Hawaii Day 6- “Alright, Leese”, the Victory of all Victories.
Today was another early start morning because we had 7:30am reservations for Hananuma Bay snorkel reserve. This is the top place you can snorkel on Oahu. It is a protected site so you have to make a reservation two days in advanced, and reservations can be as hard to get as getting an advanced dining reservation for Disney’s ‘Ohana restaurant. I was on the website two days beforehand starting at 6:45am just hitting the refresh button until reservations finally opened up at 7am. It was a bit stressful since we remember how awesome it was to snorkel there. Thankfully I got the reservation so all was well.
We had gotten a little later of a start than we had wanted, and our GPS was telling us it would take over 90 minutes to get there from Aulani, putting us getting there over 30 minutes late, but as we started driving it corrected itself and we ended up getting there only a few minutes late, which ended up not being a problem at all. When we arrived we had a bit of a panic because they had a sign out in front saying the parking lot was closed, something I was worried about, the parking lot filling up completely before we arrived. This location is basically up in the mountains so it’s not like there’s other places to park, but thankfully there were some spots left. We have no clue why they had that sign up.
Before being allowed to snorkel here you have to watch a 10 minute video telling you the importance of not stepping on or touching the coral reef. This was actually a highlight of our last trip since they had the cutest song at one point of the video “Don’t Step on Me”. We’ve sung it to each other for 9 years now so we were a little too excited to go watch this video again, to once again hear our cute little song. Much to our chagrin, they have since updated the video and it now no longer includes our favorite song. That’s okay though, we sang it anyway! Also, it’s on YouTube for us to enjoy for whenever our little hearts decide.
After the video you can choose to walk down the pretty steep hill to the beach or take the shuttle. The shuttle is included in admission, which was $25 per person, plus $3 to park. We opted to walk down to get some pictures of the beautiful view, risking our knees, but it was worth it to get some pictures like this.
Matt and I brought a second suitcase on this trip just to carry all of our beach gear. You can rent snorkel gear, beach chairs, umbrellas, etc. for the week but it was way cheaper to just check a second bag and bring our own gear that we are used to. We have these awesome beach chairs that only weigh like 4 lbs and fold up really small, so it wasn’t difficult for us to do. So once we got down to the beach, we setup our chairs and Matt immediately headed for the water, while I sat getting some sun since it was only like 8:30am and I’ve gotta be a bit hotter than that to get into the chilly ocean.
We snorkeled there until about 11am or so. Unfortunately, we remember the snorkel conditions being way more impressive there the last time we visited 9 years ago. Matt thinks it’s because they now don’t allow you past a certain point where Matt is almost certain he snorkeled. They probably made that change to try and better protect the reef. We ended up being way more impressed with the snorkeling at Shark’s Cove, a free beach up on the North Shore that we visited earlier in the week.
Since “food calls me like the ocean calls Moana” we were fine with heading out around 11am to go get some grub. We wisely decided to take the shuttle back up the steep mountain to where our car was parked, put the convertible top down, and headed off on our next adventure.
We realized that we were only a quick 7 minute drive to one of the better beaches for bodysurfing so we decided to stop there first. In my research, I looked around for the best beaches for bodysurfing, since that’s Matt’s favorite thing to do at the beach, so I came up with six of them. Two of them, locals stressed, was for experienced body surfers. I didn’t know that’s a thing. Is there like a body surfers club or something? Are people winning awards for body surfing? I knew with Matt growing up on the Jersey shore, that should qualify him as “experienced”, right? Imagine my shock when we arrive to the beach, Makapuu Beach, and there’s literally like 20 signs with flags saying “no swimming” and other various warnings. A quick look at the ocean and you could easily see why. It wasn’t pipeline in the winter or anything crazy like that, but we’re talking 8-12’ waves! Imagine my shock all the more of seeing people in the water, even with those warnings and pretty large waves. I look at Matt to see what we were doing, not that I needed to, I know my husband, he just smiled really big and shook his head “yes” and continued on towards instant death.
