For my first personal blog post, I decided to write about how my husband and I got engaged during our trip to Oahu in January of 2016. I am doing this so that readers of my blog can to get to know me. It is also as a recollection tool for myself, to help me continue to appreciate the good memories of our trip. My recent posts have been about recipes so now I’m adding a personal one. I hope you enjoy reading it and maybe get some inspiration or ideas for a trip to Hawaii, or anywhere else.
Patrick and I love taking trips to warmer climate during winter and we always plan our escape well in advance. For the last half of the previous year, we looked forward to our January trip to Oahu but I had no idea Patrick was also going to surprise me with a proposal during this trip. Patrick and I had been dating for a year and a half and right before our trip, he had just moved from Dayton, OH to be with me in Grand Rapids, MI.
We arrived at the Honolulu international airport just before midnight on January 9,2016. It was a long trip with connecting flights in Los Angeles and Seattle. Although tired, we were so excited. It was our first time in Hawaii and we could already feel the island vibes from the airport decor.
We picked up our rental car which turned out to be a bright yellow Veloster. Although quirky, it was perfect for this Hawaiian vacation. Next we drove to our accommodations. We had a rental in Waianae. We chose this instead of a hotel for multiple reasons – we wanted to explore during this vacation so getting away from the super touristy areas for a more authentic experience sounded great. The island isn’t too large so with a car, we were able to travel wherever we wanted. We pretty much made a circle and visited the top beaches on the island; so, we didn’t feel restricted by where we stayed. There were many local shops and local restaurants close to our rental. As a bonus, the Mountain View’s from our rental was spectacular.
Okay, so back to my story - our drive to the rental. We took the H1 highway and then got on 93 which is a scenic ocean drive. It was a cool view during our night drive, but nothing compared to how beautiful it was during our daily drives out to our various destinations on the island. This was the main road from Waianae, to get basically anywhere on the Island. That night, we settled into our new place and got some much needed rest.
The next morning, we woke up to a gorgeous mountain view. We took our time getting ready then went out to breakfast. It was perfect island weather. There was expanse of beautiful ocean and beaches, truly breathtaking. There were some with sandy beaches but a lot of cool rocky ones. They were crashing pretty intensely in Waianae but I had no idea they they were even more awe inspiring on the North Shore (more on this later). We planned out our schedule for the rest of our week. At the East Country General store, we picked up supplies for our picnics on beach days. The store was conveniently located close to our rental. We e had lunch at Barbecue Kai Inc and ended the day with a dinner date night.
Beach day - Lanikai, Kailua, Waimanalo
Monday was a beach day. Lounging on the beach is one of my favorite things to do. There were so many to chose from in Hawaii but these three stood out for us. We spent most of the day on Lanikai beach and Kailua beach park which is just 1 mile away from Lanikai. The scenic country drive from Waianae - with tropical mountain vegetation was a delight to the senses. We had to go through a few highway tunnels that ran through this tropical mountain vegetation. It was stunning. We also made sure to spend some time at the Waimanalo bay beach park. All three beaches were spectacular. We got to spend much needed quality time together and celebrate the ’moving in together’ milestone of our relationship. In addition, being three months pregnant, we knew this was our last vacation without kids around to ruin all the fun (just kidding). For lunch, we had a packed picnic at the beach.
Waimano Falls Trail
Tuesday was hiking day. Being three months pregnant and constantly nauseated, this was a challenging trail but it was totally worth it. It was quite steep in certain parts but there are ropes to help. It is rated moderate in difficulty level and I think it is accessible year round. The waterfall and pond at the end of the trail was a great reward and it kept me going. It was a chance to experience the tropical vegetation. There was a smaller waterfall that trickled into a hot-tub sized natural pool which then flowed as a bigger waterfall, into a bigger deeper pool. I highly recommend this hike. It is about 3 miles and you gain 770 feet of elevation.
Downtown Honolulu and Pearl Harbor
Wednesday was dedicated to visiting downtown and Pearl Harbor. Patrick was especially excited to see Pearl Harbor, who wouldn’t be? It was a different and more serious part of our vacation. At Pearl Harbor, we visited the USS Arizona Memorial, aka the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument. A couple of striking moments for me was seeing fuel rings from the submerged wreckage of the USS Arizona. 70 years later and the wreckage is still leaking fuel. It was eerie. We also had the opportunity to take pictures with an actual Pearl Harbor veteran. It was an experience to say the least.
To explore downtown, we parked our car and walked around. We visited some shops. There are so many stores, a lot of them very expensive,in downtown Honolulu. I was surprised by how commercialized the downtown was. It was cool to see, but my favorite part of Oahu is everything else. We visited Waikiki beach,which is right downtown. It was beautiful but as expected, busy. We visited the Ali’iolani Hale. It used to be the seat of government for the government of the kingdom of Hawaii but is now home of Hawaii’s state supreme court. We also visited Iolani Palace and the Cathedral of St. Andrew. We had lunch at a Greek restaurant downtown – Leo’s Taverna.
Hanauma Bay and the Proposal
Patrick picked the perfect spot to propose to me, given my love of the ocean and beaches. Of course, I didn’t know he was going to propose. He knew I was looking forward to this day at Hanauma Bay. The view of the bay from the entrance was striking, but it was nothing compared to the beautiful shallow reefs and many species of colorful fish we saw during snorkeling.
We spent all day here and halfway through our stay, Patrick asked me to take a walk with him. I almost refused because I was feeling pregnancy lazy, but I agreed and I am so glad I did. We walked to a secluded area or the cove and he started telling me all the reasons we are perfect together, it was all so sweet. Then yes, he got on one knee and asked me to marry him and well, I said yes. Even though I wanted very much wanted to immediately share the news with family and friends, we decided to enjoy a few hours with only the two of us knowing that we were going to be man and wife. It was so sweet. We went back to our spot on the beach so elated and spent some more time enjoying the beautiful reef life and beauty that is unique to this bay.
I’m talking about this now because it was a place that was particularly special on the day we got engaged. Paradise cove was very close to our rental so we went there multiple times during our stay. Paradise Cove is located on the beautiful beaches of Ko Olina, close to Aulani, Disney’s Hawaii resort.
On our way back to our rental from Hanauma Bay, newly engaged, we stopped at paradise cove as usual. We decided to take a swim and randomly ran into four sea turtles. They were so friendly and let us feed them some sea weed. I remember one of them had only three flippers. He was so cute. It was a perfect end to a perfect day - God’s gift to us! After swimming with the turtles, we called our family and friends and shared the news of our engagement. We ended our day with a nice dinner date at our favorite local seafood restaurant (more of this under the date nights section).
North Shore: Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach
Friday, our last day, was spent exploring the north shore and watching the surfing competitions. The waves here were truly magnificent and scary. We watched from a distance. On our way up to the north shore, we stopped by a few Macadamia nut farms and a couple of fruit stands. I had a serious craving for mangoes during my pregnancy so you can say I was in the right place. I also love macadamia nuts so I was delighted with our stops. We had lunch at Keneke’s Grill at Punalu’u, a local Hawaiian mom and pop restaurant. We both had a Hawaiian plate – a must have when you are in Hawaii. I recommend this place.
We got hooked on a particular local seafood restaurant. I tried to look it up, while I was writing this but I couldn’t find it. We went here for 3 out of our 7 nights on Oahu. We had buckets of seafood bakes. Oh so good! We also we to a few restaurants in the paradise cove area and always stopped by the little cove beach (same one where we saw the turtles) after dinner to enjoy the waves and moonlight. We also made sure to experience an Hawain Luau. Above is a picture from one at Aulani.
Saturday came real fast and we had to pack our bags. We were quite sad to leave but we left Hawaii changed- we were engaged and looking forward to life with our son, come July 2016. Vacations are essential to life, you leave happier and enriched with new outlooks to life.