As I boarded the plane in Melbourne I couldn’t help but feel excited about going back to Hawaii. This trip was specifically for the Spartan Race Trifecta weekend and would be my sixth visit to Hawaii.
I’d been looking forward to the trip for months as it was an opportunity to catch up with both my American and Australian friends in one place on one weekend.
I was far too excited to sleep on the plane so I settled back and listened to SISU podcasts to pass the time. Unfortunately my constant laughing wasn’t proving to be popular with other passengers so I reluctantly turned off my laptop and tried to get some resemblance of sleep during the 10-hour flight.
Lisa and I arrived in Honolulu early Tuesday morning after time-travelling and were ready for Tuesday Version II. My friend Natalie picked us up at the airport and let us drop off our bags before heading to a small diner for brunch. The first mission of the day was to get Lisa some credit for her internet hotspot so we walked to the beach to meet Dave ‘Weeple’ Huckle before heading to Ala Moana shopping centre.
I must be one of the few people who hasn’t jumped on the Pokémon bandwagon and I certainly wasn’t going to start now. Lisa, Natalie and Dave were all in search of Pokémon so we all got on the Waikiki Trolley to Ala Moana and back so they could catch ‘em all. At one stage Dave was trying to play on three phones – proving that it is possible for men to multitask.
After a successful Poke-hunt it was time for Lisa, Natalie and I to drive around the island in an attempt to find something to do. Our searched proved to be unsuccessful as none of us could decide on one thing to do. After a few wrong turns, many minutes wasted in traffic, and an unsuccessful visit to the sugar mill we headed back to Waikiki and out to dinner with some other friends.
I’d had the brilliant idea to hike the Koko Head stairs for sunrise so early the next morning I picked up my friends Lisa and Laura and headed to Koko Head where we met up with our friend Joe. On the ride over Laura and I started singing ‘The Circle of Life’ from The Lion King whilst Lisa just shook her head and laughed at us.
Laura powered up the stairs as Joe, Lisa and I took our time. I’d only had five hours sleep and was feeling a bit jetlagged so I was hiking only slightly faster than a glacial pace. I stopped a few times to take photos and chat to people but finally made it to the top a few minutes after sunrise.
As I stared towards the sun I couldn’t help but feel incredibly blessed and grateful to be able to witness such incredible sights.
Later that day I joined Joe, Laura and Eva on a trip to the Honolulu swap-meet, Maui Mike’s BBQ Chicken, and finally Sunset Beach for a few hours of relaxation. Laura and I decided that more was in order so we entertained Joe and Eva with some terrible renditions of Lion King songs. At one stage we were singing ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’ when I realised Joe was about to drive past the chicken place we were heading to for lunch. Eva was videoing and as Laura is singing I start yelling “TURN LEFT! TURN LEFT! THE CHICKEN PLACE!” and pointing madly towards the chicken place. The others just laughed at my enthusiasm for wanting to find the chicken place.
We’d been trying to meet up with Natalie and Lisa but due to poor phone reception we couldn’t figure out which beach they were at. We settled for Sunset Beach and as Eva, Laura and I swam and frolicked, Joe sat on the shore and took photos of our terrible posing.
It was then time to check in to our house for the week and I was blown away by the location after arriving. It took me 20 steps to walk from inside the house to the ocean! It also looked a lot like the house from ‘Revenge’.
We all admired the view and enjoyed TimTams on the deck before Natalie left to pick up Jamie and Sam (two more Australians) from Waikiki and bring them to the house.
That night Natalie started cooking spaghetti bolognese and disappeared into the shower part-way through cooking. She left me in charge so once everything was cooked I made the pasta the way my Nonna taught me and mixed in the pasta with the bolognese sauce. I thought Natalie was going to have a mild heart attack after she’d seen what I’d done. I quickly shoved a Mai Tai into her hands and after one drink all we could do was laugh about the pasta situation.
We were one cocktail down when Jamie and I decided that a night swim was in order. But we both ‘accidentally’ forgot our bathers. I’d never gone skinny dipping and needed the liquid courage from the cocktail, but as we both bobbed around in the water I realised how awesome it felt and questioned why I’d never done it earlier. Luckily the water outside the house was shallow and calm which meant the conditions were ideal, but as people arrived near the house for a BBQ we jumped out and quickly got dressed again.
It was time for adventures on Thursday morning so Natalie, Sam, Jamie and I jumped in the car and headed back to Waikiki for parasailing. None of us had been parasailing before so it was great fun to do something new and exciting.
I couldn’t help but think of the beginning of Jurassic Park 3 when the people are parasailing and then the dinosaur eats the people out of the boat. Thankfully there’s no dinosaurs in Waikiki otherwise we could have been in deep trouble.
After a five-star lunch (ha) and shopping trip to Costco I took Jamie and Sam to Waimanalo Bay for a swim while Natalie helped out at the race. This was the first time I was going to be driving on Oahu but I was determined to keep my good driving habits. Unfortunately they all went out the window about 10 minutes into our trip. I won’t go into details but I’ll just say that I was in Hawaii driver mode.
