As I See It
By Elpidio R. Estioko
Now I can personally understand why Hawaii is a popular destination for travelers, tourists… and even to prospective settlers. Exploring its natural resources is healthy and good to one’s body and soul! What does Hawaii can offer? A lot!
My family of 12 (my wife Delia, 6 children, a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law, 2 grandchildren) are on a 10-day vacation in Oahu, Hawaii. My eldest from Sydney, Australia Edel “Gigi” is with us (unfortunately, her husband Eric was not able to join her due to a heavy workload in the hospital he is working). Also, with us is my son from Jacksonville, Florida with his wife Alvi and two children Kayla and Bibay. Also, with us are still unmarried children May, Jayson and Paul. My daughter Rose “Tweety” just got married to Jonathan, US Army assigned in Hawaii, and will be settling in Mililani, Oahu, Hawaii after our vacation. My wife and I rode with my son-in-law’s car while the rest of the children rented two cars for the duration of 10 days to ensure our mobility all over the island for the two-week vacation.
Hawaii offers a lot of natural experiences allowing people to explore and commune with nature to the fullest. Discovering, taking a walk, and swimming at its various pristine-clear beaches; viewing and enjoying the beauty and ruggedness of the Koolau and Waianae Mountains; savoring local foods/specialties; watching and appreciating cultural shows (luau) depicting our ancestor’s traditions; and navigating/trekking the various historic trails, monuments, and craters are memories Hawaii, among others, can offer.
Starting from an early flight (7:00 a.m.) from Mineta San Jose International Airport, the 5-hour flight to Maui at 39,000 feet above sea level was already in itself an exciting flight for a group of 12 members in the family. Landing at Kalului (Maui) Airport, the nice but warm weather of Maui kept us for 30 minutes for another 15-minute flight to Honolulu.
By the way, Hawaii is behind Cali’s time by three hours. We were picked up at the airport with a Hawaiian hospitality giving us individual leis of fresh orchids flowers from Sgt. Jonathan Rasay, US Army stationed in Hawaii, who just got married to my daughter Rose “Tweety” on June 16.
As early as day one, arriving at my son-in-law’s apartment at 3:05 p.m. with a few hours of rest, we immediately rushed and plunged to the warm and exciting waters of Haleiwa Beach in Haleiwa town, a 10-minute drive from our Mililani Apartment. We enjoyed the water, as if there is no end of it, from 5:00 p.m. up to 7:30 p.m. We’ve never gone to the beach for a while after our Santa Cruz swim in California many years ago, so we enjoyed every moment of it.
After the beach experience after day one came hiking trek on day two. The first one was an aborted trek because Lanikai Pill Box Hike, also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail. This is a famous hiking trek site located in the town of Kailua on the westward cast of Oahu, which was placed under a two-month renovation that very morning when we drove to the site.
We went to the second hiking site at the Diamond Head Park in the town of Waikiki. It was considered an intermediate or easy hike and as a former member of the Philippine Nomads, an outdoor organization devoted to hiking treks, spelunking, observation of minorities, river trips, and mountain climbing, I also thought it was an easy one. I was wrong! For us seniors, it’s already a difficult and arduous climb considering our age, but… I made it!
Starting from the 1.3-kilometer hike from the trailhead at the foot of the crater floor to the summit of Diamond Head Crater, the trail follows an uneven and steep terrain requiring caution and appropriate footwear which forced me to stop from every bench to the 99-steep stairways leading to the Fire Control Station at the top of the summit immediately after going through the tunnel.
After the hike to the historic trail to the summit, we had lunch at Helena’s Hawaiian Foods in Khalili, Hawaii. Then after lunch, we went to Shark’s Cove Beach in Northshore for another round of beach experience. That’s what we do – go to the beach and go hiking!
The Dole Pineapple Plantation experience in Wahiawa was on the third day. Dole was in Hawaii since July 28, 1900 employing many Filipinos. We met Esme Sanchez, who has been working for the plantation for seven years.
After lunch at a stop at Haleiwa along Haleiwa Beach, we went to Kualoa Park where we spent time watching the scenery along the Chinaman’s Hat Island and the island where the Jurassic Park was filmed.
Still on the third day, we went to Pali Puka State Park at the Nuillanu Poli Lookout and the Valley of the Temples along Kaheliki Highway. The Bodo-In Temple was great with excellent showcase of Japan’s traditions and culture.
The fourth day is a trip to the swap meet at the Aloha Stadium in Aiea, Hawaii. Souvenir items were abundant and people took advantage of the cheap products as souvenir items.
We ended the day with a nigh swimming at Waikiki Beach from 6:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. with our group leaving the waters last. We ate dinner at Subway Restaurant near the beach before heeding home.
On day five, the children went for an early morning hike to Koko Head Crater Peak in Honolulu. Koko Head is better known as Koko Head Stairs of more than 100 steps. This is a steep climb to the top of Koko Head crater with spectacular panoramic view of the Honolulu shoreline, a one hour and a half hike to the top.
The children rushed back to our Mililani Apartment after a late lunch to be in time for the 5:00 p.m. Hawaiian luau at Paradise Cove located at 92-1089 Ali’inui Drive, Kapolei, Hawaii. We took a journey to a place where cultural traditions of our ancestors are preserved and celebrated wit aloha and excitement.
It began with the laying of shell and fresh orchids leis to individual visitors entering Paradise Cove with picture opportunities. As soon as we were seated in designated long tables and chairs, the activities started with a community prayer and blessing of the food.
Just like in modern day eat-all-you-can buffet, the community of people lined up for all-you-can-eat Hawaiian luau dinner. Immediately after dinner, we heard the majestic sound of the pu (conch shell) signaling the community to follow the sound that guides everybody to participate first-hand the rich cultural activities along the 12-acre Ko ‘Olina’s breathtaking coastline.
Despite occasional drizzles, we excitingly watched and appreciated Pacific Cove’s spectacular production extravaganza of songs and dances of Hawaii, the South Pacific and the daring fire knife dances of Samoa under starlight.
(To be continued to next issue’s Exploring Hawaii’s natural resources is healthy – Part Two)