Tag Archives: Hawaii

Beating the Vacation Hangover

I’m suffering from a bit of a vacation hangover. Pictures freeze time when I cannot. Fortunately, there is still the anticipation of all that is left to come, and it is a lot.


What is life?

Sisters bouncing in the waves,

Rituals untouched by age,

Mosquito-ridden hikes through streams,

To waterfalls guarded beneath a canopy of trees,

Jasmine pearl ice tea,

Sunscreen layered thick,

Tiki Mai Tais hidden in a maze of stalls,

Millions of stars in the night sky,

Sprinklers then laughter,

A ghostly figure in the dark,

Manta ray arms stretched wider than my own,

Two turtles and a friendly fish,

A Buddhist temple with a bell so large,

You are promised happiness and peace.

A catamaran skips across the water,

Edging closer to the unknown,

A fish caught and punched to death in the head,

Blood diluted by the sea,

Tears of brevity,

Life impossible to hold,

As sisters howl and scream beyond the break.


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A Week in Oahu: I’m Ready to Move.

When I heard we were headed to Oahu this summer, I was both thrilled and a little skeptical. In my mind, Oahu meant Honolulu—crowded beaches, throngs of tourists, a cookie cutter version of the Hawaii I love. After all, that was the only version of Oahu I had seen 13 years ago in my less than 48 hours on the island, and last summer I was spoiled with the secluded paradise of Kauai.

However, it turns out Oahu has a lot to offer—the same quiet, dense vegetation, and gorgeous seascapes as its northern neighbor, plus the metropolitan bonus of a big city. In fact, most of Oahu feels like the real Hawaii, outside of Honolulu there are fewer resorts compared to Maui or the Big Island, and there really isn’t a bad view to be found.

If you have not considered visiting Oahu, here are a few tips from my week in paradise:

  1. Flying to Oahu is the least expensive of any of the Hawaiian islands. Fares from Northern California consistently range between $300 and $500 per person, half as much as it may cost to reach Kauai during the summer. Likewise, your flight is more likely to be direct.
  2. If big cities aren’t your vision of Hawaiian travel, it is easy to get away from Honolulu. We stayed on the North Shore, home to the famous Pipeline surfing in the winter, and much more reminiscent of Kauai than a metropolis.
  3. VRBO is your friend. We rented a killer house for less than the price of three hotel rooms for eight adults. If you stock up at Costco on the island, you can also save on the food bill.
    Our private entrance to the beach.

    Our private entrance to the beach.

    Our perfectly Hawaiian retreat.

    Our perfectly Hawaiian beachfront retreat.

  4. Maunawili falls is worth the hike and the possible confusion in your search for the trailhead. You get vistas and the chance to swim in a waterfall. Head out early and do not leave valuables in your car. In the few hours we were on the trail, tales of theft and vandalism abounded.
    The hike to the waterfall takes about an hour and passes stunning vistas.

    The hike to the waterfall takes about an hour and passes stunning vistas.

    The chilly waterfall offers plenty of spots to jump in.

    The chilly waterfall offers plenty of spots to jump in.

  5. North Shore Catamaran is a great way to get out on the water and do some amazing snorkeling. They run semi-regular deals on Groupon, so check frequently before your trip. Amazing wildlife abounds. My proudest sighting was a small octopus that rolled up into a ball and winked at me.

    Didn't get to drive the boat this time, but still saw plenty of cool stuff.

    Didn’t get to drive the boat this time, but still saw plenty of creatures at one of the best snorkeling spots I’ve ever visited.

  6. Food trucks are delicious and easy to find. Read Yelp reviews beforehand to help make your selection. I chose a Cajun chicken burger, DELICIOUS.
    Easy to see why this one was Alex's favorite...

    Easy to see why this one was Alex’s favorite…

    Food Truck

    But I preferred the more land-friendly variety from North Shore Dogs & Burgers…

  7. Shaved ice is better than you remember as a kid, however, standing in a long line is not. Check out Yelp and jump in a shorter line with decent reviews. We loved Aloha General Store in Hale’iwa, owned by a friendly Sac State grad.

    My favorite flavors, Blue Hawaii and Passionfruit. Definitely not going to win  any health food awards on this one.

    My favorite flavors, Blue Hawaii and Passionfruit. Definitely not going to win any health awards on this one.

  8. Honolulu is worth a visit, even if you prefer peace and quiet. We visited the International Marketplace where you can negotiate with little old ladies and then enjoy a discounted Tiki drink with beautiful live music in the back of the maze of stalls. You may even feel a little like Anthony Bourdaine surrounded by all the booze and kitsch.
    Not sure what makes tiki bars so appealing, but this place was a blast.

    Not sure what makes tiki bars so appealing, but this place was a blast.

    As much as it pains me to admit, Waikiki is undeniably beautiful.