For two hours the three of us got dumped by too many waves to count. After giving up on trying to trying to swim in the choppy water we headed back to Kualoa Ranch to pick up Natalie.
As I went to turn the car around I spotted the one and only Dustin Dorough so I yelled at Natalie to stop him, put the car in park and jumped out and ran over for a Dustin hug. Some may say it was an overreaction, but those who have ever had a Dustin hug probably would have done the exact same thing.
That evening we met the rest of the people in our house – Dennis, Stacy, Ricky and Lauren. While the others were busy making plans to go shark cage diving the next day I was ready for a day relaxation on my own.
While sharing a huge house with others is great to keep costs down, sometimes I just need some solitude and quiet. I embraced the silence on the Friday morning as the others were all out of the house. I used the time to do some yoga and catch up on podcasts whilst relaxing on the deck.
I’d agreed to help out with the Spartan luau so that afternoon I went with Natalie, Jamie and Sam to Kualoa to set up for the night’s festivities. As we set up the tables and chairs for dinner we watched the sand-covered Hurricane Heat people walk by.
One perk of helping at the luau was being able to see all my friends before the race even began, although after meeting so many people recently it wasn’t all initial smiles. There were a few times where people would start talking to me like we were old friends only to be met by a confused face. Thankfully people were understanding when I asked how we’d met and I even had one person comment that I was the ‘original Aussie’.
After a great meal and show we headed back to the house to prepare for the fun that Spartan would bring us the following day. Saturday and Sunday were full of Spartan adventures which you can read about in my race recap.
By the time Monday rolled around I was ready to relax as the others wanted to sightsee. Natalie acted as tour guide and took the other six out for a day of adventures as I stayed at the house. Eventually I ventured out with Laura, Joe and Scott for lunch before heading to the Buddhist temple. While in the car Laura and I started with our car karaoke again, this time to Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ before turning to Disney songs. After a few songs Scott and Joe joined in on the karaoke and we were just glad that nobody could hear our terrible singing.
We ended up arriving at the temple just as all the others in my house did so we stopped for a quick photo before continuing on exploring. Joe and Scott had disappeared so Laura and I stopped to talk to a lady selling jewellery and books. We were speaking to her for over half an hour about spirituality and the magic of Hawaii and at that moment I was reminded of why the islands are so special to me.
That night Joe, Laura and Scott joined us for one last big family dinner in the house. Half the house was leaving the next day so we made sure to enjoy some cocktails and good laughs before we all said farewell.
Before bed there was a kangaroo taco moment that occurred in the loft, but what happens in the loft stays in the loft so I can’t elaborate. Let’s just say that I was crying from laughing at one point.
Natalie took Jamie and Sam on another island tour the next day as I headed to the North Shore with Laura, Lauren, Scott and Kari (another new addition). We went up to Turtle Bay to swim with turtles, relax on the beach and enjoy the incredible weather.
Eventually we returned to the house as it was time for me to take Natalie and Kari to the airport. That night Scott and Jamie started planning am early morning hike up Stairway of Heaven. I told them that it’s illegal as the stairs are located on private property but they were still keen to go.
I woke at 5am the next morning as we had to be on the road by 6:30am. When I walked into the kitchen I saw Scott and Jamie with annoyed looks on their faces. It turns out that they failed to make the stairs as someone in their group made too much noise and the police showed up shortly thereafter. I refrained from telling them “I told you so” but apparently my face said it all as Jamie pointed at me and told me to shut up as I laughed.
I stood in the shallow water as I had my morning smoothie and waited for the sun to rise. Laura joined me and we started singing ‘Circle of Life’ as the sun rose over the ocean. It was then time to say goodbye to the awesome house as I took Sam and Lauren to the airport before heading to CrossFit Kuleana with Jamie.
After CrossFit, Jamie and I were joined by my friend Keahi and were led to a gorgeous beach for some snorkelling. We stayed for a few hours before I dropped the girls off and returned the rental car.
My friend Mike then picked me up and we headed out to get pedicures with his friend Stacey. In the middle of my pedicure the lady stopped painting my toenails so Mike could show her how to play Pokémon… Such is life!
I said goodbye to Laura and Scott before joining Jamie on the beach as we enjoyed cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. We watched the last few minutes of the sunset over Waikiki before it started to rain, signalling my time to say goodbye to the islands yet again.
At times it felt like I’d been on Oahu for longer than a week, but at other times it felt like I’d just arrived. I had such an incredible week with some great friends and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to spend so much time with them all.
As Mike drove me to the airport (via the harbour so he could catch a Pokémon of course) I had a few tears in my eyes as I didn’t want to leave. Hawaii is a very special place to me and I am already counting down until I can return again.
Hawaii – 9 – 17 August 2016.