Listen, I am NOT a beach girl. If I even go in the water, it’s usually only to my knees if there’s waves. I will snorkel but only in more controlled settings, and I only started doing that since meeting Matt. I did not grow up on the beach so I am not comfortable with the whole beach scene like Matt is. Matt always impresses me so much with his abilities in the waves. I’m thrilled he’s so comfortable in that kind of unpredictable ocean conditions, especially because he can raise our kids to love the ocean and body surfing the waves… while I sit under an umbrella trying to not have a nervous breakdown worrying about the waves, riptides, jellyfish, sharks… seaweed in my toes. It’s all equally terrifying to me.
So off Matt goes into the water while I sit there literally staring at him like a hawk, while, no joke praying. Take a minute in my shoes… I am the least confident beach swimmer there is known to man, these beach conditions are so intense that they officially closed the beach, and the lifeguards have since left so who’s gonna help Matt is he has trouble, me?? LOL!!! I’d drown in ankle deep water trying to save him. “Ma’am, just stand up!” It would be a disaster. I did calm myself down though by acknowledging that there was a handful of other insane men in the water with him that would hopefully try to help him if he struggles, so my worries were calmed enough for me to enjoy watching him do his thing, for the most part. I mean, I’m ALWAYS worrying about something.
I finally started to really relax and enjoy myself at that point only to have Matt come visit and tell me about the water conditions. Turns out, in addition to the really large waves, there were also big boulders on the ocean floor that you had to navigate, trying to not to be thrown into one by the crashing waves. “Awesome. Thanks for sharing, Matt. Now I am going to sit here and worry about you breaking your neck, but I’m glad YOU’RE having a blast! Oh, you’re going back in? Awesome. Have a blast!” *heavy sarcasm with a twinge of panic*
After upgrading Matt’s life insurance policy while he faced possible death for another 30 minutes or so, we were finally ready to head out to lunch. The lunch spot we were headed to was about 30 minutes away and one of the top restaurants I was looking forward to trying here on this trip so I was excited. We were headed to Adela’s Country Eatery in Kaneohe. They are famous for making handmade noodles, all from local produce. The place is a little unassuming spot in a strip mall adjacent to a gas station. There is no indoor eating but they will recommend some beautiful beach spots to sit and enjoy your lunch. There are so many amazing, and unusual, options to pick from so it was hard. Their noodle options alone are ulu, kalo(taro), okinawan sweet potato, malunggay(moringa), and avocado. It was really overwhelming but the woman working the counter is the absolute sweetest lady you’ll ever meet who actually wears a microphone and gives an entire speech about all their offerings for everyone who walks in. She was quick to point out their most popular combinations or you could choose to build your own. She told us the top two, so clearly since there is two of us, it was pretty simple to decide. I went ahead and ordered their number 1 most popular dish and then Matt… isn’t he special…bless his heart… Matt, God love him, missed his assignment and decided to, rather than order one of the other top three combinations, no he decided to take fate into his own hands and build his own concoction. *sigh* I then spent the next 40 minutes, each dish takes 40 minutes to make since it is made fresh to order, letting him know, in not so subtle ways, how “we” missed up and should have ordered their top dishes. “We” meaning him, of course. He was confident in his choices so he wasn’t budging on his, what I felt, was a poor choice. We sat in the car for the next 40 minutes literally salivating until she finally called my cell phone to tell me my order was ready. So Matt runs in to get the goodies.
