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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Sistermoon: Happy Birthday in Honolulu

Dear Mom,

The Sistermoon comes to an end today! Leigh Ann and I have just a few hours before we head to the Maui airport. She'll actually drop me off and have the afternoon to entertain herself, but I'm about to begin my loooooong trek to Africa.

Anyway, back to the Hawaii recap. Tuesday we hiked up to the top of Diamond Head. We walked there from our hotel in Waikiki, which was a nice trek, and we definitely got our exercise for the day. It was a bit overcast and drizzly, which made for less spectacular views but much more pleasant hiking.
On our way back, we had more fish tacos. These may have been my favorites! I had one with panko-coated shrimp that was just scrumptious. 
We rested up until our sunset sail. (I'd been fighting a cold and a cough, and that hike wore me out.) Leigh Ann had noted it would be midnight on the East Coast at 6 p.m., so we decided that was a perfect time to crack open a special bottle of Champagne that she got from a friend at Christmas.

It was a lot of fun and reminded us of our last sunset sail for your 60th birthday in Nantucket.

We started Leigh Ann's actual birthday on Wednesday by having breakfast at Duke's in Waikiki.

The restaurant is named after the Hawaiian icon Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic swimmer who popularized the sport of surfing. He even taught Doris Duke how to surf! (More on her in a bit.) He's a local legend and a really interesting character. You would have enjoyed reading up on him on Wikipedia. (Incidentally, he was connected to Bernice Bishop of the Bishop Museum...I ran out of steam trying to write up what we learned there about Hawaiian history, but it's quite fascinating.)
Next we slathered ourselves with sunblock and headed to Hanauma Bay, a nature preserve park that's known for great snorkeling. Kevin had told us about it...he'd gotten fried on his back snorkeling for hours there the day before, so we made sure to bring our trusty rash guards.
I'm not sure if we messed up and went in the wrong place or what, but we both found it to be rather stressful! We were swimming inches over reefs, which the guides had been adamant we should not touch. My mask kept filling up with water. We definitely saw some gorgeous fish, but we pooped out much sooner than we expected. We hopped back in the car and enjoyed the gorgeous drive around southeast Oahu.

Our friend Carrie had recommended a restaurant called Buzz's in Lahaina, so we went there for lunch and enjoyed the passionfruit drink she suggested.
The beach at Lahaina was really lovely...and packed because even though it was a Tuesday, it was a state holiday honoring King Kamehameha the Great, who united the Hawaiian islands. Lots of families were grilling out and enjoying the day. This beach was lovely -- a long stretch of sugary soft white sand that reminded us a lot of the Gulf Coast near Destin and Panama City.

 When I got back to my room, there was a birthday rainbow for LAS!
We showered and got ready for dinner at the Kahala Resort, a gorgeous old resort in an upscale residential neighborhood.

We tried to get a good photo, but the teenager who took it didn't think to shoot around the stack of beach chairs behind us.

 It was excellent, and they surprised the birthday girl with a special dessert!

Thursday morning, we did something RIGHT up your alley. We toured Shangri-La, the Doris Duke estate. (Unfortunately, we didn't reserve in advance, so when we attempted to book on Sunday morning, the only time we could go was Thursday morning. We jumped on it!) Photographs are not permitted inside, so here are a few I snapped outside...

 And here are a few interior shots that I found online:

We ended up on a tour composed of alumni from Punahou School. They were graduates of the class of 1964, celebrating their 50th reunion. It was quite fascinating chatting with them, as I'd never heard of the school, but I guess it's quite a big deal! It's the largest independent school in the United States, and President Obama is a member of the class of 1979. Anyway, we really enjoyed them, and they got a kick out of us.

Back in Waikiki to check out of our rooms, we did a quick oceanside lunch at the Royal Hawaiian -- coincidentally, where Doris Duke and James Cromwell honeymooned in 1935, when she fell in love with Hawaii.

Then, we headed to the Maui airport. Incidentally, here's a shot of our bags. Which one do you think is packed for a month, and which one do you think is packed for 10 days?!
I think I'm going to enjoy a few final hours here on Maui and save the Maui recap for my next post. Hopefully I'll have wifi in some of the airports where I'll making layovers during my 36-hour trek to Africa. My route is Maui to Honolulu to JFK to Dubai to Durban. WHEW!




Michelle Mims said...

The more I read your blog, the more I can absolutely tell, no mistake about it, that you are Cheryl's daughter! Your wit is almost identical and your knack for story-telling is next to none. I feel certain at some point in your life, your mother suggested that you write a book. She was right, you should indeed.

Dee Stephens said...

Michelle, I've been telling her to write a book too.
Great recap. Looks like a lot of fun! Love me some white sand. Safe travels to Africa!