By Guest Writer, Kimberly Hoff
Paradise can mean a lot of things. I might not have thought of Oahu, Hawaii as my ultimate paradise, but if gorgeous warm weather and plenty of fresh fruit and fish to eat are important, then perhaps it is. The dictionary says paradise is “a place of extreme beauty, delight, or happiness.” That I can’t deny.
In August of 2017, to commemorate my 50th birthday, I spent two weeks in Hawaiian paradise. Most of the time was spent on the big island of Hawaii, which I preferred to the hustle and bustle of the more touristy Oahu. But for five days, I crammed in as much of the popular island as possible, and I’m glad I did.
Oahu in general
Oahu is great for those looking to do and see and be busy during their entire vacation. The weather is hot and balmy, like the south, with one big exception. There are no annoying biting bugs — no ticks, no big black flies, no mosquitoes. Hallelujah! The fruit is luscious,and the seafood is the freshest you’ll ever find. Most restaurant-prepared food has an Asian flare with ginger and soy sauce being staples. Being a true southern girl, I like my fish cornmeal dusted and fried. Hawaiians prefer their fish raw, opting for sushi, sushimi and, its sloppier cousin, poke’. Lodging and food is relatively expensive on the island, but nothing more than you would expect to pay for a beach-town vacation. Your wallet will thank you for eating locally sourced fare.
The North Shore
Ah, the North Shore. How to put it into words? Imagine a box of crayons melting into the sky and illuminating a beach littered with black lava chunks–it is beautiful. However, walking on the beach proves to be a treacherous tip-toeing through the tulips, if tulips were razor-sharp projectiles. After your rock-hopping ballet, your tummy will surely be rumbling, so it’s a good thing the north shore holds awesome food trucks. Everyone in the family can pick their ethnic favorite, grab a seat at a picnic table, and pig out. My favorite was the fresh pad thai from The Elephant Truck. No elephants were harmed in the making of my dinner as this was one of the few vegan-friendly spots.
The Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center blew my mind! They immerse you in the different cultures of the Polynesian islands. Most of the employees are students working for their tuition at nearby Brigham Young University of Hawaii. It is beautiful and worth every penny of admission. Imagine Epcot with tiki huts, palm trees and lagoons. Taste the food, hear the music, ride in the canoe, enjoy a luau with the family, and see the theatrical production of Ha: Breath of Life. We spent one day here, and it was definitely not enough.
Make sure to allow about half a day for the Dole plantation. Yes, I know, they sell cans of the stuff here on the mainland, but have you ever seen a pineapple plant? It’s quite amazing. It takes two years for the plant to produce one pineapple, and then it dies. One plant = one pineapple. An open air train putters around the plantation showing you the harvesting process. The gift shop carries a little bit of everything and was the best one we visited while on vacation. And if it gets too hot for you, cool off with a tasty Dole Whip, which is a non-dairy pineapple sorbet that will absolutely knock your socks off.
Of course, a prerequisite for anyone visiting Honolulu is to pay homage to the site of the USS Arizona. It’s free to visit, but they only give out so many tickets per day, so arrive early. Make sure to read the list of no-nos very carefully. Your backpack and stroller will have to remain in the car. It will be an emotional and heartbreaking visit. The remains of the ship are beneath a clear, glass-like floor. It is the gravesite for those who gave their life on the 7th of December, 1941. Those who fought there and survived to tell the tale have the option, upon their death, of being cremated and joining their comrades in this underwater resting place.
The island of Oahu has so much to offer. If you ever get a chance to visit, sleep as much as you can on the plane and hit the ground running. You and your family will talk about your experiences there for years to come.
You just might have found your paradise.