In May 2012 we’d come into a modest amount of money. With our 33rd wedding anniversary coming up, my wife Joanne thought that perhaps this would be a good time for a bona-fide honeymoon. I don’t need a gun to my head to make a whimsical and frivolous decision, especially if it looks like it could be unproductive and costly so I immediately agreed. But where to go? Well, we had nine months to come to a decision.
Initially, we thought Europe would be fun but the 2012 Olympics were being held in London that summer and I’m almost positive we could have obtained a Faberge egg cheaper than traveling Europe. We looked at “all inclusives” in the Caribbean, but one could laze at home and buy enough food and booze with that kind of cash to feed the cast of Return of the King (Orcs included) if all one has a desire to do is lay around and eat and drink like you’re on vacation or something. Joanne suggested Hawaii as she had been there on a school trip in her youth and had always wanted to return.
“No way,” says I. “Airfare alone will be like, $4000 CAD return for the two of us.”
Why, our combined airfare could buy 12% of a Super Bowl ticket! However, when I checked, our combined return airfare would only be $2006 CAD which was somewhat bemusing given we would be flying almost halfway around the planet Earth. Ours is not to question why, ours is but to cheaply fly. Hawaii it would be.
So we would leave on the the 25th of September and return the 14th of October 2012. Alas, too early for the Ultraman revolution.
Scotty Adds his $0.02 USD
A good friend of mine named Scott had lived in Oahu for a year and a half during his wayward youth and he offered sound advice in respect to a trip to Hawaii.
“Given the distance, go for more than a week and make sure you visit more than one island,” Scott advised.
This was only the first splash of sound wisdom as Scott proved to be a fountain of invaluable and practical information. So we decided on a three week sojourn with a week on North Shore of Oahu, a week on the Big Island (Hawaii) in Pahoa, near Hilo and five days in Waikiki on Oahu.
I’d seen Joanne’s photos from her school trip trip to Waikiki. Hawaii is always pitched as paradise. These photos depicted Hawaii as Steve McGarretland, circa 1975. Watching the new series you realize calling Waikiki a tourist Mecca is a complete understatement; it makes New York City feel like Mount Everest base camp in the off season. Actually… I think I narrowly missed an encounter with yak dung once in Central Park. To give a stronger sense of how touristy the former swamp of Waikiki is, there are 200 hotels in Oahu. 198 of them are in Waikiki with the other two being Ko’Olina on the west coast and Turtle Bay on the North Shore.
Overall, we like to experience more local color so off the top we decided on five nights in Waikiki and two weeks elsewhere. In keeping with that thought, I thought the North Shore would have more local flavor. Unfortunately, big wave season doesn’t begin until November and we’d be leaving prior to the start, but given our experience it still should be impressive and Jo agreed. The Big Island was my initiative. I told Joanne I wasn’t going to go all that way and pass up the opportunity to see an active volcano. Now the question became, where to stay?
We decided to turn to Homeaway.com (Formerly VRBO.com) as hotels seemed pricey on first inspection and Homeway offers more flexibility in respect to price. I appreciate the great variety of user friendly filters. Even if you have a medical condition that compels you to live in a castle, and host lavish balls you no longer need be bound to a single fortified structure! You can hop on a packet schooner and head to Europe!
Mind you, depending on your requirements you won’t always find what you want. Dwight D. Eisenhower would in all probability be pressed finding a 39,000 bedroom/9750 bathroom place in the Normandy region to house 156,000 troops… mostly because most of them are smokers and Homeaway didn’t exist in 1941. However, the broader your parameters, the more likely your success. Our parameters were pretty broad so every single night for months, Joanne and I would be searching the site from early evening until well past midnight looking for places to stay. It was exciting!
Joanne and I are yin and yang, opposites in so many ways. Spending is one of them. She’s a value chick when it comes to spending money, the queen of sales. I’m like Dustin Hoffman’s Raymond in Rainman in respect to my sense of cost:
Doctor: Ray, do you know how much a candy bar costs?
Raymond: ‘Bout a hundred dollars.
Doctor: Do you know how much one of those new compact cars costs?
Raymond: ‘Bout a hundred dollars.
That being said I’m generally giving more weight to the intrinsic value of any given product rather than the price. That’s my story and I’m holding to it.
There was a lot of back and forth between value and price point, but for the first week the North Shore we settled on what seemed to be a luxurious house which had a waterfall swimming pool, a hot tub, four bedrooms/two baths located on the ridge overlooking Sunset Beach in Pupakea. We couldn’t actually see the beach and the view of the ocean was limited. Kind of like weather stripping between the foliage and the sky. No matter, it had a baby grand piano, a pool and fruit trees on the extensive grounds and it looked like paradise
Given the size of the house, we decided to invite our four adult children to stay with us for the first week. I told them all they needed was airfare and spending money; I’d be renting a car and paying for the house. Kristiane, our eldest and Michelle, our youngest, eventually took us up on our offer and made their arrangements. Our two boys declined for a variety of reasons. So one place down, two to go.
On to the “Big Island” of Hawaii. We decided to stay in Pahoa on the western side of the island when we found a house with a pool and ocean frontage. It wasn’t far from Hilo, the second largest city on the island and it was about 15 minutes away from Kilaueau, a very active volcano. It’s so active that two years later in 2014, then again in 2018, Pahoa was at risk of being buried under fresh lava flows.
So with house number two settled, there was only Waikiki left. We looked and waffled and one evening when I bedded down early for a day shift, Joanne woke me up very excited about a place she’d found. I took a look at the pictures and thought she’d accidentally blundered into the palace at Versailles (I dunno. Versailles may list on Homeaway for all I knew), but no, she’d found a beautiful condo at the Royal Garden in Waikiki. You can’t rent a broom closet in Waikiki for $125 a night, so this was golden. All we needed now was ground transport.
Off to Hotwire to rent cars! I thought a convertible for the first week on the north shore would be perfect, so I rented a Mustang thinking we’d just be the coolest tooling around in that baby. My buddy Scott then informed me that this was the tropics and maybe a convertible wouldn’t be such a good idea. Apparently the locals call them “fry cars.” As I’m essentially bald, there was a strong possibility that after a few days in a convertible the top of my head might provide a distraction for anyone hoping to enjoy a Hawaiian sunset thinking that maybe they’d somehow been beamed to a planet with a double sun. I still didn’t care. I was renting that convertible.
For the big Island, we rented a generic… car on the cheap. For Waikiki it didn’t matter but parking is a problem so we bought trolley tickets which would get us everywhere we wanted to go and the Waikiki trolley proved to be a marvelous idea.
So everything was arranged and we were ready to roll. As time grew short, we grew more excited until September 25th arrived and we were off to Hawaii!!!!! At 0430! In the morning. It would be 22 hours before we’d arrive in Honolulu and another five before I’d sleep again. Good thing I used to be a shift worker.
Next time on TTWTH: Pupakea First Impressions: Sunrise