    And, as much as it pains me to admit, Waikiki is undeniably beautiful.

  9. Stars. Make it your mission to get outside and stare up at the stars away from the city lights. You will probably see constellations you don’t see at home—I can’t remember the last time I saw the Milky Way.
  10. Last but not least, remember to wear your sunscreen. As far as the more natural sunscreens go, I have a new favorite—Burn Out. Blends in much better than many of its competitors and does a great job protecting from the dreaded vacation burn.

It is a tradition for me to want to move after a vacation and Oahu is no exception. I have already researched teacher salaries, credential transfers and rents. Regardless of what the future holds, I will return one way or another. Oahu rocks.

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Out-of-office Response: See you next week!

In light of all the lovely blog love I have received in the past couple days, it’s hard to keep myself from checking in around here, (thanks again to my fellow Bloggers for Peace). However, I really must push myself to step away, so hopefully you won’t be seeing any more words from me until next week. Must. Resist.

Okay, now that I wrote that, I’m going to have a million irresistible blog ideas…

Have a safe and fun fourth!

Happy Fourth of July from Oahu's lovely North Shore.

Happy Fourth of July from Oahu’s beautiful North Shore.

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Saving Money on Vacation, Groupon Style

No matter where you are headed this summer, there are likely countless ways to spend your hard-earned cash. As I was researching Oahu on Yelp, I ran across a lot of reviews that suggested using Groupon and Living Social to save money. Sure enough, both options yielded countless vacation adventures I would have overlooked, like pedaling around Honolulu on a party bike, singing Karaoke at a Lost in Translation-style bar, or renting ocean kayaks.

While we ended up sticking to the more traditional catamaran tour, we still saved a lot of money, especially for eight adults traveling together. I had never thought of using these local discount services while on vacation, but now I’m hooked!

Happy summer travels.

Even got to drive the boat, no biggie.

Maybe if I’m lucky they’ll let me drive the boat again this year… Look out, Oahu.

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Life Beyond the Computer Screen

Yesterday, I took a break from blogging, my first since summer vacation started.  After reading “iCrazy” in Newsweek while lying on Tunnels Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, I realized I have become too dependent on the public approval fed through Facebook and WordPress, the notifications popping up in little dopamine doses on my smart phone.

While I rationalize that blogging is at least part of my mission in establishing myself as a writer, the reality is that it has also become part of my greater addiction to the internet.  The number of likes and new follows either negatively or positively affects my mood after posting, (not to mention the compulsive checking of my inbox for feedback).  My solution, forced breaks, turned off email notifications, and only checking my blog when I post new material.

In just 48 hours of silence, I’ve already noticed that not receiving email notifications to my phone has made a huge difference.  Not knowing what activity I am receiving is better than the high or low of immediate reinforcement.  I no longer have the urge to pick up my phone every two minutes.  In fact, I left my phone off all day today and yesterday, save for checking for voicemails and text messages once in the morning and once in the evening.

Taking a day off blogging was also nicer than I thought, as I resisted the urge to complete my daily ritual.  That’s the thing, even on vacation, I derive satisfaction from the exercise of blogging, I am just trying to move away from it being an obsession.  So far, giving myself a little space is making it feel a lot less compulsive.  Best of all, a break made me hyper-aware of how often I think about being online or checking my inbox.  It was more often than I like to admit.  However, the more time I let pass, the less often I had the urge.

The important life reminder– I value time spent disconnected.  A big motivation in becoming a teacher was creating a life where I was not connected to a computer for work all day.  I have to remind myself this as I dive head first into the world of writing, an evolving world shrouded in technology.  If any of this resonates with you, I recommend reading the article linked above, although I’m not suggesting that it is a problem for everyone.

A few pictures below to remind you how beautiful life can be beyond the computer screen.  I look forward to reconnecting with you all next time I post!

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The Real Hawaii

I’d like to think I’m not an obnoxious traveler.  I like it all– cheap, luxury, anything in between.  Today we discovered the real Hawaii.  Not the resort or the places made to manufacture an experience.  Instead, we ate where locals eat, snorkeled at public beaches, shopped in a gritty little town where surf clothing was actually on sale instead of marked up for tourists.  We even discovered a hostel on the beach with beds for $27 a night.  No, we did not stay, but the fact that such a place exists is pretty awesome.

Sometimes I get tired of the glossy, clean, perfect version of travel.  I would have a hard time staying at an all-inclusive resort where I did not step foot off the property.  I want to know how people live in different places, I want to meet to them, to talk with them.  I especially like discovering places that are gritty, down-to-earth, without pretenses.  I get a thrill out of enjoying food that is both delicious and cheap.  Somewhere I can stand in line and actually start a conversation with someone that is not also from California.

I got my wish.  These pictures will share my finds better than my words.

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