We got up early and got all of our swim gear together and headed on over to Hanauma Bay for a fun day of snorkeling. We wanted to get there before the parking lot filled up. We made it by 8am and although we found a parking spot without any problems, the weather was iffy. It was raining, cloudy, and much too cool to sit by the water. So, we waited it out in our car for about 40 minutes. Then we headed into the park and found the most perfect spot on the grassy area behind the sandy beach where we strung up our hammock. By this point the sun was out and it was warm enough to get in the water. We grabbed our snorkels and headed out to explore the entire bay. Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay was incredible. We saw lots of interesting fish. It was such an incredible experience to snorkel across this entire bay. At some points the reef was incredibly shallow. We had to make like a board and float right on top of it. I was worried that I would get scratched on my belly but that never happened. At one point we saw an entire school of fish feasting on the reef. There were probably over a hundred fish in the group. We just followed them until they swam away. It was pretty neat. After about an hour of snorkeling I was starting to get cold, so we got out and warmed up in the sun and just laid in the hammock and snacked on fruit and nuts. We spent a good couple of hours just relaxing in the hammock and talking. Then Mike headed to grab us some lunch. By the time we were done eating, we were ready to get back in the water for one more round of snorkeling. It was really hard to leave the bay and head back to the hotel. I just didn’t want this day to end. Since I had a red eye flight back to Colorado, we had a little bit of time to eat one more dinner together and grab some treats to bring back home for the kids. We decided to eat at the Tonkatsu place just one more time. We got really lucky and grabbed the very last table at the restaurant. It was just as good as the first time and would have to last us until the next time we would be in Japan in the fall. It was hard to leave Hawaii and Mike, but I was super grateful I got to spend a glorious 4 ½ days soaking in the sun and spending quality time with my best friend.
This morning we actually slept in which was awesome. Then we put on our running clothes and headed out on quite a morning run. We ran all the way down Kalakaua Ave. until we came to Monsarrat Ave. and then turned toward Diamond Head. It was about 3 miles until we reached the entrance to Diamond Head State Park. Once at the bottom Mike was kind enough to let me run on ahead. I ran up until I got to the paid entrance gate. We both went in together and then once at the actual trail, we took off on a run up to the top. Since it wasn’t super early in the morning the regular crowds were out and about on the trail. It was fairly easy to continue running up the trail, having to stop here and there, to get around people. Once I reached the set of stairs, I waited for Mike who I knew wasn’t too far behind. For a brief moment I decided to just head up the stairs, then turned around because I thought I had better wait to ascend the last section together with Mike. Turns out that as I was heading down to wait for Mike, he was heading up. Neither one of us saw the other as we were so focused on our footing. I waited for another 5 minutes at the landing at the bottom of the stairs for Mike and then decided that I had better head up. It truly was crazy that we had missed seeing each other in passing. The views from up on top were ridiculous. As we were starting to head back down and small rain shower fell on us. It actually felt really good. We stayed together on the descent and were able to run most of the way down. We ran together all the way back to Kalakaua Ave where we stopped at Lanikai Smoothie for some amazing smoothie bowls. It was a smoothie on the bottom with a layer of granola and topped off with freshly cut up fruit. It was the perfect recovery meal. We walked over to the beach to eat our smoothie bowls and then walked back to our hotel along the beach. We got back and relaxed for a while before getting showered and ready to head to church. In typical Hawaiian fashion, someone must have been a little too relaxed and didn’t update the meeting house times on LDS tools because when we showed up at 1:00pm for church, no one was there. Oh well…at least we tried. We hurried back to the hotel, quickly grabbed a sandwich and headed over to our sales presentation. It was more of the same as the Marriott presentation. We definitely were not interested in what we think is a total scam. However, we listened, got our free 25,000 Hilton points and headed on out to Ko’Olina for a nice evening of watching the sunset and dinner at Mina’s Fish House. The sunset was magnificent. We stood up on the rocks behind the Four Seasons and just watched as the sun went down. It was absolutely the perfect sunset. There were plenty of people out doing the same, even a recently married couple getting their photos taken. While we waited for our dinner reservation, we continued the walk down to the Marriott resorts and by the time we got back to the Four Seasons they were ready to sit us for dinner. Dinner started out a little rocky with a super casual and not very attentive waiter. However, the food was pretty amazing and the views unparalleled. It was a beauty evening of eating dinner right next to the water and a great way to end our fun day.
