Determined to check out the wonders of this top rated attraction, after yesterday's failed attempt (hanauma bay closed), we made the trip there again. At 10a when we arrived, parking was full. Hubby dropped baby and I off at the scenic outlook stop opposite the entrance to the bay, and drove off to find parking. As I walked up to the entrance, the staff manning the gate flipped the sign that said "parking full", and suddenly parking was available. I immediately called hubby and told him to drive back. The parking guy said there were eight spots open and once eight cars had gone in he would close entry again. Well we got a spot.
That was quite exciting, compared to what we were about to experience snorkelling in the bay. We queued for over half an hour for our tickets. While waiting for our turn to watch the compulsory video, we chatted with a volunteer. Her fav snorkelling spot on oahu is actually sharks cove, and not hanauma bay. The video was informative, but if I didn't understand English, I would have been confused by the scene where a dude was shown stepping on coral then stepping off coral... Walking down to the bay, we saw snorkellers trampling the coral. I was horrified. Snorkelling there was the worst I've seen anywhere. Dead coral, poor visibility (<10 ft), and few fish. I was lucky enough to spot a large moray eel however. This hanauma bay has been loved to death.
We stopped at uncle clays house of pure aloha for shaved ice, then hit Chinatown for fruit. As the fruit shop lady calculated my haul of longans, rambutans, pomelos etc, I told her about the kahuku farm fruit stand's outrageous prices. $1 for one rambutan? $10 for an avocado?
Mei Sum Dim Sum Restaurant for pre-dinner dim sum. I haven't had dim sun for over a year, and thoroughly enjoyed the selections they had: har gao, siu mai, char siew pao, and stewed chicken feet. Baby adored the chicken feet. It's a delicacy that when prepared properly, tastes indescribably wonderful.
Below: chicken feet and other dim sum
Day 15: Dole Plantation and Polynesian Cultural Center
We planned to surf the North Shore in the morning then head to the PCC for the rest of the day, but were pleasantly derailed when we stopped at Dole for a 'quick look'. It was a total tourist trap, with everything and anything pineapple you could think of and more that you wouldn't have. It was interesting to browse through their gift shop, but we didn't buy anything. We picnicked there (nice picnic area) then had pineapple ice cream for dessert.
We spotted the Helemano Plantation sign next door and went to have a look - it was forlorn and deserted. I was the only visitor there. I found out it is a non-profit organization for Downs Syndrome folk. A buffet lunch featuring fresh produce from their vegetable garden is served every day at their (on site) restaurant, which also looked empty. I bought a Royal Hawaiian pineapple here at half what the next door Dole gift shop was charging. And some toys for baby, from their thrift shop. I wish more people knew about this place.
Below: baby getting acquainted with panda at Helemano plantation
At the PCC, we handed over our entertainment book coupon for a discount off Samoan Island Packages (admission, island luau, Ha show.) Regularly $75 per person, our coupon got us $50 off the second package. It's also good for BOGO admission. The entertainment book paid for itself twice over with our visit to the PCC- paid $15 for it.
The canoe show was lovely, and we got to watch the shows at Tonga (drums), Tahiti (wedding - we renewed vows!), Samoa (coconut and fire making, very funny), and New Zealand (music). Dinner was good for what we paid- Kalua pork, taro, taro rolls, chicken, poke, etc. Dinner entertainment was great. Baby enjoyed the music and drums.
Below: me with one of the dancers. :D
The Ha Breath of Life Show was good too. The dancers did a fantastic job. I can't imagine how these students put in full days like this six days a week and still be so energetic and enthusiastic. The fire twirlers were amazing to watch. A loooong day though.
Day 16 (Saturday): North Shore
We went back to Haleiwa where hubby rented a surf board ($7/hr) and hit the waves. Baby and I had lunch and chilled on the beach. After that, stopped at Matsumotos Shaved Ice to redeem our free ices (free with our surf lesson with Blue Rush Surf School). The ice was coarser than what we had at uncle clay's (which was fluffy and light), but psychedelically colorful.
Last stop was Sharks Cove to snorkel. This time the waves were big, cresting the barrier that forms the sheltered snorkelling lagoon. We got tossed around a bit and had to be careful not to get dashed against the rocks. I saw schools of small fish but not much else.
Below: turtles at Laniakea beach
The highlight of my day was watching three whales do whatever it is whales do which is pretty awesome to watch even if it's from a distance. Water spouts, tails in the air, breaches.
Day17: Mountain biking Kualoa Ranch, Aloha Swap Meet, Bishop Museum
Hubby was dropped off at kualoa ranch for his mountain bike ride ($112 after the 10% online discount, 9a-3p). Baby and I had lunch at the Waiahole Poi Factory - Kalua pork (smoky, rich, delicious), pork and fish lau lau (yummily fatty), poke (tasty), haupia (ok), and poi. I was looking forward to trying poi and was kinda disappointed. It was cold, liquidy and gloopy. I love anything taro and cook often with it, and had expected a sort of warm mash that would absorb/complement gravies or sauces. The lau lau was warm outside but cool inside, and parts of the Kalua pork were cold too.
We spent nearly two hours and covered 3 miles at the swap meet. Bought some clothes and souvenirs. Prices were ok. $10/shirt/dress.
Had only an hour and a half to spend at bishop museum. Could have easily spent a day there. The planetarium show was informative and fun, and the science center was meili's fav.
Off to meet hubby at waikiki where we changed into our new clothes and took one last pic at the beach.
Then to the airport for the long journey home.