Over winter break, I spent the holidays visiting family in Hawaii. I flew out early in the morning on Christmas Eve and arrived later that afternoon on the island of Oahu. The total flight duration was 10 hours, but I had a single layover so it wasn’t too bad. Arriving in Hawaii with its 70 to 80 degree climate was definitely a nice change from Connecticut’s cold and bleak weather.
This was actually my second time in Hawaii. The first trip, I stayed for much longer than a couple of weeks, so I was able to dedicate this vacation to being with my family and revisiting some of my favorite places on the island.
Let me clarify by saying that even though I have family in Hawaii, I’m not natively Hawaiian. My family just happened to move out there a few years back. Although it was Christmas Eve, I was pretty exhausted from the flight so we stayed in and slept into the next day. Christmas with my family is pretty lowkey so we just exchanged gifts and then spent the day wandering around the city of Honolulu.
We walked around Waikiki, an area filled with hotels and resorts but most known for Waikiki beach. While we were there, we also checked out the International Market Place, a beautiful mall but one that’s filled with lots of higher end stores. The following day was spent at Lanikai beach, located in the town of Kailua on the southeastern shore of Oahu. The beaches in Hawaii are definitely much nicer, albeit a lot more crowded, than any beach you’d find in Connecticut.
We drove up to the north shore, after making a pit stop at the Dole Plantation, to spend New Year’s Eve at the Polynesian Cultural Center, a theme park that aims to preserve and accurately portray the cultures of the islands of Polynesia. The islands represented there include not only Hawaii, but Aotearoa (known as New Zealand in English), Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa and Tonga. Each island has its own little village in the park, with its history and culture represented through art, architecture, games, food, clothing and crafts. While speaking to many of the employees at the park, I found out many of them were native to these islands and worked there because it helped pay for their tuition at Brigham Young University, which was right next door.
There was so much to see and do, it felt impossible to get to everything. In the evening, we attended a luau, a traditional Hawaiian feast, that was accompanied by dancing and singing from various entertainers. Later that night, my family and I attended a show called “Ha: Breath of Life,” which incorporated over 100 Polynesian natives. The story is told through a mix of Polynesian dance, music, special effects and animation that leaves the crowd in awe.
Although my day spent at the Polynesian Cultural Center was fun and educational, I was exhausted and went to bed almost immediately and slept my way into the new year.
During my last week in Hawaii, I had a lot of good food and a great time wandering the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, since my family lives about a five minute walk away. I also hiked up Diamond Head Crater for the second time. Depending on how quick of a walker you are, the hike takes about 45 minutes. It’s probably one of the easiest hikes on the island of Oahu but the view is absolutely amazing. From the top, you can see the whole city and the valley beneath you as well as the limitless ocean. We hiked back down Diamond Head and then crossed the street to the KCC Farmers’ Market to get groceries and food because it was eight in the morning and I hadn’t eaten anything yet. I bought a banh mi from “The Pig and the Lady,” a popular Vietnamese restaurant on the island, and I was very excited to eat it. In fact, it may be possible that the most memorable part of the trip was finally biting into that banh mi after hiking on an empty stomach.
Overall, my trip to Hawaii was a lot of fun and a nice change of scenery. I enjoyed spending quality time with my family and eating quality food alongside them. Although I went to many places I had seen before, it makes me wonder what I’ll see the next time I visit.
Brandon Barzola is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.