I had ordered the Lechon(pork belly) Malunggay Pasta. I have no idea, I just heard “pork belly” and “most popular” and was sold. Man, did I make the right decision. Literally, one of the best meals of my life. It was so good it has now jumped to the top of my “death row meals” list. I cannot even describe all the flavors but it was just so unbelievably good. The pork belly was so amazing, and plentiful, and the noodles, that were green, they were so good and there were so many! My to go container must have weighed at least two-three pounds, no exaggeration. One order really could feed three people, if not more. I was so in heaven! I was relieved that our convertible top was up because the noises I was making while eating it would make people blush. I was in my own little world of heaven on earth. Nothing was going to bring me down off of this high… *Matt opens his to go container*… Matt, my lovely Matt had chosen to forgo the experts picks of combinations, voiding me of the opportunity try yet another fantastic combination, to force me to try his shot in the dark combination where he didn’t even know what he was ordering. As disappointed as I was I figured it’d still be amazing no matter what it was. Imagine my feels when he opens his to go container and it’s literally the SAME DISH I ordered. The one my free spirit was too good to order. He literally recreated my dish. So now instead of having an additional 2-3 lbs of noodle goodness we just have like 4-6 lbs of the same thing, enough to easily feed an entire football team. Matt recognized the error of his ways but it really didn’t matter though because once were eating again it was hard to stay annoyed (playfully overall) while eating this amazing dish. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, they also made their own desserts. I decided, WISELY ONCE AGAIN, to forgo my personal preference and order their most famous dessert, an Ube (purple yam) cheesecake slice. I swear, I heard angels singing as I took my first bite. This cheesecake was amazing! It was dense, creamy, and had an awesome thick crust. It reminded me of the cheesecake of my obsession at home, the Olympic Diner’s, but only way better, if that’s even possible. It was fantastic. I will literally think of this meal the rest of my life. In fact, I’m going to have to go back and revisit it before we leave. I have so many other food choices I want to try, but I am going to break cardinal sin #1 when it comes to trying new foods on a trip and go back to revisit, “wasting” another new food opportunity with a repeat. In fact, they sell their noodles dried, to be cooked at home. I just make have to buy another suitcase to bring them all home.
After our “death row meal” we decided to head back to Aulani and enjoy one of the beaches down the road from the resort, Paradise Cove Beach. This beach is a tiny little hidden gem great for snorkeling and relaxing. We will definitely bring our kids here for their first snorkel in Hawaii since it’s such a calm and easy spot to snorkel.
Next we headed back to shower and change for dinner. While I showered, Matt secretly went to the kitchen to continue eating today’s lunch leftovers. I came out of the shower and didn’t see him so I knew exactly where he was. I just yelled out, “Are you eating?” Which he sheepishly answered “yes” and said how he couldn’t let this amazing food go to waste. Matt is notorious in our family for wasting his appetite mere moments before a meal, so much so that my mom has actually hid food ready to be served in the microwave and cabinets to stop Matt from pre-gaming dinner and ruining his appetite. We were once in Lancaster, PA headed to one of those smorgasbords and there’s Matt walking to the car eating an eclair the size of a brick. We all got on him but he stood his ground defending himself… until 20 minutes later when he could barely eat anything at our all-you-can-eat dinner. Needless to say, this is a moment he’d normally get a speech from me, but that food was so good I couldn’t even get mad at him. I got it. I couldn’t let him off the hook that easy though, so I just made a simple, but oh so cutting comment… “Imagine if you had ordered their second best dish, all the goodness you’d have to pick from right now.” He hung his head in defeat and gave me an, “Alright, Leese.” which singled his surrender and my victory. The “alright, lesse…” is the code for “You were right…” in our marriage. I learned that early on, so I skipped off into the sun celebrating my victory.
Tonight we decided to go to one of Aulani’s bars, Olelo Room, for dinner, on account that someone wasn’t too hungry. This bar is indoor/outdoor and has live music. It was a really pretty setting to watch Matt try to force down some food, desperate to not get the “I told you so speech”. I gave it to him a little, only because there were a few items I wanted to try and was embarrassed to order a ton of food and not finish it, but I did go ahead and order all that I wanted and let Matt of the hook, for the most part. The food here was great. I was really looking forward to their Bang Bang Fries, but they were kinda a disappointment. We far preferred their Pua’a Kalu Gratin and their Bacon Cheeseburger Sliders, which were amazing!
After dinner, we tried, in vain, to watch some TV but I only made it about 5 minutes before nodding off. It was around 10pm though, and that’s the latest I’ve been able to make it this trip, so I count it as a win.
Tomorrow we head to a nuclear power plant beach, I’m not even joking, and then up to the north shore.