We got up early today and put on our swimsuits, grabbed our snorkeling gear and provisions for the day and headed out for a day on the east shore. With a quick stop at the airport, and to my surprise, we parked Mike’s government rental car at the airport and picked up a black mustang convertible for the remainder of my time in Hawaii. That was such a fantastic surprise. We drove on the Pali Highway towards Kailua. We stopped briefly at the Nu-uanu Pali Lookout and marveled at the beauty from where we were. It wasn’t much further from the lookout to the Kailua Beach Park where we found a parking spot before the lot filled up for the day. We got out and walked along the beach and then headed on the private roads to Lanikai Beach to see what it was like. Wow…Lanikai Beach was pretty spectacular. We spent some time walking on that beach before heading back to where the car was and then on over to Kailua rental center. We rented a double kayak, bought a cute double hammock, new swim goggles for me, and some Chums to keep our sunglasses secure while on the kayak. We watched the safety video about kayaking in the area then loaded up our kayak on the wheeled dolly and headed back over to Kailua Beach. We loaded up our drybag with all of our food and extra clothing, secured our snorkeling gear in the kayak and then headed out into the ocean. It was fairly windy as we headed out to Popoia Island first. It took some time for us to find our groove paddling together but we made it safely to the island without too much trouble. We docked our kayak on the small sandy bank and got out to walk around the small bird sanctuary island. The view from the island was pretty remarkable. After spending a short time exploring this island we hopped back into the kayak and headed straight for Lanikai Beach. The original plan was to head on over to Moku Nui Island, but the winds were so strong that we decided to just hang out at Lanikai instead of kayaking against the wind for another hour. It was still fairly early in the morning and the beach wasn’t at all crowded - partially because it is not as accessible as Kailua Beach. It is a good 15 min walk from the Kailua Beach parking lot. After docking our kayak on the beach, we got on our snorkeling gear and headed out into the crystal-clear blue water and had fun seeing all the different kinds of fish swimming around the shallow reefs. It was pretty incredible to snorkel at Lanikai. We spent most of the day snorkeling and laying out in the warm sun. I can’t remember the last time I got to lay out in the sun without kids. I was really careful to put on sunscreen frequently so I wouldn’t burn. It was hard to want to leave the beach but eventually we headed back into the kayak and paddled back to where we started. It took no time at all to get back since the wind was in our favor. We returned the kayak, grabbed some ice-cream, and laid in our hammock for a while before driving back to Waikiki. We drove back via the Kalanianaole Hwy stopping at the Makapu’u Point State Wayside overlook to see the beauty of where we spent the day. It was a remarkable view from where we stood, and I just felt grateful that I got to spend the day with Mike. After showering and getting ready back at our hotel, we headed out again to eat dinner. We decided to stand in line to eat at Marukame Udon Tempura Musubi. Apparently, this famous Udon shop, always has a really long line out front. The good news was that the line moved rather quickly. We met some really nice people in line and that helped the time to pass quickly. The Udon was really tasty and definitely authentic. It seems crazy to be in Hawaii but feel so close to Japan.
