Category Hawaii

This Didn’t Deserve Its Own Post: Oahu Edition

When I take a trip somewhere, if I don’t do a day-by-day recounting, there’s usually a bunch of tidbits left over that I either couldn’t write more than a few sentences about or don’t have any photos for or would drag out the series far beyond what any human could be expected to tolerate.  All combined, however, they make for something a little more substantial, so here’s yet another one, this time about Oahu.
leonards malasadas* I heard from a friend who used to live on Oahu that the place to get malasadas is Leonard’s bakery. Because I felt that it was foolish to buy only one malasada when there were three flavors I wanted to try, but also being completely unwilling to share, we bought six and were sadly only able to polish off the equivalent of two–no regrets about the number purchased, though. My brain was willing to eat three, it was my stomach that was weak. They were so damn good. Hot, crusted in sugar, and filled with flavored pastry cream. The mango one was my favorite. We put the leftovers in the trunk of the car and tried to eat them later that night and I wholeheartedly do not recommend that. Eat them when you buy them. Immediately, on the bench outside the store. Leftover malasadas are sad malasadas, a gross soggy shell of their former glory.

*While looking at bakeries, I found one much closer to where we were staying on the north shore, Paalaa Kai. They’re known for their snow puffies–puff pastry rectangles filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate and mounds of powdered sugar–and those are good (if super messy, you basically leave looking like this spider) but their pineapple turnovers are where it’s at. Flaky, buttery triangles of pastry are stuffed with dense, jammy pineapple. So good. We went back more than once.

il gelato

*We also visited this awesome gelateria in Hale’iwa more than once. (Why am I fat? It’s a mystery.) Creamy macadamia nut gelato in a warm waffle bowl is possibly one of the greatest food combinations since peanut butter met jelly.

shave ice sign

*Jason and I tried to eat a shave ice every single day we were on Oahu, but fell a little short of our goal. Despite all of the food talk, there were days that I actually didn’t eat much or feel like eating, because I was so miserably sick. Shave ice made me feel like a human for a few blessed minutes. Jason’s favorite place? Matsumotos in Haleiwa. Mine? Island Snow in Kailua.

haleiwa sunset

shark cove sunset

sharks cove sunset  ukulele music video

*I spent just about every night sunset-watching, and just about every night I was sunset-blocked by some bastard clouds right at the horizon. One night at Shark’s Cove, I did see a guy filming a music video at sunset, wailing on a ukelele the way Hendrix did on a guitar, the ocean crashing behind him. It was completely epic and automatically made it the best sunset of the trip.

botanical garden lake


*We popped into the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden for a hot second since a hot second was about all they’d give us. They close super early, and are dead serious about locking your ass in if you aren’t out of the park promptly at 4pm. I did see two mongoose, though, so it wasn’t a total loss.

lei day dog

queen kapiolani

whale tail tourist bus

*There were two festivals in Waikiki while I was visiting–Lei Day, and the Waikiki Spam Jam. I fully intended to go to both, but after dealing with traffic and trying to find a parking spot for Lei Day and all of the frustration that entailed, I didn’t much feel like doing it again the next day for the Spam Jam, which was supposed to be much more crowded. Hard pass. I’ll have to try spam some other time, and live with the regret that comes from missing an opportunity to wear a spam can hat.  I’m pretty sure I don’t need to try spam ice cream to know it’s a vom, though. I’m sure it didn’t help that I discovered that I don’t much care for Waikiki after spending most of my time on the north shore–it’s too loud, too crowded, too expensive. I can see why the locals are fighting so hard to keep the country country. The best thing about Waikiki is the adorable Japanese tourist buses with the whale tails.

chicken and little peepers

*There were chickens and little peepers all over Oahu, free to roam and do their chicken business. I enjoyed watching these tiny dinosaurs do their airheaded chicken shenanigans–my favorite was one who was tenderly caring for a golf ball.kamehameha the great

*King Kamehameha the Great says “hello” “aloha”.


And now, this:

derp the sea turtle

beautiful mermaid

The Bishop Museum in Oahu

bishop museum

If you’re looking to learn about Hawaiian history and culture, the Bishop Museum may well be your jam. It absolutely was mine, and was in fact one of the most interesting and educational museums I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. The Bishop Museum contains the largest number of Polynesian artifacts in the world, from royal kahili (feather standards) and royal feather cloaks that are woven so tightly they appear to be made of cloth, to ceremonial artifacts and deity statues. Each section was beautifully displayed and evocatively described; you can appreciate the artifacts on their own, but the placards gave you the opportunity to dig deeper and learn more.

bishop museum hall

Look at all that luxe koa wood: those display cases are actually worth more than the original museum buildings! The Hawaiian hall covers everything from the gods of pre-contact Hawaii to Hawaiian daily life to Hawaiian history. There are a number of stations where you can learn Hawaiian storytelling, play with kala’au sticks, and more. Adjacent is the Pacific Hall, which teaches you about the distinct but connected cultures of Polynesia. They even had a small section on the aboriginal Taiwanese, which surprised me for some reason. Maybe because I didn’t learn much about the aboriginal culture when I was actually in Taiwan.


