Hawaiʻi 2023

This summer, we had a family vacation to Hawaiʻi with some members of our extended family. It turns out that with people flying in from China, Australia, and America, Hawaii is actually the ideal central location to meet! When it comes to outdoor recreation, I’m generally more of a hiking in the mountains kind of guy than a relaxing at the beach person, but this still ended up being quite a fun vacation.

For the majority of our trip, we were based out of a somewhat nice resort in Oʻahu. The beach there was quite nice, with particularly pristine and gentle waters. We even found some tropical butterfly fish swimming in the reef when we went out to the deeper end of the lagoon, although sadly I wasn’t able to bring my phone there to take a picture. I also brought along my hammock; I set it up between two palm trees and took a nice nap at the beach for about an hour, until the resort staff came up to me and told me that hammocks weren’t allowed.1

Of course, we paid our respects at Pearl Harbor National Memorial, where we went aboard the USS Missouri and got to see the site of the Japanese surrender during the Second World War.

Document in glass case with pen
The instrument of surrender that officially ended World War II in the Pacific Theater (Click on any image to view at full resolution.)

I also dragged my cousin (incidentally also named Eric) along to check out a few nearby caves. The caves ended up not being that deep, but it was still fun to go poke around inside. The sea caves actually looked kind of fun to swim in, but I had not brought my swim trunks.

Probably my favorite part of the entire trip was a hike that I went on with my cousin through the rainforest to get to Waimano Falls. I admit that I’m a big sucker for waterfalls, and this one was particularly nice, with a decent-sized swimming hole complete with a rope swing and rock jump. The trail there was extremely muddy in some places; I had initially scoffed when I read the online reviews complaining about the mud, but I have to confess that it really was that muddy. However, it was absolutely worth the effort for the chance to swim in the pool below the waterfall.2 I also tried out the rope swing and rock jump, which were both very fun.

We didn’t spend all of our time on Oʻahu, though. We did a day trip to Maui in order to drive the famous Road to Hana, a scenic highway that winds along the lush windward side of the island. We didn’t have time to make it all the way to Hana, but we did get to stop at many gorgeous sights, including:

There’s more stuff that we didn’t get to see due to time constraints, such as the final resting place of Charles Lindbergh, but I guess one has to save something for next time, right?

We also spent a few days on the Big Island, visiting Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. There’s quite a lot to do around there, actually: of course there’s the main crater itself, but you can also hike down to the floor of a different crater, explore an old lave tube, and inhale steam from some steam vents. Honestly, some of this exploring happened at a slower pace that I would’ve liked because we had to travel together as a family (including grandparents), but that’s okay. Sometimes going slow and enjoying time with family is also worthwhile. Unfortunately, we just missed the most recent eruption of Kīlauea by a couple of weeks, so we didn’t get to see any flowing lava, but it was well worth the visit nonetheless.

There’s also a nearby black sand beach that’s worth a visit if you’re already at the park.

The next day was Sunday, and I attended service at Kona Baptist Church, which was fairly nice; the congregation was quite friendly. In the afternoon, my cousin and I visited yet another one of the geological curiosities that the Big Island houses: the aptly-named South Point, which is the southernmost point in the fifty states.

On the way back from South Point, we stopped to see the volcanic devastation caused by previous eruptions. My cousin, being Australian, also wanted to stop by the memorial where James Cook died,3 but the hike there was unfortunately a bit too long for us to get back before dinner.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and likewise our vacation drew to a close. Since my mom, my sister, and I were on a rather late flight, we got to visit a few more beaches before calling it a day and heading back to New Jersey.

Oh yes—being a Gen-Z blogger, I am legally obligated to dump the rest of my sunset and food pictures here. Sorry, I didn’t make the rules.

All told, I enjoyed Hawaiʻi more than I thought I would, given my previous impression of it as a somewhat boring place where all one can do is visit the beach.

  1. As my eleventh grade calculus teacher told our robotics team when we were considering testing our robot on school grounds: “it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission.”↩︎

  2. Here is where I should warn you that swimming in freshwater, especially in tropical areas, does put you at a slight risk for certain bacterial diseases. I wouldn’t sweat it too much, but it’s your call.↩︎

  3. He described Cook as the “Columbus of Australia,” which makes sense, I guess.↩︎