On January 5th we officially shoved off for Japan, with a slight six day detour (Honeymoon!) in Hawaii. Best plan EVER. We left out of Atlanta for a nonstop flight to Honolulu, where even the airport is half open-air and amazingly beautiful. Everything was uneventful, except for the 2 hours it took from landing to arriving at our hotel. 12 miles away. Interesting bus ride. The hotel was great, looking to the right from the balcony was the pacific, to the left were huge mountains! We spent some time the first day on Waikiki beach, and the surfing lesson was too much to pass up, so Ben had to try. Emily sat this one out. It actually went pretty good, though it turns out Waikiki is NOT the place to surf. The waves were actually nice, it was the 500 yard paddle to get there that wasn't so good. But surf he did! Well, the kind of surfing one might do at a tourist beach, on vacation, when you're 32 and have never actually seen anyone surf, much less tried it yourself. The next morning we made the vacation - we shopped around and got a taxi to the airport and picked up the jeep we rented and proceeded to get as far away from downtown Waikiki as we could. What a world of difference, and one of the most amazing things we've ever seen, before we even did anything. In the first week of January, everything looks like its growing in a giant greenhouse. And of course, someone has to water that greenhouse, whether you have the top off the jeep or not. But as long as you have a good laugh at yourself and enjoy it, its not too bad! We drove up a highway that turned into small backroads all the way around the island, and just stopped at random places to take pictures. The North Shore has to be one of the most beautiful places that exist. Whether the sun is shining on the beach or looking the other directions at the mountains disappearing into the clouds where its raining, its just amazing. There are beaches, that continue into rocks, back to beaches where there might be a giant sea turtle lying around then back into sheer cliffs. And EVERYONE from 8 year olds after school to 65 year olds are walking around with surf board in hand. It makes you want to see the other islands and what they have to offer, which the locals will tell you each is very different and has something worth seeing. The following day we did the same, and Ben just couldn't pass up the chance to say he had surfed the North Shore, so surfing he did. Again. (Don't get too excited, we stayed away from the places they have world class surfing competitions, which is how he is still alive in Japan.) The waves are actually bigger than they look in the pictures, but still not what you imagine at the North Shore. Emily found a nice place on the beach with a good book and enjoyed herself just as much, and oddly enough wasn't so sore she couldn't move the next day like someone else we know. Weird. That night we went to a nice dinner, at a place where we found out that they bring your order to you raw, and they have a huge grill with everything you could possibly want to season with and you cook it yourself. Turned out to be great! And of course when they stopped seating for dinner at 10:00, the karaoke started. Two words - train wreck. But good entertainment at others' expense. The last full day on the island we decided to go to Hanauma Bay to snorkle, which is another incredible place on the island that is one the world's best places to dive, snorkle or just hang out and enjoy the scenery. Problem is, everyone else on Oahu decided to go at the same time, and by the time we actually got down to the water we decided that we had seen enough, and went back to the beach on the back step of the hotel and did absolutely nothing. It was perfect! Driving ourselves to the airport turned out to be much better than the bus, and it was off to Japan!Here we go!
Here we are!
You want me to stand up on this in the water?
Surfing. Kind of.
We escaped Waikiki!
That's a big turtle. (Not a miniature person.)
That's close enough...
Us at Hanauma!
BUSTED! Santa Claus on post-Christmas break. In Waikiki.