When Mike told me that he might be able to do his reserve duty at Tripler in Hawaii, I got right on trying to find someone to watch the kids so I could join him over the holiday weekend. In asking around, my awesome friend Dionne volunteered to come and stay with the kids with her son Lucas. I already knew Dionne was amazing, but I did not expect such a nice gesture. I got a direct flight from Denver to Honolulu on Thursday morning and got to Hawaii in the early afternoon. I grabbed an Uber and headed to our hotel where I met Mike after he was finished with work. When I got there, they had put is in the wrong hotel. After a rather long phone conversation with Hilton Grand Vacations, we got everything sorted out. We ended up staying at the Grand Islander at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort right on Waikiki. This was their newest tower and the feel was modern yet classy. In the mix up with the room, we ended up upgrading to a one-bedroom suite where we had our own kitchen area and lots of room to spread out. We wasted no time and headed right out to go for a walk on the beach. It was glorious to be somewhere so warm and peaceful. We walked all the way down the beach past the Hale Koa and then we headed towards the shopping strip and to the International Market Place which is a fairly new outdoor mall area with shops and restaurants. Mike had made a reservation for us to eat dinner at the Eating House which is one of Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurants. The food was outstanding, and it felt surreal to be eating outside. After an amazing dinner of steak and potatoes for me and scallops for Mike, we were too tired to wait the 25 minutes for some of their amazing desserts, so we grabbed the check and headed to the Japanese grocery store to buy our favorite Japanese ice-cream sandwich and devoured it on our walk back to our hotel. With the 3-hour time change, I was out like a light the moment my head hit the pillow.
I had anticipated sleeping in the next morning, but I was up before 5am. I laid in bed until 6am and then I got on my running clothes and went for an early morning run with Mike. We ran to the Foodland Farms grocery store and bought fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen fruit for our smoothies, and some lunch and snacks for the following days excursions. We ended up with too much food to run back with, so we called an Uber and headed back to our hotel. I quickly made Mike a smoothie and sent him off to work. Luckily, he only had to work a half day today. After he left, I opened up the Valentines gift bag he had put together for me. Inside were lots of treats, including some yummy Japanese candies, 2 fun shirts, a tank top from Lululemon, and a card with instructions for my fun day. Mike had booked an 80 min massage for me at the Ritz Carlton at 11:00am followed by a wonderful lunch of Ton Katsu with him at 2:00pm. I took advantage of my morning and headed to the beach with my smoothie. I walked the entire walk between the Hilton and all the way past the Hale Koa and then headed back. I came back to shower and got all of my things together and headed to the Ritz Carlton. I have had many massages and been to many amazing spas but this one was probably one of my favorites. The people were so incredibly nice, and everything was designed to be light and calming. I had the best massage followed by some time in the relaxation room, eating my snacks of dried fruit, chocolate, and dragon fruit sorbet. It was kind of amazing. I was lucky enough to be in the relaxation room all by myself, so it was really relaxing. After spending some time in the sauna, I took a shower and got all ready and headed on over to the Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin restaurant to meet Mike. We were both pleasantly surprised at how delicious the tonkatsu was. It tasted just like being back in Japan. Of course, everyone in the restaurant was either Japanese or speaking Japanese, and the cooks were all native Japanese. We even conversed with our waitress in our simple Japanese. That is always fun.
We spent the rest of the afternoon paddle boarding on the ocean. We rented boards from the Hale Koa rental and made our way to the water. There was a little wind which made balancing at times a bit difficult, but we still managed to have a great time. I actually did see one sea turtle poke it’s head out of the water. We paddled together for about an hour before heading back inside to get ready for dinner. Since it was Valentine’s Day and most of the restaurants had been booked for quite some time, we opted to order pizza to go from a really great pizza restaurant at the International Market Place. We found a nice spot on two comfy chairs outside on the third level and ate our pizza and just talked. It was absolutely perfect. Then we headed back over to the Eating House and ordered the brownie, graham and marshmallow dessert. Since we didn’t have a reservation we just sat up at the bar and waited patiently for our yummy dessert to arrive. It gave us more time to just chat and enjoy the awesome live music that was being played. I couldn’t have planned a better day!