wooden sculpture

shark tooth weapon

The placard underneath this tiger shark tooth weapon said that it was used to kill tiger sharks, which is the most metal thing I’ve ever heard.

creepy statue

The placard with this statue of a shark deity said that its burial location was discovered in a dream where it had begged to be found, and they had to cement it into place in its current location, because despite their efforts to relocate it outside the Hawaiian Hall, it refused to be moved. Now look at its eyes again. Following you around? They haunted me that entire room.

hat display

There was an entire room dedicated to the craftsmanship of grass hats, and when you neared this camera, the monitor would plop a hat on your head. Fabulous, no?

protest signs    white people ruin everything

The Bishop Museum was very tasteful in their labeling of sheet music about America’s newfound interest in Hawaii, merely saying that the songwriters “created some absurd versions of the Hawaiian language.” My label would have been “Goddamn it, white people.”

bishop museum inside

bishop museum volcano

We moseyed over to the science hall to make sure we arrived in plenty of time for the lava pouring demonstration, the only place you can see melted lava in person on Oahu. Inside the science hall, they’ve got a wee volcano that wafts smoke from its top, and a sad slide that not even children can work up a good speed on, so it was extra sad when I tried it. I looked like a dog scooting his ass on the carpet, dragging myself down the slide with my feet. Echoes of the Kennedy Space Center and the ramp slide I made when they wouldn’t let me slide down their actual slide, except people were openly laughing at me this time.

To get to their hot shop under the volcano, you need to take a trip down the rainbow road, aka Stoner’s Paradise:

rainbow road

We were right on time, and the demonstrator taught us all about the different kinds of volcanic glass and passed around samples for us to touch and inspect. He also passed around a chunk of what will eventually be the new island in the Hawaiian chain, Lo’ihi, some 10,000-100,000 years from now, which means neither you nor I will vacation there in our lifetimes, barring vampiric immortality or robot bodies, neither of which would probably appreciate the salty sea air and blazing sun.

Then on to the good stuff: the lava pour. To get it into its liquid state, it has to be heated to over 1292°F, which is so hot that I’m assuming you can toast a marshmallow from 100 yards. No one has really invested in the marshmallow toasting sciences enough to tell me for certain. The lava solidified rapidly, and even though it was still incredibly hot, it could be picked up and manipulated.  At that level of heat, even in a protective suit the demonstrator couldn’t be near it for long, and he was out of the containment area before it cooled down enough to look like the rippled lava we more readily recognize.

lava flow demonstration

They also had dinosaurs. Poseable ones, rideable ones, and so many animatronic ones, and you know I’ll always take a hot second to gawk at some animatronic dinosaurs or maybe feed one an onion ring.

bishop t rex

trike rider

baby dinosaurs

The Bishop Museum was completely amazing, and even though every fiber of your body urges you to be outside every moment while you’re visiting Oahu, if you have any interest in Polynesian history or culture, I wholeheartedly recommend you carve out some time to visit.

Spotted on the Roadside: Duke Kahanamoku and the Shaman Stones


shaman stones waikiki

Residing beside one another in Waikiki are two sites of note–the shaman stones (or “Stones of Life), and a statue of Duke Kahanamoku. As long as throngs of tourists aren’t blocking your view, you can literally turn from one and see the other!

The plaque on the Stones of Life reads “Legend says that these stones are the living legacy of four powerful Tahitian healers who once resided near this site at a place called Ulukou. From the court of the Tahitian chief, the names of the four were Kapaenahu, Kapuni, Kinohi and Kahaloa. They came from Moa’ulanuiakea on the island of Raiaiea long before the reign of Kakuhihewa, beloved O’ahu chief during the 1500’s. The fame of the healers spread as they traveled throughout the islands administering their miraculous cures. When it was time to return to Raiaiea, they asked that two stones be placed at their Ulukou residence and two at their favorite bathing place in the sea. Four huge stones were quarried from Kaimuki, and on the night of ‘Kane’ thousands transported the stones to Ulukou. Incantations, fasting and prayers lasted a full cycle of the moon. The healers then gave their names and mana (spiritual power) to the stones before departing to their homeland.”

In 1997, the stones were moved together in Waikiki, placed on an altar, and fenced in to protect them. The heaviest stone weighs almost 7.5 tons–no wonder it took thousands of people to transport them!

The statue of Duke Kahanamoku is by far the more popular tourist attraction–Duke was the father of international surfing, having introduced the sport to the eastern seaboard. He was also a multi-Olympic goldwinner, movie star, and even served as sheriff for a time, and was honored with this statue in 1990*.  Duke’s torches are lit with a special ceremony every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 6:30pm, followed by a hula performance. If you’re in need of a quick Hawaiian vacation, you can crank up the heat in your home, make a drink, and watch via webcam.


*Duke was also honored with a beachfront restaurant and bar that everyone says you should go to, but you really, really shouldn’t, unless super drunk cover bands singing “hotel california” are your thing.  Their lava flow drink is the bomb, though.

Spotted on Kalakaua Ave in Honolulu, HI