on the other side.

Probably the most exciting thing I did while in Hawaii, mid-April me and my friends went skydiving on the North Shore. I don’t have any pictures of me actually jumping out, since that cost an extra hundred dollars (the photos are of one of my friends jumping). But below are the views from right as we jumped out, and then a view of the coast closer to the ground. It was probably the most insane thing I have ever done. We got to the company building, signed some papers that said we might die, and then got geared up. Right as that happened, the sky got pretty cloudy and it began to rain a little (surprise, it was raining!!!). So then we had to get ourselves even more nervous and wait around for a while until there was a gap in the clouds. We did tandem skydiving, and the man who jumped with me was Russian and very friendly. He really made me less nervous. Eventually, we got in a tiny plane and started flying up once the clouds cleared a little. We seemed so high, and then they told us that the were halfway up. After about 20 minutes, they opened the plane door and the first pair jumped immediately. I was the last of my friends to go, so I had to watch all of them jump. Before I knew it, I was standing out the side of a plane looking down at the clouds. The first ten seconds or so we were in free fall. That was the scariest time–the wind was blowing up at me so hard that I could barely keep my mouth shut, or even breathe. I gulped the air down to try and catch my breath, and suddenly he pulled the chute and we got yanked upwards. It was an incredible feeling just drifting down to the ground. He was controlling it in a way that we would sway downwards at an angle, and then as he would pull it in the opposite direction, we had a moment where it felt like we were just floating in mid-air. It was amazing, but also making me very dizzy and I had him stop since I felt like I would have passed out. From there on out, we slowly drifted to the ground. The views were incredible, especially of the beautiful coastline. It hurt my legs so badly the way the straps were and the way I was being pulled upwards. I landed pretty easily on my feet and for a second I was just in shock. I got horrible cold hives all over my body from the low temperature of the air that high up. But it was so worth it. I can check that off my bucket list now.

Me and my friends went to this beach called Cromwell’s Beach which was towards Diamondhead more. It was a cloudy day, but pretty area.

The last Saturday in April, we headed out to Kaena Point, the westernmost tip of the island. To get to the point, we had to travel on a dirt road that was not very well-maintained. We had a few close calls, but the car made it without falling apart. From there, we walked through a nature preserve that was home to albatrosses, which look like huge seagulls. The edge of the preserve was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The cerulean waves crashed against the black lava rock, and the coast had tons of coral pieces where sand would normally be. The waves were huge–my friends actually got soaked trying to take a picture standing on some of the rocks. We were looking out in the water and saw a bunch of fins swimming together not far out that could have been sharks or dolphins.

                     

I finally got out to Pearl Harbor at the beginning of May. We got there at 6:30 AM in order to get a ticket. Once inside, we watched a short film about what actually happened here. I really was unaware of what occurred that day, so it was eye-opening. From there, our group loaded up on a boat and rode out to the USS Arizona Memorial. Basically, they built this white memorial over top of the sunken Arizona ship. You can see the remains in the third photo. It was crazy to think that over 400 bodies of men killed that day were right underneath us, trapped in the sunken battleship. It was a chilling experience and I am glad I was able to come and honor those who died.

Photo of Vietnamese pho and really good spring rolls from Pho Kapahulu.

We went to the Byodo-In Temple on our last weekend. It is located in Kaneohe within a cemetery called Valley of the Temples. It was a beautiful Buddhist temple surrounded with a koi fish pond. There is also a giant bell you are supposed to ring for good luck (we all rang it).

    

On the way back from the temple, we stopped by the Iolani Palace, as well as the Ali’iolani Hale, which is on the show Hawaii Five-0.

Another acai bowl on Waikiki Beach.

On our last day here, me and my friend took a bus out to Hanauma Bay, which is a very popular snorkeling area on the island. It was pretty cloudy, but also humid, so the cool water was nice. The reef wasn’t anything spectacular (compared to the Big Island’s reefs), but still pretty cool to see the fish swimming around you.

I can’t believe that my time in Hawaii is over. I feel like I just got here, but on the other hand, it feels like I haven’t been home in forever. I will never forget the wonderful memories I made with the wonderful people I met. Hawaii is not what I expected (stray cats everywhere, constant rain, and an overabundance of Asian restaurants), but it is also everything I expected and more (beautiful sunsets, a huge variety of beaches and hikes, and warm, tropical weather). I am so happy and grateful that I was able to come for the semester. I will miss Hawaii so much; sitting here on my last night is very sad. Even so, I am definitely